I think Portugal’s sweetest contribution to China are its custard tarts.
In Chinese cuisine, there are the bright yellow egg tarts (蛋撻), which are said to be influenced by Britain, and then there are Portuguese tarts (葡撻), which are made with a bit of coconut milk and have a brown caramelized top.
The Portuguese tarts also have a flakier puff pastry and I think taste richer and more buttery (butterier?).
As the story goes, an Englishman brought the tarts to Macau where he established Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane, one of Macau’s two islands. When he and his wife, Margaret, separated, she opened her own shop in the downtown area on the Macau peninsula.
As much as I would have loved to compare the two, we only had time to visit Margaret’s Café e Nata in the morning before we had to get back on the ferry.
It was steady, but not as packed as other bloggers have found on a weekend.
I was expecting a bakery that churned out tarts; instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a small storefront with a deli counter and the warm tarts lovingly displayed on a rack. Even better, a staff member stood next to them to keep people with germy hands away.
We ordered two sandwiches from the deli: pork on a crusty bun for me — not to be confused with a pork chop bun — and a fried egg sandwich on white bread for Jason.
We moved down the line and placed our orders with the tart lady, who put two of them on a paper plate, and finally we ordered coffees from the cashier. The hot drinks are brought outside where they yell your number and you wave them down.
For some reason, I felt like I had to eat my sandwich first, so the tarts sat in front of us while I got that task out of the way.
The wait probably made my tart taste even better as I bit into the soft custard centre and the flaky crust. Oh, it was heaven.
I went back in and got six tarts to go to bring back to Hong Kong with us. By then, I think the rack of tarts had been replenished at least twice. You’re not going to have a problem with freshness or anything sitting out too long here.
Margaret’s is tucked into a side alley. I didn’t have to work hard finding it because we got a cab driver who knew exactly where it was and dropped us off right there.
Another blogger has walking directions from Hotel Sintra: exit the hotel, turn left into a northeasterly direction, cross Avenida Infante D. Henrique, and then look for the first alley on your left.
Margaret’s Café e Nata, Edificio Kam Loi, Rua Almirante Costa Cabral, Macau, phone 853-2871-0032. Open 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Wednesdays.