Spoiler alert: Success. This spring, Maxim headed down to São Paulo on a mission to eat EVERYTHING. Check out all the sweet, salty, boozy, and porky glorification right here.
The only thing more awesome than the art scene in Brazil is all the delicious grub. I'm still recovering from this culinary excursion (and so are my pants). I love you, Brazil! Oh and, I love you too, food!
DAY ONE. Lunch at A Figueira Rubaiyat
Feijoada. That's Portuguese for effing delicious peasant food! Poor people used to cook up the remains of the pork that no one else wanted--tongues, tails, knuckles, etc. However, it was so darn tasty that they now serve it in high-end restaurants in a steaming cauldron buffet.
Roasted figs. Firstly, I was a little embarrassed that I wasn't sure what fruit this was at first. This was very sticky and super gelatinous. If you have a hard time feeling the sugariness of fruit alone, then this is for you.
That's pork tongue, tail, and knuckle. The meatiest was the tongue. I could probably eat it on a regular basis. I never thought I was squeamish about food until I spotted the bristly pork hairs coming out of the pork knuckle. Shit got a little too real at that point and I moved on to dessert...
Dulce de leche. It helped slide the pork hairs right down the hatch! Brazilians seem to love caramel flavors, which is something I fully support. This was a lot like flan, but definitely sweeter.
A caipirinha made with Hennessy. Think of caipirinhas as mojitos with a crap-ton of limes instead of mint leaves. They're surprisingly not that sour nor too sweet. With the Hennessy, they had a nice, strong kick. After a couple of these, you could challenge me to eat all the bristly pork haired knuckles!
Coconut water at Ibiraquera Park. They sell these like hot dogs in New York. They cut a hole with a cool-looking tool into the top of the coconut and stick a straw in it and voilà! It doesn't get any fresher than this. You can even cut it open and eat the coconut inside afterwards. That's like a full meal!
Lunch at Skye
Skye sits atop Hotel Unique, also known as the Watermelon Hotel, because well, it looks like a giant melon. The food at Skye is mostly seafood-based, which Brazil is known to do really well.
Kicked off lunch with a Hennessy Mojito... duh. I shouldn't have been so surprised Hennessy goes with mint but it was great. These cocktails were super sweet but in a good way.
Tuna nicoise salad with a crispy, breaded, soft-boiled egg and potatoes. If you've ever had a Scotch egg, this is a very similar concept, minus the meat. The tuna was a nice touch, because I don't think people generally associate fried food and tuna. Maybe they do? But I don't. The potatoes were like any other fried potato at say... Roy Rodgers, so I didn't really go to town on them.
Sashimi. So it's technically Japanese, but Brazil does sushi RYTE. Everything was so fresh with more than enough ginger on the side. There was the perfect amount of caviar and creme fraiche rolled up in salmon, making this dish pret-tay... pret-tay... pret-tay pretty fancy. I'm never eating salmon without caviar again, guys.
Chocolate tart with tapioca, coconut milk, and GOOOOOLD. Honestly, I didn't really need the gold... it kind of just tasted like rocks. Maybe I wasn't supposed to eat them. Anyway, the tapioca and coconut milk were the best part of this dish, but the chocolate tart was pretty spectacular too. It had a spongy, delicate texture with an opposing flavor of very, very rich chocolate. We are talking digestive-problems-if-you-eat-half rich.
DAY TWO CONTINUED.
Dinner at Gero
Octopus Carpaccio. My favorite meal of the night. I don't want to eat octopus anymore unless it's carpacc'ed. The herbs, olive oil, and tomato brought out the flavor in the octopus, which wasn't overly chewy at all.
I ate rabbit gnocchi because it was Easter and also because I rock at Christianity. This pasta tasted like it was marinated in marsala wine. (Also the dark color gave it away.) The strips of rabbit meat were a little tougher than something like pulled pork, but not as thick as beef.
Lunch at Santo Grão
Dumps like a truck... just some weird dumplings, guys. Arancini, cheese balls, and uh, meat sticks(?). Looking back, it probably wasn't the best thing to eat the morning after the rabbit gnocchi.
Smoked salmon sandwich. Brazil knows how to rock a smoked salmon, almost as good as New Yorkers. Almost. Think of this as a healthier version of lox and schmear.
[pagebreak]DAY THREE CONTINUED.
Dinner at D.O.M.
Another Caipirinha made with Hennessy. This one was my favorite, though. Perfectly sour and beautiful. It went down pretty fast. Fun fact: spherical ice dilutes the drink less than cubes.
Edible flowers, y'all! This crunchy, grainy fish dish was served to me because I couldn't eat the planned scallops (Allergies suck, y'all!). It was deliciously fried, bread-crumby, and fishy without actually having any pieces of fish in it. How do they do it?
Black rice, broccolini, and great graphic design. I'm pretty sure this dish was designed to move along the rest of the meal during digestion.
Red snapper on top of a bed of mushrooms. This is the best thing I ever ate in my whole life; I'm pretty sure when I first bit into it, I blacked out and had the same moment that Roy Martin has when he eats the magic 'shrooms on A Very Brady Sequel. The skin on this fish was not only candy for my eyes, but for my mouth too. In fact, if I had to choose between eating candy ever again or getting to have this once a year for the rest of my life, I'd say "Smell ya latah, canday!"
The sauce on this fish had a watery consistency, which was nice, because you didn't have to feel like you had to dip it nor did the sauce take over the taste of the fish. It was just like a wading pool that complimented the food perfectly. The soft texture of the 'shrooms went great with the crispy skin of the fish.
Spare rib with potatoes in a Malbec foam. Think of it as barbecued ribs and fries for the super fancy. These taters were moist and sticky (in a good way), yet still so crispy and crunchy, kind of like French's Potato Sticks, but much more flavorful. The meat on this rib came right off the bone and then had a rockin' time in my mouth.
Crazy potato-cheese! This is a very much upgraded cheesy potatoes, the way they made them in school cafeterias. It looks like hot pizza dough, but it tastes like Heaven, it's the perfect consistency for cheese. Check out how they serve it.
Arugula, whiskey ice cream, cake, and chocolate sauce. Those are curry flakes and salt all over the plate. SO. MANY. FLAVORS. HAPPENING. RIGHT. NOW. The ice cream was reeeeeally strong. I've heard of people eating ice cream with moon shine. I'm guessing it would taste something like this, except that this ice cream definitely tasted like a brown, aged whiskey. The arugula, or "rocket" lettuce, added a nice peppery taste and the curry and salt ensured that the chocolate sauce and cake would not sweeten the deal too much. All in all, the flavors work really well together.
Fan girl shot with Chef Alex Atala. Geeked out big time after seeing him on Anthony Bourdain: The Layover. See the clip below.