Brazilian food has been gaining ground in Kansas City over the past few years, including several churrascarias, a Brazilian snack bar and grocery, a martial arts studio that features feijoada and, most recently, the emergence of the popular brigadeiro, a Brazilian-style truffle.
This year, the Ethnic Enrichment Festival in Swope Park Aug. 19-21 coincides with the Olympics. Brazil is represented among the 60 country booths and will be serving feijoada, churraschino and pao de queijo, as well as presenting Axe Capoeira, a Brazilian martial arts group.
But it hasn’t always been easy to find Brazilian food or ingredients here. When I married my Brazilian husband 29 years ago, liquor stores did not carry cachaca, an indispensable rum-based liquor for Brazil’s national cocktail. We would bring duty-free bottles home in our luggage, wrapped tightly in tube socks. One year the bottles broke, and our clothes and the lining of our suitcase smelled suspiciously boozy for more than a few washings.
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To sample Brazilian small plates while watching sporting events in the bar or lounge, try these options:
Cafe Brazil by Lola: Feijoada (actually a big plate of pork and black bean stew and the traditional accompaniments); $12, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays; no liquor available. 11441 Strang Line Road, Lenexa
Em Chamas: Extensive salgadinhos (appetizers), including stroganoff, Brazilian cheesesteak sliders and small portions of grilled meats, as well as Brazilian beers and Novo Fogo caipirinhas; half price during happy hour 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. 6101 N.W. 63rd Terrace
Fogo de Chao: What started out as a southern-Brazilian steakhouse tradition is quickly morphing into a cuisine popular around the world. The Brazilian-based churrascaria chain Fogo de Chao has numerous outposts, including locations in Puerto Rico, Mexico and new restaurants under construction in Saudi Arabia. “The gaucho tradition translates so well and it appeals globally,” says Josh Wood, Fogo’s field maketing manager, who is based in Dallas.
Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, which has a location on the Country Club Plaza, has posted a detailed guide to recipes and culture at fogodechao.com/guide. During the Olympics, try picanha and pao de queijo sliders, $8, and reduced-price caipirinhas during happy hours 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. 222 W. 47th St.
Porto do Sul: An all-day Olympic happy hour (11 a.m.-10 p.m.) is offered during the entirety of the games. Get half off all drinks and small plates, including picanha sliders, a churrasco sampler, shrimp skewers, mini feijoada and mini desserts, like brigadeiro and flan. 11900 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park
Taste of Brazil: Meat and bean plates, sandwiches and salgadinhos, including coxinhas (chicken croquettes), coconut water sipped through a straw from a real coconut and fresh-pressed sugarcane juice. The bar, which is open until 9 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, also offers a variety of caipirinhas, batidas (alcoholic fruit smoothies) and Brazilian beers, plus live music from 4-6 p.m. Fridays. 25 E. Third St.
The opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m. and athletic events run through Aug. 21. Major coverage is on NBC. Watch The Star’s Sports section for coverage.