Our pilgrimage begins at the temple of pastry, order of the Pastéis de Nata, Manteigaria.
Here, upon a newly baked tray, a chef doth go unto the street to summon the worshippers to partake in offerings.
The custard is thick but smooth and full of deep complex caramel, cinnamon and vanilla flavours. The pastry is light and flakey but retains that signature shattering chewiness that rewards every bite. We have been accepted into heaven.
Next is Bolinhos de Bacalhau – codfish croquettes. Wispy/crispy on the outside, hot and creamy cheese and cod inside.
It came with a ‘green’ lightly sparkling wine whose acidity rinsed away any trace of oiliness.
To follow, we are off to Conga – “Casa das Bifanas since 1976”. A busy metropolis needs a quick zingy snack. It gives you the Bifana – chilli-marinated pork served in a soft bun barely able to contain it. Its made and served quickly and eaten just as fast but the flavour of this damn thing is unforgettable. Conga has three floors serving this to devotees. So popular McDonalds tried (and failed) a McBifana version.
The bun is not a thing of aesthetic appeal on a plate for sure, but it doesn’t hang around there long enough for this kind of appreciation. It’s all about what it’s doing in your mouth.