So, I’m feeling a little bit proud of myself now. I have just successfully ordered my first coffee and nata in Portuguese. Not a word of English passed my lips – even if lots of morsels of pastry did.
There’s not very much to say about the nata experience at this Portela Café. As far as I can tell Portela is a chain, and they definitely don’t make their pasteis. The nata was sweet and functional, the pastry wasn’t particularly crisp or particularly tasty.
It seems that their primary objective is to sell coffee; I can safely say that the coffee was good. Probably the best I’ve had here yet – at least a little more what I’m used to. Though this may have been down to the fact that when I was asked if I wanted cinnamon, or chocolate, or another flavouring that I didn’t know the name of, I successfully managed to answer: ‘nada’. Whether a grammatically correct answer to the question or not, I don’t know, but it communicated that I didn’t want any flavours.
My first coffee in Cascais was packed with cinnamon, and I was more than a bit taken a back. I quite like the taste of coffee without the addition of sugar and spices. Perhaps I should get into the habit of ordering bicas (Portugese equivalent of an espresso)?
Perhaps I should drink more coffee, maybe I’ll get everything done!
After about 3 hours of walking around Lisbon, I found my second (and third!) nata of the day.
After my exploratory wandering, where – strangely enough – I found some kind of hipster motorbike convention, and a park named 6 Abril, which I like to believe (egotistically) was named after me.
There was also the ‘charming’ man – I can only assume he was a bit of a misogynist, or talking on an invisible phone – who chanted a snake-like ‘cim, cim, cim’ while crossing into my path.
Chique de Belém II was a welcome rest bite for my tired legs. I ordered a nata, a coffee, and took a seat to whittle away the few minutes before the train back to Cascais.
I’ll temper my exuberance for their natas by saying that any sugary caffeiney hit would have gone down well at that moment. Nonetheless I thought Chique de Belém’s nata were so good that I had not one, but two. This pushed my pastry count to a dangerously artery clogging THREE buttery packages. I loved it; I will make no apologies. A weight watcher I am not.
The pastry was not so crisp as Pastelaria Orion’s, but the nata was so much tastier, butterier, and squishily warm, that it was a wee bite of eggy ambrosia.
I very much recommend Chique de Belém II and it’s ordinary shabbiness – it’s nowhere near as polished as Pastéis de Belém down the road – only added to its ‘hidden gem’ sort of charm.
I made my first foray in Lisbon today. In honour of this tremendous occasion I had decided to do something very special: have TWO pastry experiences.
It’s going to be a very good day. I’ll just blank out the embarrassing fall from earlier (I cycled confidently to Cascais station, only to bump into the edge of the pavement and tumble to the floor. There were people watching in the parked car; I laughed, they didn’t …).
So without any plan of action – other than to wander aimlessly around -I found Pastelaria Orion. They had pasteis in the window; I was sucked in.
The staff helpfully – despite my current lack of Portugese vocabulary – served me a pastel de nata to go. An old woman rather rudely pushed me out of the way without a word in either English or Portugese, but again I’ll brush this under the carpet.
The nata itself was a step up from my first Portguese nata (I’ve had several in the UK). The pastry was wonderfully crisp and the filling deep. The pastry was really the standout on this nata, while eating it the phrase ‘this pastry is en point’ came to mind. The custard was a smidge disappointing; it was a bit too sweet and lacking a depth of flavour for me.
All in all a solid, but not spectacular nata.
Onward to nata number 2.