Showing posts with label Brazilian wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brazilian wine. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fogo De Chão Has The Meats

There's a fast food ad campaign which includes the tagline, "We have the meats." Sorry, drive-through, but you can't hold a toothpick to Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão. They, indeed, have the meats.

I was invited to sample their fall menu at the Los Angeles location. The Fogo de Chão way is to keep bringing grilled, table-sliced meat to your table until you tell them to stop. One has to be careful with this style of service, because it’s easy to end up feeling like Earl, in "Diner." He ate the whole left side of the menu. Including the chicken dinner.

Cruz was our server, or one of many servers, and he promised we would leave feeling sated. General Manager Heather was more helpful than we could have hoped and customer service manager Moises was a true gentleman.

Fogo de Chão is a great place for groups. There were several large parties there on the Sunday when we went for lunch. I could tell that they were not strangers to the place, and that the entire group had been looking forward to the meal.

I opened the meal with a Brazilian Moscato/Malvasia/Gewurztraminer blend, the demi-sec Salton "Flowers." It’s an $11 glass, from the Serra Gaúcha region, in southern Brazil. The wine is very sweet and fruity, with a decent acidity. A spicy floral element comes from the Gewurztraminer, while the Malvasia offers up some citrus to the sweet moscato. It’s extremely tasty with mushrooms and salads. I ordered an Alamos Argentine Malbec when the meats became the focus, and it was predictable reliable. The wine list offers a wide choice, with plenty of South American options.

They have a beautiful, light potato salad at Fogo de Chão that doesn't take up too much of the appetite you want to reserve for the meat. Big chunks of potato and carrot are bathed in a wonderfully light dressing. The butternut squash soup is different. It's very nicely spiced and better than the usual I've had, possibly because of the coconut milk and cinnamon used in it. The mashed potatoes have a good consistency, and they're real, not fake. My wife says they are complemented by "just the right amount of butter - too much."

Here come the meats. A little girl near our table precociously asked my wife, "Do you know what I call this restaurant?" Without hesitation, she said, "The meat parade." And so it is.

The Linguiça sausage was excellent, smoked in sage and rosemary. The Cordeiro leg of lamb, grilled and earthy, was right where I live. The Beef Ancho, the prime part of the rib eye, is succulent and extremely flavorful. The bone-in Cowboy Ribeye is only available through January 1st, so don't wait. Bone-in meats, says Fogo de Chão, have a more decadent flavor because the bones help retain moisture during the slow cooking.

I didn't try the Picanha Burger, But I wish I had. It sounds so good: "Fresh picanha (sirloin cap) ground in-house sits atop a brioche bun with smoked provolone, bibb lettuce, tomato, onion and chimichurri aioli, served with crispy polenta fries."

Our meal was in the main dining room, but there’s an option for folks who want to eat or spend less. The Churrasco Meat Board happens in the more casual Bar Fogo setting, where you get one, two or three selections of fire-roasted meat, including beef or pork ribs, lamb chops and beer-braised chicken legs, served with their wonderful chimichurri sauce. But, when is chimichurri sauce not wonderful?
I was completely wowed by my dining experience and gave Fogo de Chão an A-. The flavor is uniformly fantastic, but I found some of the beef items a little tough. My wife gave the experience a solid B, as she is always more focused on beef than I am and more critical of its consistency. She agreed that the flavor couldn't be beat and she was in love with the sides.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Tasting Wines From South America

A tasting event staged by Ian Blackburn's gave Los Angeles wine tasters a chance to broaden their palates with some very nice wines from South America. Due a large number of South American wine events held in other US cities during that week, the turnout was smaller than usual for a Blackburn event. Those who made it to L.A. represented their continent well, though. Argentina and Chile were the mainstays, but I also had the chance to sample some Brazilian wines at this event.

Some of the highlights:


Gran Reserva Carmenere, Maipo 2012 - There are some very tasty, savory notes among the cherry and strawberry flavors, with plenty of minerals on the side. Minerality was a recurring theme throughout the represented wineries.

Doña Paula

Estate Black Edition, Argentina 2013 - Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot star in this wine. The nose features a beautiful perfume of bright cherry with mineral-driven cherry on the palate.

Los Andes

This small production winery utilizing natural and biodynamic methods is run with an iron fist. Reps told me they have to "yell at the winemaker to make him use sulfur dioxide," which the sales folk like since the wines are shipped to Southern California.

Bucalemu Riesling, Chile 2013 - A great petrol note on the nose and palate, with a wonderful display of earthiness.

Mi Terruño Winery and Vineyards
Female winemaker Maria Eugenia Baigorria, one of several in the event, produces small lots of an incredible Malbec.

Mayacaba Malbec, Argentina 2009 - The grapes come from 100-year old vines, and they make an elegant mix of cherry and minerality.

Bonarda 2013 - There is a beautiful set of aromas here. Violets perfume the nose, bright cherry lifts the palate. Bonarda is my favorite Argentine grape.


Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - This is their effort at having the first release on the harvest. They think they accomplished that. It has a fresh, grassy nose and an extremely herbal palate with easy acidity.

Santa Carolina Winery

Reserva Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Chile 2014 - really complex, with leather on the nose and a great mellow mouthfeel. The wine is dark and delicious, full of the earth.

Reserva De Famiglia Carmenere, Valle de Rapel, Chile 2012 - Earth and tobacco notes on the nose all but cover the cherry fruit, while the palate is dark and mysterious.

Susana Balbo Winery

Susana Balbo Signature Barrel-Fermented Torrontés, Argentina 2014 - A lovely, sweet, floral nose and a palate that surprises with its mineral aspect.

Nosostros Malbec, Agrelo, Argentina 2010 - From 17 vineyard sites, this 100% Malbec was the best of that variety at the event, and there were plenty from which to choose. The nose comes on like a port, with a dark palate showing cherry and black cherry with a beautiful acidity.

Vinicola Perini

The Brazilian entry poured some tasty, if uncomplicated wines - a Moscato, a Merlot and a Tannat.

Macaw Tannat, Vale Trentino, Farroupilha, Brazil 2013 - This wine was much lighter than I would expect of Tannat. Ruby red color was abetted by a bright cherry nose and palate. Very young - would be great with a chill.

Looking for representation:


2004 BDX blend - It's old world - they keep the wine in the winery ten years, seven in oak and three - at least - in the bottle. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot are the grapes. The wine has a brick color, a savory cherry nose and earthy fruit with great oak notes on the palate.


Perlita Chardonnay 2013 - 100% Chardonnay grapes from the estate vineyard. The nose shows pear, peach and lime with a savory salinity on the palate. Argentina.


This Argentine winery is already on the East Coast, but is looking for west coast rep.

MTB Mike Tango Bravo Red 2012
Single vineyard: 55% Malbec, 35% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Big fruity nose with a lively bright cherry palate.

MTB Mike Tango Bravo Torrontés 2014

100% Torrontés, from Mendoza - usually Torontés is from the north of the country. A sweet nose shows a grassy fruitiness, with savory citrus on the palate.

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