Jan 17, 2011 · 3:30 PM
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BRAZILIAN BUFFET MLK Day
4 Spots Open Reminder!!!!
Monday January 17th at 3:30 PM late Lunch, early Dinner
[masked]st Avenue (38th Street)
ry 11, 2011
THERE’S nothing dainty about an acarajé. Peeled and mashed black-eyed peas are fried in palm oil, after which the fritter (pronounced ah-cah-rah-JEH; $5) is sliced and stuffed. Overstuffed, inevitably, with vatapá, a creamy paste flavored with seafood and nuts; caruru de quiabo, an onion-and-ginger-laced okra gumbo; and bacalao salad. It’s a taste of Brazilian summer, down to the last licked finger.
Though rare in New York, the acarajé and the similar, boiled abará ($5) are common street foods in Bahia, the coastal state in northeastern Brazil where Elzi and Erli Botelho Ribeiro learned their craft. On the first Saturday of each month, the Ribeiro sisters — who opened their Queens restaurant, Point Brazil, two years ago and share duties in the kitchen — also serve a “taste of Bahia” ($12). This sampler includes vatapá, caruru de quiabo and bacalao salad, as well as the fish stew called moqueca. All have an undercurrent of palm oil, a culinary connection to Bahia’s West African heritage.
Alas, the Bahian specialties are available only on first Saturdays. The Ribeiros’ enticing hot and cold buffet, however, is offered all month long. One measure of the sisters’ cooking prowess is the satisfied conversational hum — animated by young children on weekend afternoons — that fills the simply decorated, sunny dining room, day in and day out. (Many conversations are in Portuguese, though everyone speaks English, too.) The buffet’s greatest strength is not vastness — though there’s plenty to choose from — but freshness. Rarely does a pan run low.