Haven’t posted in a while.
Let’s fix that.
Brazil is currently the largest global exporter of beef.
This is great. Beef is love, beef is life.
The Brazilian people love beef, North Americans love beef. Naturally there would be trade and all the benefits that arise from it.
We get our McDonalds dollar menu items, and the money from the sale of cattle drives a strong agricultural industry in Brazil, which in turn is translated into millions in tax revenue to be squandered on incomplete world cup stadiums.
Clearly a case where all parties benefit, right?
Well if you were paying attention in grade 8 social studies, the answer is no.
See, the main biomes in Brazil are the Amazon basin rainforest (5 million square km) to the northwest, the Caatinga (barren desert) to the northeast, Mata Atlantica (Atlantic forest) near the Atlantic coast, and the Cerrado (savanna type grasslands) in central Brazil. At the very south, a tiny amount of natural grassland exists, this is the Pampa region.
Of course, other ecosystems exist as Brazil is an enormous and ecologically diverse country, but these are the only relevant regions to our discussion.
Out of the regions listed above, only the Cerrado and Pampa regions are anywhere close to being grazing lands. As a result of this, 79.7% of the Cerrado has been converted to human use, and 70% of the beef cattle production occurs in this region. Similarly, the Pampa biome has been almost entirely converted into farmland.
But this isn’t enough to feed the global appetite for delicious, delicious cow.
Total Brazilian beef exports have risen from 1.01 million tonnes to 1.57 million tonnes between 2011 and 2014 and this doesn’t show any sign of stopping.
So my question to you, dear reader, is:
At what point do we give up delicious cow for sustainable farming and a healthy environment?
Fuck if I know.
On a slightly less depressing note.
Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse has been a lunchtime go-to for when my co-workers feel like lying comatose in a puddle of meat-grease and sweat in the afternoon.
Before I go on any further, I must clarify that Pampa receives two types of customers. Those who want to enjoy a pleasant meal in an “up-scale” restaurant with unique Brazilian touches, and those who want to wage war on the Amazon rainforest.
For those who have never been, the restaurant functions on an all-you-can-eat basis. Ambiguously ethnic waiters bearing skewers of meat stop by your table to slice bits onto your plate.
Of course, there’s a well-stocked salad bar with a veritable cornucopia of vegetables, breads, and sauces, but visiting the salad bar for anything more than sauce is a rookie mistake.
At the table, you are presented with a small round card. It’s green on one side and red on the other. When the green side is showing, the meat-bearers know to approach your table with offerings of protein. The red side signals surrender to the servers.
Being the first to quit and flip the card firmly cements your status as a ‘little sissy bitch’.
And the food?
To be honest, it’s not bad, but it’s gradually getting worse.
When I first visited Pampa nearly two years ago, I was impressed. The variety was great, service prompt, the idea was novel, and the meat was seasoned and cooked well.
While the concept, cuts and service haven’t changed at all, it seems that some shortcuts are being taken and general quality has decreased.
The main draw to a Brazilian style barbeque is that cuts are returned to the broiler after the seared outside layers are served. This allows for a higher proportion of seared ‘crust’ per bite. Recently, it seems that the meats are not being broiled for long enough after the initial serving, and you’re left with a soft, flavorless cut.
To be fair, this is only applicable to the rump steak and top sirloin.
The other lunchtime cuts include chicken drumstick, parmesan pork, and pork sausage.
My favourite cut would have to be the rump steak. When cooked well, it’s fatty, crispy, and tastes overwhelmingly of cow. The fat is wonderfully rendered and you’re left with a rich umami flavour.
A close second would be the chicken drumsticks, which have been consistently tender, juicy, well seasoned and piping hot.
The pork sausage is inconsistent, sometimes it’s fragrant, spicy and juicy, and other times it falls flat.
Finally, the parmesan pork is almost always dry and salty. This is due to the restaurant using a very lean cut on the barbeque and grilling the pork until it’s well done.
Shame on you.
As for the rest of the dining experience?
The service is exactly what you would expect out of a restaurant in Pampa’s price range, and the atmosphere of the restaurant is very mellow and professional.
- Little to no judgement from the wait staff as you shamelessly stuff your face
- Service is prompt, and the staff ask which cuts you would like more of
- Rump steak and chicken are almost always on point
- Salad bar is fresh and varied, if you want to go to a steakhouse and eat salad
- The novelty wears off fast
- Inconsistency in seasoning and quality of cooking turn lunchtime trips into a gamble
- Smiling at the waitress as she offers you lukewarm ‘filtered’ tap-water for $3
And the conclusion?
I would say it’s worth a try.
The novelty of the concept will make dinner a bit more interesting, and I’m willing to bet you won’t leave hungry.