When I visited Lisbon earlier this month, I was recommended by a local to visit Belém in general for its historic tower and monastery building, but also specifically to buy and try the Pastéis de Nata at the iconic Pastéis de Belém, which has operated since 1837, only a handful of the closest trusted employees having its secret recipe.
The Hieronymite Monastery in Belém was located next door to a sugar refinery with a small general store in the nineteenth century. The liberal revolution of 1820 closed down all convents and monasteries in 1834. To make ends meet, someone at the monastery started selling sweet pastries at the general store, the custard pastries becoming known at Pastéis de Belém.
Over time, the monastery and Tower of Belém, attracted an increasing number of visitors to Belém. From 1837 the baking of the Pastéis de Belém commenced in the buildings linked to the refinery, using the same secret recipe of the monastery. To this day, the same recipe is used to create these delicious Pastéis de Belém, which have the crispiest flakiest pastry base.
I only wanted to taste one of these Portuguese specialities, the standard Pastéis de Belém being sold at €6,60 for six, but I was allowed to buy two at €2,20. I saved them for a special treat, to eat with a cup of tea. They are the best Pastéis de Natas I have ever eaten, the national tart of Portugal.
Pastéis de Belém, Ria de Belém 84 a 92, Lisbon, Portugal. Tel +351 213 637 423 www.pasteisdebelem.pt Twitter: @PasteisdeBelem Instagram: @pasteisdebelem Open daily from 8h00 – 23h00.
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Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein