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A culinary cycle tour of Madeira

Fully enjoy the island of flowers

This much in advance: your cycle tour of Madeira will be sweet, tangy and spectacularly tasty in every respect. For the island not only has an abundance of magnificent flowers, dreamlike views, lush nature and varied cycle paths to offer, but also a unique cuisine. 

Although Madeira is part of Portugal, its culinary specialities are very different from those of mainland Portugal. As a rule, Madeira only serves dishes whose ingredients are available on the island. Fish plays the main role, but beef, pork and chicken are also on the menu. The dishes are refined with lots of wine, garlic, bay and cumin. You will notice it very quickly on your tour of the island: For the locals, almost everything revolves around food.

They love to talk about culinary matters for hours. Not only in the island capital Funchal, but also in the small mountain villages, you will always find a restaurant where you can enjoy the traditional cuisine. Let yourself be infected by the enthusiasm of the Madeirans and fall in love with this beautiful flower island with all your senses.

Fish or meat? That is the question here!

Madeira is a paradise for fish lovers. Because here you can enjoy it freshly caught from the waters around the island. The most exciting speciality Madeira has to offer is espada - black scabbardfish. Tuna also plays an important role. Bife de Atum is a grilled tuna steak that is usually served with green salad. Simply delicious!

Besides fish, there is of course also a lot of meat on Madeira, which is usually grilled. During your cycling holiday in Madeira, you should definitely order espetada, a beef skewer that is traditionally skewered on a laurel stick. Typical accompaniments to all dishes are milho frito (fried corn cubes), batata doce (sweet potatoes) and the famous bolo do caco - a delicious tasting flatbread made from wheat flour and eaten warm with herb butter and garlic.

Did you know? Madeira's culinary emblem is undoubtedly the passion fruit. The exotic fruit grows so well here that it comes in numerous flavours.

Which specialities you should definitely try on Madeira? We will now tell you in detail.

Espada - black scabbardfish from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean

The Espada is THE fish speciality on Madeira. The black scabbardfish with the huge eyes and sharp teeth lives in a sea depth of about 1,000 metres. Madeiran fishermen catch it with special fishing rods. Did you know that the black scabbardfish is only found in the waters around the island? For this reason alone, you absolutely must try the espada on your Madeira cycle tour! No question, the sight of it is anything but appetising. But the juicy, soft scabbardfish fillet tastes fantastic and is used in many traditional dishes. In the island's restaurants, you typically get the espada served with a grilled banana and passion fruit sauce - the mix of tender fish and exotic fruits is simply delicious.

Espetada - grilled beef skewer on a bay stick

Probably the best-known meat speciality on Madeira is the espetada. This is traditionally a beef skewer seasoned only with sea salt and leeks and grilled over an open wood fire. The skewer is usually a bay stick. This gives the espetada its very special spicy flavour. Madeirans serve it with green salad, French fries or baked cornmeal cubes called milho frito. Alternatively, you can order the dish with chicken, which is also very good cooked on a bay wood skewer.

Madeira Wine - tastes perfect with fresh fish

The island's delicious fish dishes naturally include a glass of matching wine. A very excellent companion to freshly caught fish is the famous Madeira Wine. The local winegrowers prepare this fortified wine from various grapes. The unique taste comes from its preparation: the wine is heated to 40 to 50 degrees for three months in stainless steel containers so that the sugar in the wine can caramelise. This is followed by a resting and cooling phase of 90 days before bottling begins. After that, the wines can be stored for years. About 90 percent of Madeira wines are produced by this method. By the way: The Madeirans have been growing wine on their island since the 15th century. From the 17th century, they also shipped Madeira Wine to the world.

Passion fruit - a taste sensation

The passion fruit is the star among Madeira's fruits. On the island, it grows in eight different varieties: from banana passion fruit to lemon passion fruit to tomato passion fruit, you can taste the most diverse flavours. The best thing is to try the delicious little fruits directly from one of the colourful fruit stands in the market hall in Funchal. Which is your favourite?

Since Madeira and passion fruit simply belong together, the sweet and sour passion fruit ends up in many dishes. The Madeirans also mix the fruit into their national drink, the poncha. The strong aroma and subtle acidity make passion fruit the ideal ingredient for desserts. The passion fruit pudding is prepared with fruit puree, gelatine, condensed milk and cream - an incomparable taste experience!

Poncha - the national drink for mild summer nights

You simply must try the Poncha on your Madeira tour! Because the high-proof national drink exudes the islanders' attitude to life like no other. The Poncha is a cocktail consisting of orange, lemon or passion fruit juice, honey and sugar cane schnapps. The ingredients are then mixed with a typical wooden spoon and drunk cold. The sour, fruity taste of the cocktail simply goes wonderfully with a nice warm summer night and the subtropical mild climate of the island. Madeira even has its own Poncha bars where the national drink is served in different variations. The Madeirans adore their Poncha and like to call it medicine. The cocktail is said to help against every ailment - from colds to lovesickness.

Have we been able to give you a little taste of Madeira? Then why not explore and taste the island's highlights for yourself by bike. Madeira is a wonderful active travel destination all year round. And an experience for all the senses! We look forward to your enquiry!

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