The Purist Fall 2023 Issue
In 1999, Rio de Janeiro native Ludmilla "Milla" Benevides moved from Brazil to the United States to pursue a career in bossa nova music, carrying a taste of her roots with her. When the singer was 7 years old, her father was transferred to the São Paulo countryside to work in a water plant. Benevides says that as early as she can remember there was always pão de queijo as part of the meal, which now serves as her brand's inspiration: homemade, naturally
gluten-free pão de queijo, or cheese bread, as she calls it. Milla's Puffs-Benevides' line of frozen cheesy delights-is produced with six locally sourced, non-GMO ingredients and tapioca flour imported from Brazil.
Growing up in a family that valued the importance of cooking and eating high-quality food together is the guiding force for her business. Throughout her time on and offstage, the singer recalls bringing flavorful snacks— Brazilian delicatessen gluten-free cheese puffs-to rehearsals and events for all to enjoy. Benevides now crafts her bite-size morsels with a heritage recipe that she has developed over the past five years. The at-home process is simple and convenient: Heat the oven to 400 degrees, place the cocktail-size bites on a baking sheet and in 17 minutes, they are ready to enjoy. Larger dinner roll-size buns bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. For an elevated experience, she recommends stuffing them with your favorite cold cut or vegetable. "It becomes like a liftle luxe sandwich, and it's lighter than a regular bagel," says Benevides. "You don't feel like you're eating a lot, and it's a perfect cocktail size for any occasion, event or party."
What began as an homage to her roots and community quickly evolved into a large-scale business operation. Today, Milla's Puffs are available for sale at local farmers markets and a range of specialty shops such as Provisions in Water Mill and Sag Harbor, Serene Green in Sag Harbor, Nurel's in Hampton Bays, Eastport General Store, lavarone Brothers in Wantagh, IGA in Southold and more. While Milla's Puffs has seen quick success online and in the Hamptons, the brand's founder remains humble and excited for what the future holds, and plans to expand her offerings. "There is nothing better than sharing our culture in a country that gave me the opportunity to express my passion for music and food." millaspuffs.com
HAMPTONS REAL ESTATE SHOWCASE
Milla's Puffs bring Brazil to the East End
Pity the foodie who has never sampled pão de queijo, the impossibly pliant, addictively chewy Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca (the secret ingredient that offers the chew like none other). Ludmilla “Milla” Benevides arrived on American soil 18 years ago via Rio de Janeiro in pursuit of a career in bossa nova — brought her beloved pão de queijo with her from home, baking them for friends and family. Since 1998, Milla and her husband, Marcello Pimenta, have offered unforgettable, high-energy bossa nova performances all over the East End. This newest passion project demonstrates the symbiotic relationship the couple has found between music and food.
Pão de queijo — or cheese puffs, as Milla now calls them — have been part of Brazil’s legacy for nearly 200 years. Before the introduction of cheese, though, the food was a combination of soaked, peeled cassava root, combined with milk and eggs, a food of access made by African slaves. In the 19th century, cheese was added, and the popular puffs were born.
Milla’s version of the Brazilian staple involves six locally sourced ingredients (apart from the tapioca, which she gets fresh from Brazil). Her product, which arrives in pre-batched balls, are ready-to-bake. Pouches come in two sizes: cocktail size (30 to a bag) and classic size (10 to a bag). In addition to the classic flavor, Milla has also introduced a new flavor, the tomato and basil cheese puff.
Through her website, millaspuffs.com, puff enthusiasts can purchase cheese puffs in bulk. But local East End businesses have also picked up on the pão de queijo trend of late. Provisions Natural Food Market in Sag Harbor — as well as the new outpost, in Water Mill — now carries the cheese puffs. You can also find them at the Community Supermarket & Deli in Hampton Bays, the Hampton Fruit & Vegetable Market in East Quogue, Village Prime Meats in East Quogue, Iavarone Bros. in Wantagh, Buoy One in East Hampton, Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, and Serene Greene Farm Stand and Seafood Market in Sag Harbor.
The farmer’s markets are abuzz with cheese puffs, too, this season. Good Ground at Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, Southampton at Agawam, and Riverhead Winter Market are just a few of the farmer’s markets where you can expect to find Milla’s cheese puffs this year.
If you have never experienced the chewy, luscious goodness of a cheese puff before, this is your year. Fall is the perfect time of year to stock up. Serve them as appetizers, serve them as snacks, serve them before Thanksgiving — just serve them. Cheese puffs are an excellent entrée into the wide world of Brazilian food. Better yet, they’re an excellent way to support a local business (or several local businesses, actually), all from the privacy of your own home. If the idea of a kitchen filled with the scents of slowly baking cheesy bread brings a smile to your face — and why wouldn’t it? — Milla’s cheese puffs are the fall treat you may not have known you needed in your life. Go forth, and get your chewy, cheesy bread on.
SHARING THE MUSIC AND FOOD OF BRAZIL