Pastel de Nata
Behold, the sumptuous, sensuous, chewy-yet-flaky-crusted, custard-gushing Pastel de Nata, native tart extraordinaire of Lisbon, Portugal. This one came from my local Portuguese cafe in Tottenham (and very nice it was too, wolfed down in two or three bites with a galao, a tall white coffee in a glass). However, there is little dispute over where the best Pastel de Nata is to be had in London, and that is at Lisboa Patisserie, 57 Golborne Road, W10. You will be forced to try one of these (well, encouraged anyway) if you attend one of my Portobello Gastrotours.
The bakery which launched them onto the world, in southwestern Lisbon, called Pasteis de Belem, is reputed to sell the holiest of the holy tarts. The recipe is nearly 200 years old and originated in a nearby monastery, and it is a closely guarded secret. The bakery is named after the tart (Pasteis is the plural; Belem is the name of the area). This tart purchased anywhere else is simply “pastry of cream”. Custard tart to you and me. Once you’ve fallen in love with this baby, you’ll start to spot them everywhere. Allegedly, you can get them at KFC in Hong Kong, heaven forbid.
Recipes abound on the internet and in cookbooks, advising the use of shortcrust pastry or ready-made puff pastry. But no. No no no no no. The mysterious pastry makes the tart - it is a flaky and buttery strata, but it is chewy at the same time. And the custard, well, it’s incomparable. Definitely best left to the experts.