This is the summer to celebrate all things Brazil and, even though England and Italy are out of the World Cup, there's no reason to stop me from joining the celebrations!
Last week I was invited by Tilda to a Brazilian Supperclub cooked by 2010 MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker with Hot and Chilli blogger Rosana McPhee. The dinner was hosted at the beautiful Islington home of Luiz Hara, aka The London Foodie.
It was a balmy summer evening, so before dinner I chatted with the other guests in the garden, drinking Brazil's signature cocktail Caipirinha and eating canapés: bolinho de arroz (rice fritters), coração de galinha,(chicken heart bbq sticks), empadinha (mini pies with palm heart filling) and pao de queijo (baked Brazilian cheese bread).
I was too squeamish to try the chicken hearts, but I loved all the other canapés, especially the cheese bread which was piping hot and so delicious!
The dinner tables were beautifully set with mix-matched vintage crockery and a Brazilian "Wish Bracelet" (Fitas do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia) of different colours on every plate. Rosana explained that the bracelet is given by a friend and it needs to be tied up around your wrist by another friend. So the gift was from Rosana, while Luiz walked around the table to tie the bracelets around our wrists.
As a starter we had Feijoada - mini bowls of black bean stew, Portuguese sausages calabresa and paio, sundried meat, smoked ribs and bacon. Dhruv prepared the dish using the Tilda Limited Edition Brazilian Samba Rice (cooked with shredded greens, orange and toasted with cassava flour) which is available in stores now and until November.
There is something very comforting about a bowl of rice and beans, it's a simple and hearty dish that that I would love to recreate at home.
After the starter we were served two main courses. The first one was Moqueca, a white fish stew from the region of Bahia cooked in coconut milk, tomato, onion, coriander, annatto and palm oil.
It was served with Pirao de Peixe, a traditional accompaniment to this type of stew, made with fish, onions, herbs and broth thickened with cassava flour.
Before dinner Dhruv was in the back garden barbecuing rump cap of beef on the grill. This is a cut of beef that is very popular in Brazil where it is called Picanha.
So the star of the night at the Brazilian Supperclub was Picanha with pimenta de bico, manteiga de garrafa which is beef roasted under a blanket of rock salt, served with Brazilian chilli pepper and drizzled with clarified butter and roasted garlic bulbs.
It's a great cut of meat and I liked how it was cooked medium rear and served with the chilli and garlic.
The side dishes complemented the grilled meat perfectly: juicy tomatoes with palm heart and red onions; sautée cassava and fried plantain. I had never eaten cassava before, but it's so good! I must try to cook it at home.
To finish this fantastic dinner, we were served a trio of Brazilian desserts: Caju sorbet (cashew fruit sorbet), Brigadeiro de copo (a Brazilian sweet made with chocolate and condensed milk) and my favourite Quindim (egg yolks and coconut tart). I have tried Quindim before and it's a great recipe to make when you have a lot of egg yolks left over from making meringue or macarons!
And after all the food and bubbly, I couldn't say no to a Brazilian espresso!
Brazil was already at the top of my dream travel list, but now I'm itching even more to visit this country and taste all this amazing food again!
Thank you very much to Rosana, Dhruv, Luiz and the Tilda team for inviting me to such a nice dinner and introducing me to Brazilian cuisine!
Disclaimer: I was invited to dinner at the supperclub. All opinions are my own.