Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Curitiba
After fitting in as much as possible into our impossibly long day before our super late headlining-festival show (yoga, gym, lots of meat, naps, unpacking and re-packing), it was dinner time. It was crazy to think that even though we were meeting up at 8:30pm for dinner, the show was still 5 hours away.
Joey, Marcos, Paolo, Ashley, and I headed off to Beirute – an Arabic restaurant in Brasilia. Apparently this spot is the oldest standing Arabic restaurant in Brasilia. Judging by the name, it had to be a Lebanese place (and I love Lebanese food).
Marcos had some serious business to attend to via cell-phone, so the rest of us half-fended for ourselves to figure out what to have on our Portuguese/Lebanese menu. The translations from Lebanese into Portuguese into English made for some funny translations like “worn out meat” – but I typically know my way around a Lebanese menu.
We sit outdoors alongside many Brazilians all chowing down on some great looking grub. The outdoor seating here looked much of like what I had always envisioned when picturing a more down-home, Brazilian restaurant; open-air, outdoors, plastic chairs, the smell of meat and fire and wood, foreign language chatter filling the air alongside traffic-jams and glasses clinking. It was wonderful.
We start with raw meat, hummus, some sort of spreadable cheese, bread, onions, mint, and radish. It’s all meat to be scooped onto Lebanese bread like a kebab or taco and eaten up with lime. You know me and tacos and kebabs… I must eat them when the opportunity presents itself… every time. It reminded me so much of the traditional taco except in place of cilantro was mint, in place of a salsa was the radish; raw middle eastern meat taking place of an al pastor, lengua, or deshebrada.
I guzzle down some nice local beer that again reminds me only of a delicious Japanese beer – somewhat like a Suntory Premium once again. Out come stuffed whole eggplants and “cigars”. The cigar was a cabbage roll and within both eggplant and cabbage was ground meat of some sort (mildly flavored meat so it has to have been cow and not lamb (as lamb would have had more game)) mixed up with rice. Both were served with a tomato sauce on top. Both great – the whole eggplant visually was unlike anything I’ve seen in a while. It was a good change to get some vegetables in.
All the while, each time we’ve eaten, our gracious host Marcos never eats with us – he usually is just making sure we are all happy with the food and drinks; any time I’ve ever tried to buy him even just a coffee (soy mocha is the poison which he picks) he refuses to allow “the guest” to pay. He’s a good dude.
A cucumber salad and rice with fried onions and bulgur pop out – the rice is fantastic; everything here is minimally seasoned as to accentuate the original flavors of the ingredients. A big cake of some sort of ground grain with stuffed cheese comes out; Ashley describes the cheese flavor not unlike Kraft packaged American cheese – she wasn’t inaccurate.
Everything at the dinner was spectacular. Simple, home-made, home-cooked-style dishes that filled us all up properly for the big concert that was to follow.
Having never played in South America ever, we had no idea what to expect as far as crowd reaction particularly for our band. The fact we were to headline a festival was even more staggering. By set time, there were between 3500 and 4500 or so people there to see us within the arena. The show was ballistic, the crowd was everything we could have ever dreamed of.
Post set, we quickly headed to the hotel, showered and forced ourselves to sleep for a whopping 2 hours or rest…