One More Week of Passaporte Brasil at Central Market
Still time to discover the flavors from this diverse country
By Claudia Alarcón, 1:00PM, Wed. May. 1
I always look forward to Central Market's annual 2-week passport to the cuisine of a specific country, but when I heard this year's event was centered around Brazil, my heart skipped a beat. Brazil is one of my favorite places on earth.
Arriving at the Westgate store last Wednesday evening, I was greeted by a miniature forest of potted mango, guava, and breadfruit trees flanked by spiky pineapples and colorful blooming bromeliads, with loungy Samba music filling the air. Beside myself with glee, I carefully perused every grocery aisle and endcap, sampled baked goods, and tasted bargain-priced gaúcho wines. I left the store with a shopping cart full of fond memories and a week's worth of awesome food.
Both Central Market locations have Brazilian-inspired prepared foods, baked goods, and cool selection of grocery items imported just for the occasion. From fresh mangosteens to many kinds of home-made linguiça sausages and creamy catupiry cheese, there is something for everyone. Look for delicious roast chickens in Bahian and Calabrese flavors and a salad of shrimp and chayote; don't miss the calabrese-style salami made by Creminelli especially for Central Market using a Brazilian recipe; and if you like sweets, do not leave without a few brigadeiros (the most decadent confection ever) or a cocada de forno. Look in the freezer, next to the ice cream, for frozen tropical fruit pulps. I am hoarding cupuaçu for summer sorbetes.
As is the custom for these events, educational components are key ingredients in multiple departments. Joel Shuler, owner of Casa Brasil, invited specialty growers and world-renowned baristas and coffee experts to share their knowledge with Austin's caffeine enthusiasts.
Wine manager Seth Pollard traveled to the Serra Gaúcha of Rio Grande do Sul to visit Brazil's foremost wine producers - some of them in attendance for tastings at both stores this week - to bring us the best of their products. Last Monday, I attended his sold-out Introduction to Brazilian Wines class and was blown away by the variety and value. By the way, all Brazilian wines are 20% off until the end of the event.
Tonight at the Cooking School, cookbook author Letitia Moreino Schwartz teaches the cuisine of Rio, and on Thursday it's Elias Martins from Austin's own Rio's Brazilian. On Friday night, I am excited to attend a class with Nilton Borges, Jr., who grew up in Salvador de Bahia and worked as Executive Chef at Amali in New York.
Passaporte Brasil is already halfway through, but there is still plenty to enjoy and discover, much more than I have space to mention. See the website for scheduled events and specials. You can bet I'll be there over the next seven days, stocking up on everything I can before it's gone.