The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when Croatia takes on Brazil in the first match. While we’re rooting for Team USA to take the tournament, we’ll also pay homage to the host country by incorporating the flavors of Brazil into our game-day menus.
From Brazilian beers and caipirinha cocktails to pulled-pork sliders and coconut-lime sorbet, here is a checklist of World Cup watch party must-haves that will score a goal with your guests.
Forgo domestic brands for the tournament and pick up a Brazilian brew from Cervejaria Colorado, one of the country’s earliest craft breweries. Available at Central Market in Fort Worth, the bottled beers incorporate ingredients like coffee, Brazil nuts and black “rapadura,” or unrefined cane sugar.
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Speaking of Brazil nuts, it’s only appropriate to have a bowlful or two ready for your watch party guests’ snacking enjoyment. The protein-rich food is high in antioxidants, but because of the nuts’ elevated fat content, they can spoil quickly. Keep them in the fridge until match time.
Use a tasty recipe from Villa’s Grill, Arlington’s new Brazilian churrascaria, to make a batch of caipirinhas, Brazil’s signature cocktail. The drink is a compilation of muddled lime and cachaca (pronounced “ka-sha-sa”), Brazil’s national spirit, made from fresh sugarcane juice.
We like feijão, a savory Brazilian staple made with beans and beef, served atop rice or as a hearty side. There are as many variations of the classic comfort dish as there are teams in the tournament, but Villa’s Grill partner Peter Nguyen was happy to share his restaurant’s version, which incorporates rump roast, beef sausage and bacon, served generously at the neighborhood churrascaria by “gauchos” — guys with skewers of meat and huge knives who cheerfully slice new servings onto diners’ plates.
Sao Paulo salad
Named for Brazil’s largest city and site of the World Cup’s first match, the Sao Paulo salad is a sweet and savory mayonnaise-based dish combining apples, grapes, carrots and Brazil nuts. It’s available at Central Market Fort Worth in the chef’s case and pairs well with pulled-pork sliders (recipe follows) or barbecue.
Released just in time for the World Cup, Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond takes readers on a culinary tour throughout the South American country while providing 80 recipes for dishes that are meant for sharing. From the cookbook’s bar snacks, appetizers and street food chapter, we like the pulled-pork sliders because they incorporate “pao de queijo” as mini buns.
Make your own batch of the cheesy dough balls with the recipe provided here or pick up a few dozen at Central Market in Fort Worth or Southlake if you’re in a time crunch. The chewy puffs, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, are also delicious on their own.
Although fresh coconut water over ice with a squeeze of lime serves as a quick and easy match-time refresher, impress your guests with this three-ingredient recipe for coconut-lime sorbet from Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond. Note that pure coconut cream is the thick top layer found in cans labeled as coconut milk. Don’t shake the can before opening, which will allow for the cream to easily be scooped out with a spoon.
Finally, no World Cup watch party is complete without a caxirola (pronounced “cah-she-roll-ah”), the official noisemaker of the event. Remember the controversial droning “bzzzz” from the vuvuzela? That was so 2010. This instrument rattles loudly when shaken and was inspired by the rhythms of Brazil percussion. However, the idea didn’t quite shake out, as its resemblance to a hand grenade has led to its official ban from the tournament. Fans can still order their own to shake at home from the FIFA store online ($13.99, store.fifa.com).