Source: FT article: https://www.ft.com/content/f787e5c0-3eda-11e7-82b6-896b95f30f58
Portugal’s recovery from the eurozone’s debt crisis reached a milestone on Monday as the EU said the country, which needed an international bailout, was no longer in breach of the bloc’s budget rules. Brussels’ verdict underlines Portugal’s turnround after its rescue by eurozone governments and the International Monetary Fund in 2011 and reflects the improving economic environment for the single currency area, where growth has picked up and unemployment is at an eight-year low. The European Commission on Monday said Portugal’s budget deficit fell to 2 per cent of gross domestic product in 2016, well below the limit of 3 per cent set out in its budget rules and the lowest since the country joined the eurozone in 1999. Brussels expects the deficit to stay roughly the same until the end of its forecast in 2018. “It is really a very good and a very important, piece of news for Portugal, for the Portuguese economy, for the Portuguese people,” said Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s commissioner for economic affairs. He said the country had suffered “what was by any measure, a major crisis”. Portugal’s finance ministry said the decision showed “confidence in the Portuguese economy is now spreading to international institutions”. Only three eurozone members — France, Spain and Greece — remain in the “corrective” part of the EU’s stability and growth pact rules, compared with 24 countries at the height of the continent’s crisis six years ago. Countries must make progress towards bringing budget deficits to below 3 per cent of GDP and reducing debt to 60 per cent of GDP. Related article Portugal buoyed by Eurovision win, faith and football Revellers share blessed relief from a decade of recession and austerity Greece is poised to leave the corrective procedure at the end of its bailout next year, the commission said. Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU commission vice-president responsible for the euro, said trends were “overall positive and we should use this window of opportunity to make European economies more competitive, resilient and innovative”. Brussels warned that recovery was “uneven and still vulnerable”, highlighting bad loans clogging up the eurozone’s banking system and imbalances between different countries’ competitiveness and economic performance. The commission’s recommendation that Portugal be allowed to exit the euro area’s “excessive deficit procedure” was one of a number of so-called country-specific recommendations. Finland, which has suffered the worst downturn in the eurozone outside the southern member states, was given more time to meet targets as its government plans a series of major economic reforms to the its pensions and labour market. Croatia, a non-eurozone state, will also exit the “excessive deficit procedure” along with Portugal. Portuguese prime Minister António Costa’s “anti-austerity” government has confounded critics by cutting the deficit to its lowest level in more than 40 years, with the country benefiting from a brightening world economy and the European Central Bank’s two-year stimulus experiment. Growth in the first quarter was 1 per cent higher than in the previous quarter, raising expectations that growth will exceed the government’s forecast of 1.8 per cent in 2017 — the best in seven years. Mr Costa wants credit rating agencies to lift Portugal’s rating above “junk” status, which would cut its borrowing costs further. Only DBRS, a small Canadian rating agency, rates Portuguese debt as investment grade. Moody’s said last week that it would only consider a move to investment grade should the government make further strides to bring down the deficit. Portugal’s debt-to-GDP ratio remains above 130 per cent, the joint highest in the eurozone after Greece. Private sector debt, as measured in households and companies, is also high at 172 per cent of GDP. Although the jobless rate has fallen just below 10 per cent, average unemployment over the past three years, a measure of economic health used by the EU, remains at 12.8 per cent, above the minimum recommended level of 10 per cent. Portugal’s fragile banking sector also troubles investors and the EU. Average profits fell 7 per cent last year, the second worst performance in the EU after Italy, while non-performing loans accounted for almost a fifth of total lending.
1. Espetada Madeirense
The “Espetada“, made with beef cubes in a laurel skewer and grilled on wood or charcoal. Many restaurants have tables with iron structures applied in the center, to hang long laurel skewers in which broil the meat pieces. To accompany the dish, the locals suggest the Fried Corn “Milho Frito” and Bolo do Caco, traditionally baked in a tile bit on fire.
2 Prego no Bolo do Caco
The “Prego” (steak sandwich): grilled steak, served on traditional Madeiran Bolo do Caco. The ‘Special Prego’ includes lettuce, tomato, ham and cheese, sometimes served with fries. An economical and extremely popular dish for lunch.
The “Picado” or “Picadinho” is a traditional Madeiran dish, and therefore prepared in almost all of the restaurants of the region. It is traditionally prepared with beef cut into small cubes, fried and seasoned with garlic and pepper.
The “Picadinho” is usually served on a platter being shared by several people, who chop with a toothpick or a fork.
You can still find “Picado” made of octopus and squid , although the recipe and presentation are a bit different.
4. Cozido Madeirense
The famous Madeiran stew (Cozido Madeirense) is a dish based on salted pork, sausages and whole vegetables, among them sweet potatoes. It is cooked in wood, which gives a great taste and flavor, the ingredients are all mixed in a large pot, and all cooked at the same time. To accompany, couscous.
5. Sopa de Trigo (Wheat Soup)
The Wheat Soup is one of the specialties of the island, characterized by its gummy texture, much appreciated by residents and also by theones who visit the island. It is a great soup to eat in the winter because it is very dense, due to the amount of vegetables it takes.
There are several variations of the recipe, each home does its own thing. The richest recipes are prepared with pork and various vegetables, in the humblest, only lard and seed are added.
6.1 Bolo do Caco
The “Bolo do Caco” is a typical wheat bread of Madeira and Porto Santo. This bread, made from wheat flour, is flattened and has rounded edges. Its name is due to the way, until very recently, it was cooked: on a basalt stone, called “caco”, on hot coals.
It can be consumed hot, such as a meal entree, barred with garlic butter to melt, or even as main delicacy. It is common to be used in making sandwiches based on the “Bolo do Caco” with most varied fillings, such as steaks (Prego no Bolo do Caco), ham, swordfish, octopus.
6.2 The “Carne de Vinha D’Alhos
Carne de Vinha D’Alhos is a traditional dish of the Christmas season in Madeira, although it is consumed all year round.
It is made with pork, white wine, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and left to marinate for at least two days. At the time of eating it is fried along with the marinade and a bit of lard.
7. Sopa de Tomate (Tomato Soup)
The tomato soup and onion is one of the references of traditional Madeiran cuisine. Served with poached egg and bread, it is to eat and cry for more!
8 Frutas Tropicais (Tropical Fruits)
Tropical fruits that grow on the island, such as bananas, mangos, papayas, pomegranates, grapes and avocados are undoubtedly an endless delight. Why not to try the tabaibos, also called “figs of the devil”? These fruits, from a species of cactus, are appreciated for their juicy freshness. Pass through the Farmers Market (Funchal or Ribeira Brava) and sample some of these fruits for free. A number of tropical fruits that are worth a try.
1. Filete de Espada (Swordfish Filet)
The most typical fish of Madeira Island is the black scabbard fish “Espada“, which swims in deep waters and which has a scary aspect, at least when viewed in the market. However, it is also very tasty, especially when prepared on “Madeiran Way”, with passion fruit and banana sauce. The restaurant “Casa Madeirense “, “Classico” or “Doca do Cavacas” in Funchal and also the Restaurant “Preia Mar” in Madelena do Mar (Ponta do Sol) or “Maré Alta” (Machico) are some of the most popular restaurants for a great “Espada”.
2. Lapas (Limpets)
A Madeiran specialty, much appreciated by locals and visitors. The limpets “Lapas” are cooked upwards in a frying pan of their own and their taste increase when splashed with fresh lemon and butter. The typical Bolo do Caco is a great accompaniment to this snack. We sugest you some Restaurants around the island to try this
3. Polvo (Octopus)
Octopus is a very popular dish here in Madeira, although it is not a typically Madeiran dish. It can be served as a “dentinho” or as an entree, a marinade or with rice.
4. Truta (Grilled Trout)
In Ribeiro Frio there are the famous trout nurseries where they produce large quantities of trout. Due to this, in the parish of São Roque do Faial, the Ribeiro Frio Grilled Trout is an appreciated typical dish of this parish.
5. Bife de Atum (Tuna Steak)
Tuna is one of the most popular dishes in Madeira, and is usually eaten in the form of steak. Tuna is a fish abundant in the seas of the island hence have a strong component in the traditional cuisine of the region.
The Madeiran Tuna steaks are usually prepared in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and oregano. It is served with cooked or fried corn, or boiled potatoes, rice and salad.
The “Castanheta” is a fish that is found with abundance in the coast of Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands. They are seasoned with salt and fried in very hot oil. When serving, you can season with lemon juice and accompany with what you like best, we guarantee that they are a delight!
7. Chicharros Fritos
The “Chicharro” is a small fish that abounds in the Madeira seas and, for that reason, has played in the recent past an important role in Madeira gastronomy. It can be eaten fried, grilled or baked, being currently more common to find it fried.
The “Cracas” are calcareous formations that develop in colonies on the rocks of the marine coasts, from where they are uprooted by hammering. We can find them on Porto Santo Island and also in Madeira Island. They are considered a fine snack with an incomparable sea flavor. It is worth trying this delicacy if you are seafood lover.
19-21 May, 2017