Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vegetarians beware

Although at some point in my preteens I dabbled in going vegetarian, the phase luckily only lasted a few weeks. Being born in Iowa there is really no escape from beef or pork. I need variety and for me meat provides the extra zing in my meals.

Tonight I had an interesting experience at a Brazilian steakhouse. This particular steakhouse recently opened restaurant in Portland, Maine and is the second offspring of the Gauchos Churrascaria chain, the first being in Portsmouth, NH.

The meal starts out with a sensible salad bar. Nothing too special but fine quality veggies to choose from nevertheless. Next, warm starters grace the table. Now this was a Carb fan heaven. Plantains, yucca and round potatoes hot and yummy on the table. The plantains were fried with some sweet sauce. I honestly could have eaten them all and been done for the night very satisfied. The yucca were prepared similarly to thick steak fries and tasted like fried dough sticks. Nothing too special for flavoring but unique all the same. This was the first time I had ever had yucca.

Once you start eating it is a never ending flow of food. As soon as the table started munching on the carbs, you are asked if you would like a small plate of salmon. This was also very good and could have been the meal in and of itself. No sooner had the salmon arrived when the onslaught of meat came skewered to the table. This was overwhelming to say the least.

(I forgot the camera so this picture from the website is the best I can do for visuals. It does not come close to the doing justice to the quantity of meat served.)

There are 11 different meats to pick from. My earlier statement of variety does not really apply here. I am a firm believer of the statement " Too much of a good thing". Below is the list of options.

Filet Wrapped in Bacon (Faixa Enrolado con Bacon)
Prime Rib (Alcatra) - A Gauchos favorite!
Flank Steak (Fraldinha)
Short ribs (Costela)
Sirloin (Picanha))
Lamb (Cordero)
Chicken (Frango)
Turkey Wrapped in Bacon (Peru Enrolado con Bacon)
Sausage (Lingüiça)
Pork Loin (Lombo de Porco)
Pork Ribs (Costela de Porco)

I, of course, had to try every piece (except for the bacon wrapped filet and sausage). I really do not like bacon. And there is just something wrong with a bunch of meat ground together and put in casting. Trying much of the meat left feeling not only full to my stomach but amazed and disappointed all at once. There were some really good choices - the short ribs were divine. The Pork ribs were overcooked and dried out. The card at the table signals if you would like more. Green = Go. The time all 11 options were brought I was done. I would like to meet the the person who could have seconds.

Now if eating 11 different types of meat at once didn't make you feel carnivorous enough, you actually had to participate in the taking of the food. The men would line up along the table with whatever meat skewer was theirs. They would place the little drippings plate on the table and then hold the skewer and cut. As this is happening you were expected to take your little tongs and grab the meat as it falls. All of this excitement leaves little room for dialogue. By the time the meat intake slows you are so full it is difficult to carry on conversation - my mind was on my belly.

Desert was also offered but I must say no one at our table (including the two desert-a-holics) could not fathom having more food. I left thinking what a good time; I don't know if I can come back for more.

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