NAU FRUTOS DO MAR – Joao Pessoa, Brazil
My last dinner in Joao Pessoa was a good one. It was a fine restaurant, very chic you might find here in New York City, only much more spacious. From the outside you can see its very different from anything else you might see. The door is a a single large wooden door with rotates, and a doorman lets you in while an armed police officer is nearby. In the finer places you will see police, its nothing to be alarmed about, in fact you should feel all that much more safer. The decor is somewhat Japanese, and/or tiki if you dare, modern tiki, not the typical polynesian decor. There Edilene is dipping her toe from the waterfall from the front of the building. Its got a very nautical theme as you can see from the windows. There are also windows like this on the inside where you can see what is going on in the kitchen. Its always good to see what is going on in the kitchen… here they even have a fired brick oven. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you have a open wall with bonsai trees. This was our table, that is a wine cellar in the background. Back to the nautical theme, where else do you see a small fishing boat nailed to the ceiling? Even the bathroom sink was a carved wooden fishing boat. So we clearly see that this is a seafood restaurant, its clearly Japanese with tiki and/or Japanese decor.
Now, on to the food. Edilene started with a non-alcoholic drink of Pineapple with mint. Really refreshing and delicious. Senhora Elenora ordered the wine. I am fine with any red wine as long as its not Cabernet. Cabernet to me is too simple/easy, I like a more complex grape, and this time she picked a winner with a Carménère from Chile. This was the same type of wine we had in her mother’s home, its really good! And even WINE SPECTATOR gives their wines 90+ points.
So now this brings us to the appetizer which was so simple and so great. It was shrimp with the shell (heads removed) cooked in olive oil and garlic. What you might find on the Beaches of Fortaleza, but better. The garlic, oil and green onion were delicious. When you cook any food in its shell or on the bone, its so much more flavorful. The bones and shells add a lot of flavor.
Good appetizer, and it would have made a great main course, but the main course is a fish I’ve never eaten or know about. I chose this over the more expensive lobster and the cheaper salmon. I know lobster, I know salmon, I don’t know this fish named Meca, a saltwater fish. I can best describe it as something like thoroughly cooked tuna that looks like small tuna but also light like swordfish, not as firm, but its a great tasting fish. Later I was told it was pescada, which is a lagoon fish from the Amazon. I am still trying to figure it out.
With it came 3 great small baked or steamed whole potatoes with some sort of cream garlic topping and chives. Really delicious. The sides included white rice, and potato crisps. I think this was meant to be sprinkled over the shrimp catupiry risotto, but I wanted to taste them, almost like something you would find from a snack section of a supermarket, but more tasty and natural.
So here is the dish I still don’t understand although its a lot better when served like this. Its shrimp, in a creamy cheese like brie, but not as bitter and creamier and more like white cheese whiz. Its only saving grace is that the risotto was really good.
The meal ended with a nice cup of espresso. It was good, best I’ve had in Brazil, and I don’t care if Brazil exports their coffee to the rest of the world, including Italy, Italy has the best coffee in the world. It all depends on how it is roasted and how it is dispensed.
It was the most expensive meal I had in Brazil (eve) but even at $150 with wine and coffee for 3 people it is still pretty cheap compared to what you would expect in a larger city.
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