Friday, September 7, 2012

Mining Gastronomic Treasures - Brazil's Fazenda Capoava Hotel

Casa Grande - Fazenda Capoava
Located in the hills of São Paulo state, only 100 km (60 miles) from the megalopolitan state capital, the city of São Paulo, the Fazenda Capoava hotel and restaurant offers guests a relaxing stay on a ranch that has been functioning since the 17th century, being at successive times a sugar plantation, a coffee plantation and a cattle ranch. Today, visitors come for the comfortable accommodation in chalets that surround the original casa grande (big house) built in 1750, as well as numerous leisure activities such as horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, bicycle touring, plus a spa and massage facility.

An integral part of the hotel/ranch complex is a building called the Espaço Memória Fazenda Capoava, meaning the Capoava Ranch Memory Space. This museum of the ranch's history is open to the public as well as to hotel guests, and is a repository for artifacts and documents from the ranch's past. The museums collection includes antique industrial-sized coffe grinders, farm implements, and valuable antique furniture from the casa grande. Alongside the artifacts, the museum has an impressive display of documents from the archives of the ranch. There are also many documents for which there is insufficient space to display. These, however, are available to historians and researchers.

Among the most interesting documents, according to Danilo Costa, the food and beverage manager of the ranch, is an extensive collection of 19th century recipes from the ranch's kitchen - four generations-worth of hand-written recipes. Sr. Costa has taken the initiative of inviting one of São Paulo's best-known chefs, Heloísa Bacellar, to study the recipe archive and to recreate several of the best recipes for 21st century cooks. These recipes are now being served in the hotel's restaurant.

Sra. Bacellar chose to begin her task by reinterpreting three 19th century dishes from the ranch - a Paulista-style moqueca, a chayote gratin and a sweet coffee-flavored pudding. The dishes are now available to diners at Fazenda Capoava and in the next few days Flavors of Brazil will publish these historial recreations for our readers.

Based on material written by Camila Bianchi for Prazeres da Mesa magazine.


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