The concept is simple enough: the international hotels import guest chefs together with local food produce from their overseas sister hotels. But in this instance, the House has gone overboard by not just bringing in three top chefs from Brazil, but a Brazilian band and a troupe of six ‘energetic' dancers to entertain us.
Now let's look at the food. Brazilian cuisine is unique. It is based upon the many nations who graced the country's shores during the colonial periods, which means it is historically rooted in the food cultures of Portugal, N. Africa, Spain, Lebanon, Germany and Italy. When you throw in the indigenous tropical fruits and herbs, you have a culinary product which is magnificent and distinctive.
So before we eat, let me show you a sample of what the chefs imported to Bucharest from Brazil. There is a wide selection of beans, including ‘fava', the world's most versatile bean – large and green, it can be fried, salted, roasted, pureed and added to enhance almost any dish. There are ‘preto' beans from Sao Paulo and other varieties such as ‘mulatinho', all of which have their own flavors and characteristics.
There is ‘Dende', a deep orange coloured oil from the Bahia region made from North African palms used to infuse its unique flavour into dishes you will sample here.
There is ‘aipim' – the roots of the ‘yuca' tree which can be made into flour and bread, or boiled into ‘tapioca' starch.
Chefs Renaldo Lopez and Fernando Vaz combined this lot into a ‘bobo de camarao'. This is a seafood casserole containing shrimps, fried aipim, peppers, dende oil, coconut milk, fresh coriander, parsley, garlic, tomato, lemon and green onions. Now will you agree with me when I state that Brazilian cuisine is unique? Read on and see what else these boys imported!
They brought over two varieties of Brazilian ‘farinha', flour. You may think that there are ample varieties of Romanian corn flour (NO thanks) or European flour available in the large supermarkets. But these chefs are perfectionists and they have chosen their own flour for the uncompromising results they demand.
They imported ‘rapaduro' – a solid brick of dried cane sugar syrup. Again, they will not use Romanian supermarket white, granulated sugar. Rapaduro is added to more than just desserts, such as to peanuts and main courses of meat and fish.
They have ‘copuacu', a sweet pulp from a football sized plant which is arguably a fruit or a vegetable. Add ‘goiabada' – a rich concentrated guava paste and you have merely A SAMPLE of the chefs' imports.
Construct in your minds, if you will, what magic the boys can do with fish and vegetables with this lot. I have not touched on the subject of meat yet, because you all doubtless realize their beef and pork dishes will be superb, as befits the nation's image.
Out of the Brazilian team of an astonishing 15 persons, you may wonder why the House went to the expense of importing a pastry chef, given that every hotel in town has a talented resident pastry chef. It was for good reason, and again I refer to the unique character of Brazilian cuisine. Chef Hernani Ferrera uses disciplines and ingredients which are not the norm here, so his contribution will be loved by dessert people.
I suggest you try his cakes (‘bolo') such as ‘coconut and banana flamb