A Measly 96 hours in Brazil….
Going to Brazil means being dazzled by food!
Hashtag us at #96hoursinbrazil
“We have been planning this pop-up restaurant event for more than two month now”, says Chef Ricardo Passarelli the owner of 170 Bistro in Itajuba, Brazil.
Itajuba is a budding international (business) city a few hours outside the financial capital of Brazil.
Chef Ricardo Passarelli owner of 170 Bistro in Itajuba, Brazil invited cookbook author and Miami chef Michael Bennett here because we knew his latest cookbooks were exactly what we wanted to feature at our restaurant to ensure our grasp as the best restaurant in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
at the end of this article
that will be apart of my new Cookbook
Interview with a Mango
Before all this can happen….
Getting into Brazil usually means journeying to the booming affluence that anchors the country — São Paulo.
Our 96 hours in Brazil (#96hoursinbrazil) starts in the the city that is the powerhouse in Brazil that pays the tab for the rest of the Brazil’s material comfort. The São Paulo (Sampa) failings — of incredibly high prices and most prolifically your non-stop awareness that you could end up being a statistic of street crime; even when added together, are still not enough to deter the millions of noteworthy vagabonds seeking out São Paulo’s artistic and business energy snarled mutually together with a relentless and, stimulating 24 hour a day joie de vivre.
Where to Start Your Travels in SamPa (São Paulo – as locals call it) – Brazil…
- A São Paulo suburb – Brooklin, is an area just a stone’s throw from São Paulo’s Wall Street (Paulista Avenue) is being celebrated for its rise among the ranks of São Paulo’s best neighborhoods to experience South American culture and it’s food.
If you are here on Sunday you’re in luck if you are visiting Sampa than that means one thing Pizza. You should never leave this city without trying your closest pizza palace. São Paulo has become home to over five million folks from Italy and, they brought their food heritage – that has delivered to the tune of more than 5000 pizzerias, strewn across this mega-metropolis of 15 million South Americans. This city’s favorite is a New York City stylized restaurant called Braz. When you go, bring a heavy wallet and the empty stomach because São Paulo’s best will tempt your tastebuds with the revelation that Brazil is a damn good place to find a (Brazilian) wood-fire pizza.
Sampa’s incessant compulsion for eclectic fare is reinforced with the pervading din of Brazil’s most significant Foodies. This single-minded contagious energy, that invigorates these frenzied metropolitan denizens, seemingly always has these perpetually tanned, wide-eyed smiles that always great you with an never-ending thumbs-up signs by everyone you stumble across.
Brazil’s Table… it is a harmony of diversity
Brazil is a country that is unified by its indulging yet, it is regionally divided by the deficiency of the practice. It is if you deliberate the contradictions in food heritage; culture, accolades and antipathies of the people who live in Iowa to those who live in Florida. This dissimilar display of fluctuating regional preferences at times share our American dining habits, yet a pattern in Brazil illustrates a harmony that is a diverse as it is similar. How can a culture be so diverse and at the same time similar? Food brings the well-off and deprived together in common ways! Rice, beans, coffee and cake link all Brazilians as they sit down to a meal.
If you are traveling in Brazil on a weekend, you will have to try the nationalized recipe called; feijoada – that can be found on any weekend dinner table and, seemingly has to be overindulged in to taste the heritage of Brazil, is the classic Brazilian recipe of black bean stew brimming with every part of a pig and is as much as part of the National Brazilian past time, as it is a daily fiscal necessity for the Brazilian populace.
Bolo: Brazilians love cake, which they call Bolo. In fact, it is one food that can be eaten at any time of the day. It is available at restaurants, corner shops, street vendors, gas stations, road stop intersections and generally any place that sells food. Bolo is often made with corn flour (like polenta) instead of wheat flour and is sometimes made with a combination of the two, giving it a different texture than what you expect in the USA.
Brazil has always been recognized as being the world’s best source of great coffee. It is part of the Brazilian culture and you should never refuse a cup of coffee when one is offered to you at a restaurant or, by a new S.A. friend. So, downplay your state of consciousness and simply enjoy the rich roasted flavors of the humble coffee bean.
Shopping in the Centro Market in São Paulo – is where we started our Pop-Up restaurant mission.
Located in São Paulo’s Centro district, our culinary journey starts with more than just a starling acknowledgement that this is a city the screams FOOD! São Paulo’s Marketplace is where we start our culinary excursion…..
São Paulo’s #96hoursinbrazil
Get here early – before 12 PM.
The place is almost empty after 4 pm and a lot of the vendors move their products out of the confines of the walled marketplace and set it out onto the surrounding streets for sale during the rest of the evening.
Once we completed our hunting and gathering for our pop-up restaurant event, we jumped in the SUV and headed out of the city. Depending on the time of day, it might take you as much time getting out of downtown at rush hour as it would crossing the entire state of São Paulo’s in the middle of the night. So my hint for you is to grab some pizza or, fuel up at a Churrascaria, before gassing up and starting off.
Itajuba, Brazil; a place that speaks to what it is like to live all of your life in the same village you grew up in.
Finding your way to this provincial town might be one that was a happy mistake by any adventurous Brazilian trekker. There are copious explanations yet unseen that will make you happy you found this animated village among the Minas Gerais highlands.
Itajuba, Brazil is about half way between Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo’s on the north side of the Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range – that runs between the capital of Brazil and Brazil’s quasi capital (Rio). It is also the intersection of the other two cities that I came to love; Campos Do Jordao (the city that Switzerland lost during the continent drift) and Sao Lourenco (the water city) both are equally separated by Itajuba yet; seem similar because of the city’s welcoming residents.
Why we are here today…
Miami Nights is the pop-up restaurant that was the brain child of Chef Ricardo Passarelli, the owner of Itajuba’s 170 Bistro. Chef Passarelli wanted to make his restaurant the “Zero Point” for culinary awakenings in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. He decided that the menu had to reflect love of the city chef Passarelli once called home – Miami, Florida.
Chef Michael brought to the Chef Passarelli’s Bistro 170 recipes that were conceived by mingling ideas from two of his four cookbooks. The Miami Nights menu was highlighted by the fact that some of the food enjoyed would never have been seen in Itajuba without Chef Michael Bennett packing them up in his suitcase and bringing them with him from Miami. It was not a specific ingredient that made this culinary expo unique, it was the cookery techniques and artistic food pairings that made taste-buds stand up and take notice.
The meal started with two choices of appetizers, continued with three entrees picks and finished with two options in dessert. A Miami favorite, an appetizer of Mahi Mahi ceviche was at times the most popular of the night. This recipe was paired with one of Chef Michael favorite recipe side dishes; baby greens en vase. This is where Chef Michael places baby greens – that are rolled into a bouquet (like a bouquet of wild flowers) – and squeezes them into a vase cut from a cucumber.
The second appetizer selection was one of Chef Michael’s favorite cookbook recipes called Lucky 13 curry spiced shrimp. A sugarcane stalk is cut down to form a skewer and the shrimp is threaded onto this skewer. This sugarcane is not only the implement use to eat the shrimp with but it also becomes a taste altering, marinating and moisturizing maneuver to safeguard the texture of the shrimp while grilling. Because of the fragrant and honeyed flavor of the sugarcane shrimp, Chef Michael needed to place this atop an approachable taste-variance counterpoint of Kimchee made with green (under-ripe) papaya that he learned about in the Caribbean while living there (circa 2006-2009).
Entrees were a South Florida milieu consisting of a certified Angus NY strip steak, with an extraordinary three-day sprouted mustard seed~Robert (row-bair) sauce and Angry pommery-balsamic, pan-roasted potatoes.
Another of Chef Michael Bennett’s favorite cookbook recipes that became a bombshell best seller on the third night of this culinary exposition was a Caribbean sweet spiced Mahi Mahi with a Caribbean avocado and Italian scampi salad. Last but not least was the apogee of a true South Florida and Caribbean cookery ideal; Brazilian espresso marinated, grilled pork loin and lobster-saffron (Miami-style) Paella risotto made with an infusion of locally produced in the city just a stone’s throw away from Itajuba; Mascarpone cheese.
Citrus is extremely important in this area of Brazil as is cheese so to highlight this, Chef Michael Bennett paired his recipes to reflect the locally available foods for Itajuba’s first culinary expo. The aftermath of all this was the dinner’s finishing touches of Chef Michael’s Saint Maarten, FIVE-liquor Tiramisu made with local Brazilian espresso and locally produced Mascarpone cheese.
The second dessert choice of a Brazilian chocolate and cardamom seed ganached base of a passionfruit – that is always extremely popular in Brazil – Tart; with a cardamom-ricotta cheese (also a locally produced cheese) Mousse dressed with a caramelized citrus sauce was a fitter selection proving Chef Michael use of localized ingredient theory.
The dinner was of course topped off with a multiple red and white Chilean wine selections.
An Afternoon in another Country or, it just seems that way….
Campos do Jordao; the city that Switzerland lost during the last continental shift.
This is a city that if you did not drive here yourself, you would believe that you were secretly discarded in Switzerland by alien abductors.
Traveling a little more than an hour from our Itajuba gastronomic haven we ventured out early in the afternoon to Campos Do Jordao and toured the city’s mountainous (elevation: 6,000 feet) neighborhoods and after we crossed the city’s gates anyone can tell that this city was going to be very different.
This city is known to be Brazil’s fashionable Swiss hot chocolate and fondue capital.
This is a place that in the wintertime (June and July –where the population quadruples) is filled with Brazilians fleeing the warm climes of equatorial Brazil to feel as though they absconded the South American continent to vacation in Switzerland’s Alps. This town is purely a vacationer’s paradise. Even in the Brazilian summer, the nights are chilly at this altitude. The town is filled with gift stores, restaurants, bars and seems to be the only reason that people are on the streets, rambling between one watering hole to another. Some people actually use the city’s antique commuter train to do this like a metro trolley.
Sao Lourenco (the Water City) and the Hotel Brasil
This city is the ultimate spring (September to October) afternoon city. A trip to Brazil’s water city can’t be complete without touring it greatest asset – the Water Park.
The park is a walking tour of nine different tastings of naturally occurring springs. All have of the water stations have different tasting water because of the changing mineral content of each spring. To me it was just amazing to see an adjoining park district separated by little more than a few hundred yards yet, the taste from the wells were completely dissimilar.
Description for the naturally sparkling water spring.
Each spring has different medicinal purposes.
Opposite the park (Parque das Águas) district of São Lourenço; in the city center is a tradition in São Lourenço, Brazil – the Hotel Brasil.
An afternoon at the park will lead to a family in need of replenishment. Directly in front of the Water Park is the Hotel Brasil (com – Certificate of Excellence 2014). Since the founding of this area and the discovery of the healthful spring water, the Hotel Brasil has been there.
The hotel stands out for its gentle care. This has been the branding the hotel exemplifies since the end of WW1.
He who evaluates this hotel can not lose sight that Hotel Brasil has a full life story and during its existence it has been home to media and social personalities to Presidents of Brazil. Charming and this hotel today still keeps the glamour of the 1920’s DECO era despite several generational renovations and expansions.
The building is antiquated and flows with (the) DECO style of Rio de Janeiro and South Beach of the 1920’s and 30’s
The ambiance is kick started with the ageless marble that surrounds you like a luxurious frock, in every sector of the hotel. Timeless flooring instigates your eyes to notice to original artisan-crafted windows and doors.
Don’t want to compare Hotel Brasil network hotels like; Holiday Inn, Hilton or Marriott. The hotel stands out for his gentle care and this branding is what the hotel exemplifies. It is a place that provides good moments of peace, beautiful photos with friends or family.
Since 1917 this family has been keeping the doors of Hotel Brasil open for road warriors and the summertime family vacationer. This will be the hotel you’ll want to come back to year after the year cared for by the same waiters that have been there for over 30 years. Reserve a stay on the south side of the hotel… to get views of the water park and its lake. The north side of the hotel has views of the city.
Recipe example from #96hoursinBrazil
96 hours in Brazil salad
Like so any other things in this book, this recipe is as twisted in its conception, carry through as it is as diverse as the ingredients that are in the recipe itself.
My edification in the Culinary Arts led me to explore South America and the Brazilian cookery culture. I have found the cookery culture of northern Brazil’s traditions and recipes are akin to the Caribbean cookery heritage because these states were originally made up of peoples escaping Caribbean slavery. Mango, pineapple and dozens of comparable fruits and vegetables in the Brazilian pantry are the same as the Caribbean’s pantry.
Many parts of Brazil have a residential heritage of people from the Mediterranean and Middle East. This is why I have included traveling to Brazil in my research for recipes in this book. Sao Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil, has over 15 million people and 5,000 eateries with Mediterranean cookery heritages.
Cheese and dairy is a large part of the culinary culture of the centric states in Brazil. There are more dairy cattle in States like Minas Gerais than in any other part of Brazil. The addition to cheese to any meal in Brazil is as common as adding salt and pepper to your steak. I have based this recipe in a slightly different form to represent the Mediterranean experienced in this Brazilian recipe.
1 each Romaine lettuce, heart only, chiffonade finely
½ cup Kale, shred into a razor-fine chiffonade, see note
6 logs Hearts of palm
2 each Bell pepper, red, roasted, cut into chunks
2 each Mangos, diced
1 cup Pineapple, sliced thin into 2”x1/2” pieces, caramelize, see directions
1 each Shallot, fine chopped
2 stalks Scallions, sliced finely, on the bias
1 cup Labneh, yogurt cheese, buy in gourmet market or, see note 2
As needed Pecans, see sub-recipe
As needed Microgreens, assorted
As needed Grape-cherry Tomatoes, halved
Sub-recipe: candied nuts:
1 cup Pecans, halved and pieces (you can substitute walnuts)
1/3 cup Sugar
2 Tbs. Water
½ tsp. Vanilla
Sub-recipe: the Dressing:
4 each Passion fruit pulp, Brazilian P.F. is much sweeter than in USA
1 Tbs. Lime juice
1 Tbs. Mirin, sweetened Rice wine
2 Tbs. Shallots, diced
2 Tbs. Honey (if using P.F. pulp from the USA)
½ cup EVO
Wash and dry lettuce, and cut into thin ribbons. Place in bowl. Save to the side. When the other parts of the recipe (main recipe) are accomplished toss together in the bowl and then scoop up all the ingredients and place into a 2 inch stacking tube with a 2 ½ inch diameter. Place an appropriate sized bottle (ketchup bottle) over the top and with a light pushing motion slide the stacking tub up the bottle while removing the salad contents into a stack in the center of the plate.
Drizzle the plate with dressing and garnish the plate with Microgreens and halved cherry tomatoes.
Prepare candied nuts: Place sugar, water, and salt in small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring constantly. As the water evaporates, the sugar will turn granular in appearance. Keep stirring until sugar starts to melt and caramelize. Once the sugar has melted and you can see a light brown caramel color forming on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the vanilla and pick out the nuts onto a piece of parchment paper to let cool. Add to main recipe.
To caramelize the pineapple; quickly dip the pineapple pieces in the same liquid and remove after one minute. Place on parchment and let cool as well. Add to main recipe.
Prepare the dressing: Place passion fruit and the rest of the ingredients (except oil) in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the oil is slowly to incorporate fully. Check for seasoning and place in a container that can be used to easily apply the dressing to the plate. I use a squirt bottle. Follow directions above.
In Brazil I found that in all the Farmers markets where I visited, street hawkers and little old ladies behind the shamble they called a booth, there were small bags of shaved greens. The greens were shavings of Kale. A great green for garnishing plates, salads and it could be used to bolster the vitamin content of any main dish by quick sautéing and placing aside an entrée.
In this recipe, I am going to use it as a thickening Hay in the recipe, like the Egyptians used hay in the mud mortar blocks to build the Pyramids.
Labneh, yogurt cheese is made by taking 1 ½ times as much yogurt for the amount of cheese that the recipe calls for, and add a couple pinches of salt, stir it in and place in a cheesecloth. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and tie into a hanging bundle. Place in your refrigerator with a shallow pan underneath the bundle to catch the moisture that escapes.
Tip: Tie the cheesecloth with twine and hang the cheesecloth from the rack/shelf with the twine, to increase Gravity’s pull on the cheese thus increasing the rate and the amount of liquid oozing out from the yogurt.