Have You Tasted These Wines From Brazil?

When I received an invitation to taste the Wines of Brazil by the Brazilian Consulate in Atlanta, I was intrigued. Though I have traveled to Brazil three times, Brazilian wines have not really appeared in my radar as a food critic. Why was that? And what role does wine play in Brazilian cuisine? I wanted to find out.

Held at the famous Brazilian steakhouse chain, Fogo de Chao, the event was a gathering of many wine producers who had traveled from Brazil to talk about their products. There were half a dozen wine tasting stations, each represented by a producer pouring a few kinds of reds and whites.

Turns out that Brazil has a long history of producing wine, dating back to the middle of the 19th century. The real action started several decades later when Italian immigrants arrived and embarked on an ambitious plan. Their plan was ambitious out of necessity, since a wave of German immigration preceded the Italian immigration and the Germans predictably settled on the best available lands. In the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, this ended up meaning those lands closer to the coast.

The Italians had to march inland over the gentle slopes of red soils that reach to the Atlantic Ocean, onto the high plateaus and through the hills to found towns with names like Garibaldi and Nova Bassano. They settled into valleys named after homes left behind, like the Vale Trentino.

Brazil’s biggest representatives in the international market are sparkling wines of high quality and exceptional acidity and freshness. Produced through the Traditional or Charmat methods, they both tend to use mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

A typical meal of the Serra Gaúcha region still begins with Agnolotti en Brodo and generally includes polenta and some sort of roasted chicken or pig dish. Older people continue to speak Italian in the region. This vestigial Italian continues to be  widespread, particularly once you get out of the city and into the valleys that surround Bento Gonçalves, and it shapes the wines as much as it shapes the language.

So, what do Brazilian wines taste like? Most people would say they are young, easy drinking, table wines. Brazilian Muscats are most internationally recognizable. Light bodied and flavorful, these can be enjoyed outdoors while the men grill meat for hours and the rest of the families prepare plates of salads, fried yucca, rice and beans.

Among the red varieties, Merlot has been recognized by some experts as the one with the highest potential to represent Brazil in the international market.

The vineyard also talked about the emergence of wine tourism in Brazil. Many travelers head to neighboring Chile and Argentina for wine tasting tours and to stay at haciendas with local wineries. Brazil also offers beautiful landscapes, local cuisine and great tasting wines across the country. Here are some places to check out:

Vale dos Vinhedos

Named by the Wine Enthusiast magazine as one of the 10 best wine tourism destinations in the world, the Vale dos Vinhedos is filled with beautiful landscapes, great wine, plenty of great restaurants and places to simply relax. With around 200 thousand tourists each year, it has become a famous destination in Brazil.

Garibaldi

A city that specializes in the production of sparkling wines and features a sparkling wine tour route. Around 90 thousand yearly visitors come and check the local attractions.

Pinto Bandeira

Besides the impressive landscapes, with native woods, waterfalls, and of course vineyards, the highlight of this Pinto Bandeira is their sparkling wines. Small and intimate, this is a region where the local wineries continue to offer charming gastronomic and lodging options.

Altos Montes

Another young region where the landscape is dotted with cutting-edge wineries, celebrating modern architecture beautifully integrated with the vineyards. An advanced culinary school in the region has helped the cities of Flores da Cunha and Nova Pádua to become the twin gourmet centers of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Região das Hortênsias

Centered between the cities of Gramado and Canela, this is a region made famous by their well-preserved colonial architecture. While the region has preserved the look of the past, the local hotels and restaurants are very much up to date with a year-round promotional schedule that has been attracting tourist for years.

Destination Puerto Rico

Can’t afford to take a beach vacation this summer? Go Eat Give is bringing the tropics to Hotlanta! Savor the bright flavors of Puerto Rican culture and cuisine at Atlanta’s hottest destination, Ponce City Market.The menu will be created by not one, but three award-winning Atlanta Chefs. Chef Hector Santiago of El Super Pan, chef Andres Gomez of Porch Light Latin Kitchen, and Chef Julio Delgado of JP Atlanta will come together for this one night to cook classic Puerto Rican dishes including Mofongo, Chicharron de Pollo, Lechon Asado, and many other delicious recipes.

Sample Second Self Beer Company’s highly acclaimed beers that are brewed with fresh ingredients like blue ginger and lemongrass. Practice your salsa moves with lessons and live performance by Academy Ballroom Atlanta at the expansive Industrious space. Hear Dr. Maria Carrion of Emory University speak about her native country. Gather your friends and coworkers for an evening of fun, food and cultural education.

Don’t miss this chance to party like it’s the Caribbean!

Destination Dinner ticket includes food, beer, live entertainment, tax, and tips. Portion of proceeds benefit Go Eat Give, a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization that raises awareness of different cultures through travel, food and community service.

Speaker Biography: Dr. María M. Carrión was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in Madrid, Spain, where she lived for twelve years. She studied Classics at the Universidad Complutense, Art History and Criticism at the University of Puerto Rico, Art Education and Latin American Literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She got her Ph.D. in Spanish at Yale University.
She specializes in the cultural and literary production from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, with a particular focus on dramatic theory and performance, legal writings and practices, and architectural theory and history. Her work also concentrates on the literature and culture of the Hispanic Caribbean, with a special interest in Puerto Rican and Cuban narratives and poetry.
She currently lives in Atlanta, near her two sons, Roman and Camilo, and is Professor of Spanish, Islamic Civilizations Studied, and Comparative Literature at Emory University.

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Burritos for Go Eat Give

Support your favorite Atlanta non-profit by eating at your favorite, socially-responsible, burrito bowl spot! Come out on July 6 between 5 and 9 pm, and bring the event flyer, show it on your phone, or tell them you’re supporting Go Eat Give and 50 percent of proceeds will be donated to Go Eat Give.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is committed to sourcing the very best ingredients and preparing them by hand, because they understand the connection between how food is raised and prepared and how it tastes. With every burrito bowl they fill, they are working to cultivate a better world.

Street Eats and Summer Festivals

This year was the 5th annual Atlanta Street Food Festival, but expectant patrons may have noticed a pretty large difference between the festival this year as compared to the past few years. The event was moved from its popular central location in Piedmont Park to Stone Mountain Park. If you dread what impact festivals have on your car mileage or your pocket, here are my recommendations on how to make the most of your festival experience…

Plan to Spend the Entire Day 

If you are just going for a few hours, a $15 parking fee, a $25 cover charge and the price of food from vendors on top of everything, seems like a lot to ask. Not to mention, Stone Mountain Park is out of the way for many folks inside the perimeter, and this past weekend sported Heat Indexes of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. However, I discovered that the people able to make the best of this situation, planned to get their money’s worth by bringing their own lawn chairs and setting them up in the shade for the whole day. This way, you could avoid the heat, have guaranteed seating, and have the time to digest between rounds of eating.

Many people had the right idea in bringing their hammocks! There's lots of trees and natural shade in Stone Mountain Park!
Many people had the right idea in bringing their hammocks! There is lots of trees and natural shade in Stone Mountain Park.

Find the Unique Street Eats

From what I saw this weekend, there are trends in what food trucks sell. I felt that every other truck sold the same tried (but true) foods: burgers, lobster rolls, fried green tomatoes, and some variation of low country boil. But the most popular trucks were the ones that specialized on one food type, or sold food that nobody else was selling. Here were some of the highlights:

Chazito's Cuban Food truck from Savannah, GA served up some delicious empanadas con pollo, tostones, and maduros
Chazito’s Cuban Food truck from Savannah, GA served up some delicious empanadas con pollo, tostones, and maduros.
Mac The Cheese Food Truck was never without a small line . They served me up a Fontina Mac and Cheese although they were serving mac every which way, including with lobster.
Mac The Cheese Food Truck was never without a line. They served Fontina Mac and Cheese although they were serving mac every which way, including with lobster.
Bollywood Zing! based out of Smyrna served up some flavorful samosa chaat (samosa with warm chick pea salad on top), however we did miss their biryani!
The Bollywood Zing! truck, based out of Smyrna, served flavorful samosa chaat (samosa with warm chick pea salad on top), however we did miss their biryani.
Roti Rolls, ranked the best food truck in Charleston features eccelctic sandwiches inspired by many global cuisines and sources their food "farm to truck." This sandwich is their "Foghorn Leghorn;" organic chicken, coconut curried vegetables and house-made kimchi all on Indian Roti. Needless to say, it exploded with flavor.
Roti Rolls, ranked the best food truck in Charleston, features eccelctic sandwiches inspired by many global cuisines, and they source their food “farm to truck.” This sandwich is their “Foghorn Leghorn”: organic chicken, coconut curried vegetables and house-made kimchi all on Indian Roti. Needless to say, it exploded with flavor.
cookie truck
The “Not As Famous Cookie Company” made an appearance with their cookie truck. As a dessert truck serving only cookies, it stood out amongst all the Italian Ice stands. And these  cookies were delicious; they should be famous. My favorite was the peanut-butter chocolate pretzel.

Know That You’re Giving Back

The ticket price for entry may have seemed steep for some, but most attendees may not have known that part of the proceeds went to benefit an important Atlanta-based non-profit, The Giving Kitchen. The Giving Kitchen grants help to those in the Atlanta restaurant community dealing with crises (of any sort).

All in all, this festival was definitely worth going to. Although a bit far removed from it’s beloved Piedmont Park location, the new location certainly helped with the crowd problem. The way the trucks were spaced out in Stone Mountain Park made the event feel more like a relaxed family fun day at the park, than like the congested street festivals that can be irritatingly difficult to navigate. The organization and logistics of the festival could still use improvement, perhaps with a more detailed map and description of the food vendors, or use of an app-like guidebook. However, it already seems that the Atlanta Street Food Festival is getting better year after year.

IMG_2589~ By Virginia Spinks, intern at Go Eat Give. Virginia is a senior at Emory University majoring in religion and anthropology. As an Atlanta native, she has grown up around many different cultures and cuisines, and has always had a passion for food. She views food as an experience: a point of connection to bring people together and create lasting memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Guatemala’s Independence Day with Go Eat Give on Sept 18

Guatemala’s Independence Day falls on September 15, just three days before Go Eat Give Destination Guatemala dinner on September 18, 2014 at El Quetzal in Chamblee, GA. Guatemala, along with other Central American countries, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras, uses this day to celebrate its independence from European colonial power Spain in 1821, complete with traditional dances, fireworks, and parades.

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Unlike most other Central and South American countries, Guatemala achieved its independence in relative peace. Since then, it has made a name for itself as a biodiversity hotspot. The country itself is beautiful. It is made up of a variety of different ecosystems, including wetlands, rivers, lagoons, mangrove forests, and over 1,246 types of fauna. There is still evidence of the ancient Mayan civilization among its people, as illustrated by the traditional “traje” style dress many wear.

On September 18, Go Eat Give will partner with Consul General to Guatemala in Atlanta and Coleccion Luna to present an evening with authentic dinner, speakers, art and entertainment. Keynote address by Cónsul General de Guatemala en Atlanta, Rosa Maria Mérida de Mora. Born and raised in Guatemala, Ms Rosa Maria has served as a diplomat for over 25 years serving most recently in Buenos Aires and New York. She will share important facts about the Guatemalan population in southeast US, as well as cultural insights from her homeland.

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Featuring social entrepreneur and founder of Coleccion LunaStephanie Jolluck. A social entrepreneur, Ms. Jolluck started Coleccion Luna in 1999 to focus on women’s empowerment, alleviating poverty, preserving tradition, sustainability, and promoting cultural diversity and understanding. Coleccion Luna works with a women’s co-op located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala to create beaded jewelry, hand woven textiles, bags, belts and more.

guatemalan food

Authentic Guatemalan menu at family-run restaurant, El Quetzal includes Tostadas con guacamole and frijoles, Pepian de Pollo, Jocon w/ pork, Chile Rellenos (Vegetarian); Beets & Palm Salad Ensalada, Arroz, Frijoles, Mole con platanos fritos & rellenitos de platanos. Non-alcoholic beverages include Horchata & Tamarindo. Also, enjoy live music and door prizes!

Ticket includes buffet dinner, speaker and entertainment. Free parking. Portion of proceeds benefit Go Eat Give, 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization that raises awareness of different cultures through travel, food and community service.

Read more details or purchase tickets here.

Destination Guatemala