Rio de Janiero

Add a taste of Rio to your menu

Celebrate the Olympics foodie-style with Brazilian menu favourites

By Kavita Sabharwal

Although the opening ceremony is set to take place on the evening of August 5th, it’s not too late for your restaurant to get into the competitive spirit of the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games. The Games are taking place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where food is an intrinsic aspect of the culture.

Take advantage of the opportunity to add some variety to your menu in a way that isn’t overdone in Canada. Featuring some mouth-watering Brazilian favourites on a temporary menu that is only around during the Games could be just the ticket to capitalizing on the popularity of the Olympics, while also celebrating a country rich in history and flavour.

Some enticing options include Barbecue, which is already a staple on a large number of menus in Canada, but this version is unique. Instead of being slathered in sauce, Brazilian Barbecue is a simple dish consisting of premium cuts of meat, seasoned only with coarse salt and cooked on a charcoal grill. This preparation method allows the flavours of the meat to really come through. The most traditional cut of meat to use for this dish is picanha, or rump cap, but chicken wings, thighs and hearts are also commonly used. A side of garlic bread completes this meal – no burgers or corn here!

Less-known in North America is Coxinha, which translates to “little chicken thigh,” so named because once formed and cooked, this food’s shape is reminiscent of a chicken leg. This dish of deep-fried potato-based dough filled with seasoned chicken and creamy cheese makes for an indulgent snack. Serve up a plate of these and watch them disappear.

For breakfast or a snack, serve Pão de queijo, a cheesy bread that is chewy and soft inside, surrounded by a crunchy crust. For your guests ordering from the Brazilian menu, consider sending out a basket of these to their table mixed in with your standard bread offering, as some restaurants do in Brazil. It will add a little something extra to the Brazilian theme.

Try introducing your customers to the Pastel, a type of Brazilian street food. This hand pie resembles an empanada, but its thin dough comes second to the most important part: the filling. This can range anywhere from mozzarella to hearts of palm to ground meat, making this dish incredibly versatile.

For dessert, serve Brigadeiro, a chocolate truffle made with the rich combination of cocoa powder and condensed milk. These sweets are commonly served rolled in chocolate sprinkles, and can be found anywhere from on fancy restaurant menus to kids’ birthday parties. For a more luxurious feel, serve up a gourmet version featuring premium cocoa powder or pistachios.

Of course, a menu wouldn’t be complete without including a drink to wash all that delicious food down. The popular Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. The cocktail is made with lime, sugar, ice and cachaça, a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane. This super-refreshing drink can be modified to suit your menu or your customers by changing the spirit to vodka, making it a Caipiroska, or sake, which makes a Sakerinha.

Pair these exotic favourite with lively Brazilian music to lend a celebratory vibe to your dining room. The Olympics will only be around for a limited time, so take advantage of the delicious eats and spirited atmosphere while you can!

Kavita Sabharwal is the online editor and social media community manager of RestoBiz.

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