Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Padaria Portuguesa, Lisbon

On my final day in Lisbon, I did something crazy.  Crazy for me at least.

I walked into a random padaria.

Yes, me.  The girl who researches everything before actually going.  Me, the girl who really loves her baked goods.  I felt ... careless.  Brazen.  How could I, gulp, just walk into any old pastelaria and pick out a random baked good?  Would the place be any good?  Would I pick the right thing?  I had no guidance.  It was crazy.

It happened because I ran out of time.  I had a plan to go pick up some items from the store, get another froyo from Weeel (so good, review coming soon), and then go to a highly rated bakery to get a few items to bring on the road, all before going back to the hotel to pack and check out.

The problem?  I got way too distracted in the store, totally lost track of time, and before I knew it, I had to skip my visit to the intended bakery, and rush back, fast.  Stopping into the random padaria that happened to be across the street seemed like the only option.  I had to sacrifice.

I didn't take outside photos.  I didn't take photos of the display cases.  Like I said, I had no time.  And, well, no expectations that I'd be writing this up.

And then I had one of my items.  And my world changed.

But let's back up.  Once I had time to research, I found out that I stepped into A Padaria Portuguesa.  What a name, yes, that translates to "The Portuguese Bakery".  A chain, with locations all over Lisbon and Portugal.  Yup, good job self, you found a chain.  It happens to be the first chain ever selling Portuguese baked goods, and has only been around for a few years.  Great, a new, not yet proven, chain.

It seemed to mostly be a place where folks stuck around, sitting at little tables to enjoy a baked good and coffee, but I was in a rush, and got mine to take away.  The glass front cases were loaded with all the items I had come to expect at bakeries around Lisbon: stuffed donuts, croissants, savory pastries, and of course, pastel de nata.

Ojan had suggested that I pick up some pastel de nata to warm up in the oven later (we were moving to a hotel with kitchenette), so, I did, again, not having any idea if the ones here were noteworthy.  He also wanted something savory, so, I picked out a random savory baked good, or, at least, what I thought was savory.  And, on a whim, I grabbed one more item for me.  More on that soon.

Most of what I got was kinda boring.  But, that one item? Amazing.
Pastel de Nata. 0.90€ each.
I needed to try their pastel de nata right?  They were not warm, so, immediately not nearly as exciting as they could be.

These were highly mediocre.  Perhaps a bit better than the ones from the Sheraton Lisboa Executive Lounge, which ins't a high bar, but, otherwise, nothing special.  Standard pastry shell, standard custard.  Fine, but nothing magical in any way.

Again, I was made aware of just how different the pasteis de belem version really is, with the perfectly flaky crust, the incredibly creamy center.  Drool.  But yeah, these weren't that.  Skip.
Pão com Chouriço. 1.30€.
Ojan wanted something savory that he could heat up later, and I really had no idea what to get.  So many of the items were not labelled, so, how was I supposed to know what they were?  There were little savory pies and empanadas of all kinds, but, again, I had no clue what anything was.  This was labelled, and I could kinda see a bit of what looked like ham or something sticking out, so, I decided it must be chorizo?

It was ... fine.  A sandwich on kinda hard bread, with slices of chorizo baked inside.  I hope it toasted up nicely when Ojan ate it later, I didn't try it.
Pão de Deus. 1.00€.
The item I randomly picked up was the Pão de Deus, or, "bread of god".

Why?  Well, I only had Pão de Deus once on this trip, from the Sheraton Lisboa Bistro breakfast buffet , and, well, it was horrible.  Yet I had read about it should be, and knew it should be amazing.  I needed a comparison point.

In many of the same ways that the egg tarts from Pasteis de Belem were unlike any other egg tarts I'd ever had, this was an entirely different thing from the stale, hard, boring version I had in the buffet.  It was exactly what I *thought* Portuguese breads were supposed to be like.

The bread was soft and sweet.  Even just that fluffy sweet bread was pretty tasty, I must say.  This is what I had always imagined when I thought of Portuguese sweet bread.  And on top, the coconut mix, sweetened, and more like a almond croissant filling, super soft and like a paste.

It was absolutely delicious.  Soft, fluffy, slightly sweet, pull apart bread with a delicious topping?  Maybe that doesn't sound amazing, but really, it was.  I could imagine it being great with a filling or spread on it too, like, uh, Nutella, but honestly it was pretty amazing just on its own.

I found out later that this is A Padaria Portuguesa's signature item, and, that it isn't the authentic way.  But I loved it.  My research says that the top should have been more like a macaroon, more crispy, and not nearly as thick.  But I liked it this way, with the coconut paste.  Wish I had a chance to get another!
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