Madeira's volcanic origins have left a dramatic landscape, fertile soil and lush greenery.
One of the more remarkable aspects of Madeira are the terraces that farmers have fashioned over the centuries to make use of every inch of available land. Madeirans have carved thousands of miles of terraces into this precipitous terrain and with the help of the levadas, thousands of kilometres of water channels turned the island into one of the most productive regions in Europe.
Banana plantations are everywhere, not your typical supermarket variety but a smaller, sweeter version, far superior to the EU regulated bananas we get in the UK. And my personal favourite, avocados are so cheap, you pay the same for a bag here you pay for a single avocado in the UK or US.
There is also 'Delicious Fruit' a combination of banana and pineapple. A lot of people, like it. Sugar Cane plantations are the next most productive and this is where you get the rum so popular in Poncha as well as pure rum digestifs.
One of the best places to visit to see and sample the variety of food is the Workers’ Market or Mercado dos Lavradores.
Espetadas, a Portuguese version of Shish Kabab is a classic dish that originates from the island of Madeira. The most common meats are beef or pork 'skewered' onto a bay laurel branch. The dish originated here in the Strait of Câmara de Lobos and its here you find one of the best restaurants serving it, Vila da Carne overlooking the bay and fishing village of Câmara de Lobos.
This is one of the most traditional dishes especially immigrants and they have the meat on the skewer the proper way. They get a steel barrel halves and then put coal and laurel wood tempered with the meat and all across the summer, they have the popular religious parties called Arraiais' - like a rodeo. In Madeira, you have the church and religious stuff but everyone is eating and drinking outside. In the summer, in the west from South Africa, they pay for these religious parties and it's all about Catholic and mini skirts. Incongruent. The old guys are checking the girls. This is Madeira in the summertime. Arraial de Sao Vicente is the biggest attracting more young people after the booze and bands. But it's supposed to be religious.
In all these you have espetada and wine! Your family buys a stick! You buy a stick of meat and do it yourself. The meat is usually very good.
Quinta da Bela Vista
One of the best meals we had in Funchal was at Quinta da Bela Vista Restaurant, part of .
Il Vivaldi is in the centre of Funchal.
Restaurante do Forte
At the old Forte Sao Tiago which is also a contemporary art museum. Used to be a military....
The traditional drink of fishermen, Poncha....Fishing Village