Rua dos Clérigos 64, Porto, Portugal
Continuing our trip around Portugal, Mrs Snot Block & Roll and I stopped next at Porto, home of port wine and, from 1990-1993, J. K. Rowling. While walking around and admiring the scenic sights of this lovely city, we passed a number of pastelerias, and saw in the window of one what looked like the most amazing vanilla slices. They were large cubical blocks, with about 98% filling in between two thin layers of pastry. But having eaten recently, I wasn’t up for trying one at the time.
But then late in the day we visited the Clérigos Church and tower. This is situated near the top of one of Porto’s many hills, so the tall bell tower is visible from all over the city. After checking it out, we had dinner nearby and the were walking down the road back to our hotel when we spotted the pasteleria O Forno dos Clérigos (“the oven of Clérigos”), with an amazing array of luscious looking sweets in the window and the display cases inside.
Amongst them was a tray of these enormous what-looked-like vanilla slices. I decided now was the time, and bought one to take back to the hotel.
This slice is amazing. It’s a large cubic block, mostly made up of a single slab of fluffy looking filling, with relatively thin pastry sheets on the top and bottom. The topping is a thick layer of icing sugar, sprinkled with streaks of cinnamon. As I’ve discovered, the Portuguese really love cinnamon on all of their sweets. It’s somewhat larger than a Rubik’s cube. There’s no way I can get my mouth around this, so I experiment with squeezing it, expecting the filling to go everywhere. But it resists and rebounds like rubber! It actually looks like the filling is some sort of marshmallow.
And yes, on biting a corner that’s what it feels and tastes like in the mouth. It’s foamy but firm and somewhat chewy. It has very little flavour apart from sweetness. Maybe a bit of meringuey egg-whiteyness, but no real detectable vanilla. The pastry is firm and even borderline crisp, breaking with a crack, but not especially flaky, being more biscuity than pastry. Really, this is just an excuse to eat a lot of sugar. Okay, I was deceived by appearances – this isn’t really a vanilla slice in the proper sense of the word. But let’s give it a rating anyway.