Monday, August 27, 2012

The XV Festival of Culture and Gastronomy - Tiradentes, Minas Gerais

The small hilltown of Tiradentes (pronounced cheer-a-DEN-cheese), located in the mountains of Brazil's Minas Gerais state, is known as one of the prettiest and historically most important of Minas Gerais' baroque jewels. Named after Brazil's revolutionary dentist-hero Tiradentes (meaning "tooth-puller" in English) the town offers visitors and tourists lovely examples of Brazilian baroque architecture, a delightful small-town atmosphere and a great collection of inns, small hotels, and restaurants.

For most of the year Tiradentes is a quiet, slow-moving town, even if the number of daily tourists often outnumbers the town's 6000 residents. However, once every year the town explodes in Brazil's best-known gastronomic festival - the Festival Cultura e Gastronomia Tiradentes. This year's festival, the fifteenth edition, is currently on and lasts nine days from August 24th to September 02nd.

The festival offers lectures, exhibitions and festive dinners, and features well-known chefs from Brazil and around the world. This year's star attraction among the chefs is Catalan chef Jordi Roca, whose restaurant El Cellar de Can Roca was recently named the second best restaurant in the world in this year's World Restaurant awards. In addition to Sr. Roca, chefs from Chile, Venezuela, and Peru will join their Brazilian colleagues in presenting demonstrations and special dinners.

The culinary focus of this year's festival will be the food and cooking of six out of Brazil's twenty-six states - Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Amazonas, Ceará, and Rio Grande do North. One interesting innovation this year is a series of festive dinners created by pairs of chefs from diverse regions of Brazil, for example combining a chef from Pernambuco and one from Amazonas to create a five-course meal, or another with chefs from Rio de Janeiro and Ceará.

Because of the limited number of hotels, pousadas and restaurants in Tiradentes, the festival always sells out, and many festival-goers have to resort to staying in other nearby towns, returning each day to Tiradentes.

The festival has an excellent website, with full details of festival programs, menus of the festive dinners, and plenty of photos and videos (in Portuguese only.) Click here to visit the site.

We here at Flavors of Brazil have yet to experience the festival, but hope to attend the XVI edition in 2013. If we do, there will be extensive reporting on our adventures here on the blog.


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