The typical Madeiran gastronomy, still today, shows traces of a cultural inheritance of its ancestors, using very traditional and still rudimentary methods of confection, nevertheless, always based on traditional Madeiran gastronomy, signs of modernity and innovation in the confection of the typical dishes, in the sweets and the drinks. The gastronomy of the parish of Santo António follows the standards of Madeiran gastronomy with drinks and dishes full of color and flavor, made with regional products that include tropical fruits that give it a distinct flavor.
Bolo do caco: Bolo do caco (“Caco's cake”) is a Madeiran gastronomic speciality. Although it has a word “cake” in its name, it is actually a wheat and sweet potato bread cooked over a stone pan. It can be served with garlic butter or chorizo. Its confection results from the mixture of wheat flour and sweet potatoes.
Limpets: Limpets are very appreciated by Madeirans; they are ususally grilled in a frying pan, seasoned with butter and garlic and after grilling sprinkled with lemon juice. Limpets are usually served with a side dish of delicious bolo do caco.
Caramujos (Sea snails): Like limpets, sea snails are very appreciated by Madeirans. It is a delicious treat for summer evenings accompanied by a fresh drink. They are cooked in water, salt and garlic and after boiling, a lemon juice is added. Pins are used to help retrieve the snail from its shell.
Shrimp with Madeira Wine Sauce: A delicious entrée, which can be found in any Madeiran restaurant. The shrimps are grilled in a frying pan with butter, garlic and Madeira Wine and can be accompanied with bolo do caco.
Marinated octopus: It is usually served as a “dentinho” (an appetiser served along whit drinks) to go along with the traditional local beer Coral, or served as an entree. The octopus is cooked normally but the follow up preparation is what makes it distinctive. It is usually added chopped onions, garlic, peppers and olive oil, soaked in white wine, vinegar and freshly chopped parsley.
Marinated Tuna: Similar to marinated octopus, can be served as a snack, as an entree, or as a main course if accompanied by cooked potatoes, and Madeiran, fresh or fried, polenta. The tuna is seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, chopped onions and parsley.
Açorda (bread soup): One of the most traditional Madeiran soups is the açorda, it differs from the one that is popular in Portugal’s mainland. The Madeiran açorda is made with very hot water, olive oil, garlic, winter savoury, a poached egg and pieces of bread.
Black Scabbard fish stew: Black scabbard fish is the most traditional fish consumed in Madeira. Being once very abundant, it became the most used fish in the island's gastronomy. The main ingredients of black scabbard fish are tomato, parsley, white wine and of course black scabbard fish.
Wheat Soup: Wheat soup is a very nutritious soup that, in the past decades, gave farmers, the nutrients and strength needed to work on the fields. It is a soup made with potatoes, beans, wheat, cabbage, brined pork, carrots and onions.
Madeiran “espetada” with fried polenta cubes: It is one of the best-known dishes of Madeira. Espetada are pieces of beef skewered on a laurel stick that gives a unique flavour to the meat. It is only seasoned with salt, garlic and bay leaves and cooked over wood embers. Madeiran fried polenta comes from a mixture of water, cornmeal and cabbage, can be eaten straight out of the pan or cut into cubes after being cooled and deep fried before serving.
Carne de vinha-d´alhos: Is a Madeiran traditional marinated pork recipe, usually consumed during Christmas time; it is traditionally eaten with homemade bread. Confectioned with small pieces of pork marinated at least for a day in garlic sauce, wine vinegar and bay leaves, and then fried.
Cozido (Madeira-style stew): Madeiran stew is a very famous dish on the island. It is made with salted pork meat, sausages and whole vegetables placed in a large stockpot and cooked over firewood, which gives it a delicious flavour.
Marinated Tuna with Dry Potatoes: After being cooked, the tuna is seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, chopped parsley and onion. The tuna is usually served with dry potatoes. Dry potatoes are cooked with skin in very salted water.
Mackerels / Blue jack mackerels with Vilhão Sauce: Mackerels and Blue jack mackerels are very appreciated by locals. Traditionally, these two fish are prepared in the same way. They are marinated in salt, garlic, pepper, oregano, white wine and vinegar for 4 hours and then fried. The vilhão sauce is made with the fish marinade that is reduced in the frying pan were the fish was previously fried. You can eat it with a side dish of Madeiran polenta. The name “vilhão” comes from the designation, used in Madeira, for those living outside Funchal.
Black Scabbard fish with fried banana and passion fruit sauce: Normally, the scabbard fish is fried in an onion sauce that is served later over the delicious Madeiran fried polenta. Scabbard fish with banana is one of the island's most iconic dishes due to the flavour combination of the soft white fish and the sweet taste of fried banana.
Skipjack tuna: The skipjack is a species of small tuna fished in Madeira and very appreciated by local people. It is usually consumed dry after being cleaned, salted and dried in the Sun for a month. Like marinated tuna and octopus, dry skipjack is prepared the same way and can be served with fresh or fried Madeiran polenta.
Passion Fruit Pudding: Passion fruit is one of the most emblematic fruits of Madeira island, so it is used in several Madeiran traditional dishes. Passion fruit pudding is a fresh dessert that blends the lightness of cream with the acidity of passion fruit and the sweetness of condensed milk.
Velvet Pudding: Velvet pudding is a simple blend of eggs, milk and sugar covered with caramel. It has a flan-like pudding appearance when cooked, although its texture and taste are quite different.
Passion fruit “queijadas”: Queijadas are Portuguese traditional cakes made with curd cheese. The Madeiran queijada is unique to the island; it is a small, flat, rounded, cake with a very characteristic and pleasant flavour. With the passage of time new adaptations of the simple and traditional queijada appeared, such as the introduction of passion fruit, which gives to queijadas a fresh touch of acidity.
Passion Fruit Custard Cake: Passion Fruit Custard cakes are a reinvention of the most famous Portuguese treat the Pastel de Nata. To the traditional custard, passion fruit is added resulting in a tropical version of the traditional Portuguese flavour. A real treat!
Honey Cake: The ancestral culture of sugar cane on the island introduced in the Madeira gastronomic roots the use of its transformed products such as sugarcane honey. The sugar cane honey is used in the confection of the famous Honey Cake. Although this cake can be preserved for a long time, it is traditionally associated to Christmas time. According to tradition you cannot use knives to cut it, instead the cake should be cut using your hands.
Family Cake: The Family Cake or Black Cake is rich cake full of ingredients typical of the archipelago, such as Madeira Wine and sugarcane honey. It is also used on its confection nutmeg, cinnamon, candied fruits, milk and lard.
Wedding Bread: The Wedding Bread is a traditional bread that is offered to wedding guests by the bride and groom. It is a type of bread scented with fennel, cinnamon and raisins, and cooked in a wood oven over cabbage leafs, which gives it a unique and delicious taste.
Fennel Candies: traditional Madeiran candies, cylindrical in shape with variable size due to their artisan confection, with a yellowish colour and fennel flavour. Fennel plants, in Portuguese “Funcho”, were very abundant on the slopes of Funchal bay, hence the name of the city. The plant is widely used for the confection of these sweets.
This candy is usually consumed as it is, but is also used to sweeten tea or added to sugarcane rum. Due to its soothing properties, it is good to alleviate a sore throat. Throughout the ages, new flavours have been introduced, such as eucalyptus, passion fruit, lemon, banana, sour cherry and others, taking advantage of the flavours of the fruits of the island.
Honey Cookies: These cookies can be found in any supermarket or shop on the island. Its consumption happens all year round, but it is more noticeable at Christmas time. The sugar cane honey is its main ingredient, harmonized with a taste of lemon, lard and butter that gives them a unique fragrance.
Butter Cookies: Made from a mixture of flour, butter, sugar and orange.
Coconut Cookies: These delicious coconut cookies are essentially enjoyed over Christmas and New Year.
Sand Cookies: Made with sugar, lard, flour and butter. They are called sand cookies because after being cooked they are wrapped in fine sugar giving them the look of being covered in sand.
Beer sticks: delicious biscuits made of flour, sugar, beer and butter.
Poncha: the most typical alcoholic beverage of Madeira. Resulting from a mixture of sugarcane rum, honey and lemon juice. The ingredients are mixed with a too, exclusively created for this purpose, nicknamed "caralhinho".
The most traditional poncha is the fisherman's poncha made with lemon juice, but over time new flavours like orange, passion fruit, mandarin, mint and many others have been introduced.
Nikita: made of ice cream of various flavours being the most used and traditional vanilla ice cream. It is done mixing ice-cream, pineapple rings, and an alcoholic beverage, such as white wine and/or beer that are all mixed until creamy.
Pé-de-Cabra (Crowbar): Madeiran traditional alcoholic beverage f prepared with wine, black beer, sugar, chocolate powder and lemon peel.
Sugar cane Rum: Sugar cane crops are currently used almost exclusively for the production of honey and rum. Rum is produced by alcoholic fermentation and distillation of sugarcane juice. This rum is used in the confection of the traditional poncha.
Madeira Wine: Madeira Wine is a wine with a wide world reputation known for its excellence and quality. As any wine its quality increases over the years, it is an intense, sweet, fresh and sugar-flavoured wine caramelized by aging in wooden barrels.
Although there are more than 30 different grape varieties, the best-known types of Madeira Wine are Malmsey, Bual, Verdelho and Sercial. There are also varieties such as Mole, Bastardo, Terrantez and Muscat.
Liquors: Homemade liqueurs are an old tradition on Madeira island. During festive seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Kings Day, there is no shortage of this sweet but alcoholic drink in Madeiran households. «These liqueurs are made with various regional fruits, giving it a unique aroma and flavour.
Coral beer: Coral is a local beer made by the Madeira Beers Company since 1969. It is produced with the best malts fermented and ripened at low temperatures. The light golden colour, the clean, smooth and aromatic flavour give it its own characteristics. It is a highly appreciated beer by locals, light and refreshing in the hottest days and great to go along with Madeiran snacks.
In addition to the refreshing Coral the company produces a soft drinks. Brisa, a carbonated beverage with several flavours like passion fruit, apple and orange. Laranjada, one of the company's carbonated juices, launched in 1872 is the first soft drink produced in Portugal. It is an orange-flavoured beverage and it is usually mixed with wine or Coral beer.