When it comes to food, we have no rules and no restrictions – the menu reflects what we see in the market and what we feel like eating right now. It could be a Thai salad, a hamburger or a traditional dish from Alsace. And right now we feel like eating couscous.
If you buy in to national stereotypes you might be surprised to hear that those words came from a Frenchman (after all, the French made most of the rules in the first place!). But Yves de Roquemaurel, owner of Coccinelle Bistro in Centro, is happy to confound stereotypes and
break bend the rules when they get in the way of his food philosophy.
A few months ago I wrote about the wonderful cheeses of Minas. I had tasted several, but was aware that there were many more to try – Queijo Canastra, Queijo da Mantiqueira, Queijo d’Alagoa – I had read about these cheeses (and drooled over pictures) but never had the opportunity to taste them.
Luckily for me, Yves read that post and got in touch to let me know that I didn’t need to go all the way to Minas to taste the best cheeses of Brazil. He told me he bad been importing queijos de leite cru (raw milk cheeses) direct from the cheese makers in Minas for months!
Well now, this was exciting news! But hang on a minute – “Months?” I asked. Exporting raw milk cheeses out of Minas (for sale) was only made legal in August 2013. “Ah, oh yes” Yves mumbled and quickly did some mental calculations. “For one month and 3 weeks, of course…” he grinned.
Yves came to Rio 4 years ago and opened Coccinelle Bistro in September 2011. His wife Maya (AKA Madame Coccinelle) is the chef and is also responsible for the menu and the bistro’s concept.
My friends Vim and Ujjwala wanted to get some advice from Yves about the challenges of running a restaurant in Rio and I wanted to taste that cheese, so we headed to Coccinelle for a chat and a cheese tasting session. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so we sat outside and nibbled the delicious cheeses and washed them down with a couple of bottles of perfectly chilled rosé.
With our appetites whetted, we decided to upgrade our cheese and wine tasting session into a fully fledged meal!
While Yves and Maya prefer the eclecticism of seasonal ingredients (and their own whims!), that doesn’t mean they have turned their backs on all things French. Coccinelle has the rustic charm of a French bistro and an excellent wine list (many of their wines are Biodynamic). I was also happy to see they sell wine by the glass and also the 500ml jarra (carafe).
Coccinelle’s “Festíval de Couscous” started yesterday and will run until 23rd December, but cheese lovers don’t despair – the (now perfectly legal) queijos de leite cru will be a permanent fixture on the menu! I will leave with you with another shot of that delicious Queijo Canastra. Have a great weekend!