The Brazilian restaurant Moqueca is famous for one dish. It's called moqueca, like the restaurant.
What you get is a big clay pot filled with seafood in a tomato sauce brightly flavored with cilantro, coconut milk, limes, onion, garlic, olive oil and urucum.
You may never have heard of urucum, but if you've been to Yucatán, you've tasted it. It's achiote (annatto), a red seasoning also used in Filipino and other cuisines. If you like spicy, you tip in malagueta pepper sauce from a bowl on the side.
In a tasting of two moquecas, the winner was a combination of lobster tails and shrimp. Its sauce seemed more full flavored than a moqueca with seabass. Perhaps imagination, piqued by the costly ingredients ($74 for a large serving, $40 for the small size) was at work.
The handmade black pots get a lot of wear. Owner Gloria Sarcinelli (above) goes to Brazil every year to buy more. The pots, and the dish, are from her homeland, Espírito Santo state. That state is on the coast, and perhaps this is why the restaurant is located by Oxnard's Channel Island Harbor Marina.
The menu is long, offering much more than moqueca. If I lived nearby, I would drop in regularly for a bowl of caldo verde (above), a thick green soup of collards and potato with smoky tastes of bacon and sausage.
Drinks take up two pages of the menu. The obvious choice is a caipirinha, made with cachaça, a sugarcane spirit from Brazil (above). The cocktail comes in a glass provided by Leblon, the cachaça producer. On the side is house-made tapenade.
Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine, 3550 S. Harbor Blvd., Suite 201, Oxnard, CA 93035. Tel: (805) 204-0970.
Also at 1610 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA., CA 91360. Tel: (805) 230-3585.