cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Extreme Recap

We’re so far behind, where do we start?

view from my living room window

Since the last post we’ve: moved into our new apartment in Sao Paulo, started part time (really part time) work with an English school, collected a few new private students, started figuring out how to navigate through one of the biggest cities in the world, started trying to work as a private chef, sold my food for the first time at a market, AND my very first niece was born last weekend. Life is wonderfully full at the moment.  I hope I will be that cool aunt in the foreign country who sends sweets and toys in the mail. I represent a beach vacation, I should be the cool aunt! 

So backup. Working with food? Since when did I become a chef right? I don’t have a job in a restaurant, I don’t hold a culinary degree, but I’m trying to get into working with something I actually like and am actually good at. Not that I don’t enjoy English teaching, I do. But im not proud of it, i teach simply because I'm an American living in Brazil. Anyone can do that. But I am a good cook, I am not modest about that. I can cook. Well, anyone can cook, but I actually cook really well, and people like what i make. For now let’s call it an experiment, shall we?

Two weeks ago I was invited to cook a four course sit down dinner for nine. Literally it was three day after moving into my new place, didn’t even have a fridge yet. The party was co-hosted by the owner of a Sao Paulo City travel website (My Destination Sao Paulo) and the owner of a wine and imports shop (Sonoma - they import gourmet items such as olive oils, cheeses, salts and spices). The amazing part of the event was that I sent my menu to the host early so that he could pair the right wine with each course. Let me just say the guests were quite spoiled. The event took place on the rooftop terrace of a penthouse in the south of Sao Paulo. The view was incredible. The dinner was started with one of my favorite entrances, potted crab, which is an original dish created by my Brazilian culinary double, Rafael. If I can remember correctly the crab was paired with Chablis. The entrance was followed by a raw salad of green (not actually green, just unripe and hard) papaya, carrot and cucumbers with a spicy Thai dressing (I actually julienned it all by hand, and it looked pretty uniform!) The main course was a spicy coconut curry with chicken thighs and was paired with Pinot Noir. For dessert I went with my safety net—the chocolate truffle tart that has NEVER disappointed. I finished it with freshly whipped cream and blueberries which, yes, you can find here. It was an amazing experience. My last thrilling experience on this level was when i successfully "catered" my sister's wedding in December.

Following said dinner (described above) I was invited by one of the dinner guests to sell food at a night market that she helps to organize. The event is mostly attended by gringos and hosts a variety of vendors selling everything from cupcakes to paper lamps. I was a little too nervous to accept right away. Who would pay actual money for my food? A week later I received a final call email about the event and impulsively decided to go for it without having any idea of what I would sell. I originally thought to do a cold bruschetta or tapas because it would be simple to assemble and wouldn’t require the grill and hotplate that I don’t possess. Unfortunately one of the other vendors wrote in that they were selling something called “toastex” so we decided I should go with something else. So I decided to do the same thing but inside of individual tart shells. Big mistake. It’s hard enough to make a few tart shells much less fifty of them. And to top it off, I made them gluten free.

I filled the shells with two different mixtures: the first was a blackberry (amora) red onion sauce topped with watercress and salmon grilled in wasabi and sesame seeds (the wasabi wasn’t strong) and the second was filled with herbed goat cheese ricotta (homemade), apple, crispy bacon and sprouts. I planned on selling crème brulle in edible shells but after making fifty tart shells I gave up. The public was a little hesitant to try them, but those who actually did gave great feedback on the flavors. One woman actually bought six to take home. I didn’t make any actual money (just slightly over three hundred reais, which was my break even mark) but the experience was incredible. Not only did I actually get to talk to strangers enjoying my food, but I received a few contacts requesting my service as a caterer. What I really got out of the market was confidence. 

That was two days ago.

Sao Paulo is a crazy city. For one, it’s the largest city in all of the Americas. Living among eleven million people seems like it could be a bit overwhelming…but luckily Sao Paulo, like most large cities, is divided into neighborhoods that honestly form their own cities. You feel as if you are in a small community with your own groceries, banks, butchers, street markets, schools, sports centers, and restaurants—technically you never actually need to leave your own neighborhood in this city.  We all do of course. I am very lucky to be in a very quiet, relatively safe and clean neighborhood known as Perdizes/Pompeia. I’d always been nervous about moving to Sao Paulo, but I’m actually in love with the area. I get to see my friends more often and I’ve even made a few new friends already. If the metro covered more areas I would be in heaven.  But one of the greatest assets of the city is the diversity of the population here. There is a demand for everything. My style of cooking actually has a chance here whereas in the countryside it had little to none.

Now we are caught up. There is a carrot cake cooling in the kitchen for a birthday party tomorrow and im planning the menu for a luncheon on Sunday.  The ninety degree weather was just interrupted by a hail storm. Such is life in Sao Paulo where you can experience every season in one day. We’ll talk about this carrot cake next time.


Nani said...

This is AWESOME News! I am so excited and happy for you! Yes, Sao Paulo is a city of contradictions, I have mixed feelings about it. You are right, there is plenty to do there, and possibilities are endless. I am so happy for you! Keep the posts coming!

Ps. It's so funny, as I was making a giant pan of black beans today (I freeze it in small pots to have whenever I want to)... anyway, I was thinking about you, that it had been a little while you had posted last... I just sat down to check my blog and saw you had a new post. Transmicao de pensamento!

Good Luck Mal!!!

Skarrlette's Hammer said...

Congratulations that is what I want to hear. I am so exhausted with everyone teaching English, I would love for you to be one of the first expat bloggers I read that actually becomes successful in this country. It would give me hope :)

Sao Paulo is great I have googled neighborhoods and some of it is really charming and their is so many people to make money off of LOL! (good for business)

Hope your business is as exciting as your photography by the way your food is beautiful.

Keep updating us on your life!

Mallory Elise said...

Thanks elaine! Will send you an email:)

Skarlette- i know what you mean. I am not proud being an english teacger, butl like most of us we do it because we have to. Not much of a know before learning portugese. We all have to earn money some how. I hope you stay tuned to see if i actually make it! Bjs.

MBT56 said...

i'm stunned to hear about the disrespect you've experienced here. It's a phenomenon I've noticed in so many and varied web venues - cooking and recipe sites; YouTube; mudic-based, etc.  Makes it kind of embarrassing to be a human.  I imagine that most thinking people are able to get where such behavior comes and, thus, put it in perspective.  Still, pretty disheartening to deal with.  Good for you to take a break.  And good for you to come back!