Mar 21, 2010

Sugar Hit Safari Part 2: La Patisserie, Petersham.

In which SSG tastes her first Portugese custard tart.  No Toto, we're not in Chinatown anymore.  Was I prepared to leave my perceptions of a custard tart at the front door?  Flaky heavy pastry, pale yellow gelatinous custard and a perfectly smooth buttercup yellow sheen to the tart's surface?  Hell yeah.

Petersham is Sydney's Portugese enclave.  La Patisserie is on 45 new Canterbury Road, Peterhsam.  It's next door to a Portugese travel agent - food and travel, what perfect neighbouts.  A very French name for a very Portugese shop.  La Patisserie close every second Sunday.

We meet Fernando, the man who brought the tart to Sydney and to this day, is the only person at La Patisserie who makes the tarts.  This humble and charming man makes 6000 of the custard tarts a week with about 1600 on Saturdays.  It was generous of him to take half an hour out of his busiest day to share his skills with us.

Getting straight down to business, we head past the immaculate cabinets of pastries to the kitchen.  By now, we're professionals.  Confidently striding to the kitchens of the shops we visit and arranging ourselves around the small spaces as our hosts tell us a little of their craft.  It really is like living an episode of Food Safari and I love it.

Fernando hand rolls the puff pastry.

I'll get back to our second morning tea later (that tray of goodies in the foreground, it was ALL for us).

A cube of puff pastry is plaed into each loose tart tin.

Before Fernando hand rolls each tart case.  Observe that rim at the top of each shell.

I was a little distracted by this vision of tarts behind where I was standing.  Sorry.

We each got to roll a tart case ourselves.  With a moistened finger, I got to work.

Much harder than it looks......

So much easier to just eat.

From the left, I hope I get this correct.  If anyone can correct my spellings and naming - please leave comments.  The elongated pastry is a wedding tradition.  Filled with a kind of pumpkin.  Next are my favourite - the custard tart.   Ricotta makes up the following tart, then an almond tart and finally a lemon and coconut tart.  Readers, I only had room for the custard tart and the lemon & coconut. 

Below, a pot of the beautifully silky custard.

Fernando is cutting a decadent dessert of a pavlova type base with a caramel sauce.  I had no room for this.  I am kicking myself.  In the foreground are our tart cases.  There were a few experienced bakers in our group.

Great things from tiny industrial kitchens grow.  The tarts are baked at 400C for 10 minutes. 

Given the cooking temperatures, it would be difficult to make the authentic tarts at home.  Fernando is bemused by the recipes he finds in home cookbooks and magazines.  I have to agree that though many other cultures have their version of the custard tart, the Portugese version is the best (though I think the Chinese dimsum version is a close second).

It's Sunday, and a day to brunch - or at least ease off your usual sensible breakfast regime with a few virtual calories.....

I left with 4 tarts, for a princely sum of $8.  Mr SSG, who is not a sweet tooth, declared them "yummy' which is high praise.

It was a religious experience.  Fernando was such a lovely person, good natured and patient despite having just worked 9 hours straight.  "We need the customers, they don't need us". 

We walked out onto the street to be greeted by the smell of char-grilled chicken and the operatic serenade of the driver of a passing silver car.


  1. Wow you weekend looks amazing! I want to go on a proper cooking tour or exhibition. I saw a few cheeses being made in Tasmania and that was great. I love Portuguese tarts - they are the best! Only seconded by the egg tarts at Yumcha.
    Great photos - my mouth is watering.

  2. Hi Carly
    I'm recovering today, trying to have a restful Sunday and get organized for the week.

    It is nice though to have such a lot of inspiring material to blog about over the coming week.

    Your weekend sounds exciting too. Just hopping across now to read up.

    SSG xxx

  3. Love Portugeuse custard tarts! They're so moreish and irresistable! :)

  4. Hi Lorraine,
    I remember your own post about the tarts!!

    Going to the patisserie brought back memories.

    SSG xxx

  5. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. I absolutely love Portuguese tarts! Looking at your pics made me drool. I think a visit to Petersham must be planned in the near future!

  6. Funnily enough, I only tried Portugese custard tarts for the first time recently myself. Very more-ish!

  7. How delicious did these look.. and I bet they tasted divine... yum!


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