I like cake. I can picture my death certificate stating “Death by cake”. So, you can imagine my shock and delight to discover that the first time I visited the neighbourhood of Belém in August 2006, I completely missed the third most famous place to visit – La Fabrica de Pasteis de Belém (the Factory of Belém cakes). This “factory” has been in existence since 1837 and since those heady days has been churning out these delicacies (made to a closely guarded secret recipe) for the baying and adoring local population. I made my pilgrimage on a Saturday evening. Big mistake. The place was mobbed. I thought that mabye finally, the shop/café selling the cakes was closing down and there was a run on the final stocks. But no. Such is life in the Fabrica. The coffee shop itself is cavernous. Huge cannot describe it and not one seat to be had. People were fighting to get to the counter.
What you get is a box with six “pasteis” (pronounced pasteysh). They are still hot. Hot and custardy. They give you a little pack of cinnamon to shake over them if you are that way inclined. The first mouthful of hot custard and puff pastry is like a bomb going off in your mouth and you rapidly scoff the rest of the tartlet. You are anxiously waiting to finish so you can have a second one and by the third you are starting to feel like a big custard-covered pig. The remaining three cakes served as a pre-breakfast treat the next morning.
IF YOU DO NOTBUYTHESE “PASTEIS” YOUHAVENOTREALLYBEEN IN PORTUGAL!over 6 years ago