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This Hole-in-the-Wall Life

Porky Brazil





Orange County doesn't lack for stews—we can choose from fierce Korean soon tofus, Mexican birrias, Pakistani haleem, gumbos and numerous others. But none is as intense in flavor as the feijoada served at the just-opened BRAZILIAN GRILL in Anaheim.

Feijoada is the burger-and-fries of Brazil, a hot pot of black beans and various pork cuts—sausage, shredded, with bone, ground, sometimes intestines—simmered overnight until the black beans and meat nearly become one. The process creates a murky broth that, when you dab it on your tongue, tastes like a hundred salty hogs.

When it arrives at your table, the feijoada steams like a crater—try to scarf it in your mouth immediately, like some moron food critics do, and the scald marks will ache for a week. Instead, pour the feijoada over the traditional side of white rice, collard greens, fried plantains and farofa (toasted, ground manioc), and then mix the sides up as you would scrambled eggs with ketchup.

The result is the epitome of haute home-style cooking. The slices of pork are nearly as soft and sweet as jelly, thanks to the chunks of pork fat left inside. The once-flavorless collard greens assume the attributes of the sugary plantains and buttery farofa to become a grand samba of sweetness, bitterness and heartiness. The white rice soaks up all the flavors and proves a welcome mate to the salty black beans. And that glorious feijoada broth magnifies all the flavors tenfold. Feijoada is bulky and fattening, and it smashes into your gut like a Sonny Liston body blow, but boy, is it good.

That such a meal is the highlight of Brazilian Grill—a bright, cheery dive with pictures of Rio hung throughout the restaurant and two televisions permanently tuned to the Gol TV cable channel—seems almost contradictory. But Brazilians, despite their famously relaxed national character, are notorious for favoring hefty meals—this is the culture that made all-you-can-eat barbecue palaces a fine-dining experience par none. The rest of Brazilian Grill's still-expanding menu is just as unhealthily great; try the pão de queijo, fluffy cheese balls, or the coxinha, golf ball-sized fritters encasing spiced, shredded chicken. My favorite snack, though, is the risoli, three turnovers stuffed with ground beef and an amazing buttermilk flour that lends a sugary bent to the gritty beef and flaky exterior—cow as dessert.

BRAZILIAN GRILL, 821 N. EUCLID ST., STE. B, ANAHEIM, (714) 774-5200.

 
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