“Portuguese Tarts” – from the Italian Centre Shop, Edmonton

"Portuguese Tarts", otherwise known as Nata, found at the Italian Centre Shop, Edmonton

“Portuguese Tarts”, otherwise known as Nata, found at the Italian Centre Shop, Edmonton

It seems I’m still infatuated with Portugal.  We’ve been back in Edmonton almost six weeks now.

More than the low 20s degrees Celsius, more than hoards of scooters and motorcycles on the gorgeous streets of Lisbon and Porto, more than the stunning Portuguese architecture and history, I miss Portuguese cuisine.

The Portuguese are masters of dessert making, and one of our great ‘discoveries’ during our two week visit to Portugal was the creamy soft, warm egg custard tarts, Nata.  These seem to be a mainstay of Portuguese coffee culture, and they are available at every pastry, bakery and coffee shop we walked into.

Upon our return to Edmonton, I was on a mission to find Nata in Edmonton and sampled the custard tarts from three Portuguese bakeries in town.  Our favourite was Handy Bakery, in the east end.

However, we also found Nata this weekend at the Italian Centre Shop (near West Edmonton Mall), sold as “Portuguese Tarts.”  Individually, the “Portuguese Tarts” are expensive, $2 dollars each.  That makes them MUCH more expensive than the other three Portuguese bakeries in town, where they range from $1.10 to $1.50 each.

BUT, the Italian Centre Shop bakery sells one dozen tarts for $9.98, which drops the price to $0.83 cents each.  That’s a bargain.

How do they compare?

The Italian Centre Shop keeps their Portuguese Tarts in the refrigerated section of their counter display.  That’s odd, because in Portugal, the best Nata are served warm (and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar), out of the oven.  But at $0.83 cents each, I wasn’t going to complain.

I warmed the Portuguese Tarts in our old microwave for 20 seconds each, and the Italian Centre Shop’s variation is very, very good.  The puff pastry shell is flaky and crisp, not ‘rubbery’, even after being warmed in the microwave.  And the egg custard is creamy and smooth, unlike some fillings which taste relatively more ‘starchy’ or gelatinous, and more pudding-like.

Our favourite Nata are still from Edmonton’s Handy Bakery, but the Italian Centre Shop’s “Portuguese Tarts” are a very, very close second.  Outstanding!  I’m a happy camper.


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