Brazilian-born Caroline Martins has made quite an impression on Manchester since she moved here with her husband Tim in 2020.

Nominated for Chef of the Year in the 2022 Manchester Food & Drink Awards, Caroline is fresh from an appearance on Great British Menu, which she had also featured on in 2022 hoping to represent the North West.

Caroline trained to be a chef at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, which she enrolled in after appearing as a contestant in MasterChef Brazil. Before that, she was working in plasma physics, for which she has a PhD. Caroline (sorry, that’s Dr Caroline) then decided to give up her scientific career and pursue the lifelong dream of becoming a professional chef.

The prohibitive cost of living in London drove her towards Manchester where she began working as a private chef for various footballers and public figures. Her cooking is technically brilliant, her sourcing of ingredients is impeccable, and her energy is enviable. Her mission is to introduce haute Brazilian cuisine to the UK creating dishes that represent traditional Brazilian flavours interspersing native ingredients with British produce.

She had been one of the founding traders at Peter Street Food Hall, Exhibition, but recently moved her operation back to Ancoats’ wine bar Blossom Street Social where she had formerly run the San Paulo Project in 2022. As if that wasn’t enough, Caroline has also simultaneously opened a Brazilian-Mexican fusion street food concept at Hatch, called RIO-MEX.

Her new Blossom Street Social project is called SAMPA (named after the local colloquial name for Sao Paulo) and offers a more casual Brazilian/British fusion experience which she describes as ‘a relaxed spin on last year’s Sao Paulo Project.’

Rather than formal tasting menus, guests can choose any number of small plates, mains and desserts to enjoy with a glass or bottle from owner Ben Stephenson’s excellent wine selection (or a beer or a soft drink.)

SAMPA’s new bar snack menu showcases a selection of traditional Brazilian pastries (salgadinhos) like Caroline’s signature Bolinha de queijo (Brazilian style deep fried cheese balls made with mature Cheddar) which she serves with a punchy Biquinho pepper sauce.

Guests can also pick through a selection of crudites served in Caroline’s typically creative style. A miniature plant pot filled with mustard greens freshly picked from Cinderwood Market Garden, organic veggies, Brazil nut hummus and a smoked Lancashire dipping sauce.

We were invited over to try a few of the dishes which included a picture perfect selection of canapes including a black miniature cone of chicken liver parfait with prickly pear and pickled rose petal, a tiny tartlet of smoked salmon mousse, and another mousse made from Garstang white shaped like a button mushroom with pickled walnut and passion fruit gel.

Caroline has also developed one of her signature small plates, hand dived scallops, with heart of palm and a cassava mousseline, or for something heartier, you can order a braised beef rib served with feijoada (black bean stew with pork.)

If you’re really peckish and need something to go with one of Ben’s incredible bottles of Tempranillo, try the 450g dry-aged rib-eye from a retired dairy cow, supplied by Littlewoods Butchers served with creamy peppercorn and Acai sauce and French fries.

Or Caroline’s poussin, deboned and stuffed with chicken and truffle mousse roasted and smoked with hickory inside a panela de barro (traditional Brazilian clay stew pot.) It’s SAMPA’s take on frango com quiabo – a classic Brazilian dish made with chicken and okra. This one is served with sauteed okra and sweetcorn and a velvety sauce made from mandioquinha (Baroness potatoes)

It’s known that Brazilians love their condiments, so Caroline also offers a selection of house made oils such as okra oil, paprika oil and garlic olive oil. They’re also known for their sweet tooth – where else do you think they get the energy for dancing all night? So we were offered not one, but three sweet dishes to try.

A cold coconut rice pudding with calamansi sorbet (tart and sharp like lemon or yuzu) with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and pomegranate seeds was delicious and comforting. Caroline had also crafted a chocolate heart shell, made with Brazilian-sourced single estate chocolate from local Dormouse Chocolates, filled with chocolate crémeux and served in the style of a famous Banksy work along with berries macerated in crème de cassis.

Ben had paired these with a delicious Moscato followed by a shot of gorgeous toffee like Madeira. Caroline is a generous host, so just in case anyone was worried about leaving hungry, she rounded off the tasting with some crunchy and warm Brazilian churros, filled with dulce de leche and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

If you’d like to book a place at the casual Brazilian-British Fusion residency at Blossom Street Social, or would like to see a sample menu, click HERE

Opening Hours:

Wed: Friday 5pm – 10pm

Sat: Midday – 10pm

Sunday: Midday – 6pm

SAMPA at Blossom Street Social, 51 Blossom Street, Manchester, M4 6AJ


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