I love this city. I love the brilliance, diversity and flavors that make Calgary, well, Calgary. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to experience Brazilian cuisine. I attended a Brazilian BBQ 101 event at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse. It was a great experience: learning about the basics of Brazilian food, eating expertly-prepared and exquisitely-plated dishes and indulging in some wonderful wines from around the world.
Start with Sparkling
The night started as any night should. With champagne! And Pao de Queijo, or cheese bread. The cheese bread was gluten-free, light and airy and made with a beautiful marriage of Asiago and Grana Padano cheese. I love bubbly and cheese, so this was the perfect way to start the night!
Champagne, of course, is a type of sparkling that comes from the Champagne region of France. It is made from only three grape varieties: pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay. However, champagne is the only wine that you can pair with any food and both the food and the wine will taste good. We were treated to a lovely glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne.
To kickoff the courses, owner and operator Oscar Lopez gave us the 101 on churrasco, or Brazilian BBQ. Churassco has a long history and is specific to the Pampa region. Here’s a little snippet of what I learned:
In Pampa, the residents are known as Gaúchos and are the cattle-herders of the region. Their history is integrated into the South American culture and folklore as legendary horse riders. Often out on the range, their diet consists primarily of meat. Historically, Gaúchos often used open-pit fires to cook their fresh meats on large wooden or metal skewers or stakes near the open flames.
The First Taste
The first course was a Lombo de Porco com pamersao, or Parmesan-crusted pork loin. It was served with a couple slices of grilled pineapple, annato-based béchamel sauce and a honey balsamic reduction. The dish was paired with an Opawa Pinot Gris from Australia. There were subtle hints of cinnamon in the wine, which complemented the cinnamon-dusted pineapple. The pork was perfectly cooked with incredible depths and nuances that sent me straight to Flavourtown!
Just a Little More
The second course was a bacon-wrapped chicken thigh, or Frango com bacon. Let me say that again: BACON. I needn’t say anymore. But I will. It was served with a house-made potato salad that, dare I say, rivaled my mom’s potato salad. Yeah, it was that good. Also, on the plate was a smudge of charcoal-roasted and puréed beets and a couple slices of watermelon pickles. I can’t even accurately describe watermelon pickles. You’ll just have to try them. The dish was paired with a Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG from Italy.
The best course was saved for last. We were treated to one of finest cuts of beef in Brazilian cuisine, Picanha. It is also known as Pampa’s signature beef rumpsteak. It was served with farofa (tapioca flour) and chimichurri. Instead of being served the entire dish right away, we were given plates of farofa and chimichurri, and the Gaúchos came around with spits of picanha to complete the dish. The picanha was truly the star of the dish. It was tender and tasty and paired well with the Luigi Bosca de Sangre from Argentina.
Wait! There’s More!
To finish off the evening, there was a little quiz. The prize: a 42-proof shot of deliciousness. Seriously, I can’t remember exactly what it was made of, but I know there were notes of vanilla and citrus, and it was poured from a bottle encased in a block of ice. Like what?!
Needless to say, the experience was great! I will be grabbing a few friends and coming back for the full dining experience.
So whether you are a churrasco veteran or virgin, I highly recommend Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse. You can’t go wrong with phenomenal food, attentive service and perfect ambiance.
They have two locations, one in Edmonton and Calgary. You can find the Calgary location at 521 10 Avenue SW.
They are also online, so go give them some love.
Facebook: Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse Calgary
A huge thank you to Pacific Wine & Spirits for providing all the wine for the evening. The knowledge, passion and care they put into wine was palpable.
XO | britt