Monday, 27th July – Carcavelos bus/train station
Cake no.2: pasteis de nata
Pasteis de nata, or pasteis de Belem are now familiar on smart cafe counters in Britain. Their delicate, buttery pastry and vanilla custard filling are a more refined foil to our custard tart. The pasties de Belem are esteemed as the epitome of this cake. They originated in the Belem monastery, and they continue to be produced in a large cafe/bakery nearby. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to join the queues there.
I found my first one in Portugal here
at a kiosk at Carcavelos. That it was extremely cheap was particularly welcome, as we had blown €80 at the worst, most overpriced restaurant staffed by the most obsequious waiters the night before – restaurante quinta farta pao. Don’t ever go.
The kiosk was humble and perfect, staffed by a cheerful old woman who, being on the short side, had a stick and a stool to assist in reaching things.
The outer texture of the pastry was quite dry, flaky, but didn’t just disintegrate. The upper was quite burnt/caramelised.
Interior: very runny, unlike others I’ve tasted. More like custard you’d get with pudding. There was another taste in addition to the traditional vanilla, not sure what, maybe nutmeg.
Coffee aficionados will note that most expressos are classed by me as great. On holiday with two kids, all fresh coffee is great.