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SambaFlavor chimichurri sauce

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When Robert and Nadia Schwartz lived in South Florida, they ran a small catering company smack dab in the middle of the region's South American community. One of Robert's specialties was his chimichurri sauce, which he often served at parties with sliced rib-eye. People kept telling him he should sell it. After relocating to Georgia, he heeded that advice and started marketing his chimichurri under the name SambaFlavor (www.sambaflavor.com). He began by selling small tubs of chimichurri at the Piedmont Park Green Market - and found himself running out every weekend. Harold Shin, the proprietor of Buford Highway Farmers Market, heard about SambaFlavor and approached Robert about stocking it at the international grocery. It did so well that Schwartz kept working on expanding and just launched the chimichurri sauce at Whole Foods.

Chimichurri is a traditional green sauce created by South American gauchos (cowboys traditionally from Pampas) and served with a variety of grilled meats. It is characteristically bright green, a little vinegary, garlicky and rounded out with olive oil. Schwartz stays true to the original recipe with a few "gourmet" tweaks. He uses Italian flat leaf parsley from local Georgia farms, fresh garlic, kalamata olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a little cayenne "for that kick in the back of your throat."

The $6.95 price tag might seem a bit steep, but it's worth it. The beauty of SambaFlavor's fresh chimichurri is its ability to elevate even the simplest cuts of meat. Case in point: We tested the sauce at home by serving it with some arrachera (flank steak) we bought from the Buford Highway Farmers Market. We only spent $8 for five, well-marbled, magazine-thin steaks, which we salted and cooked on the grill. The meat was great, but the chimichurri gave it a boost and enhanced the flavors. It no longer felt like we were eating a cheap cut of meat.

If you're looking for more ideas how to use the sauce, SambaFlavor's website has loads of recipes, from chicken to shellfish. Schwartz will also be giving regular cooking demonstrations - complete with a real gaucho - at the Whole Foods Buckhead location during October, on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Mondays from 4-7 p.m.

You can find SambaFlavor's chimichurri sauce at select Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com) and in the meat section of the Buford Highway Farmers Market (www.aofwc.com).

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