A weekend excursion to the Azores from Boston? While possible (the Azores are one of the nearest European points to the Northeast US), a trip to an Azorean restaurant is infinitely more affordable. Let the cuisine of a country introduce you to its charms. A “staycation” lets you experience a break from the every day, without leaving home. Leave your passport at home, grab the keys and head to the Azorean restaurant in Gloucester or the nearest Azorean restaurant to you. Or make the fabulous Azorean Lobster below.
Start with cheeses from São Miguel, São Jorge, Faial. They range from creamy and mild to semi-hard and just slightly sharp and earthy. The São Jorge cheese comes from Flemish traditions dating back to the 15th Century when cows were brought to the island, along with cheese making techniques. The São Miguel cheese is quite mild.
Sauteed calamari was perfectly cooked with red and green pepper and tender softened onions.
Doc’s Seafood Caldeirada was a stew with scallops, shrimp and calamari, mussels and cod in it. Potatoes in a light tomato broth were perfectly cooked and left large chunks. The name may have come from the round shape of the hot stew for this volcanic archipelago supports many calderas still.
Grilled Sardines of tremendous size were perfectly charred and served with a garlic oil heightened by vinegar. The tang of the vinegar was the perfect foil to the rich sardines and the slightly bitter char of the skin. Enjoying the sardines was all the sweeter knowing they're a sustainable choice.
Influences of Dutch and Portuguese Explorers
From the Dutch (or Flemish) explorers came the cows and cheese making traditions. The islands each have distinct personalities and cuisines. The influence is primarily Portuguese and this is most apparent in the dishes, the language, the customs.
While the early Flemish influence is largely unknown it does explain the distinct blue and white tile decor in the Azorean restaurant. Depicting life on the archipelago, these charming tiles line the walls of the restaurant.
São Miguel also referred to as Isla Verdhe (the green island) is gorgeous. David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria offers a trip planner.
Antes morrer livres que em paz sujeitos or Die free before living subjugated - that's the national motto. You know it's a strong people that live by that credo.
The food is straightforward, simple and good. You may have seen Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel show on the Azores. He had the same impression.
Get out and enjoy any local Azorean cuisine you can find, or make this at home. With lobster prices at near historic lows and no concerns for its sustainability, this is a great time to try this recipe.
Joe’s Spicy Portuguese Sauce (Thanks to ChezUs for this recipe and their friendship)
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons, fresh crushed red pepper, if you can find Portuguese use that, if not harissa works well
- 2 garlic cloves garlic, minced
- parsley, handful, minced
- olive oil, a good Portuguese one
- red wine vinegar
- parsley, handful, minced
This is really made to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except vinegar and olive oil. Adjust crushed red pepper to taste. Drizzle olive oil over, just enough to combine everything together. Sprinkle a little red wine vinegar over the top and give a good stir. Serve. Eat.
The sardines after I went Tasmanian-Devil on their delicious charred bodies.