What is Garcia? What is a Pastel de Nata? And why are they so delicious? Let’s start with the second question.
A Pastel de Nata is a little pastry originating in Portugal. Apparently it was invented in 1800 by some monks in Belém, today a part of Lisbon. This is why another name for these beauties is Pastel de Belém. Their crust is made from some type of puff pastry and the inside is a pudding-like filling made from eggs, sugar, milk and flour. Sounds simple? Well, I’ve seen many, oh many, bakeries messing this up horribly. The crust has to be very flaky, buttery, leaving a trail of crumbs when you bite into it. And the filling must be creamy but solid, not too solid though and of course best ones are if they’re fresh out of the oven and still warm. Dusted with a last sprinkle of cinnamon on top, this pastry goes perfectly with a Galão, a Portuguese way of a milk coffee I’d say.
Pâtisserie Garcia, or Pastelaria Garcia, is a spot in Brussels I really like, would recommend, and would always go back to. It’s an unpretentious family business, people are very nice, prices are very fair and the coffee and food are great. It’s a short walk away from Place Flagey and the European Quarter.
I brought some of my friends visiting me here and they were happy. We sat down at one of the stone tables with a view facing the inside of Pâtisserie Garcia. It’s kept in dark blue and white colours with a few traditional and nice elements such as a small fountain attached to the wall. The waiters speak French or Portuguese, depending on what you prefer and are fast and friendly. We ordered a Galão, two Pastel de Nata, a ham and cheese croissant and a thick piece of toast with salted butter on it. All simple but delicious and enjoyed in a great atmosphere. Also, both times I’ve been here there was plenty of Portuguese people, which means that they seem to approve it. I always try to choose places where people from the same country go; same with Asian or Italian food.
Just next to the café, on the corner of the street, is their bakery offering even more pastries, bread and savoury produce. The decoration is similar to the café, so once you enter you are leaving Brussels for a second and visiting Portugal in the most culinary way. I immediately fell in love with both places and I think you will, too. A small piece of Portugal in the heart of Brussels.