I Was On CCTV! - Talking about my backpacking trip and Chinese food. Can’t bring myself to watch the whole thing; I hate seeing myself talk. Makes me cringe. Plus, I lived ...
Monday, October 25, 2010
Aperitivos Valadares, Sao Paulo, Brasil: Go for the Frog Milanesa, Stay for the Chicken Testicles at Sao Paulo's Exotic Boteco.
Aperitivos Valadares, located in the Lapa neighborhood of Sao Paulo,Brasil may be known for its exotic offerings, but at its core is just a great boteco, a Brazilian pub.Botecos are where people go after work to get a cold beer, the colder the better, drink some cocktails,a cachaça or two, and wolf down some bar bites, called petiscos.
In 1961, João Pires Bicalho, one of 12 brothers from Senhora do Porto, Minas Gerais a little town just outside Governador Valadares,Minas Gerais, opened a little grocery store with a bar in Sao Paulo. A year later he brought in four of his brothers, all of them brimming with enthusiasm to transform it into the proper pe-sujo, dive bar, that it is today.
I first ended up at their more civilised lanchonete(lucheonette) Valadares, just a few blocks away on rua Claudio. I was jamming through the menu and saw no such obscure menu items, just regular Brazilian pub food.But, the beer looked cold and wet, and the cachaça selection had me frozen in my seat. In Brazilian botecos, you usually order the 600 ml beer, and get it in these little insulators to keep the beer ice cold. A small glass is brought to your table, just big enough for a couple of shots. Can't give that beer time to get warm!
Minas Gerais is the biggest and best cachaça producing state, always expect a good selection from people from Minas Gerais, or mineiros, as they are called in Brasil.
I started off with a Serramalte beer, from the state of Rio Grade do Sul, southern Brazil. It is a nice pilsener style of beer that clicks in at 5.5% alcohol, right up my alley. Saliboa cachaça and Serramalte beer. And,cachaça ! I engage in a 24/7 cachaça crawl anytime I'm in Brazil, and when you get to try a cachaça from Salinas, kind of like the Pauillac of cachaça's Bordeaux, the state of Minas Gerais, never hesitate.
Cachaça Saliboa is aged for 3 years in ipé-amarelo barrels,trumpet trees, is made by the producers of Boazinha and Seleta, with a proof of 91. Is is smooth, elegant, and a must for cachaça lovers.
But, what about the rooster's balls? "Oh, that's two blocks away."
So I scooted or rather, weaved my way to the original Valadares to the familiarity of a Bohemia beer fridge, always a temperature reading on the outside. One degree less and we're going somewhere else man!
In a boteco, you must be armed with hours of conversation, and an appetite to last the duration. The petiscos better be good too. There's stiff competition amongst the botecos.
The cold bites? Cheeses, or course there are cheeses from Minas, olives, choriços,hearts of palm, and cashew nuts. There are typical lunches, sanwiches, salgados(savories), bread from Minas Gerais, the ubiquitous frango a passarinho(Brazil's answer to buffalo wings), and linguiça plates.
The original Valadares has an even bigger cachaça selection too.Cachaca Lua Nova, my second cachaca of the half hour, is aged for two years in indigenous amburana wood. It is a lighter shade of yellow. The variety of woods used to age cachaça give the beverage a pleasurable range of flavors.
Also very popular in Sao Paulo, and all over Brasil for that matter, are caipirinhas,little country girls. Caipirinhas are technically only made with muddled lime,cachaça, and sugar, but in Sao Paulo, they will sometimes ask if you want a caipirinha with other fruits, in this case, kiwi. It's muddled just like a caipirinha, and not blended like a batida.This caipirinha with kiwi was so refreshing, made with fresh fruit.
I was getting pretty looped about now, and still had my best meal of 2009 to go, which entailed even more drinking. Bebado!(drunk)There was a cute girl walking from table to table with a back pack selling pirate DVD's of porn right about now. I talked with her a bit, she had a pretty good hustle, and was doing some business.Only in Brazil.
And now for the exotics!Testiculos de boi(bull's testicles) seem harmless enough here. They look like chicken nuggets. A squirt of lime and a spritz of malagueta chili pepper oil atop the bull's pride and away we go. They have a livery taste, but definitely a richer flavor.Very tasty.Mineiros know how to cook and have one of the top cuisines in regional Brazilian cooking.
The frog milanesa, milanesa de rã,is a strange looking dish. It's a whole breaded frog,sans head.It's a beheaded frog, but I think it's kinda cute myself.Expert frying makes this a fine bite of frog, there's a little work getting at the torso meat, but well worth the effort. You can also get whole quail here at Valadares and breaded rooster's balls.
Another thing about rã. In portuguese, an r at the beginning of a word has an h sound, so, you get to order HAAAAAAA!"Please, could I have the HAAAAAAAAA!?", said in a congested sounding portuguese>
If that's not your sort of thing, this bar has mostly straight forward Brazilian pub fare, and the kitchen and staff are very friendly.
When I talked with fry man Jose Serat da Silva, and complimented him on the bull's testicles, he said I should try the rooster's, they're even better.There wasn't much else to say after that. And, I'm certainly kicking myself at this moment that I didn't get half and half. No, not left and right, but rooster's and bull's, although that might be a little embarrassing for the rooster.
Rua Faustolo 463
São Paulo - SP