Of course one form of tourism which can be enjoyed whatever the weather is the gastronomic variety. We packed a lot of food & drink into our time in Rio, including:
I’m starting to develop an addiction to this delicious, refreshing dish. The dark purple “superfood” berry from the Amazon is frozen and then blended along with another native fruit, guarana, to make a smooth, sorbet like dish which is eaten with a spoon. You can get lots of extras mixed in to make all sorts of interesting and nutritious snacks, like granola, bananas, honey, ginseng etc. The stained, Joker-esque mouth you’re left with is all part of the fun. London needs this!
Mark’s “suco” or fresh juice of choice. Faintly medicinal taste, like mouthwash, but he swears he can feel it doing him good.
Bolinhos and caipirinhas
Man, caipirinhas here are STRONG. The combo of caçhaca, lime and sugar sounds basic but something magical must happen when they get together. Halfway through my second I was swearing that I had never had so delicious a cocktail but frankly I was too pissed to make a sound judgement (still, win win). Bolinhos are a classic Brazilian bar snack ideal for lining the stomach and soaking up the booze – hot fritters with a variety of fillings e.g. salt cod or shrimp, not unlike arancini.
Here’s an awesome sandwich which also helped mop up excess cachaça:
Churrascaria and picanha
The Churrascaria Palace (http://www.churrascariapalace.com) was recommended to us by our new friend Chris, a Londoner who moved to Rio some years ago. Dozens of waiters crowd around, brandishing giant swords or trolleys holding chicken thighs, sausage, various cuts of beef, lamb, pork, chicken hearts and more. Meanwhile you can help yourself to all sorts of salads, sushi, sashimi, oysters, hot dishes like moqueca (seafood stew). The highlight was Brazil’s favourite cut of beef, picanha, which is juicy, fatty and flavourful.
Little balls of cheesy bread served everywhere as a classic snack or accompaniment to coffee. Chris told us a funny story; “pão” pronounced the Portuguese way (sounds something like a nasal “powng” means bread. “Pao” is slang for cock, so you get a lot of tourists asking for cheesy cock, fresh cock, hot cock etc.
Açai is just the start; the sheer variety and quality of fruit available in Brazil is staggering. I literally skipped with glee around market stalls carrying mouthwatering piles of familiar (yet, obviously, far more fragrant and tempting than in the UK): mango, guava, papaya as well as Amazonian specialties I had never seen before such as fresh cashew fruit.
Brazilians make crepe like pancakes with tapioca and stuff it with cheese, ham and sweet fillings like chocolate and banana for a snack.
This 19th century Belle Époque cafe in the heart of Rio’s Centro district is such a must-see that the road signs direct you to it. The high ceilings, large mirrors and vast glass cabinets holding fine crockery, bottles and cakes provide a grand setting for coffee. Or in our case, an ice cream dish topped with “threaded egg yolk” which was a bit like custard noodles.
All you can eat/per kilo
At these places, quality varies enormously but quantities are always enormous. I may well be too, by the time I return to the UK…
Writing from Salvador where after just 24 hours we have sampled several Bahian specialties – update to come soon!