The Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Macau

Facade to St. Paul's ruins, Macau.

The facade of Ruínas de São Paulo or the Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau’s historic landmark that attests their Portuguese heritage.
Photo © C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

In today’s modern Macau, it is difficult to find any trace that Macau had set out its life as a western outpost in Asia, as a matter of fact together with Malacca as one of the oldest. Macau is also one of the most visible reminders of the fact that it was actually the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz who in 1488 discovered a sea route to China and that Great Britain, still so present in today’s Singapore, arrived centuries later in the Far East.

Today Macau has been given back to Chinese administration, however the remnants of Portuguese culture is deeply instilled in the food, culture and architecture of Macau. During my recent visit, one of my ‘most important places of interest’ was the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. To find my way there was a mixed experience.

The Ruins of St. Paul is constantly filled with people, so walking from Senate Square in the direction of the Macao Museum would be one of the most convenient means of getting there. Even when driving, we parked some 400m away and walked.

Parking meters, Macau.

Parking meters is the system in Macau when parking along the streets.

Scooters and motorcycles, common mode of transport, Macau.

Scooters, a common sight and mode of transport.

Narrow street, Macau.

All the better to navigate these older, narrow streets.

Parking meters are the system in Macau, if you’re driving and you’ll also notice a fair bit of scooters and small motorcycles on the roads, which are excellent vehicles to navigate the narrower streets of the region.

The Ruins of St. Paul is today what is left of a Portuguese Jesuit cathedral that was accidentally destroyed by fire in the early 1800s. Dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle, it was in the 1600s, a collegiate church that the Jesuits used to house those of their society who were on their way to Japan, via Macau. These ruins are one of the region’s most historic landmarks and enlisted as part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 2005.
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360 Café at Largo da Torre de Macau

Torre Panorâmica, Macau Sky Tower from the highway, Macau.

Torre Panorâmica or Macau Sky Tower, one of the region’s landmarks with the world’s highest bungee jump point from its outer rim at 233 m. A thrill to all Evel Knievels out there, and certainly not for the faint hearted!
Photo © C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

Driving along the highway, Macau’s Sky Tower looked akin to Seattle’s Space Needle, though at 338 meters, it stands considerably higher than Seattle’s landmark. Both structures halfway across the globe, have a revolving restaurant at the top and it was there, at 360 Café that we were headed to have lunch.

Torre Panorâmica, Macau Sky Tower, elevator to the 60th floor, 360 Café.

360 at 60.

Having never been to Macau or dined at such an altitude, I hardly knew what to expect. The enthusiastic discussions between well-meaning and highly adventurous relatives on bungee jumping after lunch made me think twice about having lunch at all, wondering which was worse, never having bungee jumped at all or contemplating bungee jumping after downing lunch.

My quiet reservations about eating at 360 Café lifted however, when on the 60th floor, I stepped out of the elevator and was greeted by the most delectable spread of cookies, cakes, jellies and fruits – the dessert table laid just where the elevator entrances were.

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Through the backstreets of Macau to Margaret’s Café e Nata

The Grand Lisboa as seen from the fortress, Macau.

A view of Macau today with the towering Grand Lisboa as seen from Monte Forte.
Photo © C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

When in Macau, what hits you first are the ostentatious buildings, mostly casinos to attract all sorts of tourists. And some people frequent Macau with what I find in slight irony for masochistic reasons, the gamblers for a purpose and the non-gamblers for the sheer delight to revel in what they are not.

But Macau, rich in its history and currently known for its distinctive blend of Portuguese-Chinese culture ingrained into the administrative and education system of the region, is also known for its food.

Café e Nata, Macau for Portuguese egg tarts.

Highly reviewed and written about, though more difficult to locate for first timers in Macau.

In this post is a discovery of some of the most sumptuous Portuguese egg tarts in Macau, tucked away in a highly unlikely corner of the region in Gum Loi Building – Margaret’s Café e Nata.

I thought the café unlikely because of the manner in which I found it. Bundled in a car by relatives and driven to a nearby parking area that wasn’t exactly nearby after all, we walked through busy main streets, crossed several large junctions where the golden glint of the Grand Lisboa loomed large before us, not to be missed by anyone and as if out of nowhere, shuffled into a back alley that though sunny, looked the complete opposite of all that glittered in Macau.
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Breads and pastries in Lisbon, Portugal

Padaria do Bairro, Rua da Misericórdia, Lisbon, Portugal
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2019

I could eat cake for breakfast. But when in Lisbon, I discovered that this eating cake for breakfast could well be epigenetics at play, because in Lisbon, a lot of people eat a lot of cake for breakfast. It felt very much like home when upon entering the morning breakfast spread at the hotel, where I was greeted with what seemed like two-thirds of the total breakfast spread dedicated to various breads, cakes and pastries. Breakfast could take some time in Lisbon, I thought.

The Portuguese do pastries so well that they simply did away with the cumbersome Danish (pastry), and the bread around the Norwegian Skolebrod to produce one of their conconctions of greatest repute, the custard egg tart, pastel de nata or in Lisbon, also known as Pastéis de Belém. There are variations of this around the globe, such as the Cantonese or Hong Kong egg tart, or in Macau, known also as pastel de nata. But pastel de nata is but one sweet temptation. Walk into any bakery or pasteleria in Lisbon, and you’ll find an array of gorgeously prepared pastries that even if you didn’t have a love of sweet bakes, would encourage you to sit and sample. And this, one could do almost anytime of the day, beginning at breakfast.

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The monsoon kingdoms: a languid afternoon read

Swedish west coast

Across the globe from the monsoon kingdoms, the Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro, Sweden 2015

2015. History was not a subject of particular interest to her. But the thick book, bound in green, fell into her hands, with its pages opening to the chapter entitled The Coming of the Europeans. This was his book. She sat and proceeded to read. She smiled when she encountered a paragraph that described the city in which she was raised, Singapore, in the 1500s, compared to the great emporium of Malacca, Java and the Spice Islands, as known for ‘nothing much’. Malacca in the Far East was the flourishing main trading port where every year, between eighteen to twenty ships were laden with numerally Sumatran pepper bound for China. Continue reading “The monsoon kingdoms: a languid afternoon read”

The Cordero | Cordeiro affinity to islands

Do You Sleep?
Text and Photo © A Neikter Nilsson, JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

Judging from the numerous books launched by Eurasian authors on their heritage and family history, it seems that the Eurasian community in Singapore has a general strong interest in research on genealogy, which in itself makes for interesting study due to a mixture of cultures, ethnicities and even traditions in cuisine.

The Portuguese with their sense of inherent adventure, had close ties to the East India trades already in the early 1600s. It is probably these factors in combination that landed the Cordero / Cordeiro family in East Asia in the first place. The genealogy of the Cordeiros can be traced from the highlands of Andalusia in Spain during the Medieval times, to the autonomous archipelago of the Azores of Portugal (ca. 1600ff), right through to Macau (ca. 1800ff) and then to Singapore during the early 1900s. To that extent, one could argue that the Cordeiros have flown flags of many colours, the most prominent (for the older generations of the family) being the vibrant colours of Portugal.
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Festive! Silk shoes with bows

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, silk shoes with bows, Chanel no. 19, Chanel Macau lipstick, Chanel nailpolish

For a night out this season…iridescent eyeshadow in various vibrant shades, Chanel No. 19, Chanel Aqualumiére lipstick, no. 42, Macao, Chanel nail polish in blush pink, a pair of light gold shoes in silk.
Photo for CMC © Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson 2009

The local shops in Sweden are already decking out in Christmas gear, much to the delight of the early Christmas shoppers! And all these festive shop window displays, whether it’s interior design shops suggesting a state-of-art Christmas tree, a traditional Swedish julbock made of straw and wrapped in red ribbons, or a clothing store suggesting an outfit to a fantastic New Year’s Eve party, heightens the season’s anticipation.

Silk satin gold shoes with bows

When it comes to what to wear, I think decorative shoes have certainly made their mark this season, with consumers becoming acquainted with eccentric designs from Marc Jacobs to bold chunky heels from Prada and bejewelled heels from Prada’s sister Miu Miu.

Bows affixed to shoes, thanks for designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Vivien Westwood (hearts on shoes actually), whether front, sides or back, have also made it to the runways, adding to the revelry of dressing for this upcoming Christmas and New Year’s, that are just about 6 to 8 weeks away.

So in this season of parties, I’m already looking forward to a display of exotic looking shoes, casually tossed at entrances, with designs that are as individual as the wearers themselves!