I am picking my way through the hubbub of rows of cars at Subaru Day, their bonnets popped and engines throbbing at Majura Park, with crowds amassed around them. I am doggedly following my nose.
Smack dab in the centre of it all, spirals of smoke rise from a food truck and the wondrous aroma of beef fat sizzling on hot coals wafts across the parking lot. I giddy-on-up over and arrive at the Brazbecue food truck. At 10 am, it began serving brunch.
Owners Lelio, Alice, and Enrico welcome me up the steps and into their food truck to get an up-close look at their churrasqueira, their Brazilian rotisserie system. Sword-like skewers of beef, lamb and chicken rotate slowly over an open flame. The smoky fragrance hits us in the face and makes my mouth water.
Architects in their homeland, but with qualifications that could not be used in Australia, Lelio and Alice decided to create a whole new space. They launched Brazbecue in July 2020, in the middle of COVID-19, when many businesses were closing. You might remember seeing their gazebo on Horse Park Drive on a morning commute.
Three years on, the family owns a gorgeous beast of a food truck fitted out with the churrasqueira. The food truck has been a game-changer, making catering for functions and following the hungry hordes much easier. And now their business is no longer dependent on perfect weather.
What will you eat at Brazbecue? Meat. Very, very good meat.
And there is scrumptious grilled halloumi for any vegetarians. The menu offers portions of grilled meat, sampler plates, and delicious meat-filled buns. Ask about their Brazilian snack pack, full of mixed meat, chips and chimichurri on steaming hot rice.
A visit to Brazbecue is the same as a visit to any Brazilian churrascaria; the main event is the picanha. Picanha is a cut of beef from the rump, well-loved in Brazil because it is so tender and for its layer of fat that melts into and tenderises the meat while it is grilling, sealing in all the flavour.
I order a Brazbecue sampler, a BBQ sandwich full of mixed grill and an icy Guarana zero to wash it down.
What I love is how Lelio and Alic hero the natural, unadulterated flavours of the meat without marinades getting in the way. Apart from a Brazilian dusting of salt and some olive oil, it is just the kiss of the flame and the expert hands of those who understand how its magic transforms the various cuts of meat into so much deliciousness.
The grilled chicken is glorious – its smoke-imbued crunch gives way to tender and juicy.
The flame-rendered fat on the picanha is out of this world. And the beef itself is flavourful and cooked to perfection.
I swipe lush strips of umami-fragrant lamb rump through the chimichurri sauce. Fresh and luxurious, the green sauce brings a herbaceous garlic hit to the meat.
The bun holding the mixed grill is fantastic on its own – fluffy and fresh with a crunch to its crust, a lot like a banh mi roll. Now, filled with the meat and succulent sausage slices on a bed of lettuce, topped with curls of tangy red onion and dollops of chimichurri, it is big bites of happiness.
Brazbecue has some exciting plans in the mix. They are keen to establish a love of Brazilian breakfasts in Canberra. What could be better than some delicious Brazilian cheese bread and robust coffee, filtered the traditional way, to wash it down? Acai is native to Brazil, and Lelio and Alice tell me they might add deliciously fresh acai bowls to the brekky mix. Yum!
Want to try this at home? Lelio is keen to run a workshop to teach people how to cook and prepare just picanha.
“Lelio will teach them how to make it from scratch,” Alice explains.
“‘Where to buy it, how to season it, with what can I have picanha. And then when it comes to the barbecue, how to cook it on the fire, how to cook over charcoal.”
Brazbecue is located on Windsor Walk in Barton. It’s open Wednesday to Friday from 11:30 am to 2 pm.