Have A Nikita M’Dear: the non-eponymous drinks of Madeira

(This is a bit of a jump in time, but it is going to take me a while to sort out videos etc. to write the full colour version of the sail back from the Azores – so here’s something I started writing in Madeira but didn’t get around to finishing at the time..)
Not that madeira wine isn’t very nice, but there are plenty of other options…

Although poncha is now very much associated with Madeira, some guides will admit that this was originally an English import from India in the mid eighteenth century, which was adapted to local ingredients and became extremely popular. The most common version comprises sugar cane spirit, honey, lemon juice and lemon zest.

(with carne de vinho e alho – beautifully tender pork marinated in wine and garlic)

Freshly made it is delicious, albeit with quite a kick, and is served hot or cold depending on the season. Some bars make a vast number of variations, from pescador (fisherman’s) to maracuja (passion fruit) and a rather lethal sounding verde (with absinthe as the spirit).

Bottled you mostly get the kick – or you did when I tried it once, and probably won’t again.

If you’re ordering a niquita, or nikita, that’s not really an issue since it contains ice cream. I might have had a bit more trepidation about drinking it if I hadn’t mistakenly though the alcohol content was just white wine, rather than white wine and beer, with vanilla ice cream and chunks of pineapple. It makes for a very refreshing long drink, especially on a hot day.

Having tried these, I was left with the one that definitely didn’t sound drinkable, or even edible, in whatever language. The Pe da Cabra, or the Goat’s Foot. I was rather expecting it to be a Regional Specialty very much in accord with the Pratchett usage of the term.

I knew it was a little strange, but I’d actually forgotten the full details of the ingredients list the day I tried it, so watching the barman make it was fascinating but tinged with revelatory horror at nearly every step.

He began with a small bottle of beer from the fridge.
Then he poured a small glass of dry Madeira wine, and mixed them.
Then he added some sugar.
Then he added a big heaped teaspoon of drinking chocolate powder and mixed that in too.
Then he cut some big chunks of rind off a lemon and added that in.

It was actually very good.

Now we go from the traditional to what’s apparently quite a modern idea – sugar cane juice (rum is of course very traditional). It’s unsurprisingly sweet, but not excessively so, and wonderful chilled in warm weather.

This cherry liqueur was unsurprisingly served up at the cherry festival in Jardim da Serra – a gorgeous colour and quite tasty as well, though actually a bit too sweet for me – rather surprising in comparison to the sugar cane juice!

And this is cidra (or sidra) – similar to English cider, this was quite a sweet version, but quite a few different versions are available.

I never actually got around to having a caipirinha, more famously associated with Brazil but unsurprisingly popular in Madeira and Portugal as well. They’re considerably easier to find elsewhere though..

P.S. I’ll be impressed if anyone figures out the reference in the title..

4 Responses to “Have A Nikita M’Dear: the non-eponymous drinks of Madeira”

  1. Uncle John Says:

    Have a madeira, m’dear.
    Flanders & Swann I believe.

  2. maidofmettle Says:

    Very good, correct on both counts!

  3. Brian Sue blue bear Says:

    Sounds like you’ve embarked on a drinking spree

    • maidofmettle Says:

      Well, you have to try these things, but they were fairly spread out! Great to hear from you, I’ll send you an email.

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