It was my first time to visit Madeira and I did not know much about this Portuguese island besides the famous Madeira wine. I was not so interested in Portuguese cuisine before I visited this beautiful island either because it is mostly known for lots of meat. But it turned out I had some great food experiences in Madeira.
Madeira is a fortified wine. A natural brandy is added during fermentation to increase the alcohol content. This process kills the yeast and stops the fermentation resulting in high sugar content.
Madeira is made with only four varieties of grapes, and each bottle is labeled according to which grape was used.
• Sercial - a very dry, light color
• Verdelho - medium dry, golden color
• Bual - medium sweet, velvety, dark gold to brown
• Malmsey - the original grape, sweet, chestnut-brown
The grades of Madeira are:
• Reserve - 5 years or older
• Special Reserve - 10 years or older
• Extra Reserve -15 years or older.
Food in Madeira
The two restaurants in Madeira that I loved most during my stay was Adega de Quinta and Riso. Adega de Quinta is a traditional Portuguese BBQ restaurant which is located in a small town on the hill with stunning views of the city of Funchal and the coast. The atomosphere of this restaurant was very cozy and warm with dark wood and lots of iron. It has a open kitchen at the back and barrels of Madeira wine in the bar area inside the stone house.
My husband and I shared pork and beef BBQ with feijoada and baked potatoes it was really enough food for 4 people. My pork BBQ came with two different cuts and they were very juicy and moist. The beef was exceptionally juicy (based on the amount of the juice dripping from the meat) but it did not overwhealm us with flavor. We both agreed that the pork was the winner. The price is very reasonable too. The pork dish was about 7 euro and the beef was about 13 euro (we picked the premere cuts). The feijoada was very tasty but we could not eat much of it because we were so full.
Adega de Quinta (Estreito do Câmara de Lobos)
Rua José Joaquim da Costa.
Tel: +351 291 910 530
Another fantastic meal we had was at risottoria called Riso. At Riso, everything on the menu uses some form of rice. Being Japanese, rice is very important to me. But I am also very picky about rice so I was a little nervous to try this place.
As a starter, we were served plates of green and black olives, chicken liver paté, curried puffed rice and 4 different kinds of bread. Next we had a fresh roll of rice wrapper with prawn, avocado, rocket salad with hot cocktail sauce (9.50 EU).
My husband ordered risotto with serraceno wheat and mushrooms and sauté veal steak (19.50 EU).
The veal was extremely well cooked - so soft it melted in your mouth. The texture was almost like a pork belly. Very juicy but not heavy. The separate bowl of wheat and mushroom risotto would have been enough for a meal all by itself. Unlike the usual arborio rice risotto, this has some bite to it because of the wheat. It also gives it a slight nutty flavor I really liked. 19.50 euro for this dish seems a bargain price for this quality food.
I had green asparagus risotto with grilled scallops and hazelnut pesto (19.50 EU). Compare to the veal dish, this one was very light and the right amount of food. They used Thai red rice for my risotto. The hazelnut pesto was more like dried flakes than the usual sauce and it reminded me of a Japanese traditional condiment that we eat with rice called Furikake (sweet and salty bonito flake mixture) and I was very pleased. Having asparagus in November seems very odd and they were a little too soft. But otherwise, everything else was very tasty.
We also had a really nice Portuguese white wine: 2005 Morgado de Santa Catherina (20.00EU).
Besides wonderful food and wine, the view from the outside patio is stunning. Their food is not traditional Madeira cuisine but I can guarantee that you will enjoy this place.
RISO : Risottoria del Mundo
Rua de Santaq Maria nº274, 9050-040, Funchal
Tel : +351 91 381 60 60