As the Pastry Post-Doc moves into 2015, I have reached the point where I am encountering more esoteric Portuguese pastries. At a recent visit to Chique de Belem (Rua Da Junqueira 524, 1300-341 Lisboa) – our 2012 winner of best Pastel de Nata – we encountered a rarer variety, the São Marcos. The kind waitress assured us that it was “really, really good!” So we decided to give it a shot. We recalled this pastry appearing in Fabrico Próprio. This rendition of São Marcos had a top and bottom layer of sponge cake, filled with whipped cream and topped with sticky, shiny caramel. One large piece was more than enough for two – typical of Portuguese pastries – it was a total sugar bomb!
We are back in Portugal for the third time and there are still so many pastries to try! An invaluable resource for my pastry post doc has been the book Fabrico Próprio (which means “made in house,” a label you will see on many bakeries), which I purchased in Lisbon in 2012. The book, by Rita João, Pedro Ferreira and Frederico Duarte presents a social history of semi-industrial baking in Portugal, and also serves as a field guide, identifying 92 emblematic pastries and many iconic cafes through lovely pictures and Portuguese/English bilingual text. The book was clearly a labor of love, and the authors were quite thorough in their documentation of pastelarias throughout Portugal (but especially in Lisbon). We love using this book’s detailed photos and drawings as a guide to the sweet offerings in Lisbon, since the Portuguese pastry experience can sometimes be overwhelming. You can learn more on the book’s comprehensive website. We highly recommend this book! Fabrico Próprio is available on the book’s site for 35 euros – and with free international shipping!