Handmade and Gourmet Products from the Azores
Are you looking for handmade and gourmet products from the Azores Islands? Here, on these nine magical islands you can find a wide variety of local products. Certon Kisters lives on the island of Flores in the Azores. Since 2004 he has been working with different Azorean wood varieties, where he combines, with extraordinary detail, a compilation of miniature paintings with Azorean themes. These are beautiful time-consuming pieces that make the perfect gift. The detail that goes into painting such small stones from the island and then working with the wood to get the perfect shape is awe-inspiring. Handmade guitars and string instruments from the Azores? It all started almost two decades ago for José Serpa with the production of string instruments. In his workshop on the island of Flores, you will find, among others, the famous Viola da Terra (in the two versions, Micaelense and Terceirense)This instrument, which was brought to the islands at the time of the settlement of over 500 years ago, still carries the medieval sounds of the Azorean people. In addition to the more traditional string instruments, you can find original instruments made of various kinds of wood such as mahogany from Honduras, Indian Rosewood, red cedar, myrica faya, maple, and rosewood, among others. The Association of Artisans of the island of Graciosa was founded to promote and develop handmade embroidery from Graciosa, highlighting embroidery as a regional craft and honoring the role of women in the society in Graciosa. The embroidery of Graciosa is essentially in white and blue. Graciosa embroidery is a certified product from the Azores. High quality and time-consuming, this is linen that is sought by travelers. The delicious desserts that the Azores is known for, come from recipes that have been passed down for generations and then tweaked to incorporate more readily available ingredients. The delicious pastry maker on the island of Sao Miguel is located in Ribeira Seca. It is called ‘Padaria e Pastelaria do Maria Alice Sousa.’ Maria Alice began making traditional Azorean desserts that were typical on the island of São Jorge when she was around 12 years of age. She currently has a bakery and a pastry shop that manufactures various kinds of traditional sweets and innovative desserts. If you are looking for fresh, authentic Azorean pastries then make sure to visit this sweet shop on your next visit to Sao Miguel. Although many more interesting products are made in the Azores, I must mention my favorite. The Kima Maracuja, which translates to passion fruit, is the best-tasting soda made in the Azores. The two flavors most popular are passion fruit and pineapple. Although many companies have similar products, such as the Sumol brand, which sells Passion Fruit and Pineapple flavor, the Kima brand is the local Azorean brand—made under the name of the Melo Abreu company, which is the oldest distiller in the Azores. Maria Johanna Vermazeren devotes herself to the design of ceramic pieces, using red or white clay, molding only by hand or using the potter’s wheel, reinterpreting ancestral combustion techniques. Her company Barro & Barro, which is located on the island of Pico, is where you can see her crafting these unique pieces by hand. Many visitors make a point of visiting this unique shop where countless designs and collections range from serving bowls to teapots. In 2019 the island of Sao Miguel received just over 1.2 million visitors to the island. The island has the largest and most accessible airport out of the 9 islands in the region, which is why everyone visits Sao Miguel before visiting the other islands. Home to the only tea plantation in Europe, here in the town of Maia, is home to the Cha Gorreana tea plantation. Once a vast orange grove in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was incorporated into a tea plantation in 1883. According to Tripadvisor, this 6th generation family-owned and operated plantation is the 2nd most popular site in all of the Azores to visit. Here you can see miles of manicured tea plants at this eco-friendly estate. Whether it’s a hike throughout the plantation, a cup of tea or fresh-made ice cream in the factory, or even waterfall hunting throughout the estate, this is by far one of the best spots to visit in the Azores.
Artesanato Paulo Pereira. Paulo and Lúcia Pereira are dedicated to manufacturing wooden miniatures, symbolizing ethnographic, bullfighting, and children’s displays. Located on the island of Pico, they make one-of-a-kind pieces, and everything is done by hand. Because there is a lot of Dutch influence in the Azores, from the windmills to the various communities that immigrated from the Netherlands to the Azores in the 16th century, you can find some unique dutch style crafts such as the famous Dutch wooden shoes. Made by hand these wooden clogs will surely take you back to your trip to the Azores.
Of course, it goes without saying that all nine islands in the Azores produce their own varieties of honey. Since these remote islands are located in the mid-Atlantic ocean, hundreds of miles away from any sort of industrial pollution, it allows the bees here to pollinate freely. The abundance of flowers that adorn the region is only one of the reasons why the honey from the Azores islands is so tasty. Charles Darwin, Mark Twain even Winston Churchill all noted the island’s wealth of native and endemic flowers. Faial island which is known as the blue island due to its abundance of hydrangeas in my opinion produces the best tasting honey. Made in small batches seasonally this sweet-tasting honey will surely put a smile on your face.