Top-10 best dishes in Madeira. My own rating

My friends say that there is nothing more understandable to people from different countries and cultures than food. Ladies and gentlemen, here are top 10 best dishes from Madeira. (personally for me. If somebody doesn’t agree, Zhenya, they can write their own rating 😉 ).

Number 10. Chestnuts. Before coming here we could have never imagined that they are OK to roast and eat. Usually they were something we would try avoid in autumn in Ukraine when they fall from the trees and could hurt you very hard. For those who never tried roasted chestnuts – they taste like baked potatoes mixed with peanuts. Local kids adore them. For us it’s interesting to try but weird to eat all the time.

Number 9. Exotic fruit. Goiaba is tasty, tamarilho – good for you. The latter doesn’t have any distinct taste but is amazing in jams.


Number 8. Maracuja or passion fruit. Sour but tasty. We don’t know why it’s called passion fruit, so its aphrodisiac qualities are being currently tested on my colleague Zhenya.


Number 7. Black scabbard. Islands usually offer a great choice of sea food, and most typical fish for Madeira is black scabbard – a long monster with huge eyes and teeth. Black scabbard lives only in the Atlantic Ocean, and in local supermarkets you can catch it for 5-7 euro per kilo. We cooked it just once – to celebrate the first month of our project. The fish was good but the best part of the dish was fried bananas. FRIED. BANANAS. With salt and garlic. Tasting it feels like in the Ratatouille cartoon – it suddenly opens your mind and welcomes most delicate senses of the world!  Shocking, really.

Number 6. Turamisu. Surprisingly, one of the tastiest things we’ve tried here was the Italian dessert made by our colleague Nicola. Nicola’s “Lift me up” (it’s how tira-mi-su is translated), like in Moby’s song, is no worse than in best coffee shops in Italy. He says it’s a family recipe which takes half an hour to make. Can’t confirm it yet, still waiting for the master-class.


Number 5. Ukrainian cuisine. One more surprise – all Ukrainian dishes we make taste perfect here. Salo, borsch, potatoes with pork under cheese – all mouthwatering! My personal pride is pancakes because I could never make them at home.

P.S. Here we call them “gypsy pancakes” because every time we make them we need to get a frying pan from our neighbors. And every gypsy recipe starts with “steal a frying pan”…


Number 4. Drinks “Pe de cabra”, “Nikita”. Nikita looks like a milk shake but in fact contains beer, wine, ice cream and a slice of a pineapple. Believe me, it’s tasty even after you know the ingredients. “Pe de cabra” is translated as “a foot of a goat” and means that a cocktail was mixed with the help of the animal’s feet. For sure inspired by some Belgians (because mixing those ingredients is their long preserved tradition. Hi Robin!), it has dark beer, chocolate, egg yolk and lime. Best Pe de cabra is made in Machico, a town nearby the capital city of Funchal. Why best – because we’ve tried it only there 🙂

By the way, the best joke I’ve heard about Machiko (you are right, the best because I’ve heard just one. Hi, Cristina!). “What is the best thing in Funchal?” – “The road sign to Machico”.


Number 3. Poncha. A classic local drink with rum and fresh orange juice. It may sound like a girlish drink but actually is consumed by hardcore fishermen. And me 🙂


Number 2.  Custard tart+coffee (Or pastel de nata+chinesa as we call it here). My neighbours insisted that I include it in the rating this way. The tarts with coffee taste very well, especially after the Portuguese classes, and lead to more intensive sport exercises in the evening.

pastel de nata

Number 1. Garlic bread. All genial things are easy: you take bread and spread some melted butter with garlic and parsley and voila: bolo do caco is ready! Oh I am feeling the smell of it even when I am just writing. We don’t have bolo do caco very often as it’s not very healthy, and I am planning to try making it myself. It can’t be spoiled, I am sure.


To be honest, these are not just my own preferences. All of us agree on the dishes, and positions just vary slightly. So whoever comes to visit us – be sure: we will try all the positions in the rating and the order will not be important!

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