White Dog and I faced a tough decision early this week. Was today's afternoon gathering going to focus on the Year of the Monkey's arrival or were we going to celebrate Carnaval, Brazilian-style? The White Dog Army adores both cuisines but the group was to be too small to encompasses both; we had to choose.
After much debate and drooling, WD choose Carnaval! Her logic revolved around the fact that our new discovery of the city's ONLY Brazilian restaurant over the holidays had been dashed when the building's heating system failed and the owner had to temporarily close while it is replaced...a costly and unexpected expense. He estimates that he will not reopen until mid-Spring.
However, I had purchased a holiday coupon for the restaurant and he very kindly agreed to honor it as catering rather than a restaurant visit. In fact, the owner/chef provided a feast that left our four guests and the White Dogs in a pre-Lenten stupor...with leftovers for all. Because of his attentive kindness and grand customer service Jamon can expect at least six new customers when his Cabana reopens.
The absolute genius of his menu is that Jamon has combined the delicious grilled meats and vegetables and sauces of Brazil with the wondrous manna, frybread, that our local Native Americans evolved in to puffy, crunchy and soft flatbread. There is, I guarantee, not a single creature on the planet that would not swoon over the warm bread (must be hot and fresh from the fryer) served with honey or powered sugar as a treat or wrapped around meats and vegetables gyro-style!
When WD called to let everyone know our choice, there was a sigh of anticipation. And when Steve (with Gregg and Josh's help, yes there was that much) brought in the trays, the smells danced with the Brazilian samba background music and the underlying scent of hibiscus from the brewing tea.
The White Dog Army sat in a line as Steve arranged a buffet that stretched around all of our kitchen counter space and onto the stove that included salad, black beans and rice, charred vegetables, marinated and grilled chicken and filet Mignon, green and red chile sauce and chimichurri sauce, made with lots of garlic and parsley and the traditional topping for meats in South America. There were 1" thick slabs of pineapple that had been charred for dessert, which the WDA loved as much as the meats.And the highlight...plate sized slabs of frybread to pile with delicious bites.
There was laughter and conversation, music and flow of good vibes, great food and ever greater camaraderie. Truly a celebration, sans the world famous amazing parades, costume balls and spectacles of Carnaval in Rio, our Carnaval DID embody the live it up thinking of our neighbors to the south who say, "party with your all your being now for soon we must fast and repent".