Downtown’s Woodspoon Serves Up a New Taste of Brazil

Getting into a Brazilian state of mind.

A seismic event occurred on August 10 in Los Angeles—Ivete Sangalo, Brazil’s biggest music artist, made her debut in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theater. Ivete sings Axé music from the state of Bahia in a hefty voice and has the stamina to dance while singing for hours without having to lip sync (something her younger U.S counterparts can’t seem to pull off).  She regularly sells out the 96,000 seat Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and has been known to fill Madison Square Garden in N.Y.C.

To get into the proper state of mind before the show, I headed over to Woodspoon for a taste of chef Natalia Pereira’s new Minas Gerais menu items. The restaurant now has beer and wine. Her excellent savories—coxinha de frango (chicken croquettes shaped like a thigh), and bolinhos de bacalhau (salt cod croquettes), and her famous Brazilian-style chicken pot pie, known in Brazil as empadao—still dominate the menu.

New to the menu is a dish from Pereira’s home state of Minas Gerais, the classic frango com quiabo, or chicken with okra. It bursts with flavorful tempeiro mineiro, an essential blend of salt, herbs, and vegetables that’s the base of Mineiro cuisine.

Got grits? Canjiquinha com costelinha, are a delicious dish of pork ribs cooked in Pereira’s Mineiro seasoning with grits and tomatoes.

The Brazilian community in L.A. is small but really comes together for events like Sangalo’s show, or this weekend’s Brazilian Summer Beauty Pageant  at the Belle Varado Studio—another excuse for a trip back to Woodspoon for a taste of Minas Gerais., 107 W 9th St., Downtown, 213-629-1765.