Oct 28

Brazilian Recipes: Baião de Dois

baiao-de-dois-ingredients

A few of the things you’ll be needing for today’s recipe for Baião de Dois.

 

Today I am stepping into dangerous territory – I’m going to tell you about one of the classic recipes of Northeast Brazil. Why dangerous? Well try to imagine a beloved recipe from your hometown/region. Now imagine that some idiot from another country comes bumbling along and tries to tell everyone how to make it, but of course the bumbling idiot gets it so, so wrong. So before I get myself into an on-line version of this classic culinary car crash from Keith Floyd, I will quickly attempt to pre-empt outraged complaints by saying that this is just my way of doing it and I accept that true Nordestinos may do it differently.

OK, so with that pusillanimous pre-emptive apology out of the way, let’s get on with it shall we? Baião (sounds a bit like ‘buy-OHWN’) is a style of music and dance from Northeast Brazil (if you’d like some extra Nordestino atmosphere, why not have Luiz Gonzaga sing Baião in the background while you read the rest of the post?). So if “Baião de Dois” is a dance for two, then who are the principal protagonists in this culinary caper? You guessed it – Mr Rice and Mrs Beans:

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 18

Manguinhas – another reason to visit your local feira

mango-manga

 

Here’s a little factiod for you: while many fruits have evolved bright colours to attract birds (birds have excellent colour vision), mangoes are generally a dull greenish-red colour because they have evolved to be eaten (and therefore distributed) by fruit bats and other animals that rely more on smell than sight to find food. See? 3 years studying zoology wan’t a complete waste was it? According to my old ecology lecturer, we silly humans have spent the last 100+ years attempting to breed bright, colourful mangoes which appeal to the average human shopper.

There are mango trees (mangueiras) all over Rio. In fact here’s the view out of my window right now:

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 13

Photo post: Lapa Sandwich

Lapa-sandwich

 

I never know quite how to feel when I see this scene in Lapa. Part of me is happy that the little fellow survived, another part of me feels sad that these huge, ugly blocks were put here in the first place.

 

 

Oct 08

Soups and Stews in Botafogo: Feijão, Angu e Cia

feijao-angu-cia

 

A few months after I arrived in Rio, I got my first job. I was working half way along one of Botafogo’s main streets, Rua Voluntários de Pátria. Back then, life in Rio was a bit scary and bewildering, full of lessons to be learned: how to catch a bus, how to get a waiter’s attention and how to have lunch.

That last item might seem strange (what is there to learn about lunch?), but I soon found that my London lunching tradition (a quick sandwich eaten at my desk) wasn’t going to work in Brazil. The idea of eating at one’s desk seems to be rather repulsive to Brazilians, and on this question I have come to see their point. I soon realised that I needed to find somewhere outside of the office to eat. I took to the streets of Botafogo in search of something quick, convenient and delicious. Here’s what I found:

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 01

Recipe: Bolinhos de Abóbora com Carne Seca

Bolinhos-de-feijoada

Bolinhos de feijoada from Aconchego Carioca

 

Did I ever tell you how much I love bolinhos? When I was first introduced to these little balls of joy, I assumed the word meant just that: little balls. In fact bolinho is the diminutive of bolo, the Portuguese word for cake, so really these are ‘little cakes’, but a better translation would be ‘fritter’ or ‘croquette’. Whatever you call them, bolinhos are hugely popular in Brazil. There are quite a few bars in Rio that owe pretty much all their popularity to their bolinhos.

The photo above shows bolinhos de feijoada from Aconchego Carioca. This is a bolinho version of Brazil’s best-loved dish, feijoada: black bean purée on the outside, shredded couve and bacon in the middle, all encased in a delightfully crispy shell. Along with a helping hand from Claude Troisgros, these bolinhos really put this restaurant on the map. Other bars and restaurants in Rio for bolinho lovers to visit include Bracarense in Leblon and Bar do Gomez in Santa Teresa:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 23

Coconuts asking for directions

HortiFruti-Coco

“Stop being stubborn and ask someone for directions”

 

Ah, good old Hortifruti adverts. Whether they’re making excellent fruit-based movie puns or racist controversial accent-based puns, they always give me something to think about. Their latest offering covers relatively safe ground – speaking for myself, I know I’m often guilty of being a cabeça dura (literally ‘hard head’, though ‘stubborn’ would be a better translation) when it comes to asking for directions.

But people with cabeça dura living in Rio should really take Mrs Drinking Coconut’s advice – Cariocas still amaze me with their willingness to help out when someone asks for directions. It’s not so much that they’re prepared to help that I find surprising; it’s the lengths to which they’ll go. Imagine yourself in the following scenarios in whichever city you happen to call home:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 18

Fruits in Brazil: Sapoti and Jenipapo

One of the most exciting aspects of Brazilian food is the wide range of little known fruit. From the moment I first crossed into Brazil from Colombia, I encountered strange fruits and berries that I had never seen or even heard of before. Words like Bacurí, Muricí and Cupuaçú jumbled about in my head after a visit to a market in Manaus. Although it’s not quite so easy to get hold of the exotic Amazonian fruits here in Rio, they do show up from time to time in the street markets (another good place to look is Hortifruti) and whenever I see something new, I try it.

I visit Rio’s street markets at least twice a week and there is almost always this one stall, run by a rather grumpy old guy, which has the weird items. A few days ago I visited the grumpy stall and picked up two fruits that are pretty interesting: Sapoti and Jenipapo.

 

Sapoti (aka Sapodilla)

Sapoti-Sapodilla

 

For all I know, I have been walking past these Sapoti (sounds like ‘sappo-chee’) fruit for years without noticing them and you can hardly blame me can you? As fruit go, these dull brown, tennis-ball sized spheres don’t exactly jump out and say ‘eat me!’ do they?

Better known as Sapodilla or Níspero in their native range of Southern Mexico and Central America, Sapoti (Manilkara zapota) grow on large, evergreen trees. The ripe fruit are firm and when cut open release a delicious sweet fragrance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 12

Osso: Meat Mecca in Lima

Osso-lima

 

My recent trip to Lima only lasted 5 days, yet it was so full of highlights that it felt like I was away for a month. Within minutes of arriving, I had dumped my bags at the hotel and was heading to Mistura for a day of serious eating with Mijune (aka Follow Me Foodie) and David (one of the head honchos at Chowzter). Over the following days we attended the Chowzter Latin America Awards, were treated to a personal chat with king of Peruvian food, Gastón Acurio, and ate and drank our way across some of the city’s finest restaurants, bars, street food stands and markets. Lima really is a food-lover’s paradise and not to be missed if you get the chance.

I am always mesmerised by all the amazing seafood in Lima, but on this occasion the two high-points of the trip centred on meat. Today I’ll tell you about my trip to Osso.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 05

Mistura 2014 & the Chowzter Latin America Awards

sandwich-chicharron-el-chinito

Chicharron sandwich from Lima restaurant El Chinito. Pork, sweet potato and ceviche-style red onions. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter.

 

Hola from Lima everyone! I jetted in yesterday on a very unglamorous 4am flight from Rio and stopped in my hotel just long enough to dump my bags before heading off the Mistura, Latin America’s biggest and best food festival. Yesterday I overheard a first time visitor to Mistura saying “This place is just amazing. I didn’t realise it was on my bucket list until I got here!”. I know exactly what they mean – if you’re looking for a huge, rich, delicious, fascinating food experience, Mistura should be on your list too.

This is my second visit and it is proving to be just as enjoyable and interesting as last time. In just a few hours I ate and drank my way through upwards of 35 dishes yesterday. I know that sounds shameful/gluttonous/amazing (depending on how you feel about excess), but I should quickly point out that many of those 35 ‘dishes’ were in fact small tastes of something delicious, rather than full-blown plates of food.

I don’t want to be down on Rio, but the recent Rio Gastronomia event has a long way to go before it approaches the heights of Mistura. I have a hard drive full of mouthwatering photos, but not enough time to show you everything, so I’ll just give you a little amuse bouche for now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 03

Proof that British food isn’t terrible

British-cheese

 

A little while back, Jamie Oliver stirred up a whole lot of trouble (while hungover) by describing brigadeiro and quindim (Brazilian sweets) as “a load of old shit” on Brazilian TV. A little while later, Andrew Creelman over at “What About São Paulo?” asked the question Why do some Brazilians think British food is shit? Andrew’s question was partly prompted by Jamie’s ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment and partly because plenty of Brazilians (and other nationalities) have a poor view of British food.

It’s interesting how personally we take criticism of our food, regardless of where we’re from – when I read comments like “Sorry, but British food is disgusting” I can’t help but feel a pang of indignation, just the same as Brazilians felt miffed that Jamie dissed their sweets.

Quindim

Quindim – not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

In case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a fan of Brazilian food, but in the case of brigadeiro and quindim (a mix of egg yolks, sugar and coconut) I have some sympathy for Jamie. I know there are some foreigners who like those sweets, but to most untrained palettes they taste bland and sickly-sweet. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to like Marmite if they hadn’t grown up with the stuff. So if anyone feels like saying that Marmite is a load of old shit, be my guest (all the more for me!).

But sweeping statements like “British food is terrible” (or “Brazilian food is terrible” for that matter) are generally made by mischievous people who are looking for a rise, or who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the best the country has to offer. I’ve defended Brazilian food in the past, so today I’m just going to put forward 2 examples in support of British food.

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «