Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Extreme Cheesecake and Poop Coffee for the birthday boy

Today we had a cake to celebrate the birthday of one of our Brazilian visitors.  Every year a group of medical students from the Santa Casa de Misericordia hospital in Sao Paolo Brazil comes to the Rhode Island Hospital to cut their teeth on research.  The name of the hospital translates to Holy House of Mercy but the word looks more like misery in English so we jokingly call it the Holy House of Misery. Apparently in the old days when it was run by the nuns it may have been such a place. We learned how people could drop off unwanted children by placing them in a special revolving door. The child would be placed on the outside and the door would be spun and the orphan would be accepted by the sisters on the inside no questions asked. The door is now part of the museum.

The main hospital of The Holy House of Mercy - quite lovely!
We truly enjoy having the Brazilian colleagues join us and one has even returned for a lengthier research gig.  This year's student, who has already been on the blog, celebrated his birthday over the past weekend and so he got a cake to share with us from a restaurant that he found fantastic - The Cheesecake Factory. There are none of these in Brazil and we suggested that if he lost interest in medicine he could always open the first Cheesecake Factory franchise in Sao Paolo as plan B.  The cheesecake, which was one of the few that we actually ate defrosted (all the retail ones come frozen) was called an Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake.

This restaurant left an impression on our Braziliano!
Probably our first cheesecake with the word extreme!

This does look a little extreme!
It is supposed to be sliced into eight pieces but that won't happen!
Rather thick layer of chocolate frosting!

The sides are smothered to the extreme!

Imagine a cheesecake with Oreos stuffed inside and that is what you got.   It had a bottom layer of chocolate cake, then the Oreo cheesecake layer, another layer of what we think was vanilla cheesecake and then about half and inch of chocolate frosting on the top. The sides were covered with the same frosting and chocolate chips and chocolate crunch were embedded therein.  This is indeed extreme even for the Cheesecake Factory.   As is always the case we shy away from having a full recommended serving - one eight of the cake - due to the caloric content.  Far be it from us to contribute to the obesity epidemic in the US.  About 15 people came to cake hour and we still had half the cake left for the next day or for the second shift as we call them. These are the people who come and devour the leftovers after cake hour is over.
Lots of layers!
Yes those are Oreo cookies - whole - embedded in the cake!

The birthday boy and Cheesecake Factory aficionado!
To go with the cake we had a special kind of coffee that was brought back (?) or imported from Vietnam. Why is it special?  It is another version of Poop Coffee as we call it.  This the coveted coffee that is made from coffee berries that are first eaten by civets. They pass through the civet and are dropped onto the ground in their feces - yes feces.  They "treated" berries are then collected, cleaned and roasted for a truly unique coffee experience.  We have had it before and it is good tasting a little nuttier than usual coffee.  This can be very expensive and is considered a coffee delicacy.  Although it does have a smoother taste than some of the regular or dark roasted coffees we're not ready to say that it is all it is made up to be.   We have a whole pound of it so we will he having it for a few days.  We like how there is a picture of the animal and the process on the bag - berries to animal to roasted coffee beans - it tells the whole story.

The cute little things eats the berries and then the beans are collected from its droppings!
A delicious and nutty cup of coffee is the end result!
Our Brazilian friends were asked a lot of questions and shared some of their knowledge and pride about Sao Paolo.  Did you know there is a large Japanese and Korean population there?  They have a carnival celebration that is not as flashy or wild as Rio De Janeiro (remember it is pronounced Hio).  There music is different and the local dancing is too.  In addition we discussed some unique medical issues pertinent to Brazil specifically yellow fever and Dengue.  
Sao Paolo, Brazil - not exactly a small town!
As it turns out our humble lab, which made monoclonal antibodies to the Dengue virus years ago, used these antibodies to assist Brazil in determining if a local outbreak of diseases was Dengue or yellow fever. Yellow Fever is a lot worse so by determining that it was Dengue saved them a lot of trouble.  Prior to this you could only confirm dengue by growing the suspected infected material in the salivary glands of mosquitoes.  You can see where an immunological test using monoclonal antibodies would save some time.  Anyway that was our contribution - albeit years ago - to the public health system in Brazil.  And here we are now training their medical students to do research. It all comes around!!
It may sound bad but it's better than yellow fever!

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