Tag Archives: orange

Mirazur in Rio de Janeiro

30 Nov

High-end gastronomy has been quite away from me, usually nothing more than a dream, for two main reasons: (1) I live in a small town, more than a few hundred kilometers from any restaurant that could be considered “high-end” and, (2) I usually don’t have the money to afford such a luxury.

Thus, it was with great enthusiasm I received an invitation from my brother-in-law Rodolfo to travel to Rio de Janeiro (around 1,800 km from my home) and meet the with the chef “Mauro Colagreco“, from “Mirazur” in Menton/Cotê D`Azur/France to what would be my first top class meal. No, I wasn`t invited for my cooking or blogging abilities (which in fact suck), but because Mauro and my niece Julia live together and they all know of my love for food.  So, there I went.

Mauro prepared a chef`s menu, with some of the creations that made the Michelin Guide recognize his talent and attribute a star to his cuisine. The dinner took place at “Olympe“, one of the best restaurants in Brazil and headed by the chef Claude Troisgros and his son Thomas.

Claude Troisgros (left) and Mauro Colagreco ready to start their work of art

This was the menu:

Colagreco's menu at the "Olympe"

Sorry, but I just can’t highlight any item of this superb menu, as all dishes were simply amazing. Every bite had a hidden surprise to my freshman taste buds. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my favorites. Yes, I do. The first and the third courses.

Huitre

The first course was composed by fresh oysters that, by coincidence, were shipped from my home state, Santa Catarina, and are considered the best in the country. Every oyster was delicately wrapped by a thin pear sheet and laid over a pear cream with diced pears and onions and watercress sprouts.  You could taste the sea, the same sea I used to swim into during my childhood.  Of course this had to be one of my favorites, after all a real dinning experience is much more than just chewing.

My second favorite? The third course, a grilled jumbo shrimp served with 3 brazilian roots (sweet potato, cassava and the less known arracachaArracacia xanthorrhiza), some petals and watercress sprouts.  The sauce was simply fantastic, based on bone marrow. I could have eaten this all night.

Grosses Crevettes

These were my favorites. But let`s go back a bit, to the second course, a composition of asparagus in three different ways: green, white and sliced in a yogurt and orange sauce with lime and grapefruit.  I`m not a huge fan of salads, but this was light and the sauce dripped from heaven.

Salade D`Asperge

Fourth course was a stripped bass with yam pure and a foam of smoked clams.  Some of my friends elected this as the best course.

Poisson Sauvage

Than, it was time for the duck breast, with caramelized radish and sesame seed sauce. The breast was cooked to perfection and matched well with all other components, including a small package of confit (sorry, I was not able to identify the leaf wrapping – have to ask the chef next time I meet him).

Canard

A top chef is someone not always cooking his/her meals to perfection, but always trying to please and surprise his/her guests.  And Mauro did that by present a dish not on the menu, truffles on an egg yolk sauce.  I had tried black truffles before but, let me assure, it has little to do with these Alba babies.  The smell is pungent and unmistakable, as it is the taste. Only between you and me…I was not ready for that. I`ll have to train my palate much more before going into such delicacies (guess you understand what I mean).

White truffles

Time for dessert. The first was an almond foam with saffron cream and orange sorbet, and the second a cold chocolate truffle and glazed cashew nuts in a chocolate sauce with “mate” tea ice cream. Both out of this world.  The first was delicate and refreshing, the second with marked flavors, openly influenced by the chef`s birthplace, Argentina. I was much pleased by the second one, as mate is also a common drink in the southern regions of Brazil, where I happen to live.

Espuma D`Amande

Terre de Manjari

Overall an unforgetable experience.  Chef Mauro Colagreco demonstrated his skills and versatility, incorporating in almost all the courses typical Brazilian products, what coupled with the most unblemished technique, ends up in a festival of sensations I could hardly imagine.

Many thanks to Mauro for bringing Mirazur to Brazil.

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.

kibes

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.

kibecru

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

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