Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pastry shops in Portugal - Pastelarias em Portugal

I don't think any other country has as many pastry shops, intended as "patisseries", as Portugal, it's unbelievable. And they sell a lot, and they are good. I've come to compare it to the amount of Pinxo places per square meter in San Sebastián, which is also incredible but it's a well known fact. Nobody had told me about Portugal and their mastering the art of baking breads and sweets.

The most important sweet is Pasteis de Nata (a sort of petit custard tarts) which anyone that has been to Lisbon, I would think and hope, has tried the original ones called Pasties de Belém at the Confeitaria de Belém. They are served warm just brought out of the oven, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of powdered sugar and they're ready to eat!  In the Confeitaria de Belém there are many rooms, used as sitting areas, you'll see in the pictures or visit their web site, the "visit" button is well done and gives you a good idea of what I'm trying to describe. Pasties de Belém cost 1 euro and 5 cents each.  If my counting isn't wrong, the place has sitting space for about 1000 people. I think they sell at least 300 pasteis every hour and they are open 13 hours a day Monday through Friday, 4 hours on Saturdays and 4 on Sundays, just do some math and the numbers speak for themselves. It's also true that their secret recipe is special, it just happens to be better than the others. I tried some good ones in other places as well, never as good as Belem's, I must admit it. When after standing in line at the cashier your turn arrives and you ask for just 1 pastei de nata and then you go to the counter and order it and eat it, you just have to go back on line to ask for 2 more! So now you know and if you go to the Confeitaria de Belém, ask for 3 pasteis de nata from the very beginning...

Portuguese people have a sweet tooth and they are often during the day in the confeitarias eating pasteis and having a cup of coffee. Also breakfast is mainly eaten at the pastry shops. As everything in Portugal, prices are affordable therefore local people can enjoy this part of their own culture.
The Portuguese sweets are made mainly with a lot of egg yolks, that's what makes them so good. This all started at the convents, in fact they are called "doces conventuais". No mistery that the Confeitaria de Belém is just next to the huge Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery).

Of course Portuguese sweets are liver-dangerous therefore I had to be very careful, every time I would over do it my gallbladder called for clemency. And so did the scale, in fact I had to drastically reduce sweets after Portugal otherwise I would have had to change my entire wardrobe.

I am posting some pictures for you to enjoy!

Confeitaria de Belém, in Belém, 20 minutes east from Lisbon, on the coast line
coming into the store from the street, and of course, the Portuguese "azulejos" covering the walls
inside the Confeitaria de Belém 
inside the Confeitaria de Belém 
inside the Confeitaria de Belém 
inside the Confeitaria de Belém 
this is the production area
here are the pasteis de nata just out of the oven and ready to go to the public
an original Pastei de Belém
here you can see the inside, I bit it!
other confeitarias
in Lisbon

my favorite confeitaria in Porto: Pastelaria Ribeiro

inside Pastelaria Ribeiro in Rua José Falcao, just a block away from Carmelitas
inside Pastelaria Ribeiro

Pastelaria Ribeiro's window
The Majestic Cafe in Porto: inside (upper picture) outside (lower picture)
Majestic's furniture
guess who... at the Majestic
The Torreja and the art of serving Tea at the Majestic Café in Porto

a pastelaria in Coimbra, breakfast was just too good

here I am, having breakfast
from here on, just many windows with sweets, breads and more sweets

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