Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clear Saturday's Schedule, Tatiana

I'm a big fan of the special feasts that only happen on certain days, like Sunday supper and such, and the Brazilian feast known as feijoada is one of my favorites. Normally eaten with the whole family/friends/neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, feijoada is a long-simmered black bean stew (feijao means beans), that usually contains many different parts of the pig. Many. Different. Parts. It also may contain fresh beef as well as dried beef, in the form of tasajo or carne seca, usually some kind of sausage, some salt pork/pork belly chunks, and, well, you get the picture. It is served with several traditional accompaniments, including white rice and farofa (toasted manioc flour-you shove it in your mouth instead of bread-weird but it works), peeled orange segments, and collard greens or kale (couve). The beverage of choice would be a caipirinha, which is made from cachaca, the Brazilian sugar cane liquor, shaken together with a sugar-muddled lime-pure alcohol, really, and a cocktail that rivals the better-known mojito (at least you won't be picking mint out of your teeth all evening). This is an afternoon feast, and there is usually music and dancing (Brazilians, people), and lots of laughter and camaraderie for the whole neighborhood.

At Boteco, at 916 NE 79th St., the feijoada feast is held only on the first Saturday of the month, making it even more special, and in September, it was packed. There were musicians playing, and there was even a dude on the patio, from Bahia, in the north of Brazil, frying acaraje, which are fried bean cakes (pictured); basically soaked black-eyed peas mashed into a paste and fried into cakes (like a big fritter), served with some hot sauce and a chopped tomato salad, which is piled into the center of the split-open acaraje. Authentic Bahian street food on 79th Street. Not bad. (Is 79th St poised to become the new restaurant row? We already have a parillada, Brazilian, Bavarian...)

I apologize for losing the man's business card (it was a long afternoon)-pick one up while you're there. As for the feijoada, I had just eaten an enormous sopa de res and about ten steaming hot tortillas at my favorite Mexican restaurant, to cure my hangover, and I was extremely full, so all I could do was drink more alcohol (inside tip-caipirinhas cure everything). But everyone I spoke to was very satisfied with the food. They bring in a Feijoada specialist for their feast, and there was plenty of food, with the trays constantly being refilled with fresh stuff.

(As an aside, just the amazing aromas brought me back to the shores of a little creek in the tiny town of Sana, in the countryside near Rio, where we danced forro every night until the sun came up-musicians putting everyone in a trance with just the triangle, bass drum, and accordion. Watching the broadcast of the huge Carnival celebration back in Rio on a scratchy TV with a hanger for an antenna in the town square, while cracking open beers for the under-aged kids. Dudes riding their horses up to the bar to get a drink. It was all so surreal. But back to the present.)

Everyone seemed to be going back to the buffet spread for seconds and thirds, and at $15 for all-you-can-eat, it's a ganga (bargain). The drinks are cheap, too. There were a lot of Brazilians there, some neighborhood types, and a lot of families-and this was at 2PM, on a very hot Saturday, mind you. I don't know if it got crazier later, but it was already a huge party. You could easily spend all afternoon here. Better skip breakfast, and also plan on a post-feast disco nap if you plan on going anywhere Saturday night.

Tudo bem? Tudo bom!
[Pronounced: Tudo Beng, Tudo Bong-You cool? It's All Good!]