A pastry from The Algarve came from a contest between rich families.
Folhado de Loulé origin story
In the early 20th century, Loulé, as well as the rest of the Algarve, was an economically disadvantaged place. Even sugar was an extravagance in many homes.
The few rich families would show off their wealth by baking fancy pastries. The daughters in these homes would compete with each other to find out who had the best skills and recipes. The Folhado de Loulé was born out of these contests.
Folhado de Loulé is made by adding egg custard (flavored with vanilla and lemon zest) to puff pastry. The puff pastry if folded over and sugar is sprinkled on top. The result is an incredibly flaky pastry that is much lighter than the more famous Portuguese tart, Pastel de Nata.
Where to get Folhado de Loulé
The best place to get a Folhado de Loulé is at local pastelaria, Cafe Calcinha. Opened in 1929, Cafe Calcinha is modeled in the Art Deco style popular at the time.
Cafe Calcinha originally only allowed the wealthy to enter the cafe. Bureaucrats and businessmen were the main clientele. Poorer customers were later allowed inside but were segregated to a separate area of the cafe. It wasn’t until 1960 (!) that women were allowed inside.
The most famous patron of Cafe Calcinha was António Aleixo. The poet was quite poor but he was allowed to sit in the cafe and drink coffee because of his moving verses.
Aleixo never made much money writing poetry. He’d sometimes enter Jogos Florais, poetry and singing competitions, but he didn’t even have appropriate clothes for these contests so he’d end up borrowing a suit. He died penniless from tuberculosis in 1949.
Today, António Aleixo is beloved for his poems which often are self-deprecating and explore the fragility of humanity. But, he also wrote satires that bit at the fascist Salazar regime.
When you order a pastry from Cafe Calcinha, it is often accompanied by piece of paper with one of Aleixo’s poems. The one we got exposes the hypocrisy of politicians who moralize the sending of young men to an unjust war.
Cafe Calcinha has outdoor seating. There’s a bronze sculpture of António Aleixo sitting at a table. His expression makes me think he’s busing composing his next verse in his head.
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, Porto , Sintra, Monsaraz, and Batalha 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.