Cafe Con Leche's second Sobremesa dinner set out to see what it tastes like when Puerto Rico and Brazil meet in the kitchen. We partnered with Feijoada To Go to bring together the flavors of the Caribbean and South America and it was a hit! While listening to the sounds of Brazil performed by Vera Hite and Gabriel Melo, What we found was that mixing the flavors of the two was not only pretty tasty but also not so hard to do since ingredients and flavors were similar.
Appetizer + Cocktails
We served fried yucca and tostones (fried green plantain chips) with cilantro chimichurri sauce. Fried yucca is very common in Brazil and Puerto Rico, tostones are a staple for almost any Puerto Rican meal. As for cocktails...well we both love coquito (Puerto Rican coconut egg nog) and caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça, lime and sugar) and we wanted everyone to have a good time and become friends, so we served both kinds of cocktails. I think our guests really enjoyed that decision because they sure did drink a lot of both of those cocktails.
The entree became a little more tricky - Puerto Ricans and Brazilians do eat a lot of rice and beans, however nothing (in my opinion) holds a candle to the Brazilian national dish: Feijoada (black bean and pork stew). This dish is sacred and there is really nothing you can do to it because it is just so perfect as it is. So there was no question that it would be served in the style and with the flavors it was meant to be served with. Same for the collard greens (Brazilian style). Sacred. However, for the farofa (yucca flour browned and mean to be sprinkled over the black beans and collard greens), you can get creative and add extra ingredients. So we added small pieces of plantains (because Puerto Ricans eat plantains with everything and prepared in every way) then browned them with the yucca flour along with carrots and corn to make plantain farofa. And of course no feijoada meal is complete without fresh sliced oranges. Because what does oranges not make better? For the vegetarians in the house we made a special vegetable feijoada without any pork and using Puerto Rican sofrito as the flavor base.
Another national food treasure of Brazil is brigadeiro. Which is basically the most genius way to eat leche condensada (sweet condensed milk) buy cooking it with butter. Traditionally you add chocolate powder to this amazing mixture. However, we found this recipe of caipirinha brigadeiro (which is basically the best the dessert - equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter. Or weed and brownies. Or whatever your two guilty pleasures are mixed in one deliciously rich dessert). So of course that was absolutely going on the dessert menu. To represent Puerto Rico in the dessert part of the meal with made brigadeiro with rum and coconut flakes (because coconut is also a big deal in Puerto Rican dessert cooking).
Cafe Con Leche Latino Resident Artists
The guests of honor were Cafe Con Leche's April Latino Resident artists - Greg Garay + Nicole Olivieri. You can learn more about them by clicking here and reading their bios. Nicole did a reading about growing up in Puerto Rico, the current economic crisis on the island and sharing her journey from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania in search of opportunity. Her art work will be on display in the main gallery of Most Wanted Fine Art. Greg spoke to the guests and shared his experiences of coming from NYC to Pittsburgh, becoming an emerging artist and making connections in a new city. His art work will be on display in his basement studio in Most Wanted Fine Art through May.
Join us at the next Unblurred on May 6th from 7 to 10pm at Most Wanted Fine, 5015 Penn Ave., to welcome out May Resident Artists: Hoesy Corona from Baltimore, Jason Mendez from Pittsburgh and Greg Garay will continue his residency. Learn more about each artist by clicking here to read their bios.
For our May Sobremesa we will be celebrating one of the best culinary exports from Puerto Rico - MOFONGO! Mofongo is made from fried green plantains (tostones) mashed with olive oil and garlic. We promise you, once you eat mofongo you will become a devoted fan for life. There is a Sobremesa ticket special - TWO TICKETS FOR $100 - available until May 6th. Purchase your tickets by clicking here. Sobremesa dinners ALWAYS sell out, make sure you buy your tickets today! If you have any questions please email Cafe Con Leche at firstname.lastname@example.org.