Food and Wine

Porto Santo shares some signature dishes with its neighbour Madeira. You’ll find espetada – succulent cubes of beef grilled on a skewer – and espada, a strange but delicious denizen of the deep seas, served with banana. Alongside there’ll be bolo do caco, a bread made with sweet-potato flour, traditionally baked on a flat stone and served soaked with butter and garlic. There’s an abundance of fresh fish and seafood, and popular communal-eating pots such as fragateira (multi-fish stew with a tomato, potato and onion base). Dishes made with bacalhau (dried cod) are a favourite, as is sun-dried gaiado (skipjack tuna). Afterwards you can enjoy lip-smacking cakes and puddings, such as passion-fruit mousse or custard flan.

Grapes from the local vines – which grow flat along the sand beside the beach, rather than propped up on trellises – are said to give wines a very distinctive flavour. Much of the harvest goes to neighbouring Madeira to make its famous fortified wine, but quaffable wines are made locally, many with a light rosé tinge. Of course, the pick of Portuguese wines are also available on the island. Aguardente – the local firewater, made from sugar cane – makes a great digestif.

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