Gourmet Latino Festival
This past Sunday I was invited to “Feel the Spirit of Brazil” at the Gourmet Latino Festival’s cachaça tasting seminar led by The Brazilian Kitchen’s Leticia Moreinos Schwartz and Olie Berlic. I have to admit that I was mostly looking forward to the petiscos: pão de queijo (cheese rolls), biscoito povilho (yucca sticks), croquette de carne (meat croquettes), and brigadeiros (chocolate fudge truffles) but there was more.
Welcomed with a traditional caipirinha followed by spiced batida de maracuja, I was content to stick with the cocktails where the fiery cachaça could be balanced with sugar and lime or passion fruit and habanero chiles. The prospect of downing cachaça straight was a daunting, but that’s what the demure row of sample glass was there for and we soon moved on to the tasting.
Looking over a list of terms and point systems – clean, complex, bouquet, finish, charcoal, clarity, smoke, swish, sediment, taste, finish – was a little overwhelming. Starting with the soft Beleza Pura and sweet Ypioca, we ended with a Leblon that was pure light. Still it was the aged Fazenda Soledade where it all made sense. Warm and spicy, it was everything it should be then it was gone. I wish I’d taken better notes, but all I remember thinking is that this is why they’re called spirits.
Moving from one cachaça to another, the qualities of each could be more easily appreciated, and it occurred to me that that had been the primary purpose of the festival itself. Celebrating the diversity of Latin American gastronomy with seminars highlighting the foods, cocktails, wines and coffees, the richness and vibrancy of each country’s cuisine – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru among others – pulled the region into better focus. Coming at the end of a long weekend of seminars and special events at the Gourmet Latino Festival, they were running a little late but a 10 minutes delay did not seem terrible for an event that was a long time coming. If you missed it, there’s still a chance to take advantage of the special menu participating chef have created for the festival’s Authentic Dining Week which kicks off today and runs through June 12th.