Got back (to Chile) last week from 10 day vacation to Rio de Janeiro and Paraty, Brasil, pretty much was the best vacation of my life, both foodwise and otherwise........you might be very jealous after reading this post.
Arrived in beautiful, warm, Rio de Janeiro on a Friday and spent the whole weekend there. We stayed in Copacabana, so a lot of what we ate was there. There was so much great food on this trip, it is hard to know where to start...
Number one food highlight in Brasil: JUICES
Had at least 2 every day, often 3 or 4 or 5. Fresh squeezed, always really cold, tons and tons of fruits, PLUS they cost between 30 and 70 cents each. My favorites were melon, passion fruit, mango and acerola (fruit high in vitamin C that comes from the north), but we also tried pineapple, avocado, guava, acai (I wasn`t a fan, but one of my friends got HOOKED), and many others. Juices are everywhere. It´s pretty amazing.
Other eating places and experiences in Rio:
Rua Maria Quitéria 136 -- Ipanema
Italian place which we found by accident our first night, VERY VERY good italian style thin crust pizza. My sense is that there is tons of good italian in Rio (and Brasil in general) but this pizza couldn`t have been much better. Good sauce, good cheese, i don`t even remember the other toppings. Very casual setting.
Rua Siqueira Campos 16-B ----- Copacabana
Very good pay-per-kilo place, a good way to eat when different people are more or less hungry than others.....pretty big selection (we went for dinner), including tons of meat, salads, cheeses, vegetarian and salmon sushi and sashimi (which is good since it doesn`t weigh too much, making it QUITE a deal).....for dessert a separate buffet of ice cream and cakes........my large meal for myself which included lots of sushi was around 6 dollars.
Bar and Restaurante Marco
Almirante Alexandrino 412
Lg dos Guimaraes ----------Santa Teresa
We explored the Santa Teresa district after our first big tourist stop at Cristo Redentor (very worthwhile, amazing view).....Santa Teresa has lots of curvy streets, built on hill, lots of artesanal shops, etc. Since it was Saturday we wanted to eat Feijoada, which is a typical weekend dish, served in many restaurants. We chose Marco at random, had an amazing meal. Feijoada was served in a huge pot (enough for the 3 of us), had ribs, chorizo, other parts of the beef and pigs feet (i was the only one who ate that part), plus tons of beans in a rich, dark, sauce. Served with a giant plate of farofa (manioc flour), also kale, rice and an orange. If I hadn`t had a bit of a cold, it would have gone very well with beer, but guava juice wasn`t so bad either. Very casual, homecooking type place, ridiculously inexpensive considering quality and quantity.
various locations in (at least) Copacabana and Ipanema
A cafe/restaurant with very good desserts, coffee, fruit salad. Expensive for Brasil, but had great salads and sandwiches with ingredients that just don`t exist in Chile (brie, sundried tomatoes, mango, etc.)
So, we had some great meals in Rio on the first weekend, although the smaller food experiences are also worth mentioning:
For breakfasts we always headed to a juice place and had 1 or 2 juices along with 1 or 2 salados, which are little fried or baked pastries filled with meat, cheese, chicken or combinations of the above. Kept returning to one place in Copacabana which also had some ¨chinese influenced¨ pastries, one with AMAZING shrimp filling (reminded me of chinese shrimp toast).
Drank lots of beverages other than juices for the heat. My friend got obsessed with Guaraná, a brasilian softdrink (can you get it in the US?) and she drank about 6 a day (no joke).....I drank a lot of Nestea, in Brasil they have mango flavored, lime flavored, peach and maracuya! (passion fruit).....I think my sudden love for Nestea might be related to living in Chile as well, where there is no iced tea unless i make it myself. And, I admit, I miss Snapple.
Bought food on the street and on the beach. Shrimps on a stick, banana empanadas, Bahían coconut and peanut sweets, agua de coco straight from the coconut, the list goes on and on. Watched the sunset from Pao de Azucar, also very worthwhile.
Oh yea, Caipiriñas: We drank lots. MY favorite was on the first Saturday night, a 1 dollar caipiriña at one of the kiosks at Copacabana Beach. Tons of places to get drinks, coconuts, hot dogs. I got a hot dog as well, which had been cooked in a big pot full of baked-bean-like sauce, served with onions and peppers, topped with mustard and potato sticks. Very good along with the fresh-made caipiriña. Other caipiriñas were often a bit stronger but also more expensive, but there is really nothing like drinking one in a plastic cup overlooking the beach on a warm evening.
Well, after a wonderful 3 days in Rio, we left for Paraty, which is 4 hours away (to the southwest) by bus, a colonial touristy town by the beach. Amazing place, not too touristy in May since it is low season. Lots of restaurants, plus all the same great juices and snacks as in Rio. Here in Paraty we cruised around small tropical islands in the bay in a small boat, rented bikes to head up to waterfalls in the jungle, explored empty beaches with smooth sand and perfect waves.
Casa do Fogo: A restuarant in Paraty worth mentioning since they make all their food using cachaca, plus lots of creative caipiriñas (or caipifrutas), I had one with passion fruit and lime. We didn`t eat there, just had a drink, but there was live music, and a chef who seemed very into making good food, menu was not very cheap but very creative.
The day we rented bikes we went to Fazenda Murycana, about 4 miles out of town, which is a colonial style hacienda. There is a museum, historical buildings. IN the museum you can try coffee brewed over a wood fire, served with a dense, molasses like block of sugar (i forget the name), VERY good. Then we ate in the restaurant, which has traditional brasilian food, we had a chicken dish from the north of Brasil, I forget the name, really thick, almost black sauce, also came with a pot of rice, beans, farofa, etc. etc. PLUS we had salad. After lunch, we explored the grounds, went swimming in a jungle surrounded natural swimming pool, ho hum.....
Lots of fish served in Paraty, often fried, most meals are accompanied by rice and beans. Mmmmmm. Also some good cheese rolls.
At our hostal in Paraty we were able to use the kitchen, bought maracuya at the store and made some killer juice in the blender.
After 4 nights in Paraty, we headed back to Rio, for our last big meal together we wanted to go to a Churrascaria. I tried calling Marius, no answer at either location. Then checked a more recent phone book (Jan 2003) and they were not even listed! Did they close? So, since Marius (choice number one according to posts below) was not happening, we went to Porcao. We went to the one in Ipanema, there is also one in Copacabana. Most people there were celebrating someones birthday. Each person paid 40 reales (14 dollars-ish) for food, this did not include drinks (which is the real way they make money). Buffet was possibly best buffet I have ever seen. Oysters on half shell, avocado and shrimp salad, stuffed scallops, all kinds of cheeses, hams, SUSHI (salmon, eel, vegetable), salads, good olive oil and vinegar. Aside from the buffet, all sorts of finger foods and side dishes are brought to the table: rice, french fries, fried yuca, empananas, pao de queijo, WHOLE fried ripe bananas (best part). THEN the meat, which was incredibly well done meat. Every type imaginable. Chorizo, steak, pork, chicken, all sorts of internal parts. Tons of waiters would come, convincing us to try ¨just a little piece¨ of their skewer.
As I said, the restaurant makes money on drinks. Little shots of liqour, which we (stupidly) thought might be free, were 2 dollars each. Then caipiriñas, which we knew were not included and might be expesnive, then coffee, and waters. So, moral of the story is: to save a LOT OF money, eat at Porcao, then go get a caipiriña on the beach (or vice versa). But still, considering quality and quantity of meal, quite amazing place. Is/was Marius really better? If so, how?
So, moral of the story is: even a budget traveller can eat VERY VERY well in brasil. It´s quite an amazing place to visit, I want to go back ASAP. It is funny, we figured out that we spent more money on food over the course of 10 days than we did on lodging. MORAL of the story: If you are a chowhound, which you probably are since you are reading this, and you have the opportunity to go to Rio or anywhere in Brasil, you should go. You will love it.
That is all. Did anyone read all that? Whew
back to rainy cold chile (but later i will have a sopaipilla!)