Archive for the 'Brazilian cuisine' Category

Churrasco is Brazil’s version of cowboy barbecue. Invented by the gauchos, the Brazilian horsemen who herded cattle in the Rio Grande do Sul region of Southern Brazil, Churrasco was originally a method of spit roasting cuts of meat by the fire. Today, the steakhouse style restaurants continuing this tradition of cowboy cooking are known as Churrascarias. Enormous automated charcoal and wood rotisseries have replaced the outdoor fire pits, but the slow roasting and basting process remains much as it was nearly two centuries ago. 

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Any discussion of Brazil’s iconic dishes is incomplete without an in-depth look at the country’s national dish- feijoada completa. Feijoada is more than just a bean stew… it is a cultural rite of passage. Opting for a taste of carioca style feijoada, we travel to Ipanema to pay a visit to a true Rio classic - Chef Gilberto Araújo’s Casa da Feijoada. Many legends mistakenly attribute feijoada to the slave kitchen, but the Portuguese consumed feijoada before they ever colonized Brazil. Feijoada completa refers to the “whole meal,” served with the principal dish of stewed beans cooked with 11 different types of smoked or cured pork meats, and sausages.

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Few comfort foods come as close to Nirvana as the moquecas of Bahia– clay pot seafood stews thickened with coconut milk– seasoned with dendé oil, yellow onion, tomato, and green bell pepper and cilantro. Whether it is freshly caught fish like cavala, shrimp, octopus, or lobster, or homemade coconut milk and dendé oil, the secret to a perfect moqueca lies in the freshness of the ingredients. Jan our dendé and farinha guide, assures us that his sister-in-law, Claudete, prepares the best moqueca in all of Bahia.

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We walk to a rustic farinha house where the owners, Roberto and Maria, have gathered for communal farinha processing.  This gathering known as a farinhada will produce enough manioc flour to sustain their small neighborhood for the next several weeks. Having harvested the manioc roots early that morning, two members of the group work in tandem to peel the tough skin with sharp knives.

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Our tour begins at the Ceasa Market in Salvador’s Rio Vermelho district where Veve Bragança provides a crash course in the Nordeste pantry – from manteiga de garrafa, a type of clarified butter used to season manioc purees, to specialty manioc flours called farinhas and the toasted manioc flour known as farofas differing in grain size and texture… to dishes like hard to find dishes like maniçoba made from boiled manioc leaves that have released their toxins… cooked with calabresa sausage, charque, cured salpresa pork, bacon, and smoked chorizo.

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Another popular address for locals who appreciate good food is Tordesilhas where Mara Salles advocates the preservation and elevation of native Brazilian ingredients. Located in the bustling Rua Bela Cintra area of Sao Paulo, the restaurant serves up some of regional Brazil’s more obscure dishes - many of which descend from indigenous and colonial traditions. The restaurant’s name, Tordesilhas, references a treaty signed in1494 between Portugal and Spain, marking the boundaries of their newly claimed lands in the America.

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Sao Paulo native, Alex Atala symbolizes the city’s multi-ethnic heritage as an Irish Lebanese Brazilian. Chef Atala’s DOM restaurant is regarded by many critics as the best in Brazil, and rated number 24 on the world’s 50 best restaurant’s list, according to San Pellegrino’s annual rating. Atala’s cooking combines intriguing Amazonian flavors with ultra-modern techniques… all filtered through the artful lens of haute cuisine.

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During our tour of Sao Paulo’s Mercado Municipal, we get an introduction to the ingredients that comprise Brazil’s diverse culinary traditions. From salted pork and beef products like air-dried cuts of carne seca – essential for making Brazil’s feijoada complete, to row upon row of fresh seafood, mollusks, and fish– the Mercado Municipal has something for everyone.

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This is Brazil…From the Amazon’s endless verdant jungle where thousands of serpentine tributaries converge to form the world’s largest river… teaming with rare fish, and exotic fruits…To the sophisticated and cosmopolitan metropolis of Sao Paulo, with its infinite sprawl of skyscrapers, ethnic neighborhoods, and chic dining scenes. Take a stroll through downtown Sao Paulo and this ethnic diversity is easy to see in the beautiful, multi-cultural faces of the city’s residents who call themselves paulistas. In all its incarnations, Brazil is as massive as it is majestic. 

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Travel to the South American nations of Peru and Brazil, where leading chefs and food authorities demonstrate their culinary techniques in step-by-step detail. The Culinary Institute of America, in association with Unilever Food Solutions, presents "Savoring the Best of World Flavors," the fourth edition of the World Culinary Arts DVD Series. For recipes, visit www.ciaprochef.com/WCA  

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