DAY 1: Cervejas + Pastel
After a long trip NEW YORK > TORONTO > SAO PAULO via AirCanada (because that shit was way cheaper than the others), I finally arrived in Brasil! Ready for 2 weeks with one of my best friends. I met Natalia de Souza Pereira in 2006 when we worked together on the Queen Mary 2 cruiseship. She's a photography professor at a college in SP. This is my 4th trip to visit her in Brasil and every time I go crazy for the wonderful food, the sweet people, the wild beaches and teeny bikinis, the generous hospitality of Natalia's family and friends, and the warm sun on my face.
First things first, straight from the airport we went into the city for cervejas and pastel. With a big cold bottle of Antarctica Cerveja Original, two plastic cups and a mixed platter of pastel: we were ready to start carnaval! I was on vacation and Natalia's work week was done!
Brasilian pastel are savory fried pastries stuffed with cheese, palmito, ground meat and sometimes pizza flavor with tomato and cheese. They make these perfect envelopes with a flat pastry dough and fry them in soybean oil. Pastel are served from carts in the street, at open-air food markets, in bars and some restaurants. Since pastel are always freshly fried, the flakey crust gets nice and bubbly on the outside with a piping hot inside. The secret is to bite off a little piece of the corner to let the hot air out of the pocket. My favorite one is the palmito - filled with hearts of palm; a typical ingredient in Brasilian cooking.