Friday, April 15, 2011

Margaret's Cafe e Nata

Gum Loi Building (Edificio Kam Loi)
Rua Almirante Costa Cabral (it's in a small square off Rua Comandante Mata e Oliveira)
Ph : +853 28710032
Open daily

Bakeries selling Portuguese egg tarts are a dime a dozen in Macau. Everything I'd read pointed to two bakeries as being 'the' ones to try, so I decided that I would try the one easiest to get to when one is time poor and trying to fit in as much as possible on a day trip from Hong Kong.

The most well known of the two is Lord Stow's Bakery. Located on the Southern tip of Macau on Coloane Island, Lord Stow’s Bakery was opened by Andrew Stow with his then wife, Margaret Wong in 1989. 

Post divorce, Margaret established her own Portuguese egg tart shop in the middle of the city. More easily accessible than Lord Stow's, it still required some assistance to find the exact location, as the descriptions of  "behind Hotel Sintra" were not, oddly, sufficiently descriptive.

This, I believe, is indicative of the normal state of affairs at Margaret's. They actually serve a lot more than the tarts, including sandwiches and biscuits, but the tarts dominate, and it's a tourist trap. They are very effficient and the queue moves quickly, but it also means that the pressure is on for people to eat and leave, so as to allow others to have the table. This is not the sort of location to linger for a leisurely afternoon tea.

There are many types of egg tarts around the world, but what differentiates a traditional Portuguese Pasteis de Nata is the distinct taste of the custard and caramelised top, plus cinnamon sprinkled on top before eating. For me Macanese ones, despite the similarity in appearances taste less caramelised. What I discovered at Margaret's is that hers were quite different to Hong Kong Macanese tarts that I've eaten, and very different to Portuguese Pasteis de Nata that I've had (which themselves vary a bit, tastewise).

A few years back I was in Lisbon, and went on the Pasteis de Nata pilgrimage to where it all began in Belem. Another tourist trap but oddly, it felt less so, despite the cavernous nature of the cafe and the 'exhibition windows' where you could see them being made in an extraordinary factory line fashion (the ladies making them were quite friendly, waving to young children). Perhaps it was because I was just happy to be in Portugal.

When eating the one at Margaret's, I ate it as a Macanese tart, not as a Portuguese one. What I realised was that yes, I definitely prefer Portuguese tarts, and that I regretfully have to say that I found it a bit overrated. It was wonderfully fresh and I enjoyed the flakiness of the pastry, but I found it far too eggy, and this dominated the taste for me. I was a bit disappointed, and would be unlikely to go there again if I ever return to Macau. Perhaps next time, I'll visit Lord Stow's or maybe just try a random tart at a random bakery, instead.



initialjh said...

thanks for that. I love my Po Tarts... :)

reminds me of Newcastle where 2 blondes ask each other, "What is a Portuguese tarts?" I guess not the Newcastle type... :p

missklicious said...

I prefer Lord Stow's, only for the fact that the cafe has a pretty garden, and you can eat comfortably. This place is too crowded but like you said, at a more convenient location.

kewpie said...

hey AP, do u know i love, love, love pasteis de nata! i once ate 6 in one hit when i visited margaret's. it was piping hot... so, so, good! didn't know the story of Lord Stow's! must try the next time i get to visit. thank u for taking me back to my last indulgence... YUM!

The Sydney Tarts said...

@kewpie - I had no idea that you did, but six in one hit is impressive. Yes, you definitely need to try Lord Stow's, as will I if I get back to Macau. You also need to go to Belem, I think!