We were at Petersham with one thing on our minds: pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts. Now, my first ever experience of these sweet cases of custard was in Macau; the tarts bought by a family friend and scoffed in our hotel room, with the creamy fillings still piping hot and dangerously tongue-burning. It was a rich and revelatory experience that ended in a sugary high.
|Chickens on the char grill at Silvas, New Canterbury Road, Petersham|
The plethora of choice on New Canterbury Road in Petersham led us to busy corner shop, Silvas and directly to the rotating, splayed chickens on the warming char grill.
|Pineapple Sumol soft drink|
|A glass bottle of Sprite|
|Half a Portuguese charcoal chicken with chips and rice|
|Portuguese charcoal chicken|
The chicken is an attack on the senses. It looks irresistible with its black charred bits and rich colours, and smells as good as it looks, with the taste sending the palate into a tizz: savoury, lemony, mildly spicy. It’s impossibly juicy for something cooked over hot coals, even the breast section, and does well in the microwave for the next meal too.
|Tarts from Sweet Belem, New Canterbury Road, Petersham|
|Sweet Belem tarts|
They’re not quite as nice cold as the pastry loses its attractive crispness, but a stint in the oven or under the grill might be able to rectify that (although I haven’t tried that as yet).
There were loads of other cakes and delicacies in the cabinet at Sweet Belem.
Learning of the day: I don’t know where to find Peter’s ham, but I know where to find good charcoal chicken and pretty good pastéis de nata.