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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A postcard from BRAZIL


Last week I found myself in the super sunny (and stunning) Rio de Janeiro. I had a hotel room with an iconic view - the beautiful Cococobana beach - and an eyeful of Brazilian sunbathers to boot. I guess most people in this scenario would find themselves gravitating to the warm sands and shoreline in hunt of a tan...me being me however, went straight on the hunt for some local cuisine. In London, South American tucker is fairly limited to Mexican tapas served by the likes of Wahaca, or more recently Peruvian ‘ceviche’. There are a few Brazilian restaurants around, but none offering more than a carnivorous BBQ feast - attracting body builders galore on a protein mission rather than the likes of myself.
So I was pleasantly surprised when in Rio I was first told to sample their famous ‘pao de queijo’;

small rounds of cheese bread that are quite simply...delicious (when served warm). I found myself having them as an accompaniment to coffee in the afternoon and as a pre dinner snack (think South American amuse bouche). And although cheese and bread don't ‘in theory’ make for the healthiest snack, these cheese puffs are surprisingly light - and you only need one or two to get a real cheese 'hit'. The most authentic recipes use tapioca flour - and you can find countless recipes on the internet such as this one from 
Simply Recipes http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_brazilian_cheese_bread/


Second on my foodie hit list was their traditional bean casserole - feijoada. No bones about it - this is not for the faint at heart. Made from black beans and slow cooked cuts of pork (nose and trotter included), this stew turns deliciously black after having been prepared lovingly over a couple of days. A hearty meal it is, and you only need a small plateful to satisfy your craving (and meat fetish). Back in the UK, I’m not sure I’d attempt it Brazilian style using every cut of pork possible...instead I’d opt for this less risque version courtesy of Jamie Oliver (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/feijoada- traditional-brasilian-stew-recipe/index.htmlq).
All this food certainly stirred up quite a thirst, and so off to the beach I went, to treat myself to a fresh coconut water. Coconut water is so unbelievably tasty and refreshing, and what’s more - a quick search on the internet pulls up countless ‘health properties’ it supposedly has. Health aside, this drink comes second only to an authentic caipirnha (but that’s another story altogether). 

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