Tag Archives: Florianópolis

“El Bulli” and “Linguiceira”

14 Apr

Last week, during a trip to the most wonderful island in this world, the Isl. of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil were the city of Florianópolis is located, I had the privilege of receiving two fantastic gifts from my two brothers-in-law, Rodolfo and Reynaldo (they’re not so bad after all).

1. Rodolfo has a daughter, Julia, who happens to live in France and to be a very close friend of the acclaimed Chef Mauro Colagreco.  Mauro Colagreco is the chef de cuisine of Mirazur, a modern restaurant set in  Menton, on the Côte d’Azur right at the Italian border. He earned his first Michelin star in 2007. In the same year Gault Millau, the French restaurant guide, named Mirazur newcomer of the year (Révélation Gault Millau de l’Année).  Chef Colagreco was born in the La Plata province, Argentina, and after travelling throughout Latin America arrived in Paris to cook with the finest chefs, like Bernard Loiseau at La Côte d’Or, Alain Passard at L’Arpège and Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénee.

Well, Chef Colagreco and my niece Julia went to Spain for a visit to the 3-Michelin star Chef Ferran Adriá and his world-famous “El Bulli“.  There, they received, from the hands of Chef Adriá himself (and I like to imagine him asking Chef Colagreco to give it to me as a personal sign of his appreciation for this most amazing blog) a copy of “Un dia en El Bulli” (A Day at El Bulli).  Guess I don’t need to add anything else, except maybe for a special thanks to Mauro and Julia.

A Day at El Bulli (The Veuve Clicquot Ponsirdin was a most welcomed extra)

2. Reynaldo was in Itajaí, a city colonized by Portuguese from Madeira and Azores Islands, were he was introduced to a “linguiceira”, or “chouriceira” as it’s called in Portugal.  “Linguiceira” is a clay pot specially designed to prepare “linguiças” (sausages).  He thought of me and immediately brought one home, which now happens to be at my kitchen.

The “linguiceira” is a plain round clay pot with a kind of clay grill at the bottom.  You have to place some alcohol (ethanol)  in it (bellow the grill of course), place your sausage on top (I prefer a smoked sausage similar to the German “Mettwurst“), and last but not least, light the fire. As the alcohol burns it heats up the sausage, which releases some of its fat which then feeds the flames (they are blue at the beginning, turning red as fat starts to burn). After a few minutes you are ready to have a wonderful snack (we had it with some Pita bread and Veuve Clicquot while talking about El Bulli and Chefs Colagreco and Adriá).  The sausage, produced in Pomerode (the most German city in Brazil), was rather similar to the “Holsteiner” variety, typical of northern Germany.  You can have an idea of the whole process observing the pictures bellow:

Starting of the process - burning alcohol placed at the bottom

Stage 2 - Fat released from the sausage starts to burn

Time to turn it around

Enjoy it!

German sausage, prepared in a Portuguese way by Brazilian cooks, and eaten with Middle Eastern bread and French champagne while enjoying a Spanish book . Can anything else be more Borderless?????


Die Wurst

15 Dec

Food conservation, since the most ancient times, has always been a problem, as it was (and still is) the single most important way of assuring a continuous and adequate food supply for an ever-growing population. One very old method for preserving meat is the preparation of sausages, which by 500 BC were already known in China, Rome and Greece. This history probably had its beginning when man learned that salt could be used as a meat preservative (the word sausage itself is believed to come from “salsus“, the Latin word for salt).

Presently sausages can be found either fresh or cured. Fresh sausages can be conserved for shorter periods of time, being usually kept under refrigeration. Cured sausages, which can be cooked or dried, however, can last much longer. The curing process can involve a variety of techniques and agents, such as salt, smoke, nitrates, nitrites and even sugar.

Germany is, I believe, the champion of sausage making, and thus no trip to this country would be complete without a visit to a “Wursthaus”. Guess the pictures speak for themselves.

Buying "Wurst" at "Schlemmermeyer", downtown Heidelberg/Germany


More "Wurst"...

More "Wurst"...

And more "Wurst"

The state of “Santa Catarina“, where I happen to have been born, still exhibits very strong signs of a 19th century European immigration, the vast majority of the population being descendants of those European settlers. Among these are the Germans, which started to arrive in 1828, and have formed large colonies. Even today, in some areas of the state, towns exist where over 90% of the population is composed of German descendents, and the German language is fluently spoken. No wonder German tradition, including the preparation of sausages, is still much alive in these areas.

During my last trip to Florianopolis, the capital of Santa Catarina state, which itself was founded by Portuguese, I had the opportunity of visiting an open-air market, where “colonos” (people from the original German and Italian colonies) come to sell sausages, cheese, bread, and other products prepared at home or at small family owned factories.

Sausages at the market in Florianopolis/Brazil

More sausages at the market in Florianopolis/Brazil

More sausages, and some smoked pork ribs, at the market in Florianopolis/Brazil

More sausages, and some smoked pork ribs, at the market in Florianopolis/Brazil

And some more sausages from Santa Catarina/Brazil

Literally hundreds of sausages varieties exist (as you can easily figure out from the above pictures), a sample of which can be found at the Cook’s Thesaurus. If you have any interest on the subject, and would like to prepare your own sausages at home (why not?), I suggest you start by taking a look at “The art and practice of sausage making“, published by the North Dakota State University and freely available on the net. I’m quite sure the end result will be much better than most of the products you’re presently getting from your supermarket.

German Sausage on Foodista

Kibbe, the Middle Eastern steak tartare

6 Nov

Visiting my hometown, from which I’ve been away for almost 35 years, is always a special moment. Florianópolis is not only a very nice place worth visiting, but for me it’s also a wonderful bag of memories. In the early 70’s I was just a like any other teenager around the world, loved to listen to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Carlos Santana, among others, and enjoyed partying with friends. But differently from other kids anywhere else in the world we used to visit quite frequently a rather unique place, “Kibelândia” or, literally, the land of kibbe. “Kibelândia” was then a small joint (it was stablished in 1966), neglected by almost every grown up in town, a rather typical magnet for teenagers.

Kibbe, or kibbeh, is a Middle Eastern dish, and Lebanon’s national dish, found in many forms, the most common one a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. The basic recipe contains burghul (a kind of crushed wheat) and chopped meat to which spices like garlic, onions, cinnamon, pepper and mint may be added. The kibbes at “Kibelândia” were prepared and fried right before your eyes (you could even see when the cook licked his finger to open a hole in it were an olive was placed). I don’t know if because of this nasty habit or not, but the kibbes tasted great.

During my last visit to Florianópolis I was invited by my brother-in-law to have a kibbe with beer at “Kibelândia”, and for my surprise it still exists in the very same address (Rua Victor Meirelles, 98), right in the heart of town.


Kibbes from "Kibelândia", in Florianópolis/SC/Brazil

To my joy the kibbes were very good, even though you can no longer see if the cook still licks his finger (the olive was inside though).

One kind of kibbe I never eat outside my home is “kibbe nayyeh”, or raw kibbe, a type of steak tartare. At home we prepare it mixing ground beef or lamb with burghul (around 60%:40%). Add some cold butter (around 100 g for every 2 pounds of meat) and seasoning (we use lots of garlic and mint and a splash of Syrian pepper). The burghul should be soaked in water before combining with the meat (there is some controversy on that). Traditionally the fat used in Lebanon is “samma”, a kind of clarified butter, or the fat obtained from the tail of a sheep (I haven’t been able to find that around here yet).

The meat is then shaped like a loaf of bread, scored with a knife and drizzled with olive oil.


Kibbe nayyeh - Lebanese steak tartar?

Top: kibbe bi saniyeh (kibbe in a tray) and a lettuce and orange salad with orange juice, olive oil and cinnamon dressing.  Botton: kibbe nayyeh and tabule.

Top left: kibbe bi saniyeh (kibbe in a tray). Top right: orange and lettuce salad (orange juice, olive oil and cinnamon dressing). Botton left: kibbe nayyeh (raw kibbe). Botton right: tabbouleh

You can also press the raw kibbe in a flat baking pan, which is then scored with a knife into diamond shapes about one or two inches in length, topped with olive oil and then baked in the oven until done (be careful not to let it dry). This is called “kibbe bi saniyeh” or “kibbe in a tray”.

At home we eat kibbe (usually two or three variations) with a very simple salad made with lettuce, slices of orange and walnuts, dressed with a mixture of olive oil, orange juice and cinnamon (try it, I’m sure you’re going to aprove it). Tabbouleh and pita bread are also mandatory presences.

Tartar Steak on Foodista
Deep Fried Kebbeh on Foodista
Fried Stuffed Kubbeh- Kibbeh on Foodista

Fresh oysters

10 Sep

I’ve already said (see A paradise in Southern Brazil) that Florianópolis is one of my favorite places in the world, not only because I was born there, but simply because this island is, in fact, a place not to be missed.  If you happen to come to Brazil follow my advice and spend a couple of days visiting Santa Catarina Island (where the city of Florianópolis is located).  I’m quite sure you won’t regret it.

Once in Florianópolis go to the “Mercado”, the city market, situated in the heart of the city.  Take a seat in one of the existing bars, grab a beer and try some of the local specialities.  I personally recommend Box 32, owned by chef Beto Barreiros (we went to highschool together), a place also recommended by internationally recognized French chefs like Claude Troigros and Laurent Suadeau.

External view of the "mercado" (city market) in downtown Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

External view of the "mercado" (city market) in downtown Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

Inside the city market in Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

Inside the city market in Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

The market is rich in seafood, offering a variety of crustaceans, molluscs and fish.

Blue crabs, prawns, fish, mussels....The price? R$ 11.00 = US$ 6.00 (price per 1.0 kg = 2.2 pounds)

Blue crabs, prawns, fish, mussels....The price? R$ 11.00 = US$ 6.00 (price per 1.0 kg = 2.2 pounds)

This time my eyes were caught by the fresh live oysters, which were costing only R$ 4.00 a dozen (around US$ 2.2).

Live oysters at the city market in Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

Live oysters at the city market in Florianópolis/Southern Brazil

For dinner?  Oysters, of course.  Although I also like them raw, as it’s when you can really evaluate the freshness and have a taste of the sea filling your mouth,  my sister-in-law (Manuela) prepared them gratiné with some very mild cream cheese sprinkled with a generous amount of parmesan. Each oyster was followed by a drink of a cold sparkling wine (we had the Spanish cava Freixenet).  The perfect end for a perfect day in my hometown (or a perfect beginning, for this was only the first dinner of a long weekend).

Ready for the oven, with some cream chesse and parmesan

Ready for the oven, with some cream cheese and parmesan

Oysters on Foodista

A Paradise in Southern Brazil

15 May

Everyone has his (her) own favorite places in the world.  For me, one of them is Santa Catarina Island, southern Brazil, where the city of Florianópolis is located. Not by chance this is the place where I was born. Discovered in 1514 by the Portuguese, it was really colonized about 200 years later by immigrants from the Azores and from Madeira Islands.  It is a beautiful place, full of friendly people (don’t worry, I don’t live there anymore), not to be missed by anyone, specially if you enjoy the sea (and who doesn’t?).

The island, about 100 km long and 20 km wide, has 42 beaches (even though I have walked all around the island in my youth days I have never been able to reach this number), ranging from protected bay areas (where some wonderful oysters are grown) to open sea beaches (a surfers paradise).

My father has a house on “Praia dos Ingleses” (Englishmen’s Beach), on the north end of the island, where my family usually spends quite a few days during summer vacations.  At one of the beach extremities (east side, almost at the corner of Estrada Dom João Becker and Estrada Vereador Olindo Lemos – GPS: S 27O 26.629` and W 48O 22.579`) there is a small restaurant called “Dunas” (Sand Dunes).

The restaurant is located right at beach, so close that you can almost dive into the sea from the window.  One of these days I went there with my wife and my 2 daughters for lunch.  The menu is, of course, plenty of seafood.  We ordered, shrimp in “catupiry” sauce and grilled mullet, along with a simple salad (onions, carrots, lettuce, beets and tomatoes) and rice (one of the girls could not refrain from having some French fries).

Shrimps with "catupiry" and grilled mullet

Shrimps with "catupiry" and grilled mullet

“Catupiry”, which means “excellent” in Tupi-guarini (the language spoken by most Brazilians native indian tribes at the time of discovery, in 1500), is a soft and mild cheese (almost like the American cream cheese), which was developed in the first half of the last century by an Italian immigrant.

The basic recipe seems to consist of a very mild sauce (butter fried onions and garlic with some small diced tomatoes, minced parsley and spring onions) to which the shrimp (most probably a Penaeus sp.) and the cheese are added (the idea is to preserve the shrimp taste and enjoy the cremosity and light saltiness of the cheese).  Cooking is done in an adobe pot. A very simple but fairly elegant dish served over plain white rice.

Shrimp with "catupiry" sauce

Shrimp with "catupiry" sauce

The mullet (Mugil sp.), which is found worldwide in tropical to temperate coastal waters, is very appropriate for grilling due to its high fat content.  It was seasoned with salt and pepper only.

The service was quite informal and matching the place, a very happy and friendly fellow who seemed to enjoy his job.  The price was quite reasonable (around US$ 17,00/person – soft drinks included). The shrimp was excellent, the mullet not bad (although a bit overdone), and the scenery, as well as the company, just unpayable.  Almost paradise.

Is there a better way to wait for your lunch?

Is there a better way to wait for your lunch?

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