Friday, September 05, 2008

Frisco Road Trip, Pt. 10: The Last Meal

After the intensity of the Frida show, the whole group was completely wrung out and needed not only some food, but liquid refreshment. Fast.

Tom and Judy had done their research and found a Brazilian churrascaria named Espetus just down the street. And these two know Brazil intimately, since Tom had taught at a university there some years ago and both speak some Portuguese, Tom being fluent. Can you see where this is going?

Now, churrascaria (pron. shuh-ras-car-EE-a) is roughly translated as "steakhouse" but, my friends, it is much, much more than that. We walked in and were seated at a table where we ordered a beer with a caipirinha, which is something like a margarita without the salt and made with a Brazilian spirit called cachaça.

Next we were ushered to the salad bar, again an understatement, since it was not only a smorgasbord (not to mix metaphors) of brilliant salads but also featured the foundation of Brazilian cuisine, pinto beans, black beans and rice with a topping of a granular farinha that had been cooked with pork fat. The salads ranged from a potato salad made with carrots and mayonnaise to a tabbouli-like grain and parsley salad to a corn salad to one resembling cole slaw.

Plates full, we returned to the table where we were met with a man dressed in a gaucho costume wielding not only a very long, very sharp knife, but a two-foot-long skewer full of meat. As he cut thin slices off the meat, we were instructed to pick up the tongs next our plates and grasp the wafers as they peeled off and then put them on our plates.

This was repeated with men bearing skewers of pork loin, steaks, pork chops, sausages, chicken hearts and more meat than you can shake a...well, shake a skewer at until Tom picked up the coaster on the table and turned it from the green side to the red side. Suddenly all the gauchos disappeared. Genius! Turn it to green, they're back, then red...well, it would have worked except they kept coming by to speak Portuguese with Tom.

And the desserts were awesome, one a papaya mousse with an orgasmic cassis sorbet, the other a passion fruit sorbet in a caramel crust that was sublime. What a meal, and a truly unique experience we couldn't have had anywhere else. Thanks, Tom and Judy!

Details: Espetus Churrascaria, 1686 Market St. Phone 415-552-8792.

Note: Tom writes: "The name of the place, 'Espetus,' is the original Latin word for the Portuguese name for the skewer: espeto (pronounced, roughly, ehs-PET-oo). Saying that word, you will recognize a phonetic resemblance to the English cognate: spit, as in the spit (or skewer) on which the meat is skewered (not spitted)."

Read the other posts in this series: Getting There, Paying Our Respects, Resting in Redding, Schmoozing in Sacto, Home Away from Home, Off on the Right Foot, Choosing Chinese, The Ferry and the Hog and The Point of It All. 

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