Friday, April 20, 2007

Portuguese Pastry Tasting at Natas Pastries

Last January, I set up a pastry tasting where we got to sample a total of 8 different pastries. 3 were savory and 5 were sweet. Before I even talk about the pastries we sampled, I have to say that when first walking into Natas, it was like I was at "Pastry Disneyland"

When you looked at the display case, the pastries were so beautifully presented, that you'd think that they were fake and when you saw that prices were between $2 to $3 for even the prettiest of the pastries, it almost felt like you were in a Pastry Twilight Zone. After pinching myself, I realized that everything was for real and honestly, if I didn't already know that I was going to be sampling 8 pastries, I would be hard-pressed to choose which ones to try.

Anyway, on to the tasting. We started off with the savory pastries which included:

Pasteis de Bacalhau - Cod Cakes (Portuguese version of crab

Croquetes - Seasoned Ground Beef and Portuguese Chorizo

Rissois - Shrimp and Crab Turnover

While all thre
e of them were good, my favorite was the Cod Cake. Considering that cod fish is pretty mild in flavor, I was amazed that the Cod Cake was the most flavorful of the three options. I also liked how flaky the fish was. Apparently, the Cod Cakes are a favorite of many because that's the item that Natas runs out of the most.

Now on to the sweet pastries which included:

Malassada - Portuguese Donut/Sugar Ball

Nata - Portugal's Signature Pastry. Creme Brulee type Filling in Puff Pastry

Mini Pyramid - Portuguese Brownie Made with Belgian Chocolate and Marzipan

Mini Queijada - Mini Cheese Cake made with Ricotta Cheese/Cinnamon in Puff Pastry

Mini Pasteis de Coco - Coconut Lemon Mini Cupcake

For me, the Mini Pasteis de Coco wasn't too memorable. The only thing that I stuck in my head is that it needed to be more lemony. I also didn't care too much for the Mini Pyramid, probably because I'm not much of a marzipan fan.

I enjoyed the remaining three sweet pastries a lot. The Malassada was light and fluffy and jus
t had the right amount of sweetness without being too sugary.

I liked how the filling of the Mini Queijada had a light creamy texture and the cinnamon flavor really came through. The pastry was also nice and flaky.

But my favorite of the remaining three was actually the Nata itself. Like the Mini Queijada, the pastry was golden-flaky and the custard filling was absolutely delicious. I could almost taste it. It was creamy and I almost hated to swallow it because I was enjoying the texture and the flavor so much.

What was nice about having this sampling is that afterwards, I purchased items that I hadn't tried already to take home and believe me, those pastries were also quite good. I only wish Natas was closer to me, but I actually think it's worth the drive no matter what part of town you're coming from.

To see pics, go to:

Natas Pastries
13317 Ventura Blvd. # D
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-8050

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