i'll be honest: ask me a few months back and i wouldn't have been able to name one thing about brasil, or be able to think of one reason i'd want to visit. didn't know what sort of food they eat there, didn't know what booze they drink there, didn't know much other than the women are smoking hot and are to be blamed for the the mass ritual abuse inflicted on women's lady gardens the world over because of that. other than that, ask me about brasil and i'd probably have said "seems hot", or "they're hosting the olympics this year, aren't they?" and that would have been it.
that was then. ask me now what i know about brasil, and my eyes will probably roll back into my head, tongue hanging out of my opened mouth, drooling, while i omit some unrecognisable noise that sounds something like "ohmiguhhhhhthefoohhnwyyyyneisssoguuuuuu". because you know what? if there's one thing i do know about brasil, is that they do good grub. and i don't make that claim lightly; over the last few weeks i've been doing my research, thanks to cabana.
a few weeks back i was lucky enough to head along to the barbecue chain's islington branch for a wine tasting event. did i know that brasil produced wine? no i did not. was i shocked to learn that not only do they produce an incredible range of white wines, but their sparkling offering is preeeeeeetty much the tastiest thing since that real-life italian prosecco? oh, very much so. would you believe then that, knowing what you do about me and the colour choices i make when it comes to wine, that when a glass of the miolo pinot grigio was offered to me, that i didn't turn it down? and not because i'm an alcoholic, but because after three glasses of faultless tipples i decided to never say no to a brasilian offering me wine ever again. it's a decision i am committed to.
the brixton branch though, that's a whole 'nother story. they've got a bar; a real bar. a proper, brasilian caipirinha and cocktail bar. it has a neon sign and all! so when we arrived last thursday for their menu tasting event, we were issued arrival happy-hour (two for one!) caipirinhas on entry, and i'm quite sure our glasses never stayed empty for long after that. they also have that brasilian wine i was harping on about earlier, and i am quite sure you're not supposed to mix rum and red wine, and yet... remember what i'd said about brasilian's offering me wine? a decision i am still committed to (despite slightly regretting).
the tables were decorated with guaca-molho, or, homemade guac with "bottomless corn chips" (£4.95) when we arrived, and soon enough, a selection of starters arrived. we'd tasted the delicious cheesey dough balls (£3.95) at the wine tasting event, so tucked right into them and their tasty garlic butter dip as soon as we could, before moving on to the chargrilled halloumi with guava dip - which was surprisingly sweet and tangy (£5.45), and the crunchy lula squid with malagueta mayo and zesty lime juice.
next to arrive was the spicy chicken doughnuts (i mean, seriously! that cheesey dough ball just got playyyyyed; £5.45) and the malagueta lettuce wraps (£3.95) which were a little heavy on the red onion for my liking, but were incredibly yum and not too spicy on the mouth at all. i mean, certainly nothing the bottomless caipirinhas couldn't solve. this round's winners was everything ball shaped (and the malagueta mayo, which was sensational), according to everyone alive in the restaurant that night.
full, but never really full, we were excited to see what was coming next. at the wine tasting event we'd sampled part of the brasilian chain's barbecue menu, and we had our favourites. there, the quava-cue ribs and the spicy chicken were the evening's winners (though we were quite tipsy and were excited to try again), but we'd been hearing rumours about the new steaks on the menu, and were keen to get some of that on the table. lucky for us, our prayers were (mostly) answered.
in lieu of the pork ribs (boo) we'd been served the pork and papaya sausage wheel (£11.95) - honey glazed and deliciously sweet, the sticky malagueta chicken (£12.95), and some sort of steak that we're not entirely sure about as it was a bit tough and couldn't quite make out the flavours (£15.95). there were also a bunch of salads and sides dotted around the table; sweet potato fries (£3.95), tomato and palm heart salad (£2.95), cassava fries (£4.45 and very undercooked)and a cold quinoa and squash dish (£5.45) filled our plates up while the spiced rum washed them down.
by the time the dessert was served, we were about four or five cocktails in, and down one glass of the tastiest red wine that cabana could offer. "full" is an understatement, to the extent that i had unzipped my dress as far as i could without spilling out of it and it falling off me - thank god for the jumper i was wearing over the top, hiding my shame. did we need to eat dessert? oh god, no. but with brasilian balls seeming to be the real star of the menu, the nutella doughnuts (£5.95) in powered sugar were hardly going to be passed over by anyone at the table. slowly but surely, the bowl of dessert dough was devoured, and we were rolled out into the night - bleary-eyed and full to the brim.
ask me now what i know about brasil. it'll probably still be "seems hot" and "they're hosting the olympics this year, aren't they?" as a first response, but "have you been to cabana?" as a very close second.
thanks very much for having us down, team cabana!