Azores may be a group of Portuguese islands in the Atlantic, but what I discovered the last 3 weeks is that Azores really mean family and community. Families that have struggled toiling the rocky island of Pico planting vineyards, battling seasonal weather swings, enduring a tumultuous history and today enjoying the freedom of a new Azores. Today they are proudly doing it as a family and community. No where was this more exemplified than by the restaurant Gastrónomo on the island of São Miguel.
It is not an opulent setting, nor a view of the ocean but a simple local restaurant for the community and tourists seeking out an authentic culinary experience. The concierge tried to make reservations the night before but they were sold out! The charm of the restaurant was embodied by two factors. The first being the family that owned and ran the restaurant. We were greeted by a young man (son of the owner) with a grin from ear to ear that immediately disarmed you as a stranger and welcomed you to his family. We quickly met Mama, sister and tasted grandma’s homemade blackberry jam.
The second factor was the fresh fish of the day proudly displayed in the restaurant. We were encouraged and fully participated in walking up to view which seafood looked inviting for the evening meal. Choices made included squid, triggerfish and tuna. Each were served with local spices and prepared in typical Azorean fashion. All were delicious as each was shared.
The white wine, recommendation provided the perfect compliment to fish dishes enjoyed by all. It was a 2018 Mau Feitio, which had a blend and taste/aromas of both a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in a beautifully integrated and harmonious wine. This white wine comes from the Douro region of mainland Portugal. Mau Feitio in Portuguese means a “good bad temper of qualities, expressions and righteousness”.
The second wine of the evening which functioned more like an after dinner wine, was a 2017 Fraga da Galhofa, a Grande Reserva also from the Douro region. It was a blend of Touriga National, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Alicante Bouchet. It tied for the best red wine for the trip. Worthy to seek out and purchase.
This was the a perfect crescendo to the Azorean experience-family, community, fresh foods, friends and beautiful wines. It doesn’t get much better than what we experienced.