If you hear the word 'Brazil' and the first thing you think of is football, think again! Think food. Think Brazilian food. It's fabulous, spicy and different. Want to know a bit more? Read on!
A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Brazilian supper club by a wonderful blogging friend, Rosana McPhee. I was rather thrilled to get this invitation, because I knew it had been quite a while in the planning and it would be a fun and totally different foodie experience for me. Rosana is one of London's top Brazilian food bloggers, along with Italian-Japanese Brazilian chef Luiz Hara (The London Foodie), whose lovely home was the setting for the supper club. As well as Rosana, who was responsible for the canapés and desserts, Dhruv Baker was there to cook the starters and main dishes. Yes, you might remember the name Dhruv Baker, as he was the 2010 MasterChef winner! The evening was sponsored by Tilda, the famous rice company.
The garden was the perfect place to start the evening, mingling with the other guests and sipping classic Caipirinhas. We were treated to a variety of canapés, including Bolinho de Arroz (rice fritters made with a mix of dried shrimp, white fish and chicken) served with a lime and saffron mayonnaise, Pao de Queijo (baked Brazilian cheese bread), Empadinha (mini pies with palm heart filling) and Coração de Galinha (chicken heart BBQ sticks, grilled and served with toasted cassava).
We went inside and were seated at a beautifully laid out dinner table, which had colourful Brazilian 'wish ribbons' on the plates. The ribbon is given to you by a friend, and needs to be tied around your wrist by another friend. It's tied on with three knots and you make a wish for each knot. It's a cute thing to do and makes a great conversation starter!
Earlier in the evening, Dhruv had been outside cooking rump cap of beef on the barbecue. This was for the Picanha with Pimenta de Bico - beef roasted under a blanket of rock salt and served with some amazing little bright red Brazilian chilli peppers and roasted garlic bulbs. There were some interesting side dishes to accompany the beef, including a sautee cassava and fried plantain dish, and a salad made with palm hearts, tomatoes and red onions. Rosana pointed out that the heart of palm had been sourced and bought from a 100% environmentally friendly producer.
There was a grand ending to the dinner, with a gorgeous trio of Brazilian desserts. The trio was made up of a caju sorbet (a refreshing cashew fruit sorbet), Brigadeiro de Copo (a kind of Brazilian chocolate pot) and Quindim (a rich egg custard and coconut tart).
It was a brilliant evening, and one that introduced me to lots of new and exciting flavours. My travel wish list has just been extended with the addition of Brazil, but in the meantime, I'm going to have a go at some of Rosana's delicious recipes! If you want to know some interesting facts about Brazil, have a look at this article that Rosana wrote for Morrisons Magazine.
I was given some 'Brazilian Samba' rice sachets to try at home. It's the first time I have used pre-cooked rice, I've never really thought about buying it before. I can honestly say I was quite impressed. All you do is heat it for 2 minutes in the microwave, you don't even have to put it into a dish first. It comes out piping hot, the grains are all lovely and separate and there's a whiff of spices in the air. The Basmati rice is lightly flavoured with onions, chilli, garlic, parsley, lime extract and herbs, not overpowering at all. It is a limited edition though, which will be in the shops until November 2014.
There's more information on the Tilda website, and plenty of recipes and meal ideas.
Here are a few more photos of the evening:
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