Whenever my mother visits a church/cathedral in another city, she invariably makes the requisite “ooh” and “ahh” noises, then delivers her considered verdict.
“Well, it’s very nice,” she says, “but it’s not a patch on York Minster, is it?”
I swear, you could take her all the way to St Peter’s in the Vatican City, and she wouldn’t budge an inch. Her mind is made up.
Similarly, until last Tuesday, I never thought I’d cross paths with a cake that I could love as much as a good old egg custard tart. Preferably one baked by my grandma.
Until, that is, Lucy introduced me to pasteis de nata, and not just any pasteis de nata, but (arguably) the very best in all of Portugal, made in Belem (which in keeping with the golden rule that every word in Portuguese looks like it should be simple to pronounce, but actually sounds utterly outlandish, is pronounced something like Ber-laing. Or maybe Bell-end, I forget which). And made me sprinkle some cinnamon, from the shaker so thoughtfully placed on the table, on top of it.
Oh dear god. Cue near-orgasm in cake shop.
Suddenly it became abundantly clear why said cake shop has seating for approximately two hundred people.
But as I’m no good at describing food, I won’t tell you how these little beauties taste, you’ll just have to make the pilgrimage yourselves. Suffice to say that I ordered a second one, much to Lucy’s amusement. And what she doesn’t know, is that I went back the next day (under the feeble pretext that I needed to visit the monastery next door) and had another TWO.
Look no further for the reason I will be visiting Portugal again, in the not too distant future.
When I wasn’t eating ambrosia, I was doing one of three other things: riding trams along winding, hilly streets (similar to rollercoasters, not to be missed), eating huge stodgy fishy meals, or climbing up a few hundred steps to the top of churches/castle to take pictures of the rooftops of Lisbon.
It’s been a lovely five days, and I shall most definitely be back.