Adelaide’s favourite Portuguese custard tart purveyors, Saudade, are returning to where their business began, opening at the Grote Street entrance of the Central Market.
Saudade is opening in the CBD
In 2017, Carla Alemao and her business partners had the thought that Adelaide might appreciate a supply of authentic Portuguese custard tarts.
Carla longed for this delicacy, known in her homeland of Portugal as pastel de nata, but she wasn’t entirely sure if local demand existed.
Before she went ahead and launched a business based around a single nostalgic sweet, she wanted to test this inkling in the marketplace.
She did this at the Adelaide Central Market, soft-launching Saudade through its producer-in-residence program.
The first few batches of Saudade Portuguese custard tarts were made in a home oven, “20 tarts at a time,” Carla laughs. Later on in the residency, demand grew and she was generously given access to a pastry oven by her Central Market neighbours, Dough.
The pop-up was a success and Saudade began the search for a site, ending up at the Mitcham Square Shopping Centre, where they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in 2018.
By the end of 2019, Carla wanted to expand the business and she and her husband were in the process of buying out their founding business partners. They wanted to open the CBD, and had all but secured a spot on Grenfell Street before the pandemic hit.
With the uncertainty of COVID, Carla kept Saudade at its single site and bided her time.
Her patience paid off, with the business now set to launch at the Grote Street entrance of the Adelaide Central Market, in the tenancy formerly occupied by Bakers Delight.
The site will reopen as Saudade sometime before Easter this year.
Carla considers this a homecoming for her business, given the Market played such an integral role in its founding.
“There was always a hope [Saudade would open at the Central Market], but you never know,” she says. “You obviously try to do it and you try to get to that goal, but it’s never a guarantee. It depends on the opportunity that comes along.
“Basically because we wanted the Central Market, we would love to go back to the Central Market, and when that shop became available, we had to take the risk.
“Central Market is unique, and I think we offer a unique product, because [we’re] offering just one product, and that you can taste Portugal here.”
The new Saudade store will continue to focus on the one delicacy. This narrow focus, Carla says, is key to Saudade’s success, as is their commitment to serving a fresh product.
“We don’t bake x amount of batches, we bake as they go. So the tarts are never there for more than two hours, sometimes not even that,” she says.
The shop will also serve coffee, and some Portuguese soft drinks – which are currently in short supply here in Australia because of a stressed global shipping network.
This also caused delays in getting a specialty oven to Australia from Portugal. Had there not been such long delays, the new Saudade would have been open and trading by last December.
Regardless of the timing, Carla is excited to service new and old customers from the prominent Grote Street site.
And the concept behind Saudade (the word describes “a feeling of longing or yearning for something you had and you lost, and you don’t know if you’re going to get back,” Carla says) has only become more relevant since the introduction of travel restrictions.
“When we had the producer-in-residence [stall], we realised that so many Australians had been in Portugal and knew the product, and they missed the product in a way, because they’re not going back every year,” Carla says.
“And with COVID, and now with this crazy war, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Well, we can offer a little bit of Portugal here.”
Saudade Central Market will open sometime between now and Easter (but definitely before Easter, Carla tells us), and is located at the Grote Street entrance, across from O’Connell’s Meats.
If reading this story has instigated in you an immediate desire for pastel de nata, as it has for us, you can still get your Saudade fix at the Mitcham Square Shopping Centre, 119 Belair Road.