For our first official dinner in Ipanema, Rio, Koji, Mere and I chose what we thought would be the most obvious orientation to Brazilian cuisine: churrasco.

Porcão churrascuria (“Pig Pen” in English) was founded in Rio in 1975. Here, you pay up front for an all-you-can-eat buffet (consisting of salads, cheeses, cold meats, Brazilian vegetables and even sushi) as well as tableside meat service. During dinner, each person has a coaster to rest next to their place setting. When the coaster is green-side-up, it means you’re ready for more. When the coaster is red-side-up it means you’re down for the count. We’re not sure how well this system really worked, though…. no matter which side our coasters were on – we were always getting more meat on our plates!

The line up: Roast Strip, Picanha, Sliced Sirloin (from Argentina!), Beef Steak and Saddle of Lamb (from Uruguay) and chorizo, chicken breast, sausages and short ribs….

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sucos e vitaminas

There’s nothing better than waking up each morning to a tall glass of fresh Brazilian fruits. We’ve been trying new flavors at Apo’s across the street since we arrived…. everything from maracujá (passion fruit) and fruta do conde (‘sugar-apple’) to caju (cashew fruit) and, my personal favorite, cupuaçu. I’m not sure that I can compare the flavor of cupuaçu to anything, really – but if I had to give you a ‘taste’ in writing I’d say it’s like a juicy pear with a citrus kick at the finish.

While we’ve been serving fresh passion fruit purée in our cocktails at SUSHISAMBA from the start, in Brazil maracujá is served with the whole seeds. They add a complex texture to juice and caipirinhas – velvet on the tongue and a gentle crunch after each sip. Mere and I are going to do some detective work once we’re back in the States to see if there new ways to import these awesome fruits – and add them to the samba table.

Here’s a shot of Apo’s – which is a good example of a common fruit stand here in Rio – which also sells traditional Brazilian snacks.

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Rio, so long I waited to finally meet you!

Today Koji, Mere and I arrived in Rio de Janeiro at 5:30am. It’s beautiful here…. perfect temperature, kind wind from the north and three freshly-muddled caipirinhas to quench our thirst after a stroll from Copacabana to the Ipanema Market…

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20 days around the world

And so begins another SUSHISAMBA tour! Almost every other month I have a chance to visit the Chefs at all of our locations and then some…

The journey kicks off in Miami (this blog post is a sushi bar 10:21pm action shot).

Here’s the full schedule…

7.18              NYC>MIAMI

7.19              MIAMI>CHICAGO

7.21              CHICAGO>VEGAS

7.23              VEGAS>NYC

7.25              NYC>RIO DE JANEIRO

7.29              RIO>SALVADOR

8.1                SALVADOR>SAO PAULO

8.4               SAO PAULO>BUENOS AIRES (for a quick visit with my family)

8.8               BA>NYC>BK, yo!

Good thing I’m not afraid of flying…. Er….

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Today we booked our next big culinary adventure – to Brazil! From July 26-August 4, Koji, Mere, our new London Chef (who will be announced in the coming months… stay tuned) and I will head to Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo to revisit some of the country’s more traditional dishes and explore their newer tastes and executions. I’m especially excited to uncover new ingredients that we can bring to the table at our SUSHISAMBA restaurants this fall.

Be sure to check back with us soon… we’ll be reporting daily from The Samba Country.

We found this awesome photo by Laszlo Ilyes via http://roc2c.blogspot.com

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bolinhos de bacalhau

Today kicks off NYC Summer Restaurant Week and I’m excited about the line up at both locations. (We’ll feature a few more in ingredient this week)

For SUSHISAMBA park’s RW Dinner menu we’re breaking out a Brazilian favorite – Bolinhos de Bacalhau – served with pallares bean purée and salsa verde. The recipe was passed from the Portuguese during colonization in Brazil in the 1500s. Bacalhau (salted cod) was important for these countries not only because it could be preserved over longer periods of time – but also because it was in-line with the requirements of the Catholic Church (which forbade eating meat during specific holy days).

Today, Bolinhos de Bacalhau are still a well-loved dish in Brazil. I’d say – best paired with a caipirinha.

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