Madeira Island, located in the Atlantic Ocean under the administration of Portugal, is often referred to as the Eternal Spring Island. Thanks to the climatic conditions prevailing here, tropical crops are doing very well, and the whole island is fresh and green all year round. The constant temperature of about 20-30 Celsius degrees attracts visitors from all over the world. Take a journey with us on island delicacies and various delicacies. Thanks to Madeira Exquisite Food on Foot Tours, we had the opportunity to taste the best that the island can offer.
The existence of the island itself was known in antiquity until 15th century when Portuguese sailors settled in. The whole island is very mountainous, so most of the towns are located near the sea and inland has remained sparsely populated. Due to the excellent climatic conditions, most of the local population works in agriculture. You can find huge mangoes, various types of passionfruit, avocados, bananas and more in the local markets.
When we were planning what to do in Madeira, it was clear that we would not want to miss the local food tour, organized by Madeira Exquisite Food on Foot Tours. We spent a pleasant half-day with them in the capital Funchal, which we filled by visiting local restaurants, bars, markets and local grocery stores, where we learned interesting things about local culture and life here on the island. There are also many unique things to do in Funchal, then just eating or drinking.
How the Food Tour Works
During our visit to our first restaurant, which was in the busiest street, we had the opportunity to meet a group. We met about twelve people, and we were all curious about what foods awaited us during the tour. We’d rather not have lunch to leave enough room in our stomach for all the delicacies. All the time, we were guided by a very nice guide called Renke, who has lived in Madeira many years. She told us about the island’s history, food and life in Madeira. The whole day was in a pleasant spirit, and we enjoyed both the food and the company of nice people around us.
In the beginning, we had a starter consisting of pickled tuna, local sausages and cheese. We drank regular white or red wine from Madeira. Then we learned a few things about seafood and fruits that are popular in Madeira in the second restaurant. We got several courses at once, so we could combine different tastes as we liked. At first, we tried the local “bolo de caco” bread, covered with garlic butter – great! One of the most popular mussels in Madeira is the lapas, which are served in a large pan with butter and lime juice. The most consumed fish is the black scabbard – Espada, which lives in deep waters and has excellent meat. We could also taste local pork and beef, octopus salad and sweet potatoes and bananas plantain as a side dish.
The Visit to the Bar With a Poncho Cocktail
Immediately after a huge amount of food, we went to the streets of Funchal. We walked a bit while the guide told us historical moments about the places we went through. Finally, we ended up in a local bar where we got to know two kinds of Madeira cocktails. For the weaker ones (Eva), there was a chance to taste a drink called Nikita, which is a combination of beer, wine and ice cream. Although it sounds very strange, the taste was much better than we expected.
For the braver (Tom), the real Poncha was served. This is a combination of lemon peel, honey, fruit juice, sugar and the most important ingredient is Aguardente da Cana. This is rum-based alcohol produced by the distillation of fermented sugar cane juice. Poncha has a high alcohol volume, so you can get drunk very easily after a few drinks!
The Visit to the Market and Bakery
Dazed by alcohol, we went for a walk around Funchal again. We slowly walked to the local market (map), where we admired the colours and aromas of the diverse fruits that they sold. Everywhere were stalls with exotic flowers, fruits, fish market and chocolate! We arrived directly at the luxury praline shop with all the flavours you could imagine. Each of us could choose and taste a few pieces.
Another journey took us to a famous bakery with famous biscuits. So we tasted a typical Christmas cake, although it was just October, everywhere was going to Christmas lights… As we were getting full, we got some cookies for later.
Madeira Wine Tasting
Finally, we headed to a wine shop to taste different types of typical Madeira wines – strong dessert wine. These wines are unique in their production and have a similar taste to port wine. The manufacturing process was discovered by chance. It is said that in the 17th century, the wine barrels were heated to a high temperature while sailing at sea, giving it its specific taste. Today, the wine is heated and kept at a temperature of 45 degrees during ripening. The advantage is that these wines can be stored for a long time and still have excellent taste.
After wine tasting, we made our last stop right in the café on the square, where local tea and small cakes were served.
The day was long and full of varied tastes, smells and new information. The advantage was that we learned about a wide range of local cuisine, which helped us to better orient ourselves in local markets and restaurants at a later choice of food. So we had the opportunity to taste the basics of what Madeira cuisine can offer, learn interesting information and enjoy the afternoon with a nice group of people. Renke, the guide was nice, and although it must have been difficult for her to spend the afternoon, she was very patient and helpful all the time.
We certainly look forward to returning to Madeira one day so that we can have our favourite dishes again, which include seafood, cheese and Poncha.
Website: Madeira Exquisite Food on Foot Tours
Phone: +351 96 50 78 00 3
Thanks to Madeira Exquisite Food on Foot Tours for support during our visit to Madeira. All our views are based on our own experience.
Thank you so much for your lovely words.
It was a pleasure to have you on our tour.
We will be delighted to have you with us again, in case you come back to Madeira.
We loved our time in Madeira and your tour too. So hopefully, we will come back soon.