Tag Archives: Rio Olympics

Pastry-Post Doc at the Olympics: Ethiopian Pasti

ethiopianFor the final country represented on the Olympic Refugee Team – Ethiopia – we decided to dig a little deeper into the county’s cuisine. Now we adore Ethiopian food, but we were wondering about traditional Ethiopian desserts (since we have never encountered any!). Turns out, we weren’t missing a hidden dessert culture – the whole concept of dessert is pretty much an imported one. However, with the influx of sugar into Ethiopia in the 20th century, desserts started cropping up. One of the most popular desserts now in Ethiopian is the pasti, a sweet, fried dough dessert influenced by Italian food, sold in small shops called Pasti Bet (pasti houses). Here is a simple video recipe for pasti from How to Cook Ethiopian, with the video in Amharic and English text below. Pasti is even popular enough to have an Ethiopian R&B song about it!

 

 

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The National Dish of Brazil: Feijoada

brazilSo what is the national dish of Brazil, the host of the 2016 Olympic games? Feijoada – a hearty stew of sausage, carne seca, various cuts of pork and black beans. This is the type of post that we are surprised we did not write earlier – living in Brazil, feijoada is an integral part of the national cuisine and culture. Feijoada is the type of slow-simmered dish that you make on weekends for your family a la “Sunday gravy” in Italian families. On a larger scale, samba schools in Rio hold highly-anticipated “feijoada” for their entire communities and there is food, music and merriment. The whole point is that you don’t make feijoada alone, it is  group endeavor. Legend has it that feijoada originated as a way to use up all the “other” parts of the animal after the good cuts had been used (or were too expensive to buy in the first place), but that theory has been disputed by some that see the dish as a more direct descendent of Portuguese stews. A really traditional feijoada will include ingrediants like pig trotters and ears, but there are a hundred variations, and everyone has a slightly different spin. Taste of Brazil has a traditional version and Maria Brazil and Simply Recipes have versions with ingredients you can find in most grocery stores.

Feijoada

Feijoada from Estilo Brazil

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Syrian Food in Rio de Janeiro (and Brazil)

syriabrazilThere are two athletes from Syria on the Refugee Olympic Team, and two others on the team who currently train in Brazil. However, the connection between Syria and Brazil is not new. When we were in Brazil, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of Middle Eastern restaurants, from high-end fine dining to humble corner shops. We love traditional Brazilian food, but we like to try something different every once in a while, and we often turned to Syrian or Lebanese food for a change of pace. This is not just a cuisine trend in the country, there has been a large Syrian population in Brazil for over 100 years, and they are one of the most deeply established immigrant communities in Brazil. Now, there is a newer wave of immigrants fleeing the current conflict in Syria. One of the ways that this new wave of Syrians is contributing to Brazilian culture is through their food enterprises, such as Ahmad Ryad Hamada’s Syrian snack cart and Anas Rjab’s catering service, Simsim.

Kibbe

Kibbe at Al-Kuwait in Rio

Even before the newest Syrian arrivals, you could find foods that are traditionally Levantine all over Rio de Janeiro, as well as other places in Brazil, especially São Paulo. The first time we had the national food of Syria – kibbeh – was actually in Brazil! You will find kibbe and esfiha (small triangle shaped filled dough) at snack shops throughout Brazil, whether or not they have primarily Middle Eastern menus, showing how much Brazilians have adopted Syrian dishes as their own. Syrian influence can also be seen in that pita-like bread is called Pão Sirio (Syrian Bread) in Brazil. There are tons of great places to get Levantine food and spices in Rio, but here are some of our favorites: Al-Kuwait for Kibbe and Esfiha, Quiosque Arab for ambiance and Casas Pedro for spices and Pão Sirio.

Casas Pedro in Rio

Casas Pedro in Rio

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Estilo Brazil Grocery Store and Restaurant in Columbus

brazilEven if you are not in Rio for the Olympics (we aren’t!), you can still find a taste of Brazil in some of the most unexpected places. One thing that we are quickly learning about Ohio is that you never know what you are going to find. It may seem that you are in a nondescript strip mall, but you may just be steps away from an amazing Brazilian food market and restaurant. And yes, in Columbus, Ohio we came across one of the best international food markets we have seen in the US, Estilo Brazil (5818 Columbus Square, Columbus, OH 43231).
Storefront

There is something for everyone at Estilo Brazil, and we saw most of our favorite brands from Brazil there: Phebo soaps, Sonho de Valsa chocolates, Piraquê cookies, Pilão coffee and Madrugada teas. Beyond those brands, Estilo Brazil boasts a wide selection of other Brazilian candies, juices, soda, household products, canned and packaged foods and spices. When we were there around Easter, they also had a large supply of Brazilian chocolate Easter eggs hanging from a wooden pergola in the middle of the store (the traditional display method), which are a must-try for any chocolate-lover at least once.

Cafe

More unusually, and a great sign for us, Estilo Brazil also had an extensive refrigerated and frozen food section with frozen Brazilian cuts of meats and fresh cheeses like catupiry and Minas. We were also pleased to find some things we hadn’t seen at other grocery stores, like miniature brigadeiro paper liners (like super mini cupcake tin liners), frozen açai pulp and spices for traditional churrasco. We were really impressed by Estilo Brazil’s selection of harder-to-find items. We definitely stocked up on favorites, and took a chance on some things that were new to us.AcaiAcerola

However, one of the best parts is that Estilo Brazil, is that it also houses a traditional Brazilian restaurant with a buffet. You can get a huge plate of food at the buffet for only $10. The big draw on Saturday is the lunch buffet with feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, which is a stew of pork and beans. Though they have a selection of mains (like moqueca, chicken stew or pasta – see the weekly menu here) every day of the week, the special feijoada is only available on Saturday.  At the buffet we got feijoada, garlicky couve mineira, salad, pão de queijo and a coxinha (fried chicken dumpling), and washed everything down with a cafezinho and a Guarana Antarctica. The food was delicious, and transported us instantly back to Brazil! Estilo Brazil is definitely worth a visit if you are craving some Brazilian food, and be sure to stock up on all the Brazilian essentials while you are there.

Feijoada

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The National Dish of the DRC: Poulet à la Moambé

DRCFlagWhen researching the national dish of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the countries represented on the Refugee Olympic Team, we found a few dishes vying for the top spot. First up was Fufu/Bukari, an almost ubiquitous cassava mash used to sop up foods. However, Fufu is popular across a wide swath of Africa, so that didn’t seem distinct enough to be a national dish. Another contender was Pondu/Saka-Saka , cassava leaves in palm oil, but it is really more of a side dish. However, after some additional sleuthing, the main course that seemed to be the most widely-accepted national dish of the DRC is Poulet à la Moambé (Chicken Moambe), which is also considered the national dish of Gambia and Angola. We understand why it is widely beloved, we have tried this hearty, peanut-y soup before and it is delicious! Chicken Moambe is made with ingredients you’ll be able to find almost anywhere – bone-in chicken, peanut butter, palm oil and tomatoes – see recipes from African American Kitchen and Chef Bolek. If you want to go the whole nine yards you can accompany it with Fufu and Pondu!

Poulet_à_la_moambe.JPG

 

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Pastry Post-Doc in South Sudan: Kuindiong

south-sudan_flag.pngThis is the first time that South Sudan (which only became an independent country in 2011) is competing in any Olympics, and 5 refugees associated with South Sudan are also competing for the Refugee Olympic team. South Sudanese shares many features with the traditional cuisine of Sudan, which features a wide array of stews, corn-based breads, and hearty veggies like okra, but relies more heavily on fish. However, the South Sudanese can do sweets, too. One of the emblematic desserts of South Sudan is a sweet semolina pudding, Kuindiong. This pudding reminds us of Middle Eastern semolina puddings, like Basboosa, and uses the same semolina flour used in Italian pasta. This recipe from SBS Australia (seen below) seems simple and delicious.Kuindiong.jpg

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Pastry Post-Doc in Rio: Cinematic cakes at Bomboniere Pathe

cinelandiabrazilBack in the day, an area of Central Rio de Janeiro, Cinelândia (pictured above in 2013), as its name suggests, was the home of Rio de Janeiro’s opulent Art Deco movie theaters. At its peak, there were over a dozen, centered on the square called Praça Floriano Peixoto. Only one movie theater still remains, the Odeon (link in Portuguese), whereas the other grand movie palaces have been converted to performing arts centers, churches, bookstores, or adult movie theaters. Bomboniere Pathe (Praça Floriano, 45, Rio de Janeiro) used to be below one such grand cinema – Cinema Pathe (now a church), which opened in 1901 and closed in 1999. 

CakeStoreThough the theater is closed, this tiny corner shop that sells nothing but cake is still chugging along. The store is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-small. But don’t let the humble appearance fool you – the cakes are amazing! There are a dozen or so traditional and exotic flavors available every day, and are worth a special trip. It costs $R 5 for a slice, and $R 65 for an entire cake. With the current exchange rate of the Brazilian Real, that is a pretty reasonable price. The refrigerator case for the cakes is rolled right out into the street, enticing passers-by with scrumptious cakes.

KeyLime

So what kind of cakes can you expect? While we were there we sampled: A tri-color Neapolitan cake, a brigadeiro cake (chocolate condensed milk) with brigadeiro truffles right on top, coconut cake, prestigio cake, a traditional chocolate and coconut layer cake, passion fruit cheesecake, key lime, strawberry, blueberries and whipped cream, Black forest cake, and more! The selection changes daily, so be sure to ask ahead if there is something you have in mind. You can also buy single bite-size Brazilian treats like truffles, brigadeiros / casadinhos / cajuzinhos / beijinhos and small pudins (egg puddings).

Passionfruit

If you order a slice, you are treated to a hearty wedge in a little plastic container. Since this is a take out place, there is no “eating-in.” However, you will see some people gathered around the shop just noshing on their cakes. Another nice touch – for my birthday they even gave me a cake with a candle in it (see below)! We sampled cakes at least once a week and were never disappointed. Located near the business center of Rio, it is a popular choice for businesspeople on a lunch break, and the crowd strictly seemed to be locals. If you are in Central Rio and looking for a sweet, traditional Brazilian dessert, look no further!

ChocoBrithday

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Going for the gold with the National Dish of Kosovo, Flija

KosovoKosovo, which gained independence only in 2008, competed in the Olympics for the first time in Rio, and in their first showing, Majlinda Kelmendi won a gold medal in Judo. In honor of this win, we thought we would delve a little more into the world of Kosovar cuisine. Though it is similar in many ways to its Balkan neighbors in Albania, Serbia and Macedonia, Kosovar cuisine has some unique dishes that set it apart. One of the most iconic is Flija (or Flia), a round layered dough cake/bread, which incorporates yogurt into the batter. Global Table Adventure has a recipe for Flija (pictured below), which leads you through the steps of adding layer after layer to the dish. Though Global Table Adventure has adapted the recipe for the typical kitchen, Flija is traditionally baked outside in a large silver pan known as a “saç.” Flija seems seems complicated, but looks delicious!

Filja

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The Olympics of Food: Rio 2016

Olympic-Cookies

The Olympics have finally come to Rio! When we were living in Brazil a few years ago, the country was already gearing up for the Olympic games, so we are excited to see it finally come to life. ETW will have some special food-related Olympics coverage this year, focused on the food of Brazil and the countries competing. We already have an extensive archive of Brazil and Rio De Janeiro food posts, so we encourage you to check it out in the meantime. This year, we will have special posts on the two countries competing in the Olympics for the first time – South Sudan and Kosovo (we also covered the 7 new countries in 2014) – and the multi-national refugee team. Stay tuned! Bom apetite!

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