Chef Guida Ponte lives in the US, but she travels back to her native island as often as possible, and she's now offering delightfully intimate culinary tours of the island she knows so well. She relishes the opportunity to share the beauty and riches of her island with her guests - to sample platters of seafood stew, sip green tea at the island's tea plantation (shown here), and stroll the vibrant streets of Ponta Delgada. She is extremely proud of Sao Miguel, the largest, most diverse, and most populated of the nine Azores islands, which, for its strikingly verdant mountains, lush vegetation, and mineral-rich soil, has been dubbed by locals the archipelago's "Green Island.”
Forget your Crock Pot. Guida has a better idea in mind: Slow cooking in a volcano. No joke. The most celebrated dish on the island of Sao Miguel, "Cozido das Furnas,” is a pot of meat (pork, beef, chicken, sausage) and vegetables (cabbage, carrots, collards, potatoes, onions, taro) that is literally buried and cooked for about six hours deep in the steaming hot volcanic soil in Furnas Valley. It is an excellent example of island ingenuity. Guida will guide us as we shop for and prepare this meal, deliver it to its geo-thermal "stove" and later, savor every bite at nearby picnic tables.
For its small size of 290 square miles, Sao Miguel is remarkably rich in history, culture, and diversity of flora and fauna. Situated 950 miles from mainland Portugal, its people have learned to be self-sufficient and extremely resourceful. Since the first residents arrived 500 years ago, the island’s churches have played an important role in daily life. We will climb the steps of the sweet historic chapel "Irmida Nossa Senhora da Paz” and enjoy spectacular views of the ancient village of Vila Franca do Campo below.
Azores Food Tour will stay three nights in Ponta Delgada, a beautiful waterfront city that comes alive every evening with al fresco dining, live concerts, and street festivals. Farmer's markets and shops are also a huge draw, and a highlight of the trip is Guida’s tour of the Saturday market, where guests can find local saffron, pineapples, cork purses, and much more. About 40,000 of the island's 140,000 inhabitants live in Ponta Delgada.
Guida has chosen two of the island’s finest hotels for her guests — a charming, historic, boutique hotel in the city center and a brand-new, luxurious and stylish hotel in the resort town of Furnas. Hotel Colegio is ideally situated within walking distance of the city harbor, shops, and restaurants. It has been recently renovated to include many modern updates, including wifi in rooms. The hotel’s name derives from its history as a school, where, coincidentally, AFT host Sandra attended kindergarten.Hotel Colegio's Website
Furnas Boutique Hotel just opened, and it is already winning awards for its sleek, contemporary design, romantic setting, and world-class spa. In keeping with the intimate nature of the island and the AFT, Felipe, the hotel manager, is a cousin of Sandra’s and an dear friend of Guida's. He warmly welcomed our November group for dinner, which our guests deemed “one of the best meals of the entire trip,” and he’s eager to welcome our next guests. We will start our trip in Furnas, and soothe our jet lag on the first day with spa treatments.Furnas Boutique Hotel's Site