Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jack & the Beanstalk "feijoada" for Mateus' 1st birthday party

I just came back from my native Brasil where, besides having a wonderful time with family and friends, enjoying the beach and the warm weather during the fall/winter months (95F/35C versus 54F/12C in my CA homebase...), I also celebrated my little boy's "pre" first birthday.
We commemorated it with a feijoada, a typical Brazilian (and Portuguese) dish very similar to the french cassoulet, but made with black beans instead of white, and using mainly pork as the animal protein.  I don't eat a lot of meat - in fact, I haven't eaten beef or pork for more than 20 years.  But I do eat some chicken and fish every now and then.  We had a Brazilian chef cooking for us, and she made two types of feijoada: a traditional one and another one specially for me and my kids - no pork, just smoked chicken and chicken sausage.  Delicious!!
Clockwise from left: white rice, farofa (toasted manioc coarse flour), sautéed garlicky collard greens, Calabrese sausage, fried manioc (yucca) with grated parmesan cheese. Below, Chef Andréa Braga in action.
Now... how do we shape this luncheon to look like a kid's first birthday party? Inspired by the food, I wanted to use this concept on the decoration as well.  I thought about something like "my little bean is turning one", but that wouldn't really translate into the Brazilian language and culture.  So, my brilliant mom remembered of a classic fable: "Jack and the Beanstalk".  Perfect, right?  The only setback was the timeline - we had less than two weeks to come up with the concept, invitation, party favors, decoration, etc, etc.  All that while still in the US packing for myself and my two little ones!! 
I never tire to say how talented my sister is, and here is a little bit of her work: she designed the invitation representing the giant, the beanstalk and "Jack".  Or in our particular story, "Mateus".  The invitation read something like "with the leftover beans from his adventure up in the clouds, Mateus decided to prepare a feijoada to celebrate his first birthday!" 
Then she made these adorable coloring booklets with the same design for the kids to play with during the party.
We kept the tablescape simple and tried to capture some of the main elements of the story: Jack, the chicken with its golden eggs, the beans.  My younger sister recommended Toledo Bolos for its tasty and very artistic cakes (cake designer Fernanda even has the stylist Marc Jacobs on her list of past clients!  Sorry, I just had to casually throw this in :-) I explained how I wanted the cake using the color palette green-blue-orange representing the grass and the leaves (green) and the sky (blue). The orange? We "dressed" Jack in an orange shirt, since it would be a good complementing warming color against the cool tones.  The cake was not only delicious, but a truly great work of art!!
Love the small details Fernanda added to the cake, like the golden eggs in the chicken's nest
I even found an adorable cow candle, which was very fitting for the theme :-)

The "magic beans" were chocolate covered peanuts wrapped in plastic candy bags and then in rustic jute bags
Chocolate eggs painted in edible gold (made by Chocolitos. Great job Roberta, thanks!)  Caption on the tag: "Mateus is a cool guy and decided to share his golden eggs with his friends!"
We made tissue paper pompoms to hang from the wood beams (instructions below)

Start by gathering your supplies: 
1. tissue paper (about 8 sheets for a regular pompom, use more for a fuller effect)
2. scissors
3. floral wire (and cutter)

Open the sheets of paper, stack them up and fold them in a series of 1 1/2"wide accordion-style folds. Crease with each fold.
Tie the center with a piece of floral wire
Cut both ends of the stacked folded paper (pointed or round, for a softer look) 
Carefully separate the layers on both ends, pulling one at a time from the center

My big sister and I love to throw creative parties, are both detail-oriented, and share many of the same ideas and taste. But besides our joint casual teenager parties years and years ago, we never had the opportunity to work on an event together.  Until now :-)  Well, this was more of a little teaser really, hopefully there'll be many more opportunities ahead of us... Check out her personal blog, CASOS E COISAS DA BONFA, and you'll know what I am talking about!!
The birthday boy caught burying his slippers in dirt.  Parabéns, Mateus!!


  1. Love all the details and creativity here. The colors are perfect and The cake is adorable!!! And "feijoada"....yummmmy!
    Awesome work you 2!

  2. Well done Flavia! Another magnificent demonstration of your creativity in visioning an event and executing it perfectly! I loved the idea and I so wished I was there for the Feijoada!

  3. Flave, obrigada pelas belas palavras e elogios!!!!!!! Espero que a gente possa fazer muitas outras festas juntas, com mais tempo e mais detalhes!!!! Estou doida pra ver os posts da festa oficial!!!!! Ficou sensacional, amei as fotos que vc mandou! Beijão!

  4. Flavia foi um prazer tornar possível um dos elementos do conto (os ovos de ouro) em realidade em forma de chocolate! Felicidades ao pequeno e para toda a família!

  5. Thank you all, muito obrigada a todas pelos elogios :-)

    Roberta, os ovos ficaram perfeitos, sucesso!!

  6. What an adorable party! I love all the details, including the fun color palette. Great job!

    1. Thank you so much, Sara! I'm glad you like it ;-) It is indeed a fun and "easy on the eyes" color palette.


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