THREE things I love about Macau, Fernando’s, the fact that I’m in a steamy hip town just a short hop from the massive conurbation of Hong Kong, and of course, Fernando’s.
There are other things, Macau’s colonial charm, the winding backstreets of the old town, the nightlife, but those are the top three.
Set right on Hac Sa Beach and with old Fernando himself humping out steaming piles of suckling pig from the kitchen, you can dine inside under fans, or al fresco.
For some reason, within a very short time after I arrive my face is usually smeared with swine grease and the table is covered with empty San Miguel bottles.
Surely it can have nothing to do with the well picked carcasses of a suckling pig and its two cousins on the table whose owners no longer have any use for them and the tropical air, so thick you could cup it in your hands, and of course the concomitants beers need to ward off thirst, insanity and ennui?
We decide to order one more round of San Migs to go with the jugs of sangria, which have just arrived.
The suckling pigs are the tenderest on Earth and the crackling is perfect, the waves crash on the beach nearby and after a while and a few more laughs, more beer is summoned.
The bill – when it arrives is inconsequential when compared with the feast we have just had, which included bowl after bowl of spicy prawns, all of which were accompanied with the staple of the Macanese diet – crinkle cut chips. Yes, it’s a diet that makes it difficult to believe we’re in China.
Although the island’s population is 94 percent ethnic Chinese, it is easy to get authentic Portuguese cooking on the 29sq km island.
And when you get tired of punting away the kids’ inheritance while drinking free alcohol in the island’s many casinos and when you’ve had your fill of sightseeing among the ruins of European settlement, and your shopping is done, I urge you to take a stroll into the old town and stop in one of many authentic Portuguese eateries.
In the narrow streets of the old town, the sights and heady aromas of east meets west and there are plenty of places to sit down and take in the atmosphere in one of the safest and friendliest of Asian towns.
The story of Portuguese involvement on the island goes back almost 600 years when they used it as a trading centre and gives much of the island‘s architecture the European appearance that distinguishes it to this day.
After the British opened up Hong Kong following the opium wars of the 1850s, the port became a backwater, a historical accident we can all be grateful for.
And until quite recently the place had been ignored. Not anymore. The Macau strip is now bigger than the one found somewhere in Nevada. Mix that with 600 years of European history melded with centuries of Chinese and you really get the feeling that what happens in Macau stays in Macau. What’s more: they’ve had a millennium or so of constantly proving it.
Praia de Hac Sa, Nº 9, Coloane, Macau
Tel: (+853) 882264
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