If you haven’t been to Brazil before, chances are you’ve never tried (or even heard of) a tapioca crêpe. However, if you have, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve eaten loads of this beloved Brazilian street food. Whatever be the case, you can now get this carnival in your mouth at a small eatery in Vienna.
Watch how it’s made here:
When two programmers/surfers/travel enthusiasts put their minds and energy together to create a small business, the results will always surprise you. This is exactly what happened in Vienna’s 4th district this winter, when a new Brazilian street food eatery popped up on Wiedner Haupstraße. dedicated to tapioca crêpes – Brazilian crêpe-like pancakes made with tapioca flour.
Guarded by ‘the most famous toucan in Vienna’ perched in its window (passers-by love taking photos of it for some reason – it’s a statue, just to be clear), the increasingly popular lunchtime eatery, Rio Gostoso Tapiocaria, is inspired by Karin & Christian’s many travels to Brazil.
What is a Tapioca? Well, glad you asked! (we say pushing our glasses up on our noses, using our index finger). Tapioca, a very common ingredient in Brazil, is actually a gluten-free starch sourced from the cassava root, also known as manioc, yucca or mandioca.
The closest we might have gotten to this exotic ingredient in good old Europe is when bubble tea invaded our lands in the early noughties. In South America, however, it’s been a staple ingredient forever, with it starring in many dishes, including this crêpes-like dish that comes stuffed with all sorts of savoury, or sweet, fillings.
Since we too are new to the game, we ask Renato, the Brazilian master chef In Rio Gostoso, to recommend his favourite flavours. We first feel like something savoury, so we go for the Fortaleza (all dishes are named after Brazilian cities) – filled with loads of melted cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and requeijão (a Brazilian cream cheese). To pimp it up, we opt for the beetroot tapioca flour, which not only looks pretty in pink, but also adds a subtle extra flavour to the rather neutral tasting spongy-looking tapioca.
The tapioca crêpes are done on the spot in front of us, which makes for an entertaining wait: to get a perfect round shape, Renato first places a bottomless pot on the hot plate, into which he sifts the flour. The fillings follow. As soon as the cheese begins to melt, the crêpe is folded and ready to eat.
Meanwhile, the sweet variations, one coming with heavenly doce de leite (a caramel and toffee-like syrup), make for a drool-worthy on-the-go dessert.
Even though the concept is take-away, there are 3 tables inside. It’s obvious that Karin & Christian are investing a lot of their love and passion for Brazil into this place, with all of the interior adornments being things they’ve brought back from Brazil. Not to mention the fridge full of Brazilian drinks, including Guarana Antarctica (a very sweet fizzy drink), coconut water, Açaí juice, some mate-based drinks, and soon to be added to the menu, Brazilian beer brands such as Skol or Bohemia.
There’s one good and solid sign that this place is doing things right: large Brazilian families now storm and fill the place on a regular basis, and when they do, the place becomes as vibrant in atmosphere as a Brazlian carnival.