Wanderlust Azores- Brunch at Athanasio Pastelaria and the Inevitable Change

Who would have thought that it could be so difficult to eat in Terceira on a Sunday afternoon? But it was. Very few stores were open in the UNESCO city of Angra do Heroismo. Luckily this pastry shop, Athanasio Pastelaria, was.
imageApple turnover and almond pastryimageHot chocolate with ham and cheese quicheimageEspresso with cod and chicken puff pastry
imageWhen we were in the shop, many fellow tourists were also in the shop, talking about how few stores were open. I can see how tourism will definitely change this town, with how aggressive the travel agencies are marketing these trips with incredible deals (6 nights, hotel/round trip airfare/airport transport included for $699). I upgraded my package with a better hotel, a rental car and various day trips. Still, a trip to this pristine island for a little more than $1k per person? Amazing.

I would not be surprised if years later, there are plenty of shops open on a Sunday. My brunch was pleasant and delicious. The young woman in the shop spoke English and was friendly. The best part is that it was open on a Sunday afternoon. Happy happy me.

This experience took place at

Athanasio Pastelaria

Rua Sé 132
9700-191 Angra do Heroísmo
Phone: 295 213 702

Wanderlust Azores- Hotel do Caracol’s Breaded Octopus on Coriander Risotto

I finally made it to another restaurant! At Hotel do Caracol, they serve regional food with an eye catering to the international tourists. You find a lot of beef on the menu and the waiter strongly recommended the steaks. I went against his recommendation and ordered the octopus.imageBreaded Octopus with Coriander Risotto. Ok, there. You cannot blame me for trying. Where have you seen breaded octopus on risotto before? NO WHERE. Yet, there was a good reason why you have not seen it before because it is just wrong. Breaded octopus kills all the flavor octopus brings and degrades the octopus to just a protein, any protein. The risotto was decent but made with way too much oil. In general, this was a very poorly conceived dish. It’s a mistake that is made by a novice chef who tries to do new combinations that just don’t work together. imageSpaghetti with Meatballs. My little photographer’s favorite meal is spaghetti with meatballs but she was so thoroughly disappointed that she could not finish the pasta. The pasta was way over-cooked; they were stuck together because no efforts were made to separately them; they were also randomly cut up into smaller pieces. The entire presentation was just weird although she did say the meatballs were decently eatable. image In general, I find the service in the restaurants very slow in the Azores. Perhaps they work on a different pace. Parmesan cheese was not offered. Water was not poured. These are small things… yet they are pretty consistent across both four star hotel restaurants. I don’t believe this is intentional; I think they just work in a slower pace than what I expect as a New Yorker.

Service aside, this meal at the Hotel do Caracol was not good. 😦 I have got one more day of eating octopus…

This experience took place at

Hotel do Caracol
Cozinha do Caracol Restaurant

Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 402 600

Wanderlust Azores- Phenomenal Mousse Desserts

Just a quick note: here are the two phenomenal mousse desserts on this trip. Especially the caramel mousse. Never had it before so it’s the best I have ever had.imageVanilla mousse with caramelized walnut and sugar crumbles and white chocolate shavingsimageCaramelized mousse pie with caramel on top, crunchy crust. Completely digging this dessert.

I realized that buffet is the worst thing in the world if the food is good. I am inevitably eating more than my normal share of food during the past couple of days. The best thing is that the Terceira Mar Hotel has not only redeemed itself, it has also gone ahead and showed me what kind of food Azoreans can make. This is perfect for the holidays.

This experience took place at

Terceira Mar Hotel
Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 402 280

Wanderlust Azores- Octopus, Limpets and Ice Cream with Azorean Hospitality!

I am a big fan of Octopus. Let it be grilled, roasted, or stewed, I love them all. When I realized that one of the popular dishes in the Azores is Octopus, I was ecstatic. image Look at the tentacles. Rosted in olive oil and garlic from the Terceira Mar Hotel. Unfortunately, they are over done from being in the buffet tray.image This is what my plate looked like. Gluttony…
imageThese are limpets in sauce from a corner restaurant in Praia do Vitoria. When the tour bus stopped for the souvenir shop, I headed straight for the local food. It’s very tasty but so little meat. The cup is filled with mostly shells. Some of the shells have the mossy growth on them. Although I’m a girl of seafood, the mossy growth decreased my appetite.imageOctopus salad from the same corner restaurant. This was delicious. I like it more than the roasted octopus because the vinegar brought out more of the octopus flavor. The octopus was cooked just right.imageAmazing Magnum ice cream bars, made with the Terceira cows’ milk. Terceira’s dairy products are amazing.

Do you know how amazing the Azoreans are? The owner from the corner restaurant in Praia da Vitoria knew not one word of English but we managed to communicate that it’s a to-go order, I needed them in plastic containers in a bag for the bus ride, I needed to heat up the limpets in a microwave before eating but I couldn’t since I am in a hotel, and I needed a plastic utensil. Since they don’t use plastic utensils, he handed me a stainless fork instead! So much love exchanged. Simply amazing.  

P.S. Since the first writing of this post, I had gone back to the corner restaurant in Praia da Vitoria and found the name of the restaurant. It’s called Tropical Point!

This experience took place at

Terceira Mar Hotel
Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 402 280

Tropical Point
Rua Álvaro Martins Homem 11,A
9760-412 Praia da Vitória
Tel. 295542167
Tlm. 91 820 86 49 / 91 990 88 83
Sub-gerência: Manuel da Silva Rodrigues
E-mail: gerencia@tropical-point.com

Wanderlust Azores- Authentic Lunch at Sao Sebastiao with First World Efficiency and Developing Country Openness and Kindness

Another authentic food experience at Os Moinhos in Sao Sebastiao! Amazingly, for $59 per person I got a full day around the island bus tour plus a great meal. Thanks for Azores Gateways and a shout out to Miguel and Marlo for their infinite politeness and incredible driving skills! Yes, a marketing plug for them because of how warm they are and how they operate with the first world efficiency yet with the developing country openness and kindness.

image Filing into the small restaurant in the stone house.image The cheese tasted soft like a camembert but less bitey and more runny.imageCabbage soup is a typical dish in the Azores. This has more oil than what I’m used to. With chickpeas.image Beautiful, right? Tasted homey.image Beef stewed with red wine. I know there are more ingredients…
image Look at the size of these pieces.image This is the most popular dessert on Terceira. Made with cornmeal, honey, cinnamon, and sprinkled with powder sugar on top.

The meal was excellent, showcased the local flavors and representative dishes. The beef was a little crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Both soup and beef were cooked in a cauldron and brought whole to the table to be shared in a family style. I am also pretty sure that they were cooked over an open flame.

Wow. What an experience! Definitely worth visiting… HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Terceira experience in the Azores.

P.S. The meal was served with plenty of wine produced locally as well.

This experience took place at

Restaurante Os Moinhos
(Vila de São Sebastião)

Rua Arrabalde
( Angra do Heroísmo )
Azores, Portugal

Wanderlust Azores- Terceira Mar Hotel’s Christmas Eve Dinner, the Sweet Sweet Butter

Not realizing how small Terceira is, I didn’t anticipate the small number of restaurants and neither did I anticipate no place to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Luckily, some fellow travelers were smarter than me and figured out that the best option is the hotel because everything else is closed! I had to reserve my spot for the Christmas Eve Dinner buffet. I wasn’t too enthusiastic since the hotel food has not made a positive impression.

I am so happy that Terceira Mar has redeemed itself! They can cook. Now this is more like a four star hotel.image May not be much to look at with the bad lighting but this was excellent. The pork loin was slightly dry but seasoned well. The steamed cod was moist and buttery. The cabbage, mushrooms and white asparagus hit the spot.imageMy little photographer’s plate.
image Second serving with a slight variation on the vegetables
image Buche de Noel, the Azorean version made with cornmeal, honey, cinnamon and powder sugar.image Flan! I was happy! Made in the Latin American fashion, with lots of eggs.
imageThere were a lot more food that were offered… the extremely tasty butter and cheese produced by the local cows, the Azorean bread muffin, the fruit salad, etc.. I can’t get butter like that in NY even if I’m willing to spend the money.

I am just loving the Terceira’s cows and Terceira. Merry Christmas to all.

This experience took place at

Terceira Mar Hotel

Angra do Heroísmo,
Azores Portugal
Phone:295 402 280

Wanderlust Azores- Day One Food Adventure. Well, Disappointment is More Like it.

Because of jetlag, I made no effort for food. Instead, I relied on Terceira Mar Hotel restaurants for breakfast and dinner and a random cafe by the bank for lunch. They haven’t been poor but they also haven’t been what I came for.imageHam and Cheese Crepe with a Boiled Egg from Petiskaky Cafe. Not bad but also not memorable.imageLemon Frize drink. This was the highlight of lunch.imageCheese Burger with Fries from Terceira Mar Hotel. Decent, my photographer says.imagePrawn and Pineapple Salad from Terceira Mar. It’s a shame that they are called prawns. They are the European prawns where everything is downsized from the American standards. These are not even large shrimps! The salad was lame and bland.

Luckily, I’ll be hungry again tomorrow and will have another opportunity to right this wrong.

These experiences took place at

9700-016 Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal

Terceira Mar Hotel
9700 Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal