My Favorite Things – The Early Bird Gets the…Pastelo de Nata!

This morning I set off early for my rehearsal with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

NJPAC

It was a glorious warm fall day and the train ride was peaceful and easy…

river in Newark

Which left me a half hour to explore the Ironbound District just south of the train station.

Ironbound district

I’ve long wanted to visit since I know that there is a big Portuguese community here.  Although many of the shops hadn’t yet opened, I immediately recognized familiar aromas of sweet and savory spices wafting onto the street.

Quite a few shops had Portuguese names…

Portuguese jewelry store in the Ironbound district

And I was delighted to even see a shop carrying traditional pottery as well as the refined and elegant Vista Alegre porcelain.

window in the Ironbound district with Portuguese ceramics and jewelry

My destination on this visit was Teixera’s Bakery which I had read about in the New York Times.  

Teixera's bakery sticker

Even at this hour, the cafe was filled with people (mainly native Portuguese speakers with some Brazilians as well) and there was a line at the counter.

Teixera bakery in Ironbound District

The cases were filled with Portuguese sweet pastries such as Ferreirinhas…

Assorted pastries at Teixera's bakery

Queijadas de Amendoa (little almond cheesecakes), Pastéis de Feijão (bean tarts)…

Assorted pastries at Teixera's bakery 2

And Pastéis de Nata (little custard tarts).

pasteis de nata at Teixera's Bakery

There were also savory treats like Rissóis (dumplings), and breads such as Pão de Leite (milk bread)…

Assorted pastries and breads at Teixera's bakery

Along with assorted baguettes, boules and rolls.

Breads at Teixera's bakery in the Ironbound district

I ordered (in Portuguese) four pastries to take home: 2 pastéis de nata, 1 queijada de amendoa and 1 pastelo de feijão, and when I got home displayed my “loot” on my favorite Vista Alegre serving platter.

pastries on my Vista d' Alegre platter

(Here’s a close-up of the platter which features a whimsical modern depiction of downtown Lisbon with the Castle of São Jorge in the background. The artist is Beatriz Lamanna.)

Folkloric Vista d'Alegre platter

And because I played a somewhat demanding rehearsal (you can hear me in shows at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday and Friday this week), I figured that I deserved time out for chá (tea) and one of the pastéis de nata. 

Afternoon tea with pastelo de nata

(Here’s a close up of the tart before I devoured it…)

pastelo de nata

Mmmmm!

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Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, travel

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