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The World Needs Nata

Posted: 11/30/14

The World Needs Nata

Restaurant: Lisbon Portugal

Nelson: Great name for a store which we stumbled upon earlier in Alfama. I agree, the world does need Nata. Portugal is lucky that they have it so readily available every where you go.

Beside the nata is a duck meat pie which was moist and delicious.

The Pastel de Nata was good and served slightly warm. After eating so many I have a few things I learned about nata.

For the filling, all use the same basic ingredients, but each place makes it slightly different. Basic modifiers include cinnamon and lemon in the filling. Each bakery uses a different amount of sugar which greatly changes the taste. Some you can taste more egg yolk than others. Finally the filling can have different consistencies, from runny to almost hard. Personally for the filling I like not too much sugar with a hint of cinnamon and fairly runny.

This one we found in the basement of a department store just outside of a grocery store from Pastelaria Alcoa ( I think it won some prize or something, but I can't read the Portuguese. Leo said it was one of the best ones he had on the trip, but the one I had was slightly too burnt. So the amount they are cooked and temperature is critical as well. Undercooked can taste bad as well as this obviously overcooked one where it just tasted like burning.
I think this was another award winning pastry and Adrienne tried it, but we were too full to try any. It looks really interesting and inside is some sort of filling.
On our second last day in Lisbon we were hurrying off someplace and came across a cart in the subway selling Pastel de Nata. Yes, Pasel de Nata are literally everywhere. This one had the most lemon flavour out any we tried. It had a medium amount of sugar and it was served warm.
This brings us the shell component. Each shop has various flakiness to the shell with this one not being very flaky. I think the fresher the nata is, the better the shell tastes. But generally I liked it flaky and to get it like so it probably had to be folded many times and butter generously used. Definitely the best crust was from Pasteis de Belem because I could taste the copious amount of butter in the crust.
In conclusion, as far as I can tell, these are the factors for Nata:
  1. Cinnamon in filling
  2. Lemon in filling
  3. Sugar content in filling
  4. Egginess of filling
  5. Consistency of filling
  6. Flakiness of crust
  7. Cooking time/temperature
  8. Served warm?
For me one of the most important factors is that it is served warmed, then a bit of cinnamon, less sugar, eggy soft filling with an extremely flaky crust, with just slightly burned top. Overall the best one in the world is from Pasteis de Belem. Regardless these pastries are absolutely delicious and it was such a joy eating them every day in Portugal.


Categories: Baked Goods,  Dessert,  Portuguese,  

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