#46 Cakes of Portugal No.3 Bolo de chocolate

Monday 27th, July – Landeau, Rua das Flores, Lisbon

Cake no.3: bolo de chocolate

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The bolo de chocolate translates simply as chocolate cake, and is not a cake undersold. Extracts from reviews suggest that this is ‘the best chocolate cake in the world’.

There are two branches of Landeau in Lisbon. Both are beautifully designed, industrial retro-chic locations. We were at the Chiado cafe which is the least pretentious of the two, like a cross between a wine vault and 1950s schoolroom. There is a monastic calm in this cool interior that insulates from the city beyond, which my children managed to quickly dispel by tussling over who could ride the 1970s trike in the corner. There was no-one else here and the waitress was entirely happy with them careering around the cafe in circles. It was fine.

The menu here is simple – a bolo de chocolate, accompanied with either tea/coffee/hot chocolate/port. A slice of the best chocolate cake in the world costs €3.50.

The cake is constructed in three layers. The base layer is a delicate sponge cake, the mid layer, a light mousse, and the upper layer, a dense, rich dark chocolate ganache (or similar) dusted with cocoa powder. It is very nice. Despite being founded on such a light base, the cake coheres well. Each layer compliments the other well (they are each chocolatey, after all). It is deliciously rich without being cloying, and the aftertaste is intense with a lingering coffee taste (that isn’t just the accompanying coffee).

After one mouthful, the kids disdained it. I had forgotten they treat all dark chocolate the same way, and we were happy to dispatch their leavings. Neither my friend or I are gourmands, we enjoy food, but lay no claim to sophisticated palates. It is hard to say whether this is the best chocolate cake in the world, it certainly isn’t the worst, or even the most average. But, when confronted with a cake of such weighty acclaim, the likelihood of anticlimax is high. The lasting impression was of having eaten a really nice chocolate mousse. This makes sense, as the chief component of the cake is the mid layer mousse which is, really, very nice.

I can also report that the coffee at Landeau is great.

How to insert a line break into WordPress (!)

For an unknown reason, I’ve returned to poetry. It’s something I did a lot as an adolescent. Maybe I’m regressing into that self-obsessed self. Possibly.

Anyway, when writing poems, it’s nice to be able to insert a line break to differentiate stanzas. Until today, I hadn’t been able to do this. No matter how many times I press return, WordPress has ignored this and displayed the text as a single body.

To intentionally insert a line break, switch the writing mode from ‘Visual’ to ‘HTML’, and paste the following where you want a line break:

<br style=”height:4em” />

Ta da.

#45 Cakes of Portugal No.2 Pasteis de nata

Monday, 27th July – Carcavelos bus/train station

Cake no.2: pasteis de nata

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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

IMG_1923at 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 cake.

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.

Great expresso.

Coffee aficionados will note that most expressos are classed by me as great. On holiday with two kids, all fresh coffee is great.

#44 Cakes of Portugal No.1 Alsaciana

Saturday, 25th July ~ Casa des historias, Cascais

Cake no.1: alsaciana

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Texture is what first intrigues. It feels compact, yet barely stable, like a suet pudding solidified. Or yellow play dough.

A caramelised, creme brûlée top, sticky rather than brittle.

Taste like a mild lemon curd, custardy, sweet and tart. Went extremely well with a great expresso.

We were here to see the Paula Rego exhibition, they let you take pictures, so:IMG_1801 IMG_1808 IMG_1812 IMG_1815 IMG_1820 IMG_1822

#42 airplane (draft)

Contained, concealed, a heart revealed,

A clear refining light unveiled

Beyond your eyes.

 

Fingers clasped around my phone,

I’m not alone. The runway falls,

We’re coming home.

 

Across the aisle, a stranger sees,

Perhaps perceives the fields of trees,

Racing seas, swarms of bees we conjure.

#41 seaside

Strange to be by sea on sand

Sunned, yet chilled by wind while tanned,

Watching son and daughter manned by others.


Surf school seemed the slackest sort,

Though by these slackers children taught

To stride the breakers’ cold onslaught and triumph.


Moored up, but still the rise and fall,

Anchor deep, yet still that pull

Elsewhere, a pulsing constant call, my other.


Cells divide, hearts contract, blood rushes through.

Time passes, thoughts turn, waves renew.

Surfing stops, I switch bifocal view.

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