Our charming and good looking maître d’ swirling the wine in the glass to get rid of any lingering smell from the wash.
The buffet at Bodega Catena Zapata was huge but there was only one dish I was really interested in and that was the pork shank stew served with creamed corn. It was so good that I asked lovely Karina which chef was responsible for it — we were at the Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine in Mendoza to which Karina had invited me — and she immediately introduced me to Janaina Rueda, a delightful young Brazilian chef who has a bar/restaurant in Sao Paulo where I went recently with the inimitable Luiz Horta. Janaina’s food is simple hearty Brazilian home cooking but presented elegantly and our delicious degustation menu started with scrumptious pastels and a very pretty 3 lemon caipirinha, both great Brazilian classics.
There are between 7 and 10 million Lebanese and Syrians in Brazil. And about 4 million of them are in Sao Paolo alone. As a result, Lebanese food is very familiar to Brazilians and specialities like sfiha (a term that covers both manaqish and fatayer) and kibbe have become part of the national culinary repertoire. And of course there are Lebanese restaurants galore. Some are good and some not so. I have now tried three and each is good in its own way even if they serve a different cuisine from the one I was brought up with. I guess it is because they have been in Brazil for several generations; and despite having preserved their culinary repertoire, serving unusual dishes like shish barak which is not normally found on restaurant menus, they have adapted and changed them slightly. A few days ago, I was taken by adorable Luiz Henrique Ligabue to Casa Garabed which loved, particularly the fact that it is in the garage and one bedroom of the owner’s home giving the restaurant a rather unusual feel: part bistrot and part home dining.
Today is the official opening of Mark’s Tramshed, a fabulous space and fortunately just round the corner from where I live. I ate there yesterday. Very simple menu: a starter made of three different dishes (love the idea of the yorkshire pudding with chicken liver mousse) followed by roast chicken or steak served with French fries and a small selection of puddings. I am trying the steak tomorrow and will probably have it on a regular basis after that. I love going out for a quick lunch on my own and I am lucky to have several lovely restaurants near me where I can do just that. Anyway, the Tramshed is a great addition to the neighbourhood. Beautiful room, cool diners (lots of local British artists — I spotted Julian Opie and Tracey Emin) and a lovely owner!
So, I went back to Dinings again for lunch today and I have to say it was not as perfect as yesterday. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was because my brother wasn’t so impressed. He prefers Defune and was slightly annoyed that we hadn’t gone there — he is a little bit of a traditionalist as far as Japanese food goes and we have been going to Defune for nearly 40 years. At least I have. He came to London a few years after me. Anyhow, we still enjoyed our lunch and I will definitely go back although not in a hurry as it is not quite the cheapest place in town. Here are a few snaps of what we ate. Yet again, I failed to snap my toro hand roll. I am always in a hurry to eat these before the nori goes soggy. I will make sure to snap it next time!