Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spicy Brazilian Eats in Astoria

A Saturday of beach volleyball reminded me of my visit to Rio di Janeiro. Sunny beaches, caipirinhas, the most amazing tans in the world and feijoada (Brazilian national dish- Black bean stew with tender meats). so I asked my friend Carlos who has a weird obsession with Brazil, where we could find some delicious Brazilian food.
His suggestion was Malagueta (25-35 36th ave/(718) 937-4821), a small restaurant that breathes passion for its food. But before I write about the food, I want to simply state my admiration for the Brazilian culture. There is so much soul, energy and undying passion in every artistic element. If you have not witnessed this first hand, I suggest you search the web for videos of Brazilian samba, capoeira, soccer, and the famous carnaval.

But nothing will make you understand better than tasting this food.

We walked in and immediately conjured up our game plan. As always, we’d planned on sharing everything. We started with some empanadas that were actually cold in the center, but everything was so delicious that we felt guilty complaining. At the same time there was no way we could enjoy crispy ground beef goodness at the temperature of the refrigerator. So we told the waitress and she immediately gave us a new order that were literally taken out in just a few bites. They were delicious!

We also enjoyed the most brilliant crispy yuca fries we have ever tasted with an herby garlic mayo served with chorizo that was seasoned just right and cooked to perfection. It's tough to go wrong with chorizo but celebrating is a must every time it's prepared with such excellence.

Carlos, having been there previously, suggested the lentil salad with goat cheese. Before trying it, the combination did not sound appetizing, but once it all came together it seemed like magic. The goat cheese slightly overpowers the other flavors but the texture is enough to make this an outstanding salad.

If you are going for the feijoada, I suggest an early Saturday dinner. While we got the day right, since it’s only served on Saturdays, they had run out of the popular dish by the time we got there. It was a tease especially because the lady sitting next to us had gotten the last of it and was slurping up the last of her black bean stew.

With plans of returning, we ordered the steak, which was cooked medium and just right. This was Jaquie’s favorite. The texture of the dish was impeccable. And it came with my favorite Brazilian side, farofa (roasted cassava flour) mixed with black beans and rice. This combination completes the wonderful combination of rice and beans. Simple and delicious.

My favorite dish of the night, along with the yuca fries, was the coconut milk shrimp. The sauce had just enough of the coconut taste without being overpowering.

I definitely recommend this small corner restaurant, and, on a side note, we also suggest asking for their signature hot sauce, which the waitress was kind enough to tell us about. She enlightened us with the addition towards the middle of our meal and helped finish off all the last bites with explosive kicks. OH and it can’t go without saying, congratulations to the Brazil national soccer team for winning the confederations cup.

Check out Carlos’ new blog as he goes on 27 first dates to get back to the essence and help guys out with some low budget creative dates in NYC.
Malagueta on Urbanspoon