I have a sweet tooth. There’s no denying it. And, when traveling, I’ve found it’s worthwhile oftentimes to indulge it. That was true on my recent trip to Portugal, and indulge it I did while sampling the country’s iconic pasteis de Nata whenever I had the chance.
I’d actually tried one years ago in Macau, where the cuisine is a unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese. I remember liking them, but I didn’t remember the taste, and it didn’t stand out to me. Neither did the version I tried at my hotel’s breakfast buffet on my first morning in Lisbon.
On a morning tour of the city, our guide pointed out Pasteis de Belém, which serves the city’s most iconic version of the pastry. Despite time constraints, we made it a point to detour to the bakery and sample the confections. The egg tarts originated here, and they are referred to as pasteis de Belém. The name is trademarked, and the secret ingredient is a well-kept secret, so that spot in the city is the only place where one can taste that exact style. It was warm, creamy, with a slight crunch from the crust, a little messy but oh-so-delicious — and worth the extra stop.
Version three was had at Manteigaria in Time Out Market Lisboa. This one was closer to room temperature than warm since I opted to bring it back to the hotel room for later. But it still had that creamy filling and the buttery crust.
Sadly, my last taste of the indulgent treat was at the airport on the way home (and, no, I didn’t bust into the boxes of the treat I bought as souvenirs). Before departing TAP Air Portugal’s lounge to catch my flight, I spotted a fresh plate of the pastry. Once again, I had to stop for the warm, gooey delight and one final taste of Portugal.
— Kim Krol, editor in chief
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