Friday, December 18, 2009

Margaret's Cafe e Nata

Hello happy readers! We were lucky enough to have some visitors with us over the last few days so had an excuse to fill up on Portugese egg tarts (Nata) and charcoal roasted meats. Thanks Kieran and Mel! And what better place than Margaret's Cafe e Nata in Macau to satiate cravings for buttery, flaky crust and caramelised egg. Margaret's (like most cool places in Macau...) is hidden away in an alley right near the Grand Lisboa and Sintra Hotel and is difficult to find - just ask for directions! If you get stuck it's at the Gum Loi Building Tel: 2871 0032.

Portugese tarts have a more caramelised top than their Cantonese cousins and a flakier crust. The 'Margaret' here is the ex-wife of the owner of the most famous egg tart store in Macau, Lord Stow's. When they separated she opened her own store on the peninsula. The tarts we had were piping hot out of the oven and lucky we bought 2 boxes as the first box was gone in no time, as were our taste buds from being burnt off our tongues. Ouch! But such is the sacrifice for good tarts...

From there it was necessary to walk off our caloric adventure past the gaudy Grand Lisboa, rising like a peacock plume out of the Macau alleyways. And then on a bus across the bridge back home to rest our sleepy heads and full tummies.

In other adventures over the last few days; rum and coke by the electronic devil, encountering giant jackfruits in the Three Lamps district and having to appease the Gods for all the above.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ou Mun - ''Gateway of the Bay''

This morning we went across the bridge to Macau to have a bite to eat and stroll around. A friend of ours frequents the Ou Mun Cafe ('Macau Cafe') so we decided to check it out for ourselves to see what the fuss is about. Ou Mun Cafe is near Senado Square off a side alleyway adjacent to the McDonalds called Travessa de Sao Domingos.

It's a Portugese-style Cafe serving drinks, sandwiches, pastries and other light eats. The exterior is quite nice, has a cafe-deco feel and is well signed. Inside it is quiet so it works well as a place to get away from the crowds that can sometimes be around Senado.

Nat wasn't overly impressed with the menu so she just grabbed a fresh OJ while I had an espresso and a toasted croissant. The cakes and pastries looked pretty tasty in the displays and they have various newspaper clippings of the history of Macau and the cafe framed on the walls.

Ou Mun Cafe is ok but not fantastic. If you want a quick coffee or bite to eat while around Senado there are worse places. Our OJ, espresso and croissant came to $70MOP (around $10AUD) so pretty mid-range - maybe a bit cheaper than what we'd pay back in Perth but not by much. From there we went across to the next side-alley further North-east off Senado, via another small pedestrian alleyway (Travessa da Se). Exploring the pedestrian alleyways in and around Senado Square is a lot of fun. There are a wide range of small stores selling everything from clothes, electronics and the various local delicacies. Nat was still hungry after only having her OJ (which, I admit, I drank half!) so we went to a little snackery we had been to before.

This type of eatery is very popular in Hong Kong and Macau. It's a semi-DIY routine where you pick various skewered meats, seafood, fresh vegetables, tofu, etc from the selection out front and place it all in a gigantic stainless-steel bowl. The lady at the stall then places your selection into a boiling vat of stock where it is freshly cooked and optionally covered in a mildly spicy curry sauce in a styrofoam bowl. Drumroll please...

So, yes, I did eat again. The croissant was really small I swear! Nat had a mix of mushrooms, tofu and gourd while I had some fish balls (as in 'balls' of fish, not what you were thinking....), meat balls, tripe, broccoli and tofu. Cost - $68MOP (almost $10AUD). And I was pretty full after that!

On the same small street there is a gelato store, a pastry store and also the famed Lou Kau Mansion which is a traditional Cantonese-style mansion which was built back in 1889. It is very well preserved and gives us an idea how the Chinese lived back in that era.

Talia was a real hit with the lady doing Traditional craftwork in the mansion. Something about babies that turn grown men and women into bumbling messes and it somehow seems more prevalent here in Macau. Interestingly, the mansion doesn't have a kitchen. Supposedly this was because the owner believed his concubines were there to give him pleasure but not in the gastronomic sense.