Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sacolinha, Portugal

Sacolinha is a chain of bakeries in Portugal.  They just celebrated their 30th Anniversary, so, they seem to be successful.  They offer a slew of baked goods and breads, and most locations also have a cafe menu.  I visited two different locations while in Cascais, outside Lisbon.

I stuck with baked goods on both my visits, as they looked amazing.  I'm glad I got to try some new Portuguese items, but, nothing was particularly good.

Setting

I visited 2 Sacolinha shops while in Portugal, one smaller one in the countryside and one in the main drag in Cascais.
Pastry Shop / Bakery.
All locations of Sacolinha have the same signs, without the name of the actual establishment, just, the fact that they are a pastry shop and bakery.

The two locations I visited also both had large glass windows that somehow seemed very inviting, as they looked so warm and welcoming, and, well, I could see pastries.

They also both had indoor and outdoor seating. 
Cookies.
Inside, is a bit of chaos, and not nearly was welcoming as it looks from the outside.  Like many places, you are supposed to take a number from a dispenser before ordering.  Or, multiple numbers, one for bakery items and one for pastries.  You take a number, get called on, and order your items.  And then you go pay somewhere else.  Cash only.

The ordering experience was fairly confusing, as was rather common in Portugal.  Not having one person touch food and money makes sense, but, they really don't have much indication anywhere of how you are supposed to do things, and nearly every bakery I went to handled things differently.

The assortment of items at Sacolinha was the greatest of any bakeries I visisted.  All the traditional Portuguese pastries, plus plenty of French pastries, tons of cookies, savory pies and pastries, and more.  Unfortunately, my camera stopped working as I went to take photos of the display cases, so, you only see the most boring stuff here, the cookies.

The other cases were loaded with croissants, cakes, tarts, miniature items, and all sorts of mouth watering goodies, more than half of which I couldn't identify.
Breads.
Bread items were a bit further back, on shelves, and were also extensive.  Loaves of bread, rolls, buns, and more, savory and sweet.

I never got a chance to try any of these.

They also have a cafe menu, available only if you are staying to sit down.  We asked to see the menu to take a look to decide if we wanted to get non-baked goods, and were met with a lot of resistance.  It contains sandwiches and salads mostly, none of which looked very good, so we opted to just go for baked goods.

Baked Goods

The reason I visit a bakery is for the baked goods.  I used this visit to try two items new to me.  They make a slew of baked goods, in full size and minis too.
Bolo de Arroz.
I had been eying bolo de arroz the entire time I was in Portugal.  I'm not sure why.  They just look like cupcakes, sans frosting.  I don't really like cake, cupcakes, or the like, and why would I want one without the only part I usually care about?  I really don't know.  But on my final day, I decided enough was enough, and I picked one up, on our way back from McDonald's, as, uh, I didn't really care for the Portuguese specialties there.

Bolo de arroz seem to always come in a paper wrapper, the only item I've seen like this.  Like a cupcake wrapper as I am accustomed, but, they always say "bolo de arroz" right on them.  I have no idea why.  They are also a little taller and thinner than traditional American cupcakes and muffins.

The top was crisp, coated in sugar.  The entire thing was super dense, but very moist, almost gooey inside along the edges where sugar caramelized.  It was overall far sweeter than I expected.  It tasted faintly of rice, sorta like mochi, but, cake.  It was very buttery.

There was something incredibly familiar about this that I couldn't ever pinpoint.  Yes, cake, but incredibly buttery, sugary, slightly rice-y cake.  There were also enough addicting elements to keep me going back for more, even though I didn't love it.  Specifically, the little pools of gooeyness and the crispy bits of caramelized sugar along the edges.

I'd like to try another from somewhere else to compare.
Brisa.
This is an item that I assure you is not what it appears.  It looks like glazed bar donut, right?  It is not, and I knew it wasn't.  I had done my research!  It is a Brisa, a "Breeze".

Instead, it is a puff pastry base, with a thick layer of doce de ovos (sweet egg cream), with a thick layer of glaze on top.  Crazy right?  Definitely not a donut.

I needed to try it.

The puff pastry was ok, not super flaky or amazing, but, ok.  The egg cream was thick and not too sweet nor too eggy.  The icing?  Crazy sweet.

Overall, certainly different, but not particularly great, and a bit too sweet (that said, I was really, really sick of sweets at this point, having gorged on Portuguese sweets all week).

I don't have a photo, but I also tried a mini Queijada de AmĂȘndoa, a little almond paste filled tart, that looked sorta like a mini pastel de nata, just with a twist, hence why I picked it.  The shell was mediocre, more like a tart shell than crispy pastry, the filling gritty and sweet, and overall, it was very lackluster.  Not sure what I expected though.
Sacolinha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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