Sunday, February 12, 2012

Portuguese Egg Tart

Macau is often overshadowed by its glitzy, be-skyscrapered neighbor to the east, Hong Kong. Which is really too bad. Like Hong Kong, Macau was occupied by a colonial power (in their case, Portugal) for many years before being handed back over to the Chinese in the late 1990's (in fact, Macau was both the first and last European colony in China), and it now operates somewhat independently from mainland China in what is known as the "one country, two systems" policy. Because of this mixed-up history, modern-day Macau is a fascinating blend of cultures. The downtown area is loaded with historic churches and temples, street signs are written in traditional Chinese characters and in Portuguese, and the food has been influenced by Chinese and European cuisines. The most famous of Macau's street foods is the Portuguese egg tart. Travelers will find these tarts all over the city, though my sources say that the best ones are in Coloane Village (Macau is actually made up of one peninsula and two islands with a stretch of land between them that has been reclaimed from the sea...Coloane is the southernmost island).

It looks so good, I couldn't convince myself to display this picture in the normal size.

My source was right. The egg tarts in Coloane Village were magnificent. The crust was flaky and buttery, perhaps 3 - 4 mm thick (if you look carefully, you can see a couple of the flakes on the top of the tart in that picture above). The egg custard nested within the crust was rich and creamy, with a hint of sweetness. It was browned on top to provide a nice, crispy cap to the tart. The whole thing is about the diameter of a silver dollar and maybe 3/4 of an inch thick. You could eat it in two bites (one if you're blessed with a big mouth), but I don't recommend it...this is a food worth savoring.

Here you can see my fingers for a size perspective.

Egg tarts are available all throughout the city and will probably run you about 3 - 6 MOP per tart. You'd be crazy to leave Macau without giving one of these must-try items a go.


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