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Acai Delight

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Acai Delight

Açaí bowls just happen to be my favorite food. Imagine my happiness when I discovered a little restaurant – called Acai Delight – not too far from my home, open from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. for my late-night cravings every day except closed Mondays. 

I must have passed by 100 times or more, but never noticed it because the sign is so small. (Darn those city regulations!)

It’s not just you; almost no one knows how to pronounce “açaí.”

Ah-ky-yee? Ah-see? Uh-kai? 

There are in fact 20,400 monthly searches for the correct pronunciation of “açaí” on Google! In English, the accepted way is “ah-sigh-EE”, according to Sambazon, the company responsible for first bringing the fruit to U.S. consumers two decades ago. 

The word açaí means “fruit that cries” since it expels water and comes from a family of indigenous languages called Tupi-Guaraní, which are only spoken in a few regions in South America.

The way ‘açaí’ as pronounced in Guaraní is not the way it’s pronounced in Portuguese, and the way it’s pronounced in Portuguese is not the way it’s pronounced in English.

No matter how you say it, it is delicious. 

These little purple orbs look just like blueberries, but they’re not berries at all. They have a single, hard pit, making them drupes, like peaches or cherries. You won’t find the raw fruit in the United States, as the highly perishable drupes are pureed and frozen within hours of harvest from their native environment in the Amazon Rainforest. 

To harvest the açaí drupes, farmers tie palm fronds between their feet to leverage against the tree trunks as they shimmy to the top, holding a blade between their teeth to cut the bunches down once they get there. The trees can be anywhere from 15 to 30 meters high and are native to only a handful of countries in Central and South America.

Açaí berries are one of the best sources of antioxidant polyphenols and may contain as much as 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries.

Human and animal studies suggest that açaí berries could be linked to lower cholesterol levels, better brain function and decreased colon cancer cell growth due to its antioxidant content.

But back to Açaí Delight. The story behind this place is even more incredible. 

In 2011, Alex and Angelina first started an açaí restaurant in Fortaleza, Brazil, when their son Pedro was small. Pedro, now 17, relayed the story to me, as he now speaks fluent English. His parents ran the business with his aunt and grandmother. Things went well until 2015 when they began to get robbed by organized crime gangs. Whenever they saw motorcycles, they’d get scared and go back inside. The robbers stole his father’s laptop and their customers’ phones. They were robbed five times up until 2017, when they decided to leave Brazil.

When they arrived in the U.S., none of them spoke any English.

Miguel, Angelina, Pedro, Alex

His parents had a friend, Priscilla, who had left Brazil at age 12 for America and who lived in Pinellas Park. The family flew to Orlando and lived with her for one month. Alex found a job in construction carrying bricks within two days. Pedro demonstrated how stiff and sore his father was from this job and said he lost 9 kilos (18 lbs.) His mother, Angelina, found a job quickly too. Priscilla helped them find a condo for rent in Clearwater. Soon Alex got a better job painting houses. 

Although he didn’t have the privilege to choose what job he preferred, Alex believes if you work hard and believe in God, you could have an honorable life.

Alex eventually got a job at a pizzeria in Tampa making subs and Angelina worked as a cleaner at a vocational college. And then the pandemic hit. Because he couldn’t leave the house after 8 or 9 p.m., Alex had to stay in Tampa at a friend’s house until restrictions were loosened. He did deliveries for two years. 

They had a second son, Miguel. And on September 25, 2022, Alex and Angelina opened Acai Delight in Clearwater.

They’ll celebrate their first anniversary of Acai Delight this year.

Unlike other açaí restaurants with their store-bought preparations, their açaí is handmade. Their fruit is never purchased frozen as is often the case with other shops and it’s cut fresh every day. 

Photo courtesy of Acai Delight

In fact, they spend every day from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. doing food preparations. They have 25 different toppings to put on their homemade açaí, including fruits, candies, seeds and other items, such as Nutella or peanut butter powder. Their toppings are listed below. 

Their bowls come in four sizes – 16 oz, 20 oz, 32 oz, and the family size – 60 oz (although he says some people have eaten that size alone!). One person requested all 25 toppings in a small size (but I wouldn’t recommend that because who wants just two blueberries, two strawberries, two M&Ms, etc., leaving no room for that delicious açaí? 

They also offer pastries such as coxinhas filled with chicken, a fried puff pie with chicken and green olives, kibe – fried meatballs, and one with chicken and cheese. All are made with flour from Brazil.

Pedro says their busiest days are Sundays and it gets so busy that sometimes the customers get upset over the wait time. “But we’re working on reducing that,” he says.

Photo courtesy of Acai Delight

The quality of their açaí is noticeable. It’s definitely an Acai Delight. Give your taste buds a treat and stop by.

 

Acai Delight
1701 Drew Street, Suite 2
Clearwater
727-474-3888

Facebook: www.facebook.com/acaidelightflorida

Instagram: www.instagram.com/acaidelightflorida

Toppings: strawberries, bananas, kiwi, blueberries, mango, granola, NIDO dry milk, neston, paçoquita peanut candy, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter powder, almonds, oats, cornflakes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, Nutella, Ovomaltine crunchy cream, M&Ms, Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow nonpareils, marshmallows, condensed milk, honey

Hours

Sunday             5 – 10 p.m.

Monday           Closed

Tuesday           5 – 10 p.m.

Wednesday   5 – 10 p.m.

Thursday         5 – 10 p.m.

Friday                5 – 10 p.m.

Saturday          5 – 10 p.m.

 

Related articles:

Yo Mama Foods

Why Businesses Choose Clearwater

 

 

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I’m excited to share the adventures, places and people of Clearwater with you!

Kelly

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