Brazil—the fifth largest country in the world and the host country of 2014’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics–has been making headlines this year, as media outlets as varied as Condé Nast Traveller, the International Business Times, and the New York Times rave about its wines, beaches, music, cultural diversity, and food. The country’s culinary offerings— a literal melting pot simmered from Portuguese, African, Italian, German, Arab, and Japanese influences—extend far beyond the grilled meats most people think of when they think of Brazilian food. Imagine savory pies made of chicken, sausage, cheese, herbs, olives, and eggs; chewy, fudgy candies known as Brigadeiros, the national dessert of Brazil; or Cocada de Forno, a buttery cake made with coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and rum. I’ll add my personal favorite new obsession to the list: Goiabada com Queijio, a classic Brazilian pairing of mild, fresh cheese and jewel-like slices of guava paste.
A quick internet search of plane fares reveals that flights to, say, Rio de Janeiro run around $1,000. And while we’d never argue that it wouldn’t be worth it, Texans can enjoy a taste of Brazil without leaving the Lone Star State during Central Market’s two-week-long Passaporte Brasil event, presented at stores in Austin, Dallas, Plano, Southlake, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Passaporte Brasil kicks off today (April 24) and continues through May 7.
Along with foods, wines, coffees, flowers, textiles, and housewares from Brazil, the event also features cooking classes taught by Brazilian chefs, Brazilian music, and demonstrations throughout the stores. Of special interest to oenophiles, the country’s burgeoning wine industry receives the spotlight: The southern tip of the country, where topography and climate resemble that of the Piedmont region of Italy, was settled by Italian immigrants who imported their love of wine. A recent sampling of Brazilian bubbles from Casa Valduga and Don Guerino vineyards makes me think that Brazilian sparkling wine may be the next Big Thing. See www.centralmarket.com for a schedule of activities, classes, and events at the store near you.