Pastel de Nata

Even more than baccaula, the pastry treat “Pastel de Nata” are at the center of Portugal’s culinary heart. Every restaurant, bar, café, food court etc. has pastel de nata for sale throughout the day. At the grocery store, you can enjoy a breakfast of a sweet pastel and a bitter espresso for 1.

Tour books will tell you that the best Pastel de Nata are to be found in Belém, where they were first made at the Pastéis de Belém in 1837, following a recipe said to be handed down from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.  They are quite good there, and a line out the door of the assembly line like bakery attests to their popularity. Of course, any pastel that is fresh out of the oven is going to be tasty!

For me, however, the best Pastel de Nata in Portugal are to be had in Alfama at a tiny unassuming bakery, the Pastelaria Alfama Doce. Their secret, I think, is a hint of lemon juice in the custard – not according to tradition, of course, but a great upgrade to this Portuguese treat!


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