One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Azores is the geothermal cooking site at Furnas Lake. We made reservations for a local restaurant, Terra Nostra, and headed to Lagoa de Furnas to see if we could spot our meal simmering away in the ground. It was a fun trip, especially for the kids, who were fascinated by the bubbling water and steaming holes in the ground.
We explored Furnas Lake and saw some employees from other restaurants putting in and pulling out their Cozido. Ours was already in the ground when we arrived at the lake. We stayed there for some time, wandering the walkways and taking a close look at the beautiful trees and the many ducks that live on the lake. The sulfur smell was a little strong at first, but we got used to it after a bit.
Terra Nostra Gardens
Finally, we decided it was time to head to town. We were about an hour early for our reservation, but Terra Nostra isn’t just a place to enjoy a good meal. It is also a famous local garden and the place to go if you want to soak in the warm iron springs. If you are ordering from the Cozido menu, you receive a discount on admission to the garden and we wanted to explore awhile before eating.
Sequoia trees towered above us, massive ferns unfurled and beautiful plants were in bloom everywhere. It was a lovely spot to wander. In fact, it was so lovely that we ended up coming back to the garden after our meal to explore again and so the boys could enjoy a dip in the thermal water pool. (Wear a bathing cap if you have long hair. My nephew was growing his out to donate to cancer patients and had to condition it several times and applied several Vitamin E oil treatments before he finally got all the minerals off and had his hair looking and feeling healthy again.)
Lunch at Terra Nostra
Terra Nostra definitely wants to give a fine dining feel to their restaurant. The tables were dressed in crisp white linens and the waiters were very attentive. Many diners were wearing suits, but no one seemed to be bothered by our more casual attire.
The meal began with the offer of an amuse-bouche – a light and refreshing mint and melon starter. It was excellent. We all ordered Cozido das Furnas, or Furnas stew. Two of us chose the vegetarian option. I was afraid the vegetables would be mush after cooking so long in the earth, but they were actually perfect. The servings were hearty enough that we opted not to order dessert.
If you are looking for a fine dining experience in the Azores, or just want to explore a beautiful garden after a relaxing meal, I definitely recommend Terra Nostra.
For More Information:
Rua Padre José Jacinto Botelho, 9675-061
Furnas, Sao Miguel
Phone: 351 296 549 090