Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where should we eat Wednesday? Goiania

When some friends asked us to join them for Japanese food in Goiania  I wondered what we would find.  Would it be Brazilianized Japanese?  But how would that be?  Intrigued we decided to join them one evening.

Down a regular residential street lies a home that has been transformed into a quaint Japanese Restaurant called Himitsu.  We may have missed it if it had not been for the parking attendant and the few cars parked outside the front gate.  Well,  our friend who had eaten there before was along with us so I could be exaggerating a little.

As we walked through the door into what used to be the front yard.  I was please by our surroundings as the waterfall feature added great atmosphere and it looked as if we were in store for an upscale dining experience. For me I prefer upscale when eating sushi, it just makes me more comfortable. The wait staff were dressed with Japanese headgear and led us to the back air conditioned room where we were seated at a table draped in black linen.   I notice a couple of spots on the linen but the rest of the place looks nice so I decide to ignore this minor detail for now.

Overall the wait staff was attentive and the menu is on an iPad which makes ordering sushi easy.  After they showed us how to place our order using the iPad the waiters go about their business of attending to the other guests.  We simply order what we want and soon they bring it from the kitchen.  Our friend who had ate here before suggests that we order the Japanesa festival for adults so we follow her suggestion.  The costs seems a little on the high end but we are in Brazil and if I convert it to dollars it really is not that bad for sushi.

Soon our first wave of food, a plate of bite size  morsels arrives. Cheese filled egg roles, flavored broccoli, fried shrimp,  just to name a few of the items on the plate.  This is followed by a beautiful plate of sushi which comes automatically with the Japanesa festival.   All the tastes are wonderful as we share the platter and afterwards order a couple more things.  The service is excellent and the only glitch for us was we did not understand how the ordering worked.  If you get the Japonesa festival you can order many more items from the menu without any additional cost.  Had we known this we would have ate a little bit more but then again maybe it was good we didn't know it.

The food was so good, we ended up going there as second time and enjoyed the experience as much as the first visit.  Definitely a nice place to eat if you are looking for sushi in Goiania.

Himitsu Culinaria Japonesa e Contemporanea
Rua Dublim N 122 Jd Europa
62 3251-3597


Monday, March 25, 2013

Continuing Education??? part 2

OK,  so a quick review on the last post and if you have not read it yet,  I suggest you do so before continuing with this read.  *click here*  I was invited to tag along with some students and faculty from the agronomy department of a couple of community colleges in northeast Iowa who are visiting Goiania.  I of course said yes and had a wonderful day as we toured the Federal University of Brazil's Ag department and a rice research center here in Goiania before we explored the the central market and a little of the city.  At the end of the day they invited me to join them for dinner and a "foteball" game and that is where we left of on the last post.
Since the time was short in between our arrival and departure at the hotel, I decided to hang out  instead of heading home.  One of the college professors (Dan) and I decided to take a quick walk to kill the hour so we headed south on the Avenida Republica Do Libano with it enormous palm trees down the middle.  The sun was hot but fortunately there is a lot of shade on our journey today.  Dan is a horticulturalist and since I used to work with plants for an interior plantscape company,  we talked quite a bit about plants and flowers.  We are both amazed at the plants that grow here that we use for indoor plants back in the USA.  It is amazing to see just how large they get here in their natural habitat.  Trees like ficus, lyrata, and rubber plants just to name a few.  And the flowers,  yes the flowers,  the kind that grow wild here like orchids and ginger or the many varieties we have never seen below.  I think he was impressed with how much I knew about plant material and I truly enjoyed talking with someone who appreciated it on a different level.  Our walk takes us to the Parque Aim Tamandare a few blocks away.  The group had gone to the sun moon fair here a couple nights ago so we talked about that a bit and just how different the square was during the day.  I point out a few of the well known places that line the park.  When we get to the far side of the park he asks about all the guys laying in wait with buckets and rags.  I explain they are waiting for the next  dirty car to pull in for a true hand car wash. Goiania provides water to these entrepreneurs who set up shop to make money.  This is a service provided in several parks throughout the city.  It is a nice afternoon and there are so many trees and flowers to show, but time runs out and soon we head back to the hotel.
Everyone loads onto the bus for the evenings activities with first stop being dinner.  After a short ride we pull into a McDonalds parking lot.  This is a little bit of a let down for me as I thought the plan was to eat at Flamboyant Mall and if you know me you know how little I like McDonalds.  But I am a guest this evening and we are probably saving time by eating here. The leaders of the group head to the mall next door to purchase tickets for a future days activity.  They leave Maria (another new Brazilian friend) and myself to help the students get their dinner ordered.  Well,  Maria started helping them out as they all formed a single line at one of the cashiers. When the last customer in the other line ordered I decided to break away and help one of
the students order  but a McDonalds employee tried to herd us back into line until I explained to her I spoke a little Portuguese.  She let us continue to the cashier with no line and soon I was assisting more students with their orders.  It was really easy enough as many of the items are in English like chicken bacon or bacon cheese.  The students only needed help if they didn't want something like tomatoes or onions on their sandwich.  Thanks to my experience ordering at Subway close to home,  I had all the sandwich terms down pat.  They also welcomed my help in dealing with the Brazilian money exchange.   After everyone was finished I ordered my big mac and sat down to eat with the Maria and Dan.
The stadium is only a few blocks away and soon the bus arrives and we all exit.  It is a fairly cool evening and by this time it is pretty dark.  The other foteball game I attended was an afternoon game so I am curious about this experience.  Several of the students purchase jerseys for the local Goias team and then we head into the stadium and find our seats.  The group sits on the family friendly side which will be an interesting difference as well.   The seats in the stadium begin to fill until about 1/3 are full.   The crowd on the other side begin their usual jumping and chanting.  Tonight Goias is playing Anapolis in a regular season game.
As we sit waiting for the game to start I realize I know little about this team getting my support for the second time so I must find out a little about them.  This team Goias, of Emerald and white is one of the largest foteball clubs in west-central Brazil.  It was formed in 1943 and has a long history with the city of Goiania.  Its accomplishments include taking first place in series B in 1999 and 2014 as well as 23 state and 3 regional championships over the years.   They play most of their home games in a smaller stadium which accommodates around 10,000 fans but tonight like the previous game I went to watch them play is at Estadio Serra Dourada Stadium which can seat five times the number of fans.  (thanks wiki)
Well this brings us back to this evening and the game is played in front of a fairly small crowd. The rowdy section across the way is still loud and don't stop jumping around for at least the first half.  I have to admit I find myself wishing I was over there with them as it was such a different experience.  You feel the passion of Brazilian foteball.  For tonight I will have to be satisfied with the excitement generated as Goias is awarded a penalty kick and scores a goal.  Pretty cool as this is my first experience of Goias scoring and it is followed by two more goals in the second half as Goias wins 3 to 0.  The clock winds down and the referee signals the end of the game.  It is time to head back to the bus and say goodnight for the evening.  As we travel back to the hotel where my ride home awaits I am invited to join the group the rest of the week.  We will have to see how that all plays out.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Continuing Education ??

Yesterday I had the privilege to spend some time with a few students and faculty from Kirkwood Community College and Hawkeye Community College in northeast Iowa.  The group is here on their spring break on an exchange program with the Ag department at the Federal University of Brazil.   Thanks to Luiz,  I had been invited to tag along on a field trip of sorts by the leader Juarez.  I was not sure what to expect of the day, but my life is about the experience so at least I will meet some new people with Iowa being our common ground.  I throw on my backpack and feeling like a little kid going to school for the first time,  I head for the car.
We arrive at the university and wait as they are obviously on Brazil time,  but soon the bus pulls up. Juarez greets me and I get on the bus.  The back is full of the Iowa students and faculty which I am quickly introduced to by Juarez and I grab an empty seat.   In his introduction Juarez states I am from Iowa also which sparks a little get to know you time as we begin our journey.  First stop was the Embrapa which is the equivalency to the US Ag Research Services in the states.  Today's tour was that of the rice and bean development facility located on the campus.  It began with a informative lecture style presentation that talked about rice production and what part rice plays in everyday life of Brazil.  I already knew it was the stable starch for the country but really knew little about how and where it is grown.  Since it is such a staple in Brazil, the university
spends a lot of research time on what is called upland rice.  Since traditional rice is grown in wet, irrigated areas,  the upland rice does not require these conditions.  It can be produced on non irrigated land cutting the cost of production by reducing the need for water.   They continue to look for way to make the crops more drought and disease resistant. After our educational lecture, we toured the rest of research facilities which houses many different labs. The labs are used to study rice and beans.  My favorite part was in the bean and rice recipe development area.  Here they work on different ways to use rice and beans in recipes to create different foods.  As the students went into a small room to look closer as a testing areas while I stayed back and tried out my limited Portuguese.  (yes I am still frustrated with how slow this language learning is going for
me)  In the testing kitchen there was a Brazilian lady making brownies out of peanuts and beans.  We talked a little and she went on to show me a recipe book with all kinds of recipes developed in this kitchen using beans and rice.  I was amazed at all the different foods made and they all looked so good.  Brownies and brigadeiro made from beans, pao de queijo (cheese bread) and cookies made from rice,  all with delicious photos that jumped off the page and made my mouth water.  I was happy to find out they had the cookbook available for purchase and went ahead and got one.  Now I just need to do a little translating and give the recipes a try.  I will let you know how it turns out.  As all good things must end,  the students came back from the testing room and we headed onward to different research areas.  I actually enjoyed watching the students get involved in conversations about what they were seeing.  Several of them were obviously
heading into the right career path.   Soon it was time to head back to the bus and after a short drive we turned into a field which ended up being test plots of rice.  The bus stopped about 200 meters from a mango tree where an easel was sitting in its shade. Here two people from the university spoke about experimental tillage programs currently being studied in these plots and a little about the soil in Brazil.  During the presentation I looked around an realized I was surrounded by rice fields. This was the first time I had ever been in a rice field, hmmm another new experience.  It was getting close to lunch so after a short walk around the field we headed back to the bus.

Once everyone was on the bus,  we headed back to the main agricultural campus for lunch in the cafeteria.  I had eaten here with Luiz before so I finally knew what to expect of the day.  After lunch we took a walking tour of the main agricultural campus stopping for a brief presentation about coffee roasting and watching a guy roast a batch of coffee beans.  The university used to purchase coffee from stores for the dark brown drink, but they
were spending a lot of money.  They decided to cut that cost by investing in a coffee roaster and now they process their own beans.  Transported from the southern part of the Goias (the state in Brazil where Goiania is located and the capital of) it is a great way to support the local economy, save money, and provide the employees a good fresh product.   Not to mention a smaller footprint for you "green" loving people.  After the demonstration we continued our tour and took a look at the different things being studied in the greenhouses and throughout the rest of the campus.  Once Juarez was finished with the tour it was time to head back on the bus and head into town.  On our way we made a quick stop to enjoy a small courtyard in another part of the University's campus.  In the quaint courtyard surrounded by classroom a clan of monkeys have made the university their home.  Of course since the rest of
 the group was from Iowa and you would not find a monkey outside a zoo there,  I think this was a nice stop for them and the monkeys most definitely put on a show.  This was our last stop on this campus and soon the bus drove us into into the city for a quick tour of the universities campus located in the central part of Goiania.  Not far from this campus is the central market and that was our next stop. I was excited as we entered the market and the first vendor had cajamanga for sale.  I had been talking about my favorite fruit some earlier in the day and the vendor allowed us a sample of the delicious fruit along with some passion fruit. This was the highlight of my afternoon for sure.  Towards the end of our market visit I had a couple more opportunities to practice my Portuguese.  A couple of the students asked me to help
them purchase some items in the market.  Of course I had to say yes and jump at the opportunity to practice.  I think I did alright as I deterred one student from getting a bottle of cachaca which was quite expensive at R$15,00 and I helped another one pay R$5,00 instead of the R$6,00 the vendor was originally asking for.  Not to mention helping a couple others find the price for a banana and a souvenir for someone back home.    The second opportunity came as we waited for the bus. A couple of Brazilian teenagers came up and started talking in broken English to the students so I said hello in Portuguese.  They wanted to know how to ask the students things like where they are from,  what they are doing
in Brazil, and how long will they stay.  I am sure I did not understand word for word what they wanted or respond with 100% accuracy  but in the end we both got what we wanted from the communication. At least I did and  I think they did as well.  The conversation came to an end as time came to load back onto the bus and head for their hotel.  The Iowans had invited me to join them for the evening as they headed to a foteball game.   Of course after a quick check to make sure I had a way home, I said yes.  (to be continued...)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scenic Sunday - Parque Areião

Goiania is filled with so many parks and green spaces for its residences to enjoy.  I have read that it is the second "greenest" city in the world although I have not been able to find official proof of this claim. 
 This weeks Scenic Sunday is a little video taken at one of the many parks - Parque Areião - Enjoy

or click on this link to watch the video:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Everyday life in Brazil - The dinner party

 Since I have been in Goiania many of my friends here have asked when I was going cook for them.  I am used to hosting dinner parties but I am not sure I have what I need to prepare what I want to serve here in Brazil.   And then again,  what would I serve? I thought long and hard as it would have to be something from scratch and not that I wouldn't cook from scratch in the US if I invited friends over.  After 2 1/2 years,  I finally decided to set the date for Sunday and invited a hand full of friends over.   
The grocery store ...  - So it is the Friday before and a menu of american lasagna, salad, and peach crisp with ice cream is set. Lasagna because it can be prepared ahead and since there is no extra room in the kitchen for friends to sit around and talk while I cook it seemed appropriate and "american" lasagna because Brazilians make their lasagna quite different then I do.  Off to get the ingredients needed - fresh tomatoes, oregano,  basil,  carrots, and garlic.  All products I have seen here in the grocery store previously but this time I am looking for fresh.   I find most of the ingredients easily and head to the herb section where we find something that smells like basil but surely does not look like what I would call basil.  After asking around and

talking to three grocery store workers we get confirmation that this strange looking leafed green is indeed basil so I grab a bunch and put it in the cart.  I soon find all the other ingredients for the sauce, however I am a little disappointed that there is no fresh oregano to be found today.  I guess I will have to make do with dried, a small detour to my wishes.  I decide the dried oregano will be fine as I plan on making the sauce tonight and let it set a couple of days. 
Now on to the meat for the sauce.  I always make lasagna with some ground beef and Italian sausage mixed so we head to the meat counter where they grind some beef for us but they don't have Italian sausage and at this grocery store they don't grind pork either (a possible substitute as I am not sure I will be able to find Italian sausage).  We will have to make a quick trip to one of the little butcher shops on the way home.  I finish collecting all the ingredients for the main course but at this point cannot find brown sugar so I hold off on the other ingredients for the dessert.  I have not seen brown sugar in stores and Luiz thinks we may be able to find it at the fair on Sunday. I'm just not sure it is the same "brown sugar" needed to make crisp.  I may have to rethink my menu and change the crisp to something else.  Peach crisp is so southern and apple crisp so northern U.S.A, it just seems like the perfect ending to the meal and it would be ashamed if I cannot figure out how to make it work.
We stop by a casa de carne (house of meat) but they don't have the Italian sausage I want either so I will have to make do with ground pork. It is getting dark so we head home so I can get started on preparing the sauce.  After I get the skin off the tomatoes,  I realize how late it is and since no Italian sausage could be found I decide to prepare the tomatoes, dice the onions,  mince the garlic and grade the carrots so it is all ready to put together in the morning to make the sauce.  I do a quick internet search for Italian sausage which comes up with several options but they require ingredients we do not have.  Maybe we can go find them tomorrow so I finish my prepping with grading the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and head to bed.    

 Saturday comes and I take a moment shortly after the sunrises to continue my internet search for Italian sausage and find a recipe that looks easy enough.  I just need fennel, paprika and some red wine vinegar which hopefully we will be able to find. My cooking gets put on hold as as we have plans to spend the afternoon eating feijoada with some friends at the chacra (shakra - small farm), one of my favorite Saturday afternoon activities.  On the way home we stop at three markets to look for brown sugar and the ingredients needed for Italian sausage.  At the specialty store, our third stop, they have all kinds of herbs and we find the paprika quickly but I forgot to translate fennel from English and we are not able to figure it out.   After looking around a bit and getting frustrated, I realize all I need to do is call a friend and have them translate on the internet.  Erva Doce/Sweet herb - it ended up being right in front of us,  how easy was that and we save ourselves a trip to another grocery store.  I find the rest of the ingredients for the Italian Sausage but still no brown sugar.  After the third strike I make the decision to do something else or maybe have no dessert at all.  I am glad we exhausted this quest but it is time to move on.   
Upon getting home in the early evening I begin the final preparations for the lasagna.  The Italian sausage come out good and is added along with the ground beef to the tomato sauce filled with the onions, garlic, oregano, basil, carrots, salt and pepper.  It is set to simmer a while as I prepare the noodles.  Since I am not sure how great our little portable oven is,  I decide to fully cook the noodles so the lasagna just needs to fully heat through tomorrow. 
Layer after layer the pan of lasagna comes together and soon it is finished and ready for the fridge and by this time I am ready for sleep as well.  OH, I did look up a substitute for brown sugar and found it is 1 American cup sugar to 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses.    As I lay my head on my pillow I hope we can find all the ingredients for the crisp at the market in the morning.  
Sunday morning is here and we head off for salad greens and the ingredients for the dessert at the street fair.  Peaches, (check) apples (check), molasses (check), sugar (check) oatmeal (check) and the rest we have at home. YEAH we will have dessert!  Since Brazilians love rice with lasagna we decide to add that to the menu and stop at another market for bread, rice, and ice cream.  Finished with our shopping we head back home to finalize the preparations. I peal and slice the peaches and apples mixing in a little flower and sugar.  The fruits are spread on the bottom of the baking dish and dry ingredients are mixed in a large bowl.  I cut in the butter and molasses in and layer the crisp on top of the fruit.  It is ready to bake.  All that is left is the final tidying of the house and waiting for our first guests to arrive.   

The house is soon filled with conversation in Portuguese (another great study lab for me) and laughter by friends.  I am told by a couple of my friends that they can tell I have been working on my Portuguese which is encouraging.  The lasagna goes in the oven,  Caesar dressing and Parmesan cheese are added to the salad greens, and our friend Marcos volunteers to make the rice.  (yeah - not my strong point in cooking but afterwards I realized I should have watched and learned how to cook rice from an expert).  Soon, all is ready and everyone begins to eat.  They love the Caesar salad as I brought a bottle of the dressing with me when I came.  The local Caesar dressing is quite different then that in the US so an excellent start to the meal.  Then on to the lasagna which receives high praise.  I think the most common comment is that it is sweet.  Brazilian 
lasagna like other Brazilian food is quite salty.  With the carrots, basil and oregano in the right formula,  the sauce becomes more on the sweet side. We all enjoy the food and soon it is time for dessert.  The apply peach crisp is removed from the oven and served warm with a touch of vanilla ice cream.  The pan is soon empty and cleaning up is all that is left.  I have to say,  although there were a few twists and turns, the meal turned out wonderful an I am glad I could share it with my friends.  I enjoyed cooking for them in this country where I have to rely on my street smarts to get what I want. 

 Message me if you are interested in the recipes for dave's lasagna or apple/peach crisp I be happy to share.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where should we eat Wednesday? Minieros

Pit Dogs Stands(pronounced PITCH DOGS) are all the rave in Goias Brazil.  It seems like there is a kiosk in every park and on every other corner in the cities and small towns.  A pit dog is a chicken or hamburger patty on a but filled with toppings.  Recently a place for these sandwiches opened in Mineiros call XUXU's Burger so we had to go check it out.

The Review:

The first evening we headed in this direction the place was packed and so we opted for another small burger place in town but our second attempt found is quiet with only a hand full of customers.
First impression was that it is new, clean and they have plenty of wait staff.  Five or six of them hanging out at the front counter.  Our waiter seemed a little inexperienced and took several trips to the table to settle us in with menus, silverware, and all the necessary items to enjoy the experience.  The menu consists of the traditional sandwiches and a few plates as well.  I order a x salada and wanted to share some fries but they do not have offer single orders of french fries although there is a photo of fries on the menu.  We hang out have a beer and after a short wait the food comes.  Our waiter receives little help from the other staff watching soccer at the counter.  If they would have pitch in it could have been delivered in one trip verses the five trips it took him.  We were a good size party and a little assistance would have been good for the reputation of the new restaurant.  The sandwich itself was good with all the toppings seemingly fresh and piled on.  One of the friends eating with us had ordered a plate of food which comes with chicken, rice and french fries.  (ah that is why it is in the picture on the menu).   It seems like they are missing out on some revenue not allowing us to order an individual order of fries.  They could have increased our ticket by some R$30,00.   But, this is just my observation and opinion.  Other then that price point was good and as we leave the small restaurant I think how I am glad we were not there when it was busy because I can only imagine what the service would have been like.

I could not find it listed on the internet and there is no website for it yet.  If you find yourself in Mineiros - just ask - the city is still small enough most people hear by word of mouth when a new restaurant opens although I do think there are better places to enjoy these delicious sandwiches in town.