Lord of the egg tarts

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - CHRIS­TINE MC­CABE

THERE are Por­tuguese tarts and there are egg tarts. And then there are Lord Stow’s tarts. With flaky pas­try and a wob­bly cus­tard tex­ture, they are baked at a very high tem­per­a­ture so ‘‘the su­gar rises to the top and nat­u­rally brulees’’, says Eileen Stow, sis­ter of the late An­drew, an in­dus­trial phar­ma­cist who came up with the recipe and was so well-liked that the lo­cals dubbed him Lord.

Try these tarts straight from the oven at the orig­i­nal bak­ery on Coloane Town Square. More: lord­stow.com. ter­ri­bly Ma­canese; but it is ter­ri­bly pop­u­lar. You’ll find it ev­ery­where: spicy chicken smoth­ered in a sauce that might in­clude (there are many vari­a­tions) chilli, co­conut milk, gar­lic, pa­prika, peanut but­ter and Chi­nese five-spice pow­der.

Bandeira’s favourite Ma­canese dishes in­clude tacho, an adap­ta­tion of the Por­tuguese co­zido (a sort of hot­pot), and minchi ( minced pork or beef with pota­toes). Of­ten the meat is mar­i­nated in soy, some­times in Chi­nese rice wine.

The best in Ma­cau is to be found at Car­los near MGM, ac­cord­ing to Bandeira.

An­other favourite is bolo menino (boys’ cake), a flour­less con­coc­tion crammed with nuts (usu­ally pine nuts and al­monds, some­times wal­nuts).

To get a han­dle on Ma­canese food, start with a visit to the ex­cel­lent Museu de Ma­cau, built into the old Mount Fortress above the World Her­itage-listed His­toric Cen­tre, where there’s a rather good still-life dis­play of a Ma­canese feast.

And if you’re here on a Fri­day night, check out the Ma­canese and Por­tuguese buf­fet at Bandeira’s In­sti­tute for Tourism Stud­ies, where stu­dents also turn out a very good af­ter­noon tea (Mon­dayFri­day, 2.30pm-7pm), fea­tur­ing ex­cel­lent Por­tuguese tarts.

Res­tau­rante Li­toral is per­haps the city’s most fa­mous Ma­canese eatery (‘‘ owned by a lady of a tra­di­tional fam­ily’’, as Bandeira puts it). Have the pork with shrimp paste and ta­marind, washed down with a jug of white san­gria.

This restau­rant also does a mean line in desserts. I loved the ser­radura (Ma­cau saw­dust pud­ding), a real make-do treat made with con­densed milk, cream and crushed Marie bis­cuits, the sort once dis­trib­uted by the Red Cross, ac­cord­ing to my food-savvy guide, Joao Sales.

On Taipa, linked to the main­land by no less than three bridges and a fo­cus for the lat­est rash of casino de­vel­op­ment along its Co­tai Strip, there’s a com­pact old vil­lage where nar­row lanes are lined with Chi­nese shop­houses, tiny tem­ples and quaint Por­tuguese govern­ment build­ings.

The pocket-sized An­to­nio’s, on Rua dos Ne­go­ciantes, serves some of the best Por­tuguese cui­sine in Ma­cau.

The es­tab­lish­ment’s walls are lined with tra­di­tional blue tiles and guests sit on high-backed carved chairs, tuck­ing into seafood rice, cod fish cakes, goat’s cheese driz­zled with aca­cia honey and Por­tuguese olive oil, and a par­tic­u­larly good oc­to­pus salad.

Host An­to­nio Coelho (a mas­ter chef of the Chaine des Ro­tis­seurs) is usu­ally on hand, hair slicked back rak­ishly, whip­ping up a very soused crepe suzette or open­ing cham­pagne bot­tles with his sword.

Across the way he runs a smart lit­tle cafe. Might I rec­om­mend a soup­con of ging­inha, a rather po­tent home-made cherry liqueur that will put hairs on you chest, if not your head.

Also in old Taipa vil­lage is Manuel Coz­inha, a very pop­u­lar lit­tle Por­tuguese eatery where stuc­coed walls are lined with foot­ball posters and the manda­tory leg of pata ne­gra (the Ibe­rian or black­hoofed pig) sits un­der a cloth.

Manuel’s home­spun fare goes well with a bot­tle or six of the vinho verde ( green wine). And be sure to have the clams with le­mon sauce.

Some­what more posh is the Clube Mil­i­tar de Ma­cau lo­cated in the city’s hand­some old mil­i­tary head­quar­ters back on the main­land. It’s all pot­ted palms, twirling ceil­ing fans and black-and-white pho­tos of the balls of em­pire.

Shut­tered win­dows look on to a leafy square al­most within the shadow of the rather unattrac­tive Grand Lis­boa casino, shaped like a mu­tant lo­tus.

The Clube Mil­i­tar’s menu is modern Por­tuguese and the very good lunch buf­fet costs less than $20. I set­tle in­stead for a gen­er­ous plate of wild boar ham, aged 36 months, washed down with a flintdry rose.

Bandeira promised the whole Por­tuguese com­mu­nity of Ma­cau would be here and it looks like he’s right.

It cer­tainly makes a nice change of pace from the bustling casi­nos. Be sure to give it a whirl. Chris­tine Mc­Cabe was a guest of the Ma­cau Govern­ment Tourist Of­fice, Cathay Pa­cific and Banyan Tree Ma­cau.

CHRIS­TINE MC­CABE

Eileen Stow with a tray of freshly baked Lord Stow’s tarts

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