Indigenous Brazilians, African slaves and European farmers all influenced the evolution of these tasty cheese balls from the state of Minas Gerais
At almost every Brazilian gathering you’ll find pão de queijo (pronounced pow-ge-kay-ju) on the table: small golden cheese balls with a crunchy crust, a light, fluffy centre and a slightly tart flavour. They are similar to French gougère but are naturally gluten free.
Its culinary roots can almost certainly be traced back to the landlocked state of Minas Gerais in south-east Brazil. It’s thought that the indigenous Guaraní peoples pounded native cassava, otherwise known as yuca or manioc, to make basic bread long before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. When the colonisers settled in Minas, bringing with them African slaves – the colonial capital Ouro Preto was at the heart of the Brazilian gold rush – they discovered that the land wasn’t suitable for cultivating grains like wheat, and turned to this hardy, starchy tuber.
Veteran hotelier Ian Schrager’s new venture in Manhattan takes luxury down a notch. Eva Wiseman checks in
He calls it “accessible luxury”, and this is Ian Schrager’s latest big idea. The first was Studio 54, where elitist hedonism was born behind a velvet rope. The second, which he came up with in prison, doing time for tax evasion, was the “boutique hotel”. Schrager is the man responsible for purple feature walls, for lobbies that double as local cocktail bars, for chairs that look like comfy sculptures, and for today’s luxury hotel experience, with all the exclusive glossiness that entails. But this week he opens Public in downtown Manhattan, where he’s trying out something new. Populism.
In a voice that sounds like concrete mixing, Schrager explains that this is a hotel for everybody. Despite costing less than half the price of his glitzier hotels (rooms start at $150, for bookings made before the end of August), it retains the neon glamour of its five-star neighbours, and has already attracted Studio 54-level interest, with Patti Smith performing on the opening night. “I start with the rate I want to charge, then back in from there,” he growls. “And it means breaking rules.” Walking through the lobby, with a shop that sells flowers and T-shirts and perfume, and a landscape of white sofas, it’s not immediately obvious where the money’s been saved, where the rules have been broken.