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Harvesting pineapples near Ponta Delgada
Harvesting pineapples near Ponta Delgada
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Foods and drinks are highlights of Sao Miguel. The largest island in the Azores, it measures 63 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide.

Work up your appetite during a drive to Sete Cidades. Inside a 12 kilometer-round crater, a blue lake and green lake meet.

Azoreans told us the story of a blue-eyed princess and a green-eyed shepherd who cried so much, when their love was thwarted, that their tears filled the lakes.

Ponta Delgada restaurants

All Sao Miguel trips include Ponta Delgada, the capital. It boasts good restaurants, magnificent buildings, a three-arch city gate and black-and-white mosaic sidewalks.

At O Baco, we enjoyed monkfish, prawns and rice. Hotel Talisman's Palm Terrace Café serves cod cooked with garlic, olive oil and lemon in a roof tile. White wines, from the volcano island of Pico complement both dishes.

We drove east along a road overlooking rocky volcanic cliffs. The plentiful basalt rock was used to build cobblestone streets and churches, many now covered with whitewash. In Vila Franca do Campo, we admired the blue-and-white tiles and golden altar in the 16th-century Church of Sao Miguel Arcanjo and Baroque façade of the 18th-century Church of Espirito Santo.

Attendant opens pot of stew, which cooked underground for six hours at Furnas Volcano.
Attendant opens pot of stew, which cooked underground for six hours at Furnas Volcano.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Furnas Volcano stew

Inside Furnas Volcano's massive 80-square-kilometer crater, we found a lake, a village, bubbling ponds, steaming fumaroles, hot and cold mineral water springs, and ground so hot it is used as an oven.

At 6 am, restaurants and villagers bring pots containing beef, pork, chicken, potatoes, cabbage, sausages and carrots to the calderas, where attendants bury them in the torrid soil. We arrived at noon, when they dug out the pots of cozido das Furnas. A mouth-watering aroma wafted up with the steam, as the attendant lifted a lid.

Nearby Terra Nostra Garden Hotel serves the stew daily, along with coffee and dessert.

Terra Nostra gardens

After lunch, we strolled beside ponds and streams of steaming water. Some smelled like sulphur. At one of the springs, we filled plastic bottles with cold, naturally effervescent water from a spigot. "Coming to Furnas without tasting the water is like going to Rome and not seeing the pope," said a local visitor.

After a dip in the tea-colored thermal pond, behind the hotel, we admired ferns, topiary birds, red azaleas and pink belladonna lilies in the 12.5-hectare Terra Nostra Botanical Park.

Gorreana Tea

Fertile Sao Miguel, which is often called The Green Island, is home to more surprising plants — Europe's only tea plantations. Neatly clipped tea bushes surround Gorreana Tea, on the north coast. After touring the factory, we enjoyed cups of fragrant orange pekoe made from dried organic tea leaves.

Randal and Gamy stand sells local preserves, honey and herbs at Ponta Delgada market.
Randal and Gamy stand sells local preserves, honey and herbs at Ponta Delgada market.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Mulher de Capote Licores, a shop in Ribeira Grande, sells more fortified beverages — Sao Miguel's famous passion fruit and pineapple liqueurs.

Pineapple preserves

We watched workers planting pineapple bulbs and harvesting the fruit in greenhouses near Ponta Delgada.

The best place to learn about what to eat and drink in Sao Miguel is at the Ponta Delgada market. Its colorful stands display fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish, cheese and tasty pineapple, sweet potato and fig preserves.

It's a great place to buy foods and drinks for souvenirs of your Sao Miguel, Azores vacation.



Azores Airlines

More things to see & do in Portugal:

Lisbon - One Day Pre- or Post-Cruise Tour

Azores Island of Faial - Volcanoes, Scrimshaw & Sailors' Art

Terceira, Azores - UNESCO World Heritage City, Holy Spirit Houses, Wine and Cheese