Hayward - Hiser Portuguese Bakery very good, very unique
Hiser Portuguese Bakery in Hayward is an unpolished gem. You might not recognize what an asset it is to the Bay Area on a first glance.
In addition to an interesting variety of Portuguese breads and pastries, they have the best selection of Portuguese cheeses and meats that I have seen in the Bay Area, so far.
My favorite, hands down, at this bakery is pastéis de nata", a tiny lemon flavored custard tart. It has a paper thin crust. It is very sweet. The excellent article on Azorean food in the link at the bottom discusses why some Portuguese pastries are very sweet. It is like combination of a Chinese egg tart and an Italian budino de riso. No rice, but the texture and sweetness reminded me of the Italian pastry.
There is a nice almond cookie, espicie, that reminds me a little of the almond cookies you can get in Chinese bakeries.
Pao Doce, Portuguese Sweet Bread, is like a cross between Hawaiian sweet bread and a Polish babka. It is mildly flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. At Christmas time there is a special version that has dried fruits.
The bolo is a flat bread make of white corn flour. When I first walked into Hiser, I thought just another pre-packaged, wrapped in plastic bags bakery. On the bread list there was bolo. I asked which bread was the bolo. The woman at the counter disappeared into the back and pulled out the pizza sized round of bolo. The secret of this bakery is to find the day of the week a special bread is made. Bolo is made on Thursday and Friday.
Today it was a soft Portuguese roll, papos secos, which filled the bakery with that fresh baked bread smell. People were crowded around a wicker basket filled with the rolls. Hiser seems to have an equal mix of Portuguese customers and non Portuguese locals who are in the know about this bakery.
About the bolo, I never would have guessed it was made with corn flour. Im not a fan of corn based breads. It almost had a taste like a potato bread. It seems from sampling Portuguese corn breads from various restaurants and bakeries; they use white corn flour which has a less assertive flavor than the yellow. This is just a guess. I was told the bolo goes bad fast so I should either eat it today or freeze it. It can be served toasted with butter. I think it would make a great pizza base.
Another tiny tart, "pastéis de coco was like an airy macaroon in the paper thin tart shell. Of course, they have the large hard wreath shaped cookies called Biscoitos.
Probably the most unique cookie to me was the feiticeuras (witches), a small brown and white wreath shaped cookie. I have never tasted a spice like this before. I am at a loss. It was strong with a perfumy hint. I am not doing it justice. Worth trying for something unique and should not offend anyone who doesnt want to try something too odd.
The Dona Amelias were tiny tarts that tasted like a date bread with a hint of molasses. I am suspecting though they are fig based because so many Portuguese dishes seem to be fig based. I wasnt fond of them until I paired them with some of the sharp semi-hard Portuguese cheese. The sweet tart tempered the strong cheese. This isnt how they do it in Portugal, but I though it made a good combo.
This was the only place that Ive seen Portuguese cheese and linguiesa that wasnt encased in heavy duty plastic. The large wedges of cheese are cut from large wheels imported from Portugal. They will give you a taste. Of course, there are a number of other cheeses, fishes and sausages that are plastic wrapped. Most of the sausages are from Goularts in San Jose. I didnt catch the type of cheese. The one I bought had a handwritten label that said topo. The other, I think, said cabreiro. There were one or two different kinds I saw on other visits.
Other seasonal items are Malassadas, or sugar donuts, made for the night of the Mardi Gras and at Easter you can get a sweet bread called folares that has two, four or six undyed eggs baked in the top. Orders for this bread should be placed before Good Friday
There is a nice selection of Portuguese canned goods, condiments and cookies and a few other intriguing things I havent yet asked about.
I bought a little yellow cookbook, Foods of the Azores Islands, written by a Portuguese lady in Palo Alto who emigrated from the Azores. It has helped familiarize me with Bay Area Portuguese food which seems to have a strong Azorean Influence. There are recipes like Anise Soup and Holy Ghost Sopas. There is a Portuguese bakery across the Bay in Santa Clara that on the last weekend of the month will make sopas, or Portuguese stew.
There are fanciful dessert recipes like nuns stomach and mother in laws eyes. There are quite a lot less exotically named standard dishes from the Azores, including a section on liqueurs
I am still getting familiar with the selection at Hiser. I have yet to find out what suspiros, vespras, and queijadas are. There is that round corn bread I need to try also.
This place is almost impossible to find. The official address:
18563 Mission Blvd Hayward, CA 94541. Main Phone: 510-278-3322.
Tuesday Friday 7 am -5pm
Saturday - 7 am 3 pm
Closed Sunday and Monday
It is a little off Mission Blvd in a tiny plaza behind Jack in the Box. There's a British pub in the plaza. Very near 238. Take the 14th street exit.
Hiser is an old fashioned style ethnic bakery. Think in terms of Neldhams or Schuberts.
This excellent article about Azorean food, discusses why, despite a large Portuguese population, there are few bakeries and restaurants.
I just want to clarify one thing: The picture above is for pastéis de coco (coconut pastries), or as they say in the Azores, queijadas de coco, even though they don't have cheese in them.
You can read about the pastéis de Belém, the orignal pastéis de nata, at the link below. It clarifies the story of how the pastries evolved.
Oh, and thanks for the heads up about Riser!
re: David leite
Just catching up on my reading. Hope you are still out there somewhere.
Thanks for the link to your wonderful article and the origins of pastéis de nata. Actually, Popular Bakery in San Jose on Alum Rock has a better version than the one at Hiser, IMO, but both are good. If I never make it to Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Portugual, it is nice to know I can get something close at Alfama in NY.
"The confection's shell is made from massa folhada, Portugal's equivalent to France's puff pastry. It spirals up, creating a nest of hundreds of crisp layers. Inside is a luscious, warm custard."
Both the Hiser and Popular versions of this pastry have the thinnest pastry shell I have ever seen. It does not have those many layers you mention. Would you guess this is also massa folhada? I always like to put names to things.
Although I don't bake the recipe for pastéis de nata looks great. Looking through the gallery on the Alfama website was a bit of an education. There is a local restaurant in San Jose, Sousa's, that serves Mariscada, the mixed seafood stew of fish, clams, lobster, mussels, squid and shrimp. Although one Portuguese lady raved about it, it didn't really interest me. However, that picture on the Alfama website has me convinced I must try this dish.
I never considered having bica with port.
So, queijadas meams cheese? None of the six little tarts I tried had anything to do with cheese. i wonder why that name was applied to this dessert.
Anyway, thanks for the background info. Again, great read.
If the dough didn't have a lot of very thin, crispy layers, it isn't massa folhada, which means, I believe, "folded dough." The folding creates the layers. If you visit http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/pasteis_nata.html, you'll find a dough that is probably similar. I don't have a name for this dough. Everyone calls it massa.
Actually, queijo is the Portuguese word for cheese, and queijada means something akin to cheese treat or cheese tart. There are queijadas de Sintra, which are made from chese and are found in the town of Sintra, north of Lisbon. I think the Azoreans use the word to cover all small pastries, because there are queijadas de Villa Franca, which are from the isle of Sao Miguel. Hope this helps.
re: David leite
Thanks for taking the time to reply, David. When I was getting familiar with Bay Area Portuguese food, I found it very frustrating that different names were attatched to the same foods. For various reasons, I found out that the people of the Azores are a little free with the use of what they call the food, so it depends on the island you are from. Actually some mainland Portuguese that I talked to were a little condescending about this.
Thanks so much again.
After reading about Hiser Bakery on chowhound, I visited it today around 9am, hoping to catch the bolos that are supposedly made only on Thu. and Fri. Unfortunately, the owner told me they only make it on Fridays (and she said that she's got some in the freezer, but it's not available today). When I asked about the tarts de nata, she prefaced that it was still frozen, but that it'll be good after it defrosts a little bit. I was disappointed to hear that they don't make it fresh and instead just defrost it. I suspect all of the tarts on display today in the little cake display stand were previously frozen. Given how small the shop is, it's understandable that they may not be making fresh pastries everyday. Next time, I think I'll call ahead and find out when they're making the tarts/breads fresh. This experience was disappointing, but the owner was nice and pleasant enough that I'd like to give them another go. Plus the bagged portuguese sweet bread tasted pretty good, even if it may not have been made today.
Here are a few other notes on Hiser including their special occasion and wedding cakes which give you a choice of 14 flavors of cake and 17 fillings including pink champagne.
They had bean queijadas today, those tiny little tarts. Im not a sweet bean fan and I wouldnt order this very sweet tart with the texture of pumpkin pie.
They had fruit cake today which they make on a whim. They dont make it often because it is so much work. Another customer was raving about how much she liked it. Unfortunately it is the type of fruitcake Im not fond of. It reminds me of the fruitcakes they once used for wedding cakes when I was growing up. Too fruitcakey. On the good side it was loaded with liquor and figs.
Service can be slow because the customers tend to chat it up with the staff. So while waiting, I checked out the books of special occasion and wedding cakes. Pretty cakes the type youd see at Melhams or Schuberts. Some were decorated with fresh flowers. However they have the most extensive selection of flavors Ive seen. I think Ill try one on my next special occasion.
Cakes: White, lemon, cherry, marble, banana, banana nut, pineapple, carrot, rum, spice, orange, chocolate, blueberry, strawberry.
Custard fillings: Lemon, rum, banana, almond, chocolate, pineapple
Cream fillings: lemon, banana, chocolate, raspberry, pineapple
Other: Raspberry, cherry, strawberry, cream cheese, silver chiffon, pink champagne, apple cinnamon
Seasonal fresh fruit is available as well as Dobash Chocolate with custard.
Another customer was looking through the cakes and I asked if she tried them. She said not since the change in ownership. I asked if this was recently and she said no. She bought her wedding cake here 21 years ago when it was a German Bakery. According to this woman the bakery changed to Portuguese a little after that but kept the German name.
For those of you in the Rodeo area a limited selection of Hiser, sweet breads, rolls and Biscoito (large hard ring shaped cookies)
Krys, you can also get malassadas at Tita's hale'aina restaurant in San Francisco. They make them to order and are $3.75 per plate of three I believe. They also offer some Portuguese dishes on their menu. Here's a link to their website.
Oh wow, kalua pig omlette. Have you tried that. Nothing traditional about this place, of course, but really interesting and different dishes.
Hawaiian Kine, Portuguese sweet bread French Toast. Three countries in one dish.
For lunch the, "Portuguese Bean Soup with ham hocks, Portuguese sausage, red beans & cabbage in a full body tomato stock" sounds great.
All that and a Friday Luau special.
Thanks for the tip on a place that isn't currently serving "pork belly" or "roasted beets".
re: gordon wing
I tried the malassadas. They came in plain and sugared. I preferred the sugar. They were like a fritter with an oily (in a good way) exterior and the softest fluffiest interior. Some of them had little crispy pieces attached.
Gordon, these were wildly different from the sugar donuts I tried at the Portuguese Bakery in Santa Clara. Id be interested if you could tell me about the version you had in Hawaii in this discussion I started on the General board because it is a topic not specific to SF. Different malassadas in the Bay Area, ok on Bay Board. Discussion on malassadas in various parts of the country general board.
Now Im going to have to try them at Titas on 17th in the Castro. I see they have them for takeout too. I cant believe this place exists. Interesting takeout which includes the donuts.
Anyway, heres the link on the general board.
re: Krys Stanley
re: ChowFun (derek)
Were the malassadas at Tita's and Stonestown hot? Were they the same?
On the general board you wrote "they were just fried dough and sugar on the outside..kind of rough and chewy" Were they both like that?
I hope you get some leads in or near the city. Alas, I was on a quest for Portuguese food and the only bakeries are outside of the city.
However, if you are ever in Santa Clara, the Portuguese Bakery has them (see link below). They are the only Portuguese Bakery that I've found that always has them. Those were the Churro like, jelly filled fritters.
The other two will only have them on 2/8
Hiser Bakery in Hayward is the one (to borrow that great description from the General Board) were "Light, dense yet fluffy, slightly greasy" No filling.
I haven't tried the ones at Popular Bakery in San Jose yet.
I'm getting a little tired of donuts about now, but I wouldn't object to one more that was hot from the fryer.
re: Krys Stanley
I should have changed the subject with my response, chowfun. So the question to you all is
"Does anyone except Tita's and the Hawaiian place at the Stonestown mall make malassadas (sugar coated fried donuts).
re: Krys Stanley
I haven't seen malasadas available anywhere else in San Francisco. But if anybody out there knows please let us know.To bad Kings Bakery from Hawaii(formerly) and now Torrance won't open a branch up here. They actually are famous for the Portuguese sweet bread.(You can find int in some of the markets).But they do sell Malasadas which are pretty good.
re: ChowFun (derek)
I have never had Malasadas any tastier than those at Leonards Bakery in Honolulu. Light, Fluffy, Eggy etc. I went to try the Malasadas at the new Hawaiian plate lunch place at Stonestown Mall. (I believe it is owned by Tita's or some connection) They were way to overly fried. Almost burn't. I don't know if they are always fried that way or I just caught the cook at a bad time. They are supposed to be a nice light golden brown, not black. Maybe I will try them again later. The saimin is not bad,but not nearly as good as May,s coffee shop in the Japantown Mall. Great flavor.
Thanks for shining the chow light on Portuguese food. Here's a link to a photo and description of queijadas I purchased from 9 Islands Bakery in Rohnert Park. Sadly, when I drove by there a couple weeks ago, it was closed due to a fire. I hope they'll reopen soon.
P.S. Dim sum's custard tart is said to be derived from the Portuguese version via Macao.
re: Melanie Wong
It must be a zoning requirement to locate Portuguese bakeries near Jack in the Box.
Thanks for the post about queijadas, and especially the picture. I was thinking they were just the same name as pastéis until I saw the picture. I haven't seen anything like that before. Your description of the shell "the thinnest whisper of a tart shell" is dead on for the pasteis as well.
Those little date/fig tarts are really growing on me. They really were perfect with my rouge et noir blue. It seems my SO is very fond of them as well as they seem to be disappearing pretty fast.
Also, thanks for the info about the bacon. I keep eyeing it every time I go into a Portuguese market. There are a few different kinds.
I haven't been to Hiser on Thursday yet. Maybe that is queijadas day. Looking for to those donuts though.
re: Melanie Wong
Yes, I've had that style of egg tart from Sheng Kee, I think. It had a heavier crust than the more common daan tat. I don't remember what they call it there.
Here's a link to my old post on the malasadas (note Portuguese spelling with single 's') from Portuguese Bakery.