WHEN IN LISBON…
There’s a whisper around town about a new Portuguese cafe serving great coffee and divinely delicious patisserie in Paris. It’s true to its word – be inspired by these yummy crazy little cakes and make your way to Comme à Lisbonne – a new Portuguese café in the heart of La Marais.
Comme à Lisbonne, as the name suggests, is modelled on the style, atmosphere and traditions of the coffee houses in Lisbon. In true Portuguese fashion, to sit by the bar, sipping espresso accompanied by Pasteis de Nata is all part of soaking up the Lisbon coffee experience, explains Victor Malier owner and founder of this great café.
Chatting with Victor about the traditions and inspiration behind the concept and indulging in espresso and a Pasteis de Nata, it’s clear to me why this place and the Pasteis are causing a Parisien sensation.
The combination of the aromatic flavour of the Portuguese coffee with the creamy crispy patisserie is just divine, a pure match in heaven. It would be a sinful to have one without the other. They are served straight from the oven, piping hot with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
SO WHAT’S THE SECRET?
Pasteis de Nata are a traditional Portuguese delicacy. The secret recipe originates from a beautiful baroque style monastery in a town close to Lisbon called Belem. As tradition goes, nuns in the local convent who cooked for the monks used left over egg yolks (the egg whites were used for cleaning purposes) to create a secret recipe.
The nuns later sold the pastries to raise money for the monastery. The high demand for the Pasteis de Nata eventually led to the opening of a bakery, Pasteleria de Belem. This bakery still exists today. The secret recipe fell into the hands of a number of familial members along the way. Victor’s Grandmother was one of them. She baked for family and friends and began to have a growing number of orders to turn it into a small business.
At 13, for an allowance, Victor worked alongside his grandmother to learn the recipe and since then dreamt about opening a coffee house in Paris specialising in the Pasta del nata and other high quality products that are unrepresented outside Portugal.
A year ago Victor made the concept a reality and at weekends the team at Comme à Lisbonne can turn out 1,000 of these patisseries based on Grandmother’s original recipe. As well as the cakes, you will find: honey from four different areas in Portugal, original tapa style food (served as entries) canned in vibrant vintage packaging, Portuguese coffee, and tea straight from the Portuguese tea plantations.
A LISBON VIBE IN PARIS
There is a free, vibrant atmosphere in this café and you are immediately made to feel welcome. The idea of sipping espresso at an open street bar brings a welcome alternative to taking espresso en terrace. The coffee is superb, it’s delta coffee, a Portuguese blend and priced so reasonably compared to Paris prices. Black ceramic swallows, symbolic in Portuguese culture, created by artist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro, add a distinct modern style and bring “joy from Portugal”.
But what’s unique about this café is the way it transfers Portuguese tradition to every day Parisien life.
LIITE BLACK BOOK: Portuguese Coffee & Pasteis de Nata 37 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004, Paris Open: Tuesday-Sunday 11:00-19:00
Interview & Photographs by TP @ Comme a Lisbonne 19.06.2012