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Forcado

Forcado Bakery (Brussels)

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Pastel de nata is a bit like a Morgon from Lapierre (an excellent natural wine by the way): you can (almost) find one anywhere in the world – the only acceptable trace of the not-so-blessed colonial times. This Portuguese puff pastry filled with egg custard, which is eaten warm and sprinkled with a little cinnamon according to purists, was invented by the nuns in Belém, near Lisbon. But back in Brussels, it’s the boss Joaquim Braz de Oliveira who reigns supreme over this now classic sweet snack. And he’s freed it from the codes of the genre to offer various versions, like coffee, lemon, chocolate and ginger. After all, it’s part of another national tradition, ours, in which weird combinations like speculoos and white sausage are totally the norm. The shop (twinned with another in Saint-Gilles) also serves as a tea room and mini épicerie, because what’s a pasteis without a tin of sardines or a bottle of vinho verde? // Heloise Bartsoen

THE HIDDEN GEM: The classic pastel (€2.80 in house, €2.40 to take away).

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