Epicurean Easter – Fancy a traditional Brazilian Easter lunch? Head for RockPool where a dedicated duo of cooks will bring you perfection.

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It’s said these days that when it comes to food, you can now find everything in Thailand. But the story’s still not complete. There are still items that you just can’t find here. The only option: bring them yourself. Pack everything into your luggage and hope nothing gets broken, damaged or spoiled. A little while ago, a traveller came through Bangkok airport with an array of goods that no supplier in Bangkok possesses. They were all Brazilian staples, exactly the type that are eaten at Easter. Their destination? RockPool, where they’re going to go into possibly the island’s most exuberant Easter lunch. Some 60 guests will be treated to a spectacular meal that will be hard to find outside Brazil.

The traveller in question is Luci Leonardi Varin, who’s a native Brazilian and completely new to Thailand. Yet, for all that, if you’ve ever eaten at RockPool, you’ll already have come under her influence, without being the least aware of it. Luci turns out to be the mother of RockPool’s executive chef, Lucas Leonardi Varin, and his chief inspiration when it comes to cooking. “It was my mother,” he says, “who got me into cooking. She’s brilliant at it, though she has had no formal training. She always loves making new dishes, and she’s very influenced by Brazil’s cosmopolitan heritage. I grew up with her cooking: we had food from all round the world. In part, I’m simply passing that on to my guests here.”

rockpoolLucas masters many different styles. After learning all he could from Luci, he went on to one of Brazil’s most prestigious culinary schools, and then from there went on to cook in many different parts of the world, always acquiring wonderful local and regional dishes. For Easter, he’ll be cooking together with Luci as they prepare the one-off Brazilian lunch buffet. It’ll definitely be a reservations only affair, with groups welcome. Despite the uniqueness of the occasion, the price of the lunch definitely won’t be on the extravagant side. If you’d like to attend, whatever you do, make sure you come hungry – otherwise you’re not going to last the course, as they say. Brazilian food is as hearty as it’s delicious, and at RockPool there’ll be a lot of it. Afterwards, don’t bother with planning anything for the rest of the day – you’ll want to digest that lunch. In other words, you’ll be happily drowsy – nothing to do with any drink.

rockpoolThat’s typical of any lunch in Brazil, but on 16th April, Easter Day, it’ll be a sumptuous occasion. The menu for the day is in Portuguese and English. Portuguese can be tricky to understand, more so from a culinary point of view, as so many different cultures have gone into the cuisine. Some of the English translations can sound clumsy, too. “And the food itself doesn’t look so wonderful – it doesn’t lend itself to photography.” Lucas explains how he was cooking some national dishes for a party of French people. “They turned their noses up at it, saying how it all looked so samey. But that was before they tasted it. Then they couldn’t get enough of it.”

For Easter Sunday, Lucas and Luci are preparing some 25 dishes, all of which are traditional. They range from the rustic to the sophisticated, but they’re all exactly the kind of thing you’d be tucking into if you were anywhere in Brazil. First of all there’s Brazilian cheese bread and garlic bread (not at all the same as the European variety and much softer) and ‘picanha no sal grosso’, a tender rump of beef crusted in rock salt. This is the best cut of meat from Brazil’s cattle with each animal just providing 900 g. Then there’s an orange salad that offsets the heavy-hitting ‘feijoada’, Brazil’s acclaimed national dish, which is a black bean stew using sun-dried beef and pork. It’ll be accompanied by a spicy sauce that traditionally goes with the dish, and various other accompaniments.

rockpoolThere’ll be plenty of rice, but of a type that you may not be familiar with. This is ‘arroz carreteiro gaucho’, which laboriously translates as ‘gaucho oxcart driver’s rice with beef jerky and onions’. As the wording suggests, it’s traditional and rustic. It’s also tasty, and you’ll find another wonderful rural dish too, ‘feijão tropeiro Mineiro’, or Minas-style cattleman’s beans – it’s made with salted pork, sausage, eggs, beans and manioc flour. You’ll also find a prawn-stew baked in hollowed-out pumpkins, and the always excellent ‘escondidinho de bacalhau’, a type of fish pie, made with cod. Totally moreish. There’s
a lot more besides, plus puddings which are scrumptious, to say the least. ‘Brigadeiro’, a chocolate bonbon, and Brazil’s national dessert perhaps, leads the way but is accompanied by ‘Romeo e Julieta’, guava paste and cheese, and will certainly win you over. Then there’s passion fruit mousse, crème caramel Brazilian-style, and ‘amendoas na taça’, a triple-decker construct of white chocolate, milk chocolate and almonds. That doesn’t exhaust the list – seven desserts await you in all.

RockPool is located at Kanda Residences, Koh Samui, which you will find three kilometres north of Chaweng. Easter lunch starts at midday, 16th April, and goes on till 4:00 pm. For children up to the age of five, there’s no charge; from the ages of six to 12, there’s a 50% discount. The lunch will be held on the magnificent terrace, directly overlooking the sea. There will also be an Easter egg hunt to help keep the kids entertained.

Popular with island residents and holidaymakers alike, RockPool always guarantees amazingly tasty dishes. And Easter lunch will be unique, something special. With so many treats on offer, it’ll be an ideal time to try something different.

Dimitri Waring

For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7723 4500.
www.rockpoolsamui.com