While I was enjoying the laid back atmosphere, flowering landscape and the bustling shoreline in Macau, I craved for some Portuguese egg tarts.
I straight head to Coloane to experience a magic called ‘egg tarts’ which is wickedly rich egg custard baked into flaky, buttery pastry shells! The goodness is satisfying and complete. I meet Eileen Stow, who takes me around her pastry shop and offers me an egg tart.
“A good egg tart should be lightly crusty on the bottom and not burnt,” points Eileen Stow, sister of the late Andrew “Lord” Stow. She offers me one and turns another tart over, taps the bottom with a finger and quips “It should be hard, not soft or soggy, and when you tap it, it should sound hollow.”
A quick tap of my own tart confirms that it passes Eileen’s quality control test, and without further delay I sink my teeth into it.
These tarts are a close marriage between the traditional Portuguese pasteis de nata and an English custard tart. “The filling is very rich, wibbly wobbly and the pastry has just the right thickness to make that perfect delicious balance when you bite in.
Eileen rushes me through her brother’s story, while i sip onto some coffee, “Andrew, a pharmacist, came to Macau in 1979 and was dubbed “Lord Stow” by the locals because he was English. When he opened his first humble bakery in the late 80’s, he decided to keep the noble title so people would know who was in charge. Andrew wanted to bring the Portuguese Pasteis De Nata to Macau but had no recipe. A friend taught him to make the pastry, and he improvised with the filling, combining the best elements of the original Portuguese Pasteis De Nata with some classic English custard touches. Although Andrew himself referred to the pastries as “Lord Stow’s egg tarts”, the local Chinese christened his creation ‘Portuguese egg tarts’. It was the local Chinese who really took him to their hearts and gave him the fame.”
As I polish off my second tart, the queue begins to swell and I rush to my car with a few boxes of these legendary tarts. While I had many a copy tarts all across the city but the one’s where the legend began stayed with me.
Nobody could quite match Andrew’s ‘secret’ recipe, and Lord Stow’s egg tarts continued to reign as the most popular in Macau. I am sure it more than just a recipe. It was too perfect to be a tart.