Pasteleria Vila Velha, Sintra

Rua das Padarias 8, 2710-623, Sintra

Business meetings done, it was time to get on to the vacation part of my trip to Portugal. Rather than spend all the time in Lisbon, Mrs Snot Block & Roll and I took a 40 minute train ride out to the village of Sintra, just outside the sprawling suburbs of Lisbon. Sintra lies nestled in a range of hills where the old royal families of Portugal built their castles and palaces, so it’s both a natural scenery wonderland and a cultural and historical site worth visiting. The village has several steep pedestrian paths, often with steps required to climb up or down the hillside. At the top of one such street we found a cozy cafe to stop for lunch: Pasteleria Vila Velha.

Pasteleria Vila Velha

We chose quiches for lunch, and for a sweet treat afterwards I got one of the mil folhas (Portuguese for mille feuille; i.e. a vanilla slice) sitting in the display.

Pasteleria Vila Velha

This looked similar to the one from Pau de Canela, but less masterfully executed. The pastry was a bit broken and corners knocked off, and the white and brown icing on top looked like it was meant to be the traditional pattern, but the brown areas were broken up into clumsy blobs. Similar to the previous slice, it is very flat and not generously filled with custard, but it looks to have a bot more of a middle than Pau de Canela’s slice. The custard looks even darker, if anything.

Vanilla slice: Pasteleria Vila Velha

Not being too many people in the small cafe, I picked up the slice and ate it in the officially approved ISO Standard manner: with the hands. The pastry is disappointingly soft, with only a little bite to the tooth left. The custard is very eggy and sweet, and could easily be the Portuguese filling of cooked yolks mashed with sugar again*. However, whereas my previous slice had a strong vanilla flavour, this has none detectable, and is just sugary and sweet. The icing doesn’t help in that department, being very thick and just piling on the sweetness. And while I thought the filing was more generous than in the previous slice, it turns out to be an illusion, as it’s thick on one side and virtually non-existent on the other, where my final bites end up being essentially just two layers of pastry and the white icing. Overall it’s just sweet and sugary, lacking any subtlety.

Vanilla slice: Pasteleria Vila Velha

* As I’ve since discovered, the recipe for this filling, used in many Portuguese desserts, actually involves making a hot sugar syrup, then stirring in raw egg yolks and cooking until the mixture thickens.

Mil folhas: 4/10

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