The world on a plate at Christmas with my Pasteis de Nata from Lisbon

When I travel it’s the food that often creates the lasting memories that I bring home. For Greece it’s the home-made stuffed tomatoes that I associate with sitting under a leafy pergola with a view of the sea, from Texas it’s the fish tacos that remind me of the food trailers of Austin and from Portugal it’s the Pasteis de Nata custard tarts that bring back mouthwatering memories of a weekend in Lisbon.

Pasteis de Belém from Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pasteis de Belém from Lisbon

With Christmas approaching it’s always good to have a few alternatives to the mince pies that can be whisked up at short notice so it was great timing that I was asked by Expedia to come up with my favourite world-on-a-plate recipe with a Portuguese theme. If you’ve not visited Lisbon, you may not know what you are missing in these creamy, vanilla perfumed custard tarts enclosed in a crisp, flaky pastry that are sold in every bakery and at every hotel breakfast buffet.

While there are plenty of Pastelarias or cake shops around Lisbon where you can buy the tarts, locals and tourists alike swear by the ones that are sold close to the Monastery of Jerónimos at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém where the cakes are simply known as the Pastéis de Belém. To get there you take the tram from downtown Lisbon to Belém, getting off at the stop before the monastery and look for the queue of people snaking out the door waiting to buy them warm from the oven.

I made some of the tarts this weekend as a try out for Christmas week when we will have plenty of family staying with us, so that I can serve them either as a teatime treat or as a desert with ice cream. I had to practically fight off the family from eating them all before I photographed them, so you could see what the result was.

My home-made Pasteis de Nata Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

This is the recipe I used for the Pasteis de Nata which is a hybrid of various recipes I found online and makes up to 24 small tarts or 12+ bigger ones.

Ingredients

1 pack of ready made puff/ flaky pastry
500ml milk/ single cream – I used 300ml milk + 200ml cream
6 egg yolks
300g caster sugar
50g flour/ cornflour
A cinnamon stick or 1/4 tsp of powdered cinnamon
2 strips lemon peel
½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod

First make the easy custard

1. Put the flour in a pan off the heat and slowly whisk in enough of the milk/cream mixture to make a thin paste with no lumps
2. Gradually whisk in the sugar, then the egg yolks and then the rest of the milk/cream mixture.
3. Add the vanilla essence or pod, the stick of cinnamon or powdered cinnamon and the stips of lemon peel
4. Heat slowly over a low heat whisking constantly as the custard heats through. If the heat is too high or the stirring not constant the mixture may turn into a horrible lumpy, scrampled mixture although it will probably still taste good.
5. Once the mixture turns into a thick custard, take off the heat and allow to cool.
6. Remove by hand the sticks of cinnamon, vanilla pod and lemon peel before using the custard

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

Bake the Pasteis de Nata

1. Roll out the flaky/ puff pastry as thinly as possible
2. Take a round pastry cutter or glass to cut rounds of pastry that will fit neatly into your individual tart tins which you have already greased
3. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for around 25 minutes but check after 20 minutes. The pastry should be golden and the custard nicely browned.

Serve while warm from the oven or as a desert with vanilla ice cream – they won’t last long!

When we were in Lisbon a few years ago we stopped at the bakery like the rest of the visitors on their way to visit the monastery and because it was raining we ventured past the queue at the front of the shop into the rabbit-warren of cafe rooms behind. They stretched quite a long way back, so by going from room to room we eventually found a table that was free and ordered our Pasteis de Belém with a coffee.

The story goes that in the early 19th century the monks of the nearby monastery sold the ancient recipe to the bakery and the tarts have been made there since 1837, with the recipe remaining a secret, only known by three of the chefs at the bakery. If you visit Lisbon around Christmas time, look out for the Bolo Rei or King cake, a ringed cake topped with colourful crystalised fruits. The cake is eaten up to the epiphany on 6 January and it sometimes has a little token buried in it for one lucky person to find, just as we might put a sixpence in a christmas pudding.

Bolo Rei of King cake in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bolo Rei of King cake in Lisbon

It you’d like to visit Portugal and Lisbon to try out the Pasteis de Nata for yourself, check out the holidays to Portugal that you can find at Expedia and look out for other interesting foods in their world-on-a-plate series.

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon

More things to see in Lisbon

Having my Pastéis and eating it in Lisbon – Portugal
Podcast – an autumn weekend in Lisbon
Modern luxe at Hotel Heritage Av.Liberdade in Lisbon

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

This article was brought to you in partnership with Expedia as part of their world-on-a-plate series

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Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos – these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Lisbon Hotels: Inspira Santa Marta Hotel: review from Oneika the Traveller

In this guest post, Oneika Raymond reviews the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel in Lisbon where she spent a long weekend soaking up the atmosphere and colour of Portugal’s capital, as well as the fragrance of pasteis de nata from the local bakeries.

These days, my hotel experience can make or break a trip. I am not a traveller who is content with just having a place to sleep. Quality and comfort are of the utmost importance when I am looking for a place to lay my head away from home, and why shouldn’t it be? Location also plays a large role for me, especially when I am in a destination for only a short amount of time. I mean, who wants an interminable commute back to a hotel after a long day of sightseeing?

With all this in mind, I enjoyed my recent hotel stay in Lisbon. Needing a respite from dreary, cloud-filled London last month, my boyfriend and I booked tickets for a weekend trip to Portugal’s capital. After my three visits to this wonderful city, I am hooked: Lisbon is amazing. The streets are alive with hustle and bustle, vibrant with colour, and fragrant with the smell of the bakeries selling pasteis de nata on every corner.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

All this activity was just a stone’s throw away from our homebase, the Inspira Santa Marta hotel. Located right near the end of the tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade, one of the city’s most important avenues, we were very centrally located.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

Lisbon is one of Western Europe’s most underrated capital cities, and from the superbly located Inspira Santa Marta we were able to explore mostly on foot. We were a fifteen minute walk from the Praça do Commercio (Lisbon’s grand main square) and the Rossio train station, from which one can hop a train to nearby attractions like Sintra.

Praça do Commercio, Lisbon  Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Praça do Commercio, Lisbon

Many restaurants serving seafood dishes and traditional Portuguese dishes like bacalhau were within a five minute walk. If you don’t mind a longer walk or a metro ride, I highly recommend making a stop at Cervejaria Ramiro, where we had a spectacular meal of prawns, clams, and parma ham.

Oneika at Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Oneika at Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon

But more about the hotel itself. After a 15 minute taxi ride from the airport, we arrived late on a Friday night and were greeted warmly by the people at the reception who speedily checked us in. The design of the Inspira Santa Marta is clean and modern, which contrasts sharply with the charming, old world architecture just beyond its doors. The lobby and the common areas have an open plan that make you feel as though you are outside when you are really not; on sunny days the main atrium is flooded with light.

The main atrium of Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

The main atrium of Inspira Santa Marta Hotel

The Inspira promotes a sustainability concept, most evident in the room we were given for the duration of our stay. Our room, on the fourth floor, was efficiently, almost spartanly, furnished. It was a lovely room, meticulously tidy, although, in drawing back the curtain from the window, we were disappointed that we didn’t have a view. In an effort to reduce waste, the complimentary water in our room and toiletries in the washroom were all in refillable screw-top vials and pump bottles, topped up every day by housekeeping. The floor is bare, surely uncarpeted so as to eliminate the wasteful energy emitted by a vacuum cleaner. In the same spirit, the lighting in the room is very dim; while it may be too dim for some, it did lend a romantic air to the room.

Bedroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Bedroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

The room also has a very open plan, which, while nice, may present a few issues. At first, the washroom appeared to have no door on it, but then I came to realize that the panel of the closet located just adjacent was meant to be slid over and used as a door for the washroom. This was not a problem; in fact I thought that this was a pretty nifty idea. However, the wall that separated the bedroom from the washroom was designed in such a way that it left a sizeable gap, which meant that water from the shower was able to seep out into the room. I also noticed that this wall was fairly sheer, to the point where I could very clearly see the outline of my boyfriend as he took a shower. This lack of privacy may be a problem for people sharing a room who do not know each other intimately.

Bathroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Bathroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

The breakfast is hearty, with an assortment of fresh pastries and fruit to sate even the largest appetite (be sure to eat the croissants — they are fantastic!). There is an assortment of teas and fresh juices (in refillable glass bottles, of course), and coffee can be ordered from the many waiting staff milling about the breakfast area, a smart restaurant-type deal found on the ground floor of the hotel. Additionally, there is a station where eggs are made to order. The hotel is also equipped with a small spa area where I was treated to a relaxing hour-long massage by a very capable therapist.

Our recommendation

All things considered, the Inspira Santa Marta was a great base for our weekend jaunt to Lisbon: clean, pleasingly decorated, and extremely well located. It is also great value for money: a room for two including breakfast will run you under 115 GBP (and should you opt to grab breakfast at one of the numerous bakeries in the area instead of the hotel, a room can be had at under 95 GBP).

Hotel Inspira Santa Marta , R. de Santa Marta 48, 1150-297 Lisboa, Portugal Tel: +351 210 440 900
Reservation enquiries email: reservas.ismh@inspirahotels.com

You can also follow Inspira Hotels on Twitter: @Inspira_Hotels, on Facebook and on Google+

OneikaOneika Raymond is a serial expat and travel junkie who has travelled to over 60 countries on 6 continents and manages to balance long term travel with a full time career. Oneika writes at Oneika the Traveller and you can also connect with her on her Facebook page and on Twitter @OneikaTraveller

Many thanks to Hotel Inspira Santa Marta, who hosted Oneika’s stay at the hotel.

More articles from Oneika’s trip to Lisbon

Portugal: A day trip to Sintra
Portugal: A morning stroll in Lisbon
Portuguese Pastries: Bad for the waistline, good for the soul

This article is published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here.

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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