It’s hard to imagine a scenario where cheese and bread becomes a delightful indulgence for gluten-intolerant folks, vegans, and carbohydrate lovers alike. However, one enterprising Brazilian has made the impossible possible.
Over the course of a year, Christiano Prado of Lua Brazil has become a fixture at Austin-area farmers' markets where his irresistible pão de queijo draws a crowd with its intoxicating scent. Taking advantage of his captive audience, Prado has used market shoppers as guinea pigs to test his seemingly unending rotation of flavors – now numbering seven – and to perfect his recipes for American palates. However, as of November, he has graduated from the rootless life of a farmers' market vendor and is taking the next big step of aspiring restaurateurs by moving into a food truck.
Located on the corner of Fifth Street and Interstate 35, Lua Brazil opened to the public on November 20. Not one to be confined, Prado says he will continue to set up shop at Austin farmers' markets while he continues growing his empire of Brazilian cheese bread.
He isn’t stopping there though. In an effort to conquer more territory with his cassava-based Brazilian treats, Prado is taking things at whirlwind speed. In addition to opening a food truck to better serve the public, he is introducing a “Moon Bike” to the streets in hopes of feeding late-night revelers an alternative snack to soak up their libations. Cheese bread, not pizza, he says is the natural companion of craft beer.
Daly Powers, a friend of Prado will be operating the Moon Bike. Prado explains that to satisfy their craving, Austinites should be on the lookout for a bicycle with a glowing orb that floats through late-night throngs. If the “moon” is lit, it means that freshly baked pão de queijo is available to curb your hunger. Darkness indicates that the supply will be replenished shortly.
At the food truck, things will operate much as they have at the farmers' markets. Hot cheese breads will be sold three for $5 and they will be available in all flavors: traditional, jalapeno, basil, pizza, chocolate, snickerdoodle, and power bread. In short order there will be an eighth addition to the menu in the form of a rosemary garlic pão de queijo. Unlike at the market, however, the trailer will give patrons the opportunity to purchase boxes of 16 ready-made globes.
Of course you can still buy frozen cheese breads to take home and bake, but Prado hopes that by opening an eatery he can cultivate a culture and community around what he calls “the cheese bread experience.” For him, enjoying a pão de queijo is more than a bite to eat. It’s an introduction to a novel component of Brazilian culture, a way to introduce new flavors, and a method through which he can engage people in conversation that hopefully persuades them to linger a little longer over their food and appreciate the complexities behind the meals that nourish us.