Moqueca, a fish and shrimp stew with a coconut milk base. Poured over white rice, and served with collards on the side. If it weren’t for the Brazilians in attendance, I wouldn’t know how to enjoy these in authentic Brazilian style.
Cassava flour and a hot pepper vinaigrette were available for condiments.
Quindin is a coconut, egg, and sugar custard dessert. Very rich. Brazilians who came to this dinner told us that it reflects the Portuguese influence in Brazil’s cuisine.
Brazilian coffee, served in a small cup with a cinnamon stick and orange peel on the side. For flavor accent, you take a knife and shave the cinnamon into the cup. The coffee had a strong flavor, but it’s not stimulating, keeping me awake at all. Just a nice cup to accompany dessert.
Also served at the dinner was a pilsner, Palma Louca, and a delicious Guarana soda. The evening kicked off with Pao de Queijo, a cheese bread served in crunchy ball shape. You break them open to let the steam escape before taking a bite. They made me think of croquettes. The appetizer Acaraje com Vatapa, black eyed pea fritters and a cream paste made with shrimp, coconut milk, palm oil, ground peanuts. If I had to liken them to American foods, it would be a hush puppy, or fried cornbread balls often eaten alongside fried fish or shrimp. Lebanese and Egyptian food has the spicy falafel, made from chickpea flour.
The dinner was put on by chefs Teca Thompson and Nate Conkle. They take the food seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Really nice people that want to bring new culinary tastes to Charleston’s dining scene. Teca heads Brazilianuts with a partner. Nate owns Gathering Cafe in Orange Grove plaza.
I highly recommend checking out the dinners Brazilianuts is scheduling throughout the year, celebrating cultural events and foods of different regions. Next month is Rio and Carnivale theme. I heard there may be dancing! And if you know a restaurant that might want to collaborate for one of these dinners, I wiill gladly connect you. A portion of dinner proceeds support charities in the Charleston area.
Black eyed peas (in fritters not pictured), rice, fish and shrimp are key ingredients of Lowcountry (SC and Georgia) and Bahia’s cuisine. I had no idea of this common ground before covering this story for a local paper, then getting an invite to actually try the food.
It seems Charlestonians speak a similiar culinary language to Bahia when I consider the coastal way of life and West African influences of both places.
It’s a small world, and apparently an even smaller hemisphere. 🙂
For even more photos, see brazilianuts.com.