Fan Fare: Where to Score Olympic-Inspired Dishes and Drinks across America
The passion, the glory … the food. Conjure the celebratory spirit of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at these restaurants across America, where chefs and bartenders are taking cues from the classic culinary elements of host country Brazil. They’re drawing in the international flair of the global games and even gleaning inspiration from the nature-centric themes of the Olympic torch itself. Dig in to see why these dishes and drinks are worthy of a place on the winners podium.
Soak up the spirit of Rio de Janeiro at La Sirena Clandestina, a Latin American restaurant that captures the essence of a Brazilian beach hut. Adding to the allure this month is an Olympic-inspired menu, which debuted to coincide with the opening ceremony on Aug. 5.
The specially created dishes follow the same four themes emblematic of Brazil’s natural landscape that have been incorporated into the Rio 2016 Olympic torch: sky, sea, mountains and ground. Representing sky is an Iron-Roasted Guinea Hen over chile-spiked farofa, collard greens and a slick of game jus, with fresh figs and hazelnuts. Symbolizing the sea is a Grilled Confit Octopus perched over a pool of black popcorn puree, adorned with butter-poached heart of palm and chicharrones, and ringed by a golden splash of chile-grapefruit vinaigrette.
Rounding out the limited-time menu (available through Aug. 22) is a BBQ Goat Crepinette, which channels the natural bounty of the mountains, and a Bomba Rice, which celebrates the ground’s abundant yield.
Invoke the international spirit of the Olympics with a cross-cultural beverage that injects a quintessential Brazilian cocktail with a distinctly American spirit. The bartenders at The Corner Office are slinging this globally influenced concoction, which pays homage to the Rio games by riffing on Brazil’s national cocktail: the caipirinha. In a decidedly untraditional take on the drink, they combine the classic caipirinha elements of muddled lime and sugar, but they switch out one essential ingredient.
Instead of using cachaca, Brazil’s sugarcane-based spirit that defines this cocktail, the bartenders swap in Kentucky whiskey (E.H. Taylor small batch bourbon whiskey from Buffalo Trace Distillery) to shake up the usual recipe with an unexpected American twist. In a playful nod to the ceremonies, this limited-run cocktail (available through Aug. 21) has been named On the Podium.
Dallas and Other Locations
Experience a taste of Brazil without traveling to the games at Fogo de Chao, which delivers a feast worthy of any champion. This chain of Brazilian steakhouses first expanded into the United States with its Dallas location in 1997 and now has more than 30 outposts across the country.
The meat-centric menu evokes the flavors of the motherland, as the chefs use the churrasco-style method of fire-roasting to prepare many of the dishes. Experience this centuries-old culinary tradition by opting for cuts like the picanha, or top sirloin cap, which is a coveted staple of Brazilian steakhouses. The meat is seasoned with only rock salt to let the beef’s natural flavors shine through, grilled over an open flame until tender, then thinly sliced. Another standout is the cordeiro assado, grilled lamb chops that are brightened by a mint-based marinade.
New York City
Sprint to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer — home of outlandish milkshakes — for the Brazilian-themed limited-time 100 Yard Dash shake (available Aug. 19 to 21). Created in partnership with Brigadeiro Bakery, the passionfruit shake is topped with a dome of whipped cream, a coconut brigadeiro — like a fudge ball — coconut flakes and a Brazilian flag, then served in a glass coated with coconut frosting and gummy apples.
Start seeing — and eating — red, white and blue at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, which is churning out a USA Doughnut now through Aug. 21. Available at both bakery locations, the vanilla-glazed round sports red stripes from a raspberry drizzle, perfectly placed blueberries as garnish and USA written in chocolate.
Celebrate the commingling of cultures at the Olympic Games with a pick from BLT Prime’s cleverly crafted burger board, which draws its inspiration from the many countries competing in Rio de Janeiro. Signature flavors from nine different nations — America, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica and Japan — are on display in this special burger selection offered from Aug. 5 to 21.
Opt for America and you’ll get a short-rib patty crowned with oven-roasted tomatoes, crispy shallots and BLT sauce. Brazil translates to a burger blend that’s blanketed in a melty layer of cheddar cheese, piled high with sliced ham, a fried egg, shoestring potatoes and avocado, then finished with guasacaca aioli. All burgers are served with a side of fries; you can add a draft beef for an additional charge of $5.
Channel the excitement in Rio’s streets with a bite of pastel especial de feria, a fried hand pie bursting with a Brazilian-inspired medley of savory, creamy and bright flavors. Head to Squarefritz to get your hands on this punched-up version. Layers of mozzarella cheese, beef, olives, tomato, hard-boiled egg and ham come nestled inside an envelope of housemade dough (fried, of course). This version, which follows the tradition of Brazilian farmers markets, is the top-seller.
But simpler options, such as hand pies stuffed with shredded chicken or filled with ground beef, are also available. “Pastel for breakfast (café da manha) or an afternoon snack (lanche da tarde) will help you get into the Brazilian mood, with lots of samba dancing and cheering,” says Squarefritz owner Andre Lee.
Photos courtesy of La Sirena Clandestina, The Corner Office, Fogo de Chao, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, BLT Prime and Squarefritz