Friday, February 24, 2006

Memories of Brazil

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon and I awoke around 1 pm. Winter just has that affect on you sometimes. I brew up a fresh pot of java; decided to dig into my supply of souvenir java acquired in Porto Alegre, Brazil last year. I swear that stuff has sugar added prior to brewing. Add some milk and settle in reading the morning news.

Two hours later, the phone buzzes. "Have you eaten?" asked Shan. "No, not yet. Why? What do you have in mind? Bistro d'Oc?" I ask. "Hmmmm. Was thinking something big. Maybe Fogo de Chão?" he says. Flashbacks of succulent meat heaped onto a plate race through my mind; waiters dressed in traditional Gaucho garb who don't stop serving you until you've turned the hunger indicator card to red..."PLEASE STOP." Fogo it is and why the heck not? I love a good Brazilian meat fest--especially with a good red wine.

4:30 pm. We arrive. Step into the lobby, prepared to be the only table in the restaurant as its so early for dinner on a Saturday downtown. To my surprise, the place is literally PACKED. I guess word has gotten out that Fogo is a good spot to feed a meat craving. After being seated, we take on the salad bar. Danger--the salad bar is so good, one might get full on veggies and antipasti. We opt to sample a number of items, but save room for the main event.

Time to choose wine. Fogo has a very well-rounded list, focusing on South America and California. I was very impressed to see a selection of Brazilian wines from Miolo, a spot I visited last year in the Vale dos Vinhedos in Southern Brazil. Most are available only by the bottle, except the Pinot Noir, which is on the glass list. We both go for a glass of the Pinot, which wasn't exactly the highlight of the visit. It was a bit green, thin, and over-oaked. To the surprise of many, Brazil has quite a robust wine industry. Shall save that for another post.

And now, the main event: the MEAT. 15 different cuts: pork, chicken, lamb and beef served table-side in a continuous fashion until you flip the card on the table from green to red, indicating you've had enough. Along with the meat comes an assortment of sides: crispy polenta, pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), garlic mashed potatoes, and fried bananas. Three notable meats to sample: the bacon wrapped chicken breast, parmesan crusted pork and the Picanha, which is a sirloin cut. All meats are fire-roasted and seasoned perfectly with garlic and sea salt. The experience brought back memories of my visit to Porto Alegre and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil--except Fogo is better than the churrascarias I happened upon last year.

After roughly 2 hours, Shan and I were ready to be wheeled out. Good thing neither of us had eaten prior to our Fogo visit. We hobbled back to his place, cracked open a bottle of Shiraz and called it a night.

Fogo de Chão has multiple locations in the U.S. and 4 locations in Brazil.

Fogo de Chão
1101 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC
(202) 347-4668

Pictures courtesy of Fogo de Chão

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