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Madeira on the Swan

Natalie Bradbury visits a new deli on Swan Street that sells swans

Published on October 7th 2008.

Madeira on the Swan

This is a first for the city. A Portuguese deli has opened offering familiar products and exotic foodstuffs on Swan Street.

Alexandra Nantims is the proprietor and her shop Madeira, provides home comforts for Manchester's Portuguese community. She estimates this as 25,000 immigrants working as cooks and providing “80% of the staff in hotels and restaurants”. Confidential hasn’t checked these figures so don’t quote us – but it sounds way too high for our liking.

Most of us know the staples of Spanish cuisine, but Nantims stresses that their Iberian neighbours food is “very different” from that in Espana. She also says it’s “very nice”, which is reassung.

The country's green and red flag hangs over a deli counter piled with as many types of hams, sausages and cooked meats as it's possible to count on your fingers, from coils of chorizo (chourico in Portuguese) to Torresmos, a flavourful blend of different cuts of pork that Nantims offers in sliced tasting samples which are thin, stiff and almost translucent. As she says they’re very nice.

In front of colourful posters of Madeira, Nantims' Atlantic home island, a counter offers a selection of cheeses, including Castelões and one from the Azores that is the shape, and almost the size, of a football.

She holds up a dried, salted cod, the food for which Portugal is best known. She says, “there are so many ways to do cod”, including “cooked cod”, “salt cod with cream” and “salt cod à bras”. There's a recipe where you slice it into small pieces and boil them until they expand into “the size of a steak”. And us Brits only thought they came battered.

Freezers down the centre of the shop are crammed with seafood - whole crabs and clams, and specialist meats like swan and veal. On the shelves jellies, jams, sweets and desserts line up alongside dried beans and spices. There are cereals and soft drinks imported from Portugal: bestsellers include sumos, or fruit juices.

For Portuguese folk made homesick by all this culinary nostalgia Nantims has a stash of Portuguese newspapers.

This is a great place for a browse and a rummage. It isn’t posh though - calling it basic, does it a favour. The fact that it’s not surrounded by many apartments or flats, does make you worry for its future. Still the range of food stuffs, Portuguese but influenced by food from across the former Portuguese Empire, makes for an interesting visit.

Madeira Deli
Swan Street (opp Band on the Wall)
M4 5JU

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

brazilianOctober 7th 2008.

Atlantic is very cold you cant swim around the seas in portugal.They eat rancid fish too - that is not a delicacy.

LisbongirlOctober 7th 2008.

Trust me. Salt Cod a Bras is not cooked anything like this - it's fried with potatoes and scrambled egg. As for the Portuguese providing 80% of workers in the hotel/restaurant trade in this city. Not on your nelly

davidOctober 7th 2008.

Whenever I've been to a portugese shop, the owner is usually sat on a till in a shabby old dress, mostly they seemed to sell boddingtons and guiness in almost out of date cans.This was however in Almncil, You could buy all the staple requirements of the british holidaymaker, baked beans, brown sauce etc, usuallly they had biscuits but they would be a bit melted in the sun. The aforementioned owner was usually surly and tended to throw your change at you, and any chance of help with your packing, forget it!

CastlefieldOctober 7th 2008.

Thanks Fi, like Ronaldo is then. I just got pissed off with the anti Manc rants from the workers and owners, no wonder they bump really, totally wrong place in town.

AnonymousOctober 7th 2008.

Who's Antonio, thought it was owned by a woman?

HugoOctober 7th 2008.

What do turists know? When you visit a country you don't eat or buy what the locals eat or buy! You buy what is tailored at the tourist palate i.e fish & chips... you will never eat snails would you...#so to say it is a shop for Portuguese not English and it is not cheap but it cheaper than travelling to Portugal!there are loads of Portuguese people working in Manchester behind the kitchen chefs that work in restaurants and the food tastes like food not like burnt bbq and wine that is is wine not alchool for boozenevertheless it is here and yes if you want someting different visit this shopPortuguese regards from Manchester!!! :)

CastlefieldOctober 7th 2008.

Carla, I don't think learning the language is an essential part of going on a holiday! And for all you know David could be fluent. I very much doubt someone attempts to stab you in the face everytime you go out, that is an exaggeration like David also exaggerates, get it?

FiOctober 7th 2008.

Passed this place a couple of days ago - looks like it's closed down - can't say I'm surprised. BTW Castlefileld, it 'aint Portuguese, it's Madeiran

CarlaOctober 7th 2008.

Dear David, How typical! You go to a foreign country, don't bother to learn the language and complain about silly things like "my biscuits are a melted"!I'm portuguese and live in Manchester now. Fair enough, most mediterranean have a bit of a temper but at least no one tries to stab you in the face everytime you step out the door like in Manchester.Also, have you been out and about in the real world lately? So much for the world known british politeness. Are you sure you live in the same England as me?

CastlefieldOctober 7th 2008.

Hugo, you're a **** tourist. If you think all British people who go abroad and look for fish and chips you are also very ignorant. Perhaps this is another local import from Portugal that has already passed it's sell by date. Take your obvious dislike for our country and it's population back to Portugal.

gazinhoOctober 7th 2008.

just got back from a visit to this shop (14/2/09). what a fantastic place for everything lusso. we spent quiet a bit of money but i know for sure we`ll be eating like kings for some weeks to come. 10 out of 10 from my wife and i. ps, the wife is brasilian.

gazinhoOctober 7th 2008.

c v v c pesoas.never been to portugal but brasil (rio & santos 3 times)sometime soon i`ll go to portugal, lets not forget this shop is good, bissss

casOctober 7th 2008.

Rosie, no as on way to beach!!!!

JayOctober 7th 2008.

I would guess that the British provide more restaurant staff than the Portuguese. I've never met anyone from Portugal in all of my time working in Manchester.

rosieOctober 7th 2008.

do you really have nothing better to do?

gary bradburyOctober 7th 2008.

married couple. with a young girl.the wife who`s brasilian had a chat with them for about 1hr some weeks ago, very nice people.

franciscoOctober 7th 2008.

It's about time hurray!

gary bradburyOctober 7th 2008.

the deli is still there, i spoke to antonio today 27/10/09, 11.00 am.he was most disturbed to hear he had closed down. you lot bitching wont help his shop much will it.

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