Serious Indulgence in Gramado, Brazil
Gramado, Brazil. High in the hills of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul region lies a ritzy little village blanketed in bright blue hydrangeas and imbued with swiss inspired architecture. Even the local cuisine leans heavily in favor of hearty German and Italian staples like sausage and pasta. Gramado, as it is known, poses a stark contrast to what most visitors associate with Brazil: beaches, bare bottoms, tropical jungle, cachaça…but there is one element that remains truly national or at the very least, southern Brazilian: the ritual consumption of beef. So when the Swede and I found ourselves in an Italian restaurant in Gramado after a long day of driving through cattle country, one dish in particular popped off the menu. The sheer caloric absurdity of it was mind-boggling. How could we NOT order medallions of filet mignon wrapped in bacon drenched in a creamy gorgonzola sauce sitting atop a bed of spaghetti swimming in mushroom gravy? The dish was (allegedly) portioned for two so we ordered and swirled our wine in eager anticipation. When our meal arrived our jaws dropped. On our table lay three huge hunks of beef floating around awkwardly in an enormous slop of wormy noodles. This behemoth of a dish was meant for two? We gulped and accepted the challenge.
Flash forward to the following day. It was lunch time and we pulled over on the side of the road to picnic in a funny German amusement park/preserved colonial town. We sat by the swan paddleboat lake and spread out our picnic: napkins, plastic cutlery, and a 2 lb takeout box of day old filet mignon wrapped in bacon drenched in gorgonzola floating in mushroom gravy spaghetti. It was weird the first time, and it certainly wasn’t any better old, cold, and congealed, but damn if we were going to let some “2-person” dish get the best of us! It took us two days, but we finished it, and we didn’t even get sick.
Practical Info: Cantina Pastascuitta serving oversized Italian dishes. Word to the wise: when the waiter suggests a dish is portioned for two, assume four. Brazilians can out-eat even an American stomach. Address: Av. Borges de Madeiros, 2083. Centro Gramado. Telephone: (54) 3286 2132.