originally post date 11/12/20
In the Summer of 2018 we had a special opportunity to visit friends and get a taste of a wonderful place - Portugal! No list of "top foods to try in Portugal" is complete without the glorious little Portuguese custard tart known as Pastel de Nata!
Our first Pastéis de Nata came from Portela Cafe on Rua da Graça in Lisbon. It was a short stroll from our airbnb and we wanted to get our Portugal trip off to a good start with cafe and pastries for breakfast! ;)
From there we enjoyed Pastéis de Nata just about everywhere we went - Lisbon, up the Silver Coast, Porto, and even the airport lounge on the way home.
So what exactly is a Pastel de Nata?
Pastéis de Nata are a delightful little treat consisting of a flaky crust filled with custard. Most people enjoy their Pastéis de Nata with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and cinnamon on top! Some people prefer just cinnamon or just powdered sugar while others enjoy a Pastel de Nata as is!
How do you eat a Pastel de Nata?
Easy. Just take a bite for optimal enjoyment of the creamy custard together with the crispy crust. There is a segment of society, however, who prefer to use a spoon to eat the custard first and then eat the crust. Posh. ;p No matter how you eat your pastel de nata, it's going to be delicious!
History of Pastel de Nata
The popular origin story of the Pastel de Nata goes back over 300 years ago to Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. The nuns and monks used egg whites to starch the clothing, leaving a huge amount of egg yolks needing used up. To prevent waste and simultaneously generate income to support the monetary, the custard tart was born. The recipe was later sold when the monastery closed in 1833. Today you can try the original Portuguese custard tart at Pastéis de Belém.
Wait. I'm Confused. Is it Pastéis de Nata, Pastel de Nata or Pastéis de Belém?
Pastel de Nata - one Portuguese custard tart
Pastéis de Nata - multiple Portuguese custard tarts
Pastéis de Belém - Portuguese custard tarts made from the original secret recipe.
The original Pastéis de Belém is only available at Fábrica Pastéis de Belém
It makes me think of how some people say Kleenex any time they mean "tissue" whether it's Kleenex brand or not. Technically, a Kleenex is a tissue, but all tissues are not Kleenex. So all Pastéis de Belém are Pastéis de Nata (albiet branded with the perception of superiority), but not all Pastéis de Nata are Pastéis de Belém. Hope I got that right and hope it makes more sense now!
Flash Forward to December 2018 and we were already in withdrawal! On a weekend trip to Toronto we looked up Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market so we could relieve the custard tart experience
Flash Forward to summer 2019 when family brought back some Pastéis de Nata after attending the Love Never Fails International Convention in Lisbon! And later when we sought out Azores Cafe in Pittsburgh so we could have some more Nata.
Basically, it was high time we tried to make Pastéis de Nata at home...
A Pastel de Nata has two main elements to master:
Which begs the question....
Can you make Pastéis De Nata with frozen puff pastry?
How To Make Pastéis de Nata Custard Step-by-step
I followed LeitesCulinaria's recipe found here
How long will Pastéis de Nata uncooked custard mixture last?
Uncooked custard mixture can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days according to LeitesCulinaria.
At what temperature does milk scald? Why do you scald milk
Milk scalds once it is heated above 180F or 83C. Scalding milk can kill bacteria and enzymes that may interfere with thickening in recipes. (sources here and here)
Tips for using Frozen Puff Pastry to Make Pastéis de Nata
You will want to take the pastry out of the freezer well in advance.
How long does it take for frozen puff pastry to defrost/thaw from frozen?
In general, thaw at room temperature for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
It's important to let the pastry thaw or else you will break it when you try unroll it from the package.
Once the pastry is thawed, you are going to lay it flat on your work space (I used this large cutting board) and then roll it tightly into a log. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until you are ready to assembly your Portuguese custard tarts!
See this CupcakeJemma video below for the technique:
Assembling Pastéis de Nata
The final product was quite adorable and delicious! This one has a very light dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon on top.
I also tried to make them in normal sized cupcake tins, but I filled them up too high, causing the custard to run down the side and caramelize way before the pastry was fully cooked. You can tell below that the pastry at the bottom is still soft. I definitely recommend taking seriously the recommendation to fill just 3/4 full!
When do you eat a Pastel de Nata?
According to Eater, "locals eat Pastéis de Nata at breakfast, in the midmorning, after lunch, or in the evening — any time they're craving a snack"
Should you eat Portuguese custard tarts hot or cold?
Is there lemon in Pastéis de Nata?
Although this particular recipe did not call for it, many recipes do infuse lemon flavor into the simple syrup by adding lemon rind to the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick! I will definitely try this next time because I love a bit of lemon in a custard.
Tools That Make It Easier To Make Pastéis de Nata at Home:
For That Friend Who is Obsessed With Pastéis de Nata:
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original post 7/15/22
To start off with some irony, after you have sold all of your precious and well chosen belongings in order to move abroad, one of the first things you will likely need to do upon arrival to your new country is... buy some of those things again.
Yes. It's kind of annoying. Yes. It sort of feels like a waste of time and money. It's just a reality and part of the process for the vast majority of expats and immigrants. So now that we have that out of the way..
It's even more helpful when that same place has a restaurant on site so you can refuel after the exhaustion that will more likely ensue. Let's check out Ikea's restaurant at Mar Shopping in Loulé Portugal!
As you can see, the restaurant seating area is stylish and truly massive and it also extends outside.
Some of the soft drinks available at the self serve beverage area at Ikea restaurant in Loulé Algarve Portugal.
Prices at Ikea's restaurant remain quite affordable from vegetable soup for 0,50€ and full meals for €3-9. Beer and wine are also available as are a variety of desserts, and side salads, fruits etc.
Pernil de Porco (Smoked Pork Knuckle)
Almost every Portuguese person in front of us in line ordered the Pernil de Porco and a wise friend told us before we left to always do what the locals do ;)
I've had a lot of pork in my life and must admit this ranks at the top of the list. Incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful. Even though we were eating outside, sweltering under the blazing sun in an effort to stay a distance from the crowd... it was worth it. We chose broccoli and mashed potatoes as sides for the meal which was the most expensive at €9 but fed both of us!
Not even a cheesecake person, but the berry cheesecake at Ikea was super yummy.
How To Get A Free Pastel de Nata At Ikea:
At the end of the restaurant line you can buy a pastel de nata and a cafe for 0,50€.
Or you can buy a cafe for ...0,50€.
So why not snag both for the same price?!
As you finish the meal with a cafe and a nata, take a moment to enjoy where you at. Look at the view from the terrace of the Ikea restaurant in Loulé Portugal. A beautiful location, hard to capture in a hasty pano.
More Algarve Restaurant Reviews:
TooGoodToGo is a free app designed to prevent food waste by enabling customers to buy a restaurant's left overs at a discount. You reserve a slot and pay in advance. Then, at a designated time you go to the business and show the app to pick up your order. You never know exactly what you will get since it depends on what sold that particular day.
TooGoodToGo can be a fun way to prevent food waste, discover new places and save money in Portugal, whether you're here as a tourist or live here. But remember each days offerings are unique and without guarantee, so set your expectations as such that some boxes will be amazing and others just okay. In the end I think it evens out! And you have an opportunity to rate and give feedback regarding the contents of your mystery boxes.
Curious what your box may include? Here are some of our personal real life examples:
Celeiro - Loulé
Pickup 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Hussel - Too Good To Go Chocolates & Sweets
Hussel is a German confectionary shop with a location in Portugal at Algarve Shopping in Guia. Our toogoodtogo hussel bag contained a package of 8 truffles, a package of 6 milk chocolate fish, and 250 grams of Baiser-Eier Bunte Schaumzucker-Eier. They are sort of like a large jelly bean, but inside is a not quite marshmallow, foamy sugar center.
Tip: Hussel PT Too Good To Go pick up window is one of the most flexible. If you're at Algarve Shopping in Guia, near Albufeira, go ahead and grab a treat!
Pão do Povo - Too Good To Go Pastry Box
Pão de Povo is a cash-only restaurant and bakery on the Main Street in Quarteira. The surprise box was loaded with a variety of beautiful pastries definitely past prime.
Tip: If your pastries are past prime, try sticking them in the oven for a bit. It's surprising, but depending on the pastry type, it can make a huge difference!
Vila Galé Marina - Too Good To Go Breakfast Box
Pickup 11:30am -12:30pm
The pequeno-almoço (breakfast) box from the Vila Galé Marina Hotel was a cake sized box filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, mini hotdogs, assorted rolls, cheese, ham, and a couple of sweet pastries. It was so much food we ate a breakfast meal from it, later took sandwiches to the beach with the rolls/ham/cheese, and still had more bacon left which we sliced finely and fried as toppings for soups salads and other meals the following days!
Tip: There are two Vila Galé Hotels in very close proximity. Be aware that the Vila Galé at the walkway to the beach is not the Marina location. Also, when you do go to the Marina location, we went to the desks where you typically check in to the hotel and they knew right away about the box "Caixa" (ky-shuh).
Rei do Churrasco - Too Good To Go - Grilled Lunch For 2
Rei do Churrasco (meaning barbecue/grill king) is a local restaurant in Quarteira serving delicious grilled meals and Madeiran specialties.
Grelhados para Dois - Almoço included 2 containers essentially amounting to an entire grilled chicken and a lot of French fries
Tip: Definitely bring a bag to carry your order in. We walked from Vilamoura the foil containers were hot to carry since we forgot our bag!
Mourapão - Too Good To Go Pastry Box
Box included: 4 pasteis de nata, loaf cake, snicker doodle, S cookie, rolls with dried fruit inside.
Mourapão is a great restaurant and bakery located in Vilamoura near the marina. Absolutely worth a visit at full price and if you're around when a toogoodtogo box is available, don't hesitate!
---> See our dedicated & ongoing Mourapão Review here!
Vilamoura Restaurant Reviews:
original post 8/23/22
Filed Under: Portugal
At Algarve Shopping centre in Guia, you will find a huge selection of stores including international brands like H&M, Zara, Aldo, Claire's, Levi's, Massimo Duti, Pandora, Sephora, Sketchers, The Body Shop, to name a few.
Aglarve Shopping also has a cinema, pharmacy, optical shops, and multiple grocery stores.
Cineplace Cinema at Algarve Shopping
Cost of movies in Portugal: Tickets start at 6.70€ with add on charges for 3D, etc.
A Well Designed Shopping Center in Portugal
The indoor/outdoor design of algarve shopping makes it such a pleasant place to spend the day with your family or friends.
Chocolates & Confections at Hussel in Algarve Shopping
If you're looking for a candy shop, check out Hussel on the lower level.
See the deal we scored at Hussel via too good to go here.
Fish Spa and Massage in Portugal Algarve Shopping Center
Seeing a Fish Spa in Portugal totally brought us back to our time in Thailand. Maybe next time we should try the fish spa/massage combo, just so we can report back if it really is the best massage in the world? lol
Eating At Algarve Shopping Mall Albufeira
When you work up an appetite, you'll want to visit the food court at this shopping center in algarve.
You'll find American fast food giants Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, McDonald's and Taco Bell. You'll also have options for traditional Portuguese food, Middle Eastern, Asian, Hamburgers, Salads, Pastries, and more!
While you may want to stay inside with the AC, you should know that the outside seating at algarve shopping is ample and beautifully designed!
If you're wondering if it is expensive to eat at algarve mall or affordable, here are some prices:
Alentejo - Portuguese Food Algarve Shopping
Plates at Alentejo were around 7-10 euros. Dishes with steak like Picanha were grilled on the spot!
Olá Gelataria - Ice Cream at Algarve Shopping
Ice cream treats from Olá were around 3-5 euros including waffle cones, cups, and actual waffles.
Check out some of the ice cream flavors below. The algodão doce (cotton candy) ice cream was popular and nearly sold out!
Le Croissant - Algarve Shopping
Most pastries at Le Croissant were around 2 euros.
Pizza Hut - Algarve Shopping Portugal
There is nothing quite like the crust of a Pizza Hut Pan Pizza :)
Where to Park at Algarve Shopping
Algarve Shopping has a large underground parking garage, in addition to an above ground parking lot. The garage is divided in colored sections, then Alphanumeric sections to help you find your vehicle more easily. No matter where you park, look for the lit up areas that resemble traditional Portuguese houses to find elevators, escalators, etc to access the shopping mall. Super cute!
Wanna Know What We Ate?
Now to explore other malls in Algarve, Portugal:
Hungry? Find The Best Restaurants in Algarve:
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original post 7/14/22
Filed Under: Vilamoura Restaurant Reviews • Algarve Restaurant Reviews • Portugal • Restaurant Review
Mourapão will always hold a special place in our hearts as it's the first place we ate after arriving in Portugal on the D7 visa. After those hectic final weeks waiting for the visa to arrive, selling belongings, hoping nothing important was forgotten, visiting with family, traveling and moving internationally for the first time (& during a pandemic!), handling canceled flights etc.... to finally arrive in Vilamoura was surreal. Nothing felt more simultaneously comforting and rewarding than the prospect of a pizza and a pastel de nata at the same time.
Located in Vilamoura near the Marina, Mourapão is a short walk from the secret apartment.
With indoor and outdoor seating available as well as an extensive menu, mourapão can cater to just about any guest.
Bonus, it's open until at least 10pm!
Here's what we have tried:
Tigelada is a traditional Portuguese dessert made with eggs, milk, and sugar. Typically baked in a wood fired oven inside a Portuguese ceramic bowl, this sweet dessert is all about the texture as shown in the photo above.
Pastel de Nata
Pastel de Nata is easily the most popular pastry you must try in Portugal with its flakey crust, pudding like custard filling and optional cinnamon topping. Remember when we made Pasteis de nata at home?
For an optimal experience, be sure to dine in at Mourapao and enjoy classic pizza made with fresh ingredients.
(Although you can get take out or pizza delivery in Vilamoura through apps like Glovo fyi) Take a look at that pizza slice - the cheese pull, the browning, the sheen... If this pizza is for you, you will know it. ;)
Discover more Pizza in Portugal here
Best Places To Stay in Vilamoura, Algarve Portugal
Algarve Restaurant Reviews
We're Justin and Marissa We love to travel and eat!