Spring 2016

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178 Venice n any given Saturday, Regina Katia's kitchen in Sailboat Bend smells of warm cheese bread—Brazilian pão de queijo, to be precise—trays of which continue to emerge from the oven late into the night. No problem, though. For Katia, the bread and the ensuing Brazilian feast is a welcomed opportunity to bring a part of her home country to Fort Lauderdale. For the past 10 years, Katia has hosted semimonthly dinners in her backyard. What started as casual get-togethers of 30 friends has ballooned into an unofficial underground restaurant welcoming up to 120 guests (not including a waitlist), mostly a mix of Brazilian transplants who miss the taste of their homeland and Americans curious about the cuisine. They come from as far away as Miami and Delray Beach to savor Katia's rustic dishes, which are a blend of Brazilian, African, European and indigenous tribal flavors. And Katia is happy to deliver. She calls her establishment Regina's Farm, translated to "Fazendinha da Regina" in Portuguese, and it is a nonprofit entity that benefits the Las Olas Worship Center, which is located across the street. Overall, she's raised close to $10,000 for the church, most of which has gone into renovations and funding missionary trips. Regina's Farm is a replica of how Katia grew up in Brazil, where "family and friends got together, and nobody ever had an empty stomach." Its casual approach to dining stands in stark contrast to the high-end restaurants located a mile east on the ritzy Las Olas Boulevard. At Regina's Farm, chickens roam freely, and children sway from swings and ride the homemade mini-train around the fenced-in yard. With no formal training in cooking or hospitality management, Katia has defied the restaurant odds by forgoing normal brick-and-mortar traditions. Instead, she's attracted a crowd with her once-a-week-or-so dinner, reservations by website or text messaging, one seating time (5 p.m.), buffet-style service of more than 40 items and a down-home approach to cuisine. She doesn't offer alcohol, but encourages diners to bring their own wine (there's no corkage fee). Born in the farming village of Coronel Fabriciano in Brazil's Minas Gerais state, Katia remembers drinking fresh cow's milk and harvesting vegetables from her family's garden to bring to the dinner table. The house ran on hydroelectricity (the only house in town with any electricity). While she describes her sisters and brother as the more obedient children, Katia says, "I was a free spirit. I was the one who liked to be outside with no shoes on." The city's most unique dining experience isn't in a restaurant; it's at Regina's Farm, a low-key spot offering more than just Brazilian cuisine. BY NILA DO SIMON PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDUARDO SCHNEIDER FrOm the hearth O

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