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Friday, July 29, 2016

o-CNN: Authentic Rodizio and Caipirinha at Gaucho Brazilian Restaurant in Canmore and Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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This is not the "Mexican all inclusive" beach variety. It is the real Caipirinha that requires a designated driver. Marry it with Alberta's finest beef and great Brazilian friends, and you've found a new home away from home. It is an amazing dining experience, guaranteed. I didn't know how much I love Brazil until I met Ede and his team.

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If you would ask my boys where they want to go for a family celebration, there is only one place they come back to time and again: Ede and Rosina's Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue in Canmore (with a location in Calgary as well). Henry and Jan invents occasions that take us to Gaucho! This is where Ede introduced us to the "Rodízio" and my other lovely girlfriend Caipirinha (please don't tell Margarita).


Rodízio is an all-you-can-eat style of restaurant service in Brazilian restaurants. In most areas of the world outside of Brazil, a rodízio restaurant refers to a Brazilian style steakhouse restaurant. Customers pay a fixed price (preço fixo) and the waiters bring samples of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signal that they have had enough. Pace yourself. Come early. It is a huge meal. 

In churrascarias or the traditional Brazilian-style steakhouse restaurants, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of quality cuts of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, chicken and sometimes exotic meats. At Gaucho, rodízio courses are served right off the cooking spit, and are sliced or plated right at the table. Sometimes they are accompanied with fried potatoes, fried bananas, collard greens, black beans, and rice (served buffet style). Salad is not what you come for at Gaucho, but my wife assures me they are awesome companions to the other vegetables that are also served, like the chicken. 

At Gaucho, as is traditional in many restaurants, the diner is provided with a coloured card, red on one side and green on the other. The servers will only bring more meat if the card is flipped to the green side. Our card usually gets lost somewhere during the meal courtesy of my eldest. He is a big fan.


Caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime. Cachaça, also known as Pinga or Caninha, is Brazil's most common distilled alcoholic beverage. Although both rum and cachaça are made from sugarcane-derived products, in cachaça the alcohol results from the fermentation of fresh sugarcane juice (that wasn't burned, and in most cases is hand cut) that is then distilled, while rum is usually made from refinery by-products such as molasses. The drink is prepared by muddling the fruit and the sugar together, and adding the liquor. 

Although the real origins of caipirinha, as it is known today, are unknown, according to one account it began around 1918 in the state of São Paulo with a popular recipe made with lime, garlic and honey, indicated for patients with the Spanish flu. Today it is still being used as a remedy for the common cold. As it was quite common to add some distilled spirits to home remedies, in order to expedite the therapeutic effect, rum was commonly used. "Until one day someone decided to remove the garlic and honey (good decision, maybe?). Then added a few tablespoons sugar to reduce the acidity of lime. The ice came next, to ward off the heat," explains Carlos Lima, executive director of IBRAC (Brazilian Institute of Cachaça).

If you are keen on an authentic Caipirinha experience, you don't have many choices in Alberta. Cachaça is nearly impossible to get here, which is hard to believe considering it is the second most consumed spirit in the world next to Bourbon (...according to experts). Ede's restaurants is where you can get your fix, else you have to get a smuggler from Brazil to bring it in for you. There is also one Liqueur store in Calgary that stocks it. It has a Brazilian owner, and that is as much as I am going to say, because it is nearly almost sold out when I get there.

Enjoy our video about Ede and Rosina's Gaucho Brazilian Barbeque. It is a favourite place for us, and we hope it will become yours too.

Hendrik van Wyk
... and the lovely Caipirinha.

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