A Look at the Portuguese World

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It is the third part of a trip to the Azorean island for its aromas and palates.

My perusal for St. Michael would not be complete without a passage for its odors and flavors. This fertile land overflowing with life produces one of the most iconic fruits of the national territory, the pineapple. The king of fruit and the fruit of kings, as it is dubbed on the island, was introduced in the mid-nineteenth century as an ornamental plant. Only a little later was explored its commercial potential that remains to this day, so I advise a morning visit to the greenhouses that exist along the south of the island, or a plantation in the North, in Capelas, come to eat the famous ananassa sativus lindl (Scientific name) and enjoy an educational and very pleasant tour of their cultivation.

To whet your appetite, there is nothing better than to go to one of the only tea plantations in Europe and decided to visit the facilities of the Tea of Porto Formoso. It is one of the smallest plantations of São Miguel and I must emphasize that I was delighted to see the main house and the beauty of its landscape, it is an estate of only six hectares, ornamented by what seem to be many green shrubs, well-trimmed, horizontally aligned along the hill overlooking the sea, synonymous with an idyllic past, a slower way of life, where everything had its time, its place, hastily and was thus calm and relaxed. There I was explained the cycle of cultivation of the plant and how it arrived to this island, via Brazil, when the first seeds were planted in the middle of century XVIII. Like the Ananas, tea plants were initially used as ornaments in the gardens. Later, the promoter of the Micaelense agriculture brought to the island two Chinese who taught the islanders how to turn the leaf of the camellia sinensis (scientific name) into tea, seems unlikely, right? But it is the purest of truths. The taste for the drink soon won countless supporters, as you would expect, because although there is always a lot of talk about british tea, the fact is that the Portuguese are champions in terms of variety in what concerns this drink that heats the hearts and heals all kinds of maladies, if needed. But, ahead.
Porto Formoso produces six tons of black tea a year that is collected between April and September, the period of time when it rains less on the island. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to attend the leaf collection process, with great regret on my part, but from what was informed by the guide, all steps from pruning to drying are done in the same traditional and natural way that employs little or almost no machinery for several centuries. At the end of the tour we are offered a cup of tea accompanied by cookies and it was worth it when the stomach starts to complaint.

My third stop on the Azorean palate after so much salt-spattered fresh air was to delight myself with the micaelense octopus. There are several portions of this mollusc accompanied by broccoli, potatoes and a delicious sauce made from the island's pepper sauce, the best in the whole country, since its culinary applications are varied and in fact they give a delicious palate to food, I only pity that is only sold in the Azores.
The famous Micaelese steak was kept for last (and the warning, as you may have noticed almost all the local dishes have the same name, the micaelense and believe me that there is more, so you already know when to see it on the menu it means that it is traditional and a good thing) It is a hunk of meat with cheaps and sauce thtat is all, but I almost felt sorry to eat it by remembering the plump, cute, and genuinely happy azoreans cows. As you may guessed the slight sensation of guilt dissipated immediately before the gastronomic delicacy and the attack did not wait, it was one of the best meals that I ate, enough caloric is certain, but everything is worth when the soul is not small, or rather the stomach. You may already have noticed, I do not usually talk about restaurants or brands, but in this case, I will do it again exceptionally, Alcides not only has excellent meat, but also the high-quality cooking and the staff, the stablishment is in the center of San Miguel, but attention the space is small and a reservation is imperative. Well, that's the end of my journey through the verdant paradise with the name of a saint and this conversation alone has opened my appetite again.

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