Every so often, one comes a dish or a restaurant that is a perfect reflection of place. A bowl of rustic green chile stew with a folded flour tortilla on the side, for example, is a perfect reflection of its northern New Mexico context. It taps into not just local… Read More →
Only an hour from the 24/7 buzz of Rio de Janeiro is a tranquil retreat, where you can slow down and breath fresh mountain air, as well as savor slow food prepared with loving care. In the introduction to A Cozinha da Alcobaça, author and chef Dona Laura Góes says the food served in her pousada in Rio de Janeiro state, is based on “refined simplicity.” The Pousada da Alcobaça is a pretty and cosy 1914 colonial-style mansion, with 11 individually decorated rooms, set in lush tropical gardens sloping down to a sparkling river.
Camaroes a Baiana isa deliciously spicy but creamy dish from the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil. It’s signature ingredient is palm oil, called dendê in Brazil (pronounced: den-DAY). While you can substitute an oil like annatto to attain the same vivid red-orange color, the flavor of dendê is indispensable… Read More →
Last year, while enjoying chef Roland Villard’s incredible Amazônia Menu at Le Pré Catelan in Rio de Janeiro’s Sofitel hotel, I heard rumblings that the chef was working on a similar tasting menu comprising of the most common Brazilian ingredients: rice and beans. I just received word that the menu is now being served in the restaurant.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I had been traveling for approximately 22 hours. Many of those hours I was rushing to catch a train, to catch a flight, and to catch another flight. I dropped my bags off at my hotel, the Marina All Suites in Leblon, and went straight to the Hotel Fasano’s Al Mare restaurant in Ipanema to begin my first lesson in Brazilian cachaça with Leblon rep Eliana Pessanha.
Until a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro I thought Alex Atala at D.O.M. in São Paulo was the only chef diving head first into Amazonian ingredients in Brazil. I was wrong. Another chef, Roland Villard, at Rio’s Le Pré Catelan inside the Hotel Sofitel on Copacabana Beach, is just as intimate with these exotic ingredients. If not, more so. The French chef, serves an 11 Course Amazonian Tasting Menu that ranks among the best meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
On a recent night in Rio de Janeiro I went to the restaurant Carlota without a reservation. There were people milling around outside and when I asked the waitress if there was a table, she replied with a wait time that was well beyond my hunger limit. Carlota would have to wait. I wandered around the Leblon neighborhood looking for somewhere simple. The neon light Koni store appeared before me like a mirage in the desert.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I had been traveling for approximately 22 hours. Many of those hours I was rushing to catch a train, to catch a flight, and to catch another flight. I dropped my bags off at my hotel, the Marina All Suites in Leblon, and went straight to the Hotel Fasano’s Al Mare restaurant in Ipanema to begin my first lesson in Brazilian cachaça, which few realize is the third most consumed spirit in the world. I started off with a almost traditional caipirinha with a little bit of fresh passion fruit juice in it (with Leblon), Brazil’s signature cocktail that’s muddles cachaça with sugar and lime.
As it begins to look more and more like South America is going to clean up at the World Cup, I had the rare opportunity to watch matches of both Brazil and Argentina from within those countries. Each of these nations has won the cup in the past and two of the greatest players in cup history, Argentina’s Diego Maradona (now Argentina’s coach) and Brazil’s Pele, originated here. Both countries hold futbol to a standard on par with the church. When a game is on, the cities shut down as everyone watches. Here’s my report.
The more Brazilian food I eat and the more I visit Brazil, the more I realize how little I really know about Brazilian cooking. The country is massive, a continent of its own. By Leticia Moreinos-Schwartz’s The Brazilian Kitchen (Kyle Books, 2010) is the best all around study on Brazilian food I’ve read thus far.