Sunday, April 9, 2017
Happiness is a Portuguese Pastry
Pasteis de Nata and Port. Saturday, 08 April 2017
Exactly six months ago I married my husband, in a hurricane, in Virginia. Two days later, we packed our bags, said goodbye to our dog, and boarded a plane -- Lisbon bound. The city was a dream; we spent our days walking miles of marble-tiled narrow streets, winding up and down hills and in and out of stone-walled cafes, drinking port and sangria and dreaming about our future as the sun set and the sounds of melancholy voices singing fado echoed off alley walls.
One morning, we stopped by a bakery, Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata, selling nothing but espresso and what seemed to be the national pastry of Portugal, an egg custard tart. We watched in rapt fascination as the white-clad bakers behind the glass deftly rolled, pressed, and poured the contents of the tarts into long rows of pastry cups. They had it down to a science -- the assembly line as art. Five minutes later, we were biting into fragrant layers of hot and crispy pastel de nata -- properly enjoyed with powdered sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top just after coming out of the oven. Custard tart devoured only moments after its creation, we finished our espresso and set off into the early morning bustle of downtown Lisbon.
Fast forward to Friday, the day before my birthday. I get home to find my husband intently focused on spreading out his pastry dough carefully into a muffin tin, a bowl of egg custard standing at the ready, the aroma of the first batch already wafting from the oven, flour covering everything. A bottle of port wine waits patiently on top of the fridge.
Happiness is a homemade Portuguese pastry -- best enjoyed with friends.