Above: My wife, Mary Pat, and the plate of pork she ordered at the Sao Paulo restaurant Dalva e Dito.
I’ve made the point before that, without my friend Leslie Kelly to guide me, I’m a fairly lackluster foodie. My wife, Mary Pat, and I have motto, which we apply whenever we attend film festivals: food as fuel.
But on at least one night during our Brazilian adventure, we consulted a guidebook to find an upscale dining experience. The one we came up with is called Dalva e Dito, which is described this way: “Brazil’s most internationally vaunted chef, Alex Atala, opened his new dining room in 2009 to serve Brazilian home cooking with a gourmet twist. Dishes include roast pork with pureed potato and catfish with aromatic capim-santo grass from the plains of the Brazilian interior.”
OK, I was hooked, and I have no idea what “capim-santo grass” is.
We took a cab from the university where my wife was teaching, Fundacao Getulio Vargas, back up toward Paulista and then down the Jardins hill. This being relatively early, only about 8:30 p.m., we had no problem scoring a table.
And like most dining experiences we’ve enjoyed both in Sao Paulo and Rio, the wait staff was friendly and helpful, even when they didn’t speak English. We were lucky at Dalva e Dito because the woman who took over most of our wait duties spoke fluent English, having spent five years living in the U.S.
So Mary Pat ordered a pork dish and I just a salad and side dish of rice, veggies and cheese, which may have been the hit of the meal. She drank a glass of Argentine Carmenere, while I ordered a Brazilian beer, a pilsner type called Colorado that came in an oversize bottle (fine by me).
We even shared a dish of three types of sorbet for dessert. The bill came to slightly less than the national debt of Burundi. But it was worth it.
Before we left, I asked our server where she had lived in the U.S.
“Chicago and Dallas,” she said. I touched her elbow, put on a sad expression, and said, “I’m so sorry.”
To my relief, she laughed. International relations, that’s my specialty.