Tag Archives: beer

Lunch with the Troisgros

22 Nov

I came to the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro to meet the Michelin stared chef Mauro Colagreco of “Le Mirazur” in Menton/France.  Last Friday night (Nov 19th) we had a fantastic dinner at the “Olympe” , owned by the great and mostly widely known “brazilian” (he is in fact French) chef Claude Troigros. He was not present, but I had the opportunity of meeting two other great personalities of the Troigros clan, his son Thomas (of the “66 Bistrô” and who was in fact running the Olymp kitchen) and his nephew, Cesar Troisgros, who was also with hands on the kitchen. If you want to know more about this family and their over 50 years of tradition in the culinary world take a look here. The chef Ricardo Santoro, from Venezuela, who works with Mauro in Menton, joined us later.

I’m not going to write about this dinner right now, which, by the way, was amazing. I just want to mention that Mauro was invited to have a Sunday lunch with the Troisgros family at the “Aconchego Carioca”, a typical and most acclaimed bar/restaurant in Rio.  Well, to make a long story short, Mauro got sick with a relatively high fever spending the last 3 days in bed and was not able to go.  Who went? Chef Ricardo and myself. For those who know the Troisgros I could stop this post right here, as enough has been said.  For those who don’t I’ll share some pictures and impressions.

Claude Troisgros

Claude Troisgros (right) and myself in front of "Aconchego Carioca". The beautiful blonde on the background is his daughter.

Cesar Troisgros

César Troisgros, Michel´s son, presently working with his uncle Claude and his cousin Thomas at "Olympe" in Rio.

Thomas Troisgros

Thomas Troisgros, Claude's son, a most vivid and captivating personality.

Let’s talk about food.

The food, which was served at “Aconchego Carioca” by one of its pleasant owners, Katia Barbosa, had its highs and lows.  Gladly mostly highs.

The highs:

1.  The beers.  “Aconchego Carioca” has over 100 different beers to choose from.  A hard task.  We had very nice ones, all Brazilians, specially 2 produced by “Colorado” and one from “Bamberg“. I recomend.

2. The appetizers

Those are, no doubt, the strongest items on the menu.  Small snacks you can eat while drinking the cold beers (they have to be relatively cold in Rio).  Below are my recommendations:

Fried black beans cake filled with kale. A must eat.

Fried breaded "Ladie's finger" pepper (Capsicum baccatum) filled with sun-dried meat and cream cheese (I believe that's the best translation to the original name - please, correct me if not))

Thinly sliced "jiló" (Solanum gilo - scarlet eggplant?) with a balsamic reduction (I believe) topped with cheese and rose pepper.

I could spend all day eating things like that  in the wonderful company of the Troisgros, specially of Thomas and his lovely wife Roberta.

3. The desserts

Two of the desserts served made me use my utensils more than twice (as a matter of fact more than a dozen times):

Fried curd cheese with guava jam. It looks like French fries and catchup, but let me assure you it's much better than that.

"Pudim de cachaça" - A "cachaça" (distilled from fermented sugar cane juice) flan, made with tapioca, "cachaça" and coconut, topped with a molasses and "cachaça" sauce. It's almost impossible to be more Brazilian than that.

The lows.

Ok, no place is perfect, and “Aconchego Carioca” is no exception. Two lows:

1. The service – Most waiters were more than good, but I’m still waiting for a dish to lay some pork ribs (the bones, of course).

2. The “winter squash with shrimp” – This is a dish you can find in restaurants along most of the Brazilian coast, even though it’s considered to be typical the northeast region of the country and one of the best dishes of  “Aconchego Carioca”.  Sorry, but I don’t agree.  The shrimp was a bit overcooked, it had not enough sauce, but what really made me dislike it was the excess of cream cheese (“requeijão”).

Over all the experience was fantastic.  Unforgettable in fact.  For an amateur blogger and food lover like me to share a meal chatting with the Troisgros family is priceless. Many thanks to chef Mauro Colagreco for making this possible (I’m sad that you were not able to be present as well), and to the Troisgros family for making me feel like an old friend.

Blumenau and Beer

23 Apr

In 1850 the philosopher German Hermann Bruno Otto von Blumenau received from the Imperial Government an area near the Itajaí-Açu River, southern Brazil, to establish an agricultural colony with European immigrants.  A few years later Johann Friedrich Theodor Müller (Fritz Müller), one of the earliest advocates of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory based on his work on crustaceans, which happen to be my main zoological group of interest as a biologist (he wrote Für Darwin in 1864), migrated to the colony.

In the beginning the colony was a private property of Dr. Blumenau, but in 1860 it was taken over by the government and elevated to he category of village.  That village became the center of the most important German colonized area in Brazil, and the city of Blumenau one of the most prominent cities in the country, recognized by its vibrant economy and the above avarage social indexes.

Respecting its German origins Blumenau is also known by its Oktoberfest, the second largest beer festival in the world.  Blumenau is the home of several small and artisanal breweries, among them Eisenbahn (Rua Bahia, 5181 – Salto Weissbach, 89032-001 Blumenau/ SC/Brazil), wich I visited a few weeks ago. I’m not going to write about beer history or its general characteristics, as I’ve done so earlier (see Das Bier).

Eisenbahn brewery - Fermentation tanks

Inside the brewery, right beside the fermentation tanks, they maintain a small bar, were you can taste a variety of beer types along with typical German dishes. We ordered a sampling menu, with the 4 main types of beer, along with mettwurst canapés.

Main beer types at Eisenbahn

Main beer types at Eisenbahn

"Mettwurst" canapés with mustard and parsley

The four beer types were:

Pilsen – A clear, low fermentation (lager) beer. Not too bitter and with an aroma that reminds bread and cereals. Prepared with 100% barley malt.

Weizenbier – Prepared with 50% wheat and 50% barley malt.  It’s not filtered, and thus has a rather murky appearance. Not bitter, with an aroma reminding clove and bananas.

Pale Ale – A high fermentation beer inspired in the most traditional Belgian style. A full-bodied variety with a rather fruity aroma.

Dunkel – Produced with 5 different types of malt, it has a great equilibrium between sweetness and bitterness.  The color is caused by the use of roasted malt, and not by addition of caramel or any artificial colorants.  The aroma and taste reminded me of coffee.

To be completely honest, although it’s usually my favorite type I didn’t really appreciate the Weizenbier (too much water maybe), while my favorite was the Dunkel (probably because it reminded me of coffee).  But, the real deal was a Porter type beer, a bottle of which I received as a gift from Murilo, who is married to my niece Mariana and lives in Blumenau (my father was born there too) and was the one responsible for my visit to this brewery.

A Porter type beer from Eisenbahn

Roasted malt gives this high fermentation beer it’s dark brown color. It’s a medium-bodied beer often confused with stouts.  It usually requires several months, sometimes over one year, of maturation.  The one we drinked was produced in 2008.  The famous Guinness, considered by many one of the best beers in the world, was until 1840 called “Extra Superior Porter”.  If you want to know more about porters take a look at “What the hell is a porter?“.

Beer on FoodistaBeer

Pils on FoodistaPils

Porter on FoodistaPorter

Pale Ale on FoodistaPale Ale

Weissbier on FoodistaWeissbier

Das bier

21 Jul

It seems there’s no agreement concerning where or when beer was created.  Most evidence points towards the Sumerians, in the Iraq region, some 6,000 years ago, but some historians place the beginning of this history in China, around 1,000 years later. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of agreement concerning one point, the Germans are the modern kings of beer.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea (take a look at Wikipedia). Basically, beer resembles bread, as it’s a product of cereal grains starch fermentation.  Any cereal?  Yes, virtually any cereal can be used, like wheat, corn, rice or barley (the most common one). Other agents and herbs, like the flowers of the hop vine (Humulus lupulus), may be used as preservatives and flavouring agents (H. lupulus adds a distinctive bitterness).  Want some additional and nutritional information?  Take a look at “Beer is liquid bread?“.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but while in Germany I just can’t resist the temptation.  My favorite type of beer is based on wheat as the starch source (“weiss bier” or “weizen”), and I prefer it with the yeast (“hefe”).  I also don’t enjoy it too bitter, thus a little extra malt makes sense for me (the beer becomes darker though – “dunkel”).  In conclusion, when I order a beer in Germany I usually ask for a “dunkel Hefeweissbier”. Alles klar?

Two of the best ones I had in Heidelberg are produced by Vetter (Brauhaus Vetter, Steingasse, 9) and Sanwald, which I had in a place called Bierkrug (Hauptstrasse, 147).

Brauhaus Veter

Brauhaus Vetter

Dunkel Hefeweissbier

Vetter Dunkel Hefeweissbier

Bierkrug on Heidelberg main street (Hauptstrasse)

Bierkrug on Heidelberg main street (Hauptstrasse)

Sanwald dunkel Hefeweizen

Sanwald dunkel Hefeweizen

A few things might go together well with these beers, among them the original German “bratwurst”, from brät meaning “finely chopped” and wurst meaning “sausage” (no, it’s not related to the German verb “braten”, meaning to roast or to grill, although even most Germans think it does – take a look at “Brät” ). Pork is a traditional meat in bratwurst, although beef and veal may also be used. It is heavily spiced with things like marjoran, cardamon, nutmeg, pepper, and other regional ingredients, what makes it perfect to be followed by a nice beer.

"Bratwurst mit Senf" (Bratwurst with mustard)

"Bratwurst mit Senf" (Bratwurst with mustard)

Beer on Foodista

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