September 28, 2010

Mortadella Mayhem at The Hocca Bar (São Paulo)

by Bryan Sanders

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The Hocca Bar first opened its doors in 1952, and serves up thousands of sandwiches, beers, and pastéis de bacalhau (pastries packed with cod) everyday. The mixed crowd of kids, families, polo wearers, old gentlemen, and nuns stand or sit on stools, consuming their sandwiches. Everyone loud, talking, numbers are shouted, people laugh; talk one-handed.

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The line wrapped around the place. A man asked the line to make room for those walking by. This was crowd control at a sandwich stand.

I place my order. I wait for the numbers: 451, 452, 453, 461, 463. Where is 454? The wait hurts. Worries of being forgotten, and working out how to say, “Please feed me,” in Portuguese, finally come to fruition. The man at the grill is working with mixed meats and breads; methodically slicing and tossing; then carefully folding and dropping the meat inside the buns. This vet has done this for at least a decade, probably more. His muscle memory finally delivers 454. I’m up. I claim my prize.

This is the sandwich not featured in Anthony Bordain’s epic No Reservations trip to São Paulo. Hocca Bar is the sandwich stand nearby– the one that he didn’t have time to wait for.

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The Hocca Bar lives up to their slogan, “O famoso é aqui” Which means: THE FAMOUS IS HERE. “The famous” references The Mortadella Sandwich aptly named “Belíssima”; stacked four inches thick with multiple layers of cheese. Savory mortadella meat, similar to bologna with pockets of fat to capture flavor, is balanced with a dried tomato sauce preserved in olive oil and topped with oregano. This blend is then shoved into an Italian loaf and cut in half.

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The sandwich has to be held with a napkin.

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It kills me. This artery-clogger might have taken a few minutes of my life but I could give a careful shit. It’s a miracle heart-stopper that took me straight to heaven. The balance of the sandwich is just right, where most sandwiches this packed with meat run the risk of drying out; the sauce and availability of molho do pimenta, a yellow hot sauce, complete it.

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I deserve this sandwich and apparently so do the 50 or so still in line waiting for their time to come.

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Pastéis de bacalhau.

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I will be back next month.

Map

HOCCA BAR
Mercado Municipal
Rua da Cantareira 306
Downtown
São Paulo

FAT MAP

7 Comments

  • yoko
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

    What’s in the Pastéis de bacalhau?
    I love how the molho do pimenta is in a water bottle.

  • kayoko
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Bryan had said that it’s “pastries packed with cod”. Sorry that’s my bad as I must have accidentally taken that out.

    Bacalhau is salted cod that is dried to preserve it, then soaked in water before using. It is used a lot in Central/South American and Caribbean cuisines. Very meaty and when cooked right, absolutely fantastic.

    Bryan, how do the pastries taste? Looks so delicious. I also read that they have shrimp ones too– everything looks so spectacular.

    I’m a huge fan of mortadella– NEVER to be mistaken for Oscar Meyer baloney!

    AWESOME POST!!!!

    Bryan0

  • Posted September 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Bacalhau is cod- it is a profoundly Portuguese dish that people here eat in droves. I however am not a fan when it isn’t cooked right. I have had my fair share, but have for the last few months avoided it.

    I will be doing a future write up on Pastels. They are basically street food pastries filled with amazing unimaginable fillings from shrimp, cheese, to pizza, to palm heart (my favorite). We will have mini ones at our wedding I found out today. They actually have a very interesting history.

    Thanks guys.

  • Posted September 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Bryan, the cod pastel is delicious, you have to try it next time.
    But the best pastel, in my humble opinion, is the banana/cinnamon they have at Estadio do Pacaembu fair, SO GOOD!
    Great post!

  • Gustavo
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Nice post Bryan!!
    I’ve never ate the mortadela sandwich!! but I love the pastels from hocca!!
    I know a very good recipe for pastel, we should do one day at my house! sunday lunch with pasteis and maybe some other bar snacks

  • Posted September 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    thats a heart attack on a bun. Is this San Paulo’s answer to Schwartz’?

    http://www.schwartzsdeli.com/

  • Posted September 29, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Wow, I love the photos…ultimate food porn. Also like the shot of the nuns.

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