Jul 7, 2010

D.O.M. Restaurant by Chef Alex Atala in São Paulo, Brazil

Brazilian Cuisine is not yet that widely known and appreciated around the world. It's getting more and more recognized with globalization, Brazilians living abroad and the greater interest for Brazil as an economy, emerging market... For those who have experienced it, the most common dishes are churrasco (Brazilian bbq), feijoada (black beans with pork & sausage), caipirinha (alcoholic drink made with lime, sugar and cachaça), pâo de queijo (baked cheese bread). 

The local staple food is rice and beans, but specialized local cuisine is very common. Each region learned to adapt its cuisine to the climate, people's needs and ingredients available; a diverse number of cuisines contributed for what is now known as Brazilian cuisine. As an immigrant country, each of the immigration group brought into play their own cuisine and adapted to local ingredients.

It's interesting to see that in the Northeast cuisine, they use spicy peppers, coconut milk, palm oil in a lot of ways similar to what is done in Southeast Asia, specially Thailand, where the weather and local resources are similar. The South has plenty of European influences, more specifically Italian and German cuisines. The weather resembles certain European countries and the more used staple food is the potato and wheat. African influences can be found in the Northeast and also with greater impact in the Southeast. For instance, black beans, okra and collard greens are examples of African food that got incorporated to the comida mineira (Minas Gerais State cuisine). 

Chef Alex Atala created D.O.M. in São Paulo, to offer modern Brazilian cuisine in a classy atmosphere. Most of Brazilians wouldn't recognized the dishes, neither the prices, as it's an expensive experience for most of the population. 

Still, the cuisine is imaginatively creative, using Brazilian ingredients in a non-traditional way. The restaurant is part of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World ; being the only South American representative and grabbing the 18th position with applause. 

The Chef became recognized for the use of native Brazilian ingredients, specially the ones came from Central and North parts of the country. Those ingredients, for example, the pupunha palm, are rare to most of the population and not everybody knows how to prepare it. The great art of this restaurant and the Chef is recreating and reinventing Brazilian cuisine. 

We were able to taste beautiful pupunha palm pasta, which very much look like a traditional spaghetti with gorgeous tiger shrimps, both cooked to perfection. In the U.S., the spaghetti squash was the closest example I experienced of pasta made from a vegetable. The texture of the pupunha pasta, however, is very similar to a wheat one combined with a lighter feel to it.

The modern cuisine inspired by Catalan Spanish Chef Ferrian Adria brought food engineering skills into fine cuisine. Foams, textures, nitrogen treatments were introduced to high-end modern cuisine in a beautiful way. The result is a blend of sensations that you can feel with all the senses. Visually the presentation is also incredible, the palate and aroma are quite often excelled to bring a gorgeous pleasant feeling. 

Inspired by that, Chef Atala created a local cheese foam with eggs and - as it was described to us - Brazilian truffles (shaved Brazilian nuts). The result is magnificent. The foam is so light and reach in flavor!

Indeed, the Art of Savouring had all the senses used in this dinner service. Not only the foam, flavors, ingredients, but the presentation contributed a lot. Cassava puree with great combination of cheeses made the texture so viscous. It was delivered just in time to incorporate also the air into the dish. Incredible! 

Last but not least, desserts! Banana, chocolate, Brazilian passion fruit, among other ingredients were appealing blended to offer a colorful palate sensation.

D.O.M. was an exclusive experience. It was the first time I tried Modern Brazilian cuisine and was very impressed with what one could do with great ingredients and innovative skills. The ambiance was calm, service was very informative, kind and friendly. Noise level was low, but the place wasn't that busy either. Price tag for Brazilian standards was indeed elevated, but compared to world-class restaurants in NYC and Europe, was reasonable. If you have a chance to try it, go savour D.O.M., it's worth it. 

D.O.M Info:
(their page is under construction as per today)
Price range: $$$$

1 comment:

brazillianrecipes said...

Hi Mr. Alex Atala I am Brazilian and I live in Florida. I like your blog. Very delicious recipes that you have. Congratulations for the blog.
Free Brazilian Recipes