Portugal: Pastéis de Belém

It's impossible to look up Lisbon without coming across Belem...and Pastéis de Belém.  Belem is gorgeous and definitely worth the day trip.  But even if it was a barren wasteland, you should still go for Pastéis de Belém:


Just follow your nose.  And the line of people.

Get in line if you just want to buy pastries to go.  You'll eventually end up at the counter inside:


Don't be like us and wait until you get to the front of the line to change your mind and decide to sit down inside:


So what's the big fuss about?  Oh, my friends.  It's all about this:


Pastel de nata.  Also known as Portuguese egg tarts.  People go all the way to Belem to buy these babies by the box.  And I totally get why.  I'm Chinese.  I don't like egg tarts.  I never have.  (Sorry ancestors, but I can't lie.)  I didn't expect to like pastel de nata because really, how different could they be from the Chinese variety?

Apparently, they're worlds apart.  While Chinese egg tarts are dense and jello-like, Portuguese egg tarts are flaky and soft and custard-y and so damn delicious.  Sprinkled with powdered sugar, with cinnamon, or with nothing at all, I love them.

Everything else at Pastéis de Belém paled in comparison.  Don't even bother.

Mushroom and leek quiche (2.15 €)?:  Pssssssh:


Don't order it.

Duck pie (1.65 €)?:


Not exactly memorable:


Puff pastry with chicken (1.50 €)?:


Forget it.  It's not worth the stomach space:


Tuna sandwich with boiled egg and lettuce (3.50 €)?:


Not even worth mentioning:


Get the pastel de nata.  Get a lot of them.  Eat there.  Then buy a bunch to go.  They're 1.05 € each and totally worth it.  Really.


Pastéis de Belém
Rua de Belem 84
Lisbon 1300-085, Portugal
+351 21 363 74 23
http://www.pasteisdebelem.pt/

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