By Ted Henwood Photos courtesy of Leblon
A last-minute email inspired me to purchase a ticket to the inaugural Gourmet Latino Festival that kicked off June in New York, offering a slew of experiences in Latin-inspired foodie-fun. Over the course of the weekend long festival 40 gifted chefs and a horde of highly regarded drink-makers huddled together to celebrate the culture and gastronomy of Latin America. Levantameurtos (awaken the dead) Foods & Cocktails, a brunch celebrating regional Mexican dishes paired with morning cocktails, was my first choice (morning drinks — right on). It was such a delight that it inspired me to stick around and poke my greedy snout into the next room for a tasting seminar on Brazilian food and cocktails.
Upon entering, my nose was struck by the wafting scent of culinary delights that author and chef Leticia Moreino-Schwartz had created to entice us. The most amazing was her Pão de Queijo, which I might shamefully describe as a cheesy, delicate, chewy, non-greasy, tiny-and-cute Hushpuppy. An apparent staple in Brazil, this little bun has been obviously perfected by her.
The seminar commenced with speaker Olie Berlic, the un-official Ambassador of Brazilian Rum, as he fired on all cylinders raging about his favorite white liquor. His commitment to leave a permanent impression and convert many to his devotion for this Latin spirit was truly infectious.
And thus, armed with Olie’s inspired spiel and a belly full Leticia’s Pão de Queijo, I now stand ready to talk Brazilian Rum…and what first must be declared: Brazilian rum does not exist!
Ok, “Brazilian Rum” exists, but merely as a legal term created by the American government to categorize a South American spirit. Well, maybe another government somewhere on our globe makes the same gaffe, but, according to Olie, Brazilian Rum does not exist in Brazil. Why? Because in South America’s largest country (and the only Portuguese speaking country in all the Americas) the spirit that is distilled purely from the fermented juice of fresh pressed cane is called — Cachaça!
And Brazil loves its Cachaça. Loves it so darn much, that it ranks Continue Reading…