How many miles you’d be willing to travel just to seat at a table? How many hours in a car, train or plane just to get there, just pushed by your curiosity.
The D.O.M. is worth all the 11 (even more) hours that separate Italy from Sao Paulo. Much of its value is linked to its ethic principles, but don’t think this restaurant is just images and words and look wisely at its hedonistic side. Because meals at D.O.M. are stunning.
Two main reasons: Alex’s talent (who has IMHO a really Italian touch) and the produce of Brazil. Needless to say, one of the strength at D.O.M. are the unique in the world products you’ll be able to taste. It’s on these that Alex decided to ground his culinary revolution, after his training years in Europe.
This was my tasting menu:
White Shellfish, salicornia and boiled peanuts
Shrimp, chayote, tamarind and cashew juice
Oyster, cupaçu, whiskey and mango / Oyster pane with tapioca marine
Lightly toasted black rice with green vegetables and Brazil nut milk
Beside being amazing, this course has a beautiful story. The rice used is the Preto variety. A few years back, a small producer knocked hopeless to Alex door: no one wanted his rice. Once tasted, he put it straight away on the menu. Today, Preto rice is grown in the whole country.
Horse-mackerel, palm and mushrooms sautéed and native (Brazilian Bee) Honey
The papuña is one of the products that Alex pushes the most since the birth of D.O.M. it’s a wild palm variety that once cut give birth to two different trunks from a single stump.
White corn porridge with scallops and squid
Alex told me about the squid used “I will have it this week, but who knows when I will have it again”. One of the beauties of working with small producers (NDA).
Roasted heart palm with anchovy
Grey mullet roe with herbs salad
This dish alone is worth the journey.
Pineapple with amazonic ant
Heart of palm fettuccine Carbonara
Wild boar neck with manioc flour and banana purée
Aligot. On the menu since the first day of D.O.M, it’s a tribute to Michel and Sebastien Bras cuisine. Alex works his aligot using only Brazilian cheese.
Jabuticaba sorbet with wasabi
Lime and banana ravioli with priprioca
One of the most acclaimed desserts of D.O.M. Its delicate and exotic taste of lemon and golden bananas is intensified by the priprioca essence, a scent obtained from an Amazonian root (used in theory for pharmaceutical purposes). Through a distillation process, Alex extracts its aroma for edible purposes. Today he’s still the only one in Brazil to do that, and he’s fighting for it to get it used by the food industry, going against the pharmaceutical monopole.
Pumpkin, vegetable coal and tapioca ice cream
Brazil nut tart with whiskey ice cream, curry, chocolate, salt, rocket and pepper
This was my best lunch of the year. Every single dish was a bomb ready to explode in your mouth, to turn you into a hunter, diving you in the middle of the amazonic forest, with your face soaked with humidity.
Alex's character is important as it redefines the urban cook. His link with its territory has a new point of view, from a person living in an alienating place as cities are. He envisions and pushes for an overall social development, concerning as much small producers as the growth of a nation, of its people and its industry.
I wish I could have written more about the products tasted (I’ve described just a few of all the ingredients/courses), but that day Alex was on the rush so we couldn’t talk a lot. Few hours away from that meal, Alex had a plane that would have brought him to Manaus. The last human frontier before the forest with the most biodiversity in the world.
Even if generally I don’t like Phaidon, its feature book “D.O.M. Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients” is a must. I’ve pre-ordered it already; it’s out on September 17th.
P.S: With extreme pleasure I’ve noticed that even though 6th at the 50 Best, no San Pellegrino was served at D.O.M. Here water is strictly Brazilian.