Pastel de Nata de Bolota

In far eastern Portugal, near the border with Spain, you’ll find a pastry that’s a unique take on the famous Pastel de Nata.

Pastel de Nata de Bolota (photo: Brent Petersen)

Holm Oak trees are common in Spain and in much of Portugal, especially in the eastern region near the border with Spain.

Sometimes, Holm Oaks are used to grow truffles underground. While Spain is the world’s largest truffle producer, hardly any of the subterranean fungi are grown or consumed in Portugal..

The acorns produced by the Holm Oak are often used as feed, especially for the prized local black Alentejano pig. Occasionally, the acorns are ground into flour which is used for acorn cake or acorn bread.

And, that’s where Rui Coelho comes in. Rua was a pastry chef with a creative streak a mile wide. He was often inventing new pastries for his shop Pastelaria Landroal in Alandroal. The shop was about a half hour drive from Monsaraz.

The most famous pastries in Portugal usually date back centuries and have their origins in the churches and convents of this Catholic country. The Pastel de Nata de Bolota is an outlier, being of a much more recent vintage.

In the early 2010’s Rui decided he would like to use the Holm Acorn in a recipe since the tree is native to the area. His first challenge was getting the acorn flour since it was not commercially produced. Mr. Coelho enlisted the help of a friend who ground chestnuts into flour and after some trial and error, he was finally able to come up with an acorn flour suitable for his culinary experiment.

Rui used his expertise in making Portugal’s famous Pastel de Nata pastry to create the Pastel de Nata de Bolota, a creamy custard tart made with acorn flour. Sadly, Rui Coelho’s bakery, Pastelaria Landroal closed in 2022.

Pastel de Nata de Bolota with Espresso ice cream at CAT’Espero (photo: Brent Petersen)

However, bakeries and restaurants in the area have picked up the mantle and make the region’s famous pastry to this day. One of my favorite spots to get a Pastel de Nata de Bolota is at CAT’Espero in nearby Reguengos de Monsaraz. Their take features a lovely tart with a nutty, almost earthy, and not too sweet flavor topped with the obligatory powdered sugar and cinnamon. Served with espresso ice cream, this dessert is a delight!

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, PortoSintraMonsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Author: Brent