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‘Just like the tart, I by no means change’: The key behind Macao’s most well-known dessert

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Macao (CNN) — You may scent it earlier than you see it. The candy scent of sugar, egg and custard, baking til it is cooked good. Flaky pastry on the surface, tender custard on the within, and crispy, burnt, sugar on prime.

It is the signature scent of Margaret’s Café e Nata — one of the common locations to eat in Macao, a former Portuguese colony.

The cafe is particularly well-known for one factor: the Macanese egg tart. It is a candy pastry impressed by its Portuguese and Chinese language counterparts, made contemporary every day by proprietor Margaret Wong.

If guests aren’t there for a deal with from the bakery, likelihood is they’re there to see Wong.

After three many years within the meals enterprise, she’s a colourful persona who nonetheless spends on daily basis working laborious on the cafe. She may be noticed working the money register or bustling about within the kitchen.

A household affair

Margaret's Café e Nata's famous Macanese egg tarts.

Margaret’s Café e Nata’s well-known Macanese egg tarts.

Maggie Hiufu Wong/CNN

Few individuals know Macanese egg tarts higher than Wong, who started making the dish 30 years in the past together with her late ex-husband Andrew Stow.

The couple based their first bakery enterprise, Lord Stow’s, in 1989. Immediately, Lord Stow’s is run by their daughter Audrey and Andrew’s sister Eileen.

Margaret’s Café e Nata, which she subsequently based in 1992, is completely run by Wong herself.

Some on-line experiences recommend that Wong based her cafe to compete with Lord Stow’s — which netizens declare was born on account of a home feud following the couple’s divorce.

She would not touch upon the rumors, although she spoke brazenly concerning the early days of their romance.

“We had been married 3 times — as soon as in Hong Kong, as soon as in England and as soon as in a church,” she says.

In line with Wong, the couple met in an area church, the place she performed the organ.

“Someday my foster mom was visiting from America, and we ran into Andrew, who gave me a hug and a kiss and I went all crimson. He was pals with all people so I did not suppose I used to be something particular … however my mom mentioned ‘Margaret, I believe that is the suitable one for you.'”

The 2 had been married in 1988.

As much as 10,000 tarts a day

Macao visitors lineup outside Margaret's Café e Nata.

Macao guests lineup outdoors Margaret’s Café e Nata.

CNN

Collectively, the couple created their signature egg tart dish, which is now an iconic Macao dish. Purists argue this egg tart tastes nothing like its Portuguese or Chinese language counterparts.

In line with Wong, that is the purpose.

“Once we began our bakery, somebody requested Andrew to make a pasteis de nata, as a result of they had been highly regarded in Portugal. The primary tray got here out burnt and fallacious, and Andrew wished to throw them away. I mentioned, maintain on, they’re edible, so let individuals simply attempt them. They tried one, after which two, and by the third I mentioned, ‘I’ve to cost you as a result of clearly, it is good!’ ”

It is this identical recipe, three many years later, that continues to be bought throughout Macao.

Immediately, a whole lot of vacationers and locals alike line up at her cafe for a chunk of this now well-known pastry.

Wong’s cafe alone could make as much as 10,000 tarts a day — all of that are certain to promote out.

“Typically individuals stroll in and say — can I’ve only one egg tart — and I say, not even one chunk.”

‘Just like the tart, I by no means change’

Visitors to Margaret's Café e Nata will usually find her in the kitchen or behind the till.

Guests to Margaret’s Café e Nata will normally discover her within the kitchen or behind the until.

CNN

Each single dish bought by the bakery is graced with Wong’s magic contact. Along with egg tarts, different gadgets on the menu embody brownies, desserts and croissants. There’s additionally a salad and sandwich bar.

Regardless of lengthy working hours, and the bodily demanding nature of her work, she nonetheless spends virtually on daily basis bouncing forwards and backwards between the kitchen and the store.

“A few of my workers have been working with me for 15 years, they know every part, however nonetheless typically I’ve to ensure every part is nice — I am the boss!” she says.

She’s the boss, however she’s additionally an area movie star. Throughout our interview Wong is usually interrupted by pals and followers dropping by to want her nicely.

“I open the store at 8:30 a.m., and I am right here till we shut at 4:30 p.m., and I’ve an hour for lunch. My pal’s say I am loopy… and I am exhausted,” she says with amusing. “I say I am getting outdated, that is why.”

Clearly younger at coronary heart, Wong abruptly cuts our interview quick, informing us she wants to move to a rock ‘n’ roll dance class — however leaves us with a style of knowledge.

“Nowadays, youngsters, they all the time need to change their jobs. However for us, we by no means change. Just like the tart, I by no means change my recipe, I do not need to.”

Margaret’s Café e Nata, 17B R. do Cmte. Mata e Oliveira, Macao; +853 2871 0032

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