Tuga Pastries, the Clovelly bakery famed for some of Sydney’s best pasteis de nata (Portuguese tarts) has opened an outpost in Alexandria. Situated along a line of retail stores on McEvoy Street, the new bakery has an expansive shop front compared to its eastern sibling, with paving and a grassy lawn out the front planned for al fresco dine-in, and production space out the back.
With just under 400 square metres of space, it’s a significant step up for owner, head baker and tart maker Diogo Ferreira and his team, who were outgrowing their tiny bakery on Clovelly Road, from which they were running both retail and wholesale.
“We needed more space, not only for production but storage for all of our ingredients, packaging, everything. It just became a nightmare operating out of a shoebox,” Ferreira tells Broadsheet.
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Approaching the display window, you’ll find a myriad of baked goods. Of course, choosing the exceptional cinnamon-dusted pasteis de nata is a no-brainer. But selecting between other traditional Portuguese treats such as pillowy sugared doughnuts filled with custard cream, jam or chocolate; flaky almond tarts; and pão por deus is a much tougher task. The latter (which translates to “bread for God” in English) is a brioche with sweet, syrupy coconut baked into it.
“In Portugal they’d slice it open and fill it with ham and cheese, but that didn’t take off so well here,” Ferreira says, laughing.
Beyond croissants and savoury breakfast options, Tuga sells three or four pastry specials per week. They might include savoury Danishes with artichokes, olives and onion rings; quiches; “Cornetto” doughnuts; Nutella babkas; or custard tarts laced with cayenne pepper and chocolate. Soon there’ll be Portuguese-style sourdough, too.
Ferreira is forever experimenting and has fine-tuned his craft learning from his late father Agostinho’s handwritten recipe book, as well as trips to Portugal. Ferreira’s secret pastel de nata recipe is self-created (with reliance on memories of Agostinho’s baking and months of help from his mother). To this day Diogo and Lucia Ferreira are the sole custodians of the clandestine egg-custard filling, of which they make about 50 litres per day.
The pastries are presented piled in large cork bowls, boards and platforms – a nod to the Portuguese cork industry.
“The display is always fresh so people can eat with their eyes,” says Ferreira. The menu rotates frequently during the day, to retain an element of surprise. The ceiling above the counter is also fully cork, while the store features white tiling with black fixtures for a simple, modern design. In the kitchen behind, you’ll see bakers and chefs busily working to keep the front window full.
Ferreira also roasts his own coffee at one of the warehouses on site. “With the pastries you have something really rich, so you need a chocolate-y coffee to go with it.” Or take a freshly squeezed OJ, a pairing Ferreira recalls enjoying regularly for brekkie in Portugal.
“I want to bring what’s in Portugal here. When you go to Portugal, in the morning you have pastry or you have cheese. There’s none of these eggs on toast. As much as I love Australian breakfast and it’s something we do here well, I want to encourage people to see this side and come here for a bit of Portugal for breakfast.”
10/112 McEvoy St, Alexandria NSW 2015