My family and I recently visited the gorgeous Portuguese capital city of Lisbon on our summer vacation. I promise a full post on this stunning place very soon, but today I would like to share one of our favorite memories from this trip….the cream custards found all over the city, the famous pasteis de nata. Let me start off by saying that we all love sweets in my family, but oh my….the moment I tasted these warm custard mini pies…I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Being Cuban, I have had my share of pasteles in my life, but I guarantee you, these were something quite different.
Pasteis de nata, traditional Portuguese custard tarts, are everywhere. All the cafes and bakeries have them, and in both of the hotels where we stayed at, they were a staple in the breakfast buffet. It is a common sight to see the locals enjoying their pasteis with their cafe in the morning. However, if you are looking for the absolute best ones in town (even considered the best by the Portuguese themselves, as our taxi driver was telling us), you must pick up some pasteis at Pasteis de Belem, a bakery in nearby Belem that’s been making these treats since 1837 when monks from the neighboring Mosteiro dos Jeronimos started selling them as a means of making money (their history is quite interesting and can be found on their website). The cafe is usually bustling with tons of tourists just waiting in line (yes there is a line outside most of the time, but it moves rather quickly), to order their delectable pasteis. Once I tasted these, I understood what makes them so famous. While most of the other pasteis throughout the city were also delicious, (they truly are sold everywhere), these were simply perfect. The flakiness and crispiness of the crust combined with the smooth, warm and creamy egg flavored custard was just divine. Oh and if you first look at them and think you got a burned one, do not worry, the tops are slightly burned so the sugar caramelizes. Some folks like to sprinkle cinnamon or powdered sugar on top, but I just ate my plain, I truly wanted to savor the flavor of these heavenly tarts everyone was talking about.
All I can say is thank goodness we walked for miles everyday in Lisbon, because we were eating these pasteis on a daily basis, and boy are we glad we experienced that slice of heaven.
Have you ever tasted the famous Portuguese pasteis de nata? I would love to know your thoughts.