“Nata” – the sweet taste of Portugal in Edmonton

Nata is the delicious egg custard tart we 'discovered' in Portugal. Here is a sample from three Edmonton Portuguese bakeries

Nata is the delicious egg custard tart we ‘discovered’ in Portugal. We test these offerings from three Edmonton Portuguese bakeries

“Nata” are gorgeously delicious egg custard tarts we ‘discovered’ when we recently visited Portugal.

The yellow, eggy tarts are filled with creamy, smooth, sweet custard and can be found on every street corner cafe.  They are a favourite snack in Portugal, which has a dyed-in-the-wool cafe culture.  A cup of expresso, a snack like Nata, and a long sit down with friends at an outdoor cafe is a favourite past time for the Portuguese.

Nata are very much like the egg custard tarts served in Chinese Dim Sum restaurants.  In fact, internet says the Portuguese introduced these delicious pastries to the Chinese through trade in Macau.

Ingrid and I still have fond food memories of Portugal burning fresh in our minds.  We were keen to find if any Portuguese bakeries in Edmonton cooked up these little treasures.

So Ingrid and I embarked on a little expedition in the city o track down these incredible pastries.  We found three Portuguese bakeries in Edmonton and wanted to see how they compared to the ones we enjoyed in Lisbon and Porto a few weeks ago.

In the photo, there are three Nata (the round custard tarts), shown with a couple of other Portuguese bakery items.  They were bought from the Portuguese Canadian Bakery (5304-118th Avenue, Edmonton), Popular Bakery (9307-118th Avenue, Edmonton), and Handy Bakery (8660-118th Avenue, Edmonton.)

Just as we found while visiting Lisbon, every bakery makes their own version of Nata.  That’s the case here in Edmonton, too.  So, while there is no ‘best’ Nata, we found our favourite.

Portuguese-Canadian Bakery, Edmonton

Portuguese-Canadian Bakery, Edmonton

Portuguese-Canadian Bakery (top left of photo).  $1.10 each (fresh); 61-74 g weight.  These were the largest and least expensive Nata in our tasting.  Notice the slightly burnt look?  That’s how Nata are served in Portugal.  This Nata did not have as many burnt spots as was typical in Portugal.  And this example was a ‘cheat’ because we bought a 6-pack of day old Nata.  Still, it was good.  The crust was flaky.  (Nata are usually, but not always, made with puff pastry.)  The custard filling had a slightly coarse, almost ‘lumpy’ mouth feel.

Popular Bakery, Edmonton

Popular Bakery, Edmonton

 

Popular Bakery (top right of photo).  $1.50 each; 50-54 g weight.  These were the most expensive Nata and the smallest ones in our sample.  To my palate, the custard filling was the least sweet of the three (that might be good for some peoples’ taste), the filling was smooth, but this Nata had the chewiest almost tough crust.  This sample had the least browning and black spots and had the least authentic ‘look’ compared to what we sampled in Portugal.  This was my least favourtie of the three.  Popular Bakery has a sit down coffee shop and it serves bifana. a Portuguese pork filled sandwich in a bun, which I’ll go back to try some time soon.

Handy Bakery, Edmonton

Handy Bakery, Edmonton

Handy Bakery (bottom left of photo).  $1.25 each; 59-60 g weight.  This was our favourite Nata.  The appearance with all those burnt spots is just like those served in Portugal.  This sample had the softest, creamiest custard filling of the three.  The puff pastry shell was light and flaky, just like the ones we had in Lisbon.   The Portuguese-Canadian Bakery also sells lanche, a ham and cheese filled pastry which is a popular breakfast item in Portugal.  Handy Bakery has a stylish coffee shop and when we visited, had a large screen tv playing a specialty Portuguese cable channel.  This will be our choice for a nice sit down coffee and Nata.

My recommendation:  if you’re in the neighbourhood of any of these bakeries, do yourself a favour.  Stop in, pick up some Nata and enjoy this tasty Portuguese pastry.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.

 

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