Tag Archives: Brazil

Brazil: All About the Cafezinho

brazilWith the important World Cup match-up between Brazil and Mexico today, it seems appropriate to talk about a topic near and dear to both country’s hearts. Coffee-time is something of a ritual in Brazil, where people have their daily cafezinhos. Coffee in Brazil does not simply mean drip coffee, as we are accustomed to having in the US. Instead, you brew a cafezinho through a cloth filter with boiling water, at least if you are doing it traditionally. A cafezinho in Brazil, no matter where you get it, tends to be sweet and strong and served in absolutely tiny cups (typically plastic). People often drink it at a counter standing up in the morning, as a welcoming gesture for guests, or after meals (sometimes it is free, sometimes it is not…). Flavors of Brazil has a guide on how to Order Coffee in Brazil, you can get a wide variety of permutations, but be prepared – everything comes with sugar! Though the traditional cafezinho reigns supreme, cafes with Italian espresso style coffee and drinks are getting more popular, definitely in São Paulo, which has always had an Italian heritage, and in Rio, too.

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Cafezinho by Erica Pallo

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Our favorite moqueca in Salvador: Axego

Axego
Rua Maciel de Cima, 1,
Salvador, Bahia 40026-250, Brazil

Axego is the rare restaurant that we will go to TWICE in one trip. Though we rarely visit the same place, we loved Axego’s setting, the food and the warm service so much we decided to make it our last moqueca in Salvador. We also could not believe the extremly reasonable price. The menu at Axego is pretty varied and has all the typical Bahian dishes you may expect. However we were there for one thing alone – Moqueca. On our first visit we decided to branch out into a type of moqueca we had never tried before: Aratu Red Crab (R$48). This rounds out to about $25 US or less than $13 a person – good deal!

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Axego’s restored colonial interior.

Now we absolutely love moquecas, and over the past year or so have sampled enough so that we know exactly what we are looking for. First – it has to come to the table piping hot, preferably in or on a stone bowl. In terms of the moqueca itself: it has to have not too runny of a sauce , high quality protein, good dende flavor and a nice and varied amount of sides in non-stingy portions. M would also add that there has to be a spicy pepper sauce to spice things up. Never have all of these elements come together so well than as at Axego. The moqueca itself came our absolutely filled to the brim with Aratu, a strongly-flavored and tasty crab dish. No filler or watery  sauce here! On our second trip we went with our old standby – moqueca de camarao. Both were equally delicious, though the uniqueness of the Aratu gets our vote. We can get shrimp just as well in the US.

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Moqeuca de Aratu (red crab) – a rare treat even in Bahia.

On the last visit we made to Axego we were even lucky enough to hear a live Olodum concert while we were eating – not IN Axego, mind you, but rather in a largo right behind the restaurant. Dinner and a show all for the price of a few mediocre sandwiches back in the US. The space of the restaurant itself is very nice, in a restored colonial rowhouse. The inside is mostly wood, and an entire wall is dedicated to a a creatively-displayed selection of Bahian artifacts and art works.

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Music provided by Samba Chula de Sao Braz and Raimundo Sodre at Sankofa African Bar.

We highly enjoyed our moqueca at Axego, and we hope we are able to go back soon. Along with tasty food, Axego has all of the intangibles that we love in a restaurant, welcoming service, pleasant atmosphere and a good vibe.  If you are going to get one moqueca in Salvador, make it Axego!

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A Taste of Chile in Brazil: El Guatón

chileEl Guatón
Rua Artur de Azevedo, 906
Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil

El Guatón was our first foray into Chilean food, and we had to go all the way to Brazil to do it! One of the world’s great foodie cities, São Paulo is known for its range of restaurants. We were excited (but not really surprised) to find a Chilean restaurant among its ranks of eateries.  We heard good things about El Guatón, and looking at their menu online we noticed some similarities with both Peruvian and Argentine restaurants that we had visited before. We were on board!

Dinner at El Guaton in Sao Paulo

Dinner at El Guatón in São Paulo

El Guatón is cute and cozy with red-tablecloths, and a little patio out front. Unfortunately, we arrived on a chilly day, so everyone chose to stay warm inside. We got a small table in the back, which – at the risk of stereotyping Brazilian restaurants – means you will never be served. But the service was prompt and courteous, and even more surprising for Brazil, there was a basket of food placed on our table for zero charge. In the land of couverts, this was a nice change! El Guatón also features an extensive wine list,featuring many Chilean varieties. There is even a bottle of the house red put on the table, and most people do seem to take advantage of it.

Chilean Empanada

Chilean Empanada

One of the most popular items on the menu, according to reviews, are the empanadas (in Spanish) or empadas (in Portuguese), terms basically referring to the same sort of delicious carb filled with meat or cheese. The cost was a reasonable at R$6 for baked and R$8.50 for fried. We ordered a baked cheese, and fried shrimp. The baked empanada was slightly smaller and a had a lighter taste, perhaps it would be good for the “health-conscious” empanada lover (if such a person exists). The fried variety was seemingly twice as big and came out piping hot, with a tender crust and nice oozy cheese. They definitely made both of these varieties to order – and it showed. YUM!

El Guaton Ceviche

El Guatón Ceviche

Beyond empanadas there were a variety of meat and seafood dishes including picanha, fried fish, ceviche and humitas (Chilean tamales). Matt is a major fan of ceviche, and after our successful ceviche meal in Rio at Cevicheria Carioca (review forthcoming!), he wanted another hit. The ceviche at El Guatón was only R$53 for fish ceviche for two. It is plenty large enough for two people, and in many ways simpler and subtler than many of the Peruvian ceviches with which he, and many readers, may be more familiar. This ceviche was simple: just white fish, lime juice, diced white onions, and cilantro – a combination that resulted in a rather tame tiger milk, but still mixed and effectively presented all the great flavors.

We were also surprised to find lúcuma on the menu. A fruit native to mountain valleys in the Andes, Matt grew to love its sweet potato / maple / nutty flavor while living in Peru.  El Guatón featured a lúcuma cake (R$13), which was very tasty, but essentially just a puff-ball of whipped cream on a very thin crust. It needed a little more substance (and definitely a little more lúcuma).

We had a great meal at El Guatón and we wish there were more Chilean places around. We love it almost as much as Peruvian food! Maybe someday we will be back, until then we’ll have to scour for another Chilean eatery. Is there a Chilean restaurant in your neck of the woods?

Lucuma Cake

Lúcuma Cake

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How to Eat at a Kilo Restaurant in Brazil

brazilOne of the things you have to do before you leave Brazil is eat at a kilo restaurant. One of the quintessential Brazilian dining experiences, we long for places in the United States where you can get great food by the pound. While you can find kilo restaurants on nearly every street corner in Brazil, our absolute favorite kilo restaurant is the vegetarian-friendly Ramma in Salvador. Ramma2

But here’s the big question. If you find yourself in a kilo restaurant, what do you do? Where do you start? What do you order? Here are the basics. What happens is this: you are given a plate and a little order form/ticket. With this, you are welcome to serve yourself at the buffet, much as you do in a typical American-style buffet. However, be careful that your eyes are not bigger than your stomach, because it will end up costing you! At the end of the buffet your plate is weighed and you are charged by the kilo. The price is then written on your ticket, or sometimes at fancier places the scale has a machine that prints an automatic sticker. “Extras” like drinks, coffee or single-serve desserts are marked on your ticket as well, and sometimes you can order these from your table once you have sat down.

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The offerings at Aipo e Aipim, a fancy kilo restaurant in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.

After getting your ticket, you sit down to eat your food. This can sometimes be tricky at more popular kilo places, which can get absolutely packed around lunchtime, especially in the business districts. As such, don’t worry about filling up the first time: if you want more, you can add to your ticket, or get a second one. When you’re done, you pay the cashier on the way out by handing them your marked ticket. It is absolutely imperative that you do not lose your ticket, and it is the only way that you can exit the restaurant. If you happen to lose your ticket you usually have to pay an exorbitant fee (fortunately this has not happened to us…yet) though we noticed that at certain other kilo places the fee is not too high (maybe 50 reais or about US $25 at the time we were there). Maybe this would encourage people to eat a ton, and “lose” a ticket?

Kilo Buffet

All this for only about $8

There are different types of kilo restaurants for all different tastes – including salad places, vegetarian places, pasta places (Spoleto) and places with homestyle Brazilian food (Aipo e Aipim), and many have several branches in Rio. Sometimes there is a whole separate dessert buffet or even a churrasco (grilled meats) station, which may be offered at a different kilo rate (the churrasco at Aipo e Aipim is great). The selection varies by price, but most restaurants will have at least a dozen options.

Cake buffet at Aipo e Aipim

Cake buffet at Aipo e Aipim

The menu at a kilo restaurant varies daily, so if you find a favorite kilo place you can go there a few times a week and not be too bored. Prices vary, but the lowest price at a decent kilo restaurant was about R$20 ($10) ranging up to about R$50 ($25). Prices are cheaper outside the tourist areas, obviously. The prices may also vary inside “peak” hours (12-2 or so), and off hours may cost less. At first we were bewildered, but we grew to love the kilo restaurant. It may seem like a lot to consider, but you’ll be eating at kilo restaurants like a native Brazilian in no time!

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Desserts in Tiny Cups: Brazilian Doces de Colher

brazilWe have talked before about one of our favorite Brazilian treats: brigadeiros. However, you can also get brigadeiros in another, slightly more liquid form. Known as doces de colher literally “spoon sweets,” these Brazilian treats come in little cups and are meant to be eaten with a spoon. Technicolor kitchen has recipes for some of the most popular spoon sweets: brigadeiro, beijinho and bicho-de-pé. Warning: these are definitely only for those who have a VERY sweet tooth.

Doces de Colher by Biana Bueno

Brigadeiro Doces de Colher by Bianca Bueno

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Picoleishion: Celebrity Popsicle Seller of Itaparica

brazilIn our travels we met perhaps the most amazing food cart purveyor in all of Brazil, nay, Latin America! His name is Picoleishion, and he is a one-man show based in the town of Itaparica, on the northern tip of the island of the same name. He sells picole, which is simply Portuguese for “popsicle” but he isn’t a normal popsicle seller. Picoleishion is readily identified by his gigantic sombrero, frenetic dance moves and the fact that his popsicle cart is actually a giant boombox blaring Axé hits like “Billie Jean” by Magary Lord. Check him out in action (and again). The Praia do Forte in Itaparica is idyllic and quiet, and Picoleishion is hard to ignore as he rolls across the beach blaring his tunes. Over the course of one beach day we sampled 4 picoles – Mangabation (Mango), Limation (Lime), Chocolation (Chocolate), and Amendoimshion (“Peanut” was basically a peanut butter popsicle –cool! que legal!). Picoleishion is definitely a charismatic guy – and had beachgoers dancing and posing for pictures, so it is no surprise to us that he is a minor celebrity and has made an appearance on the Jô Soares show, a Letterman-type talk show in Brazil (at the start of the clip below). We love you Picoleishion! Adorei Picoleishon!

 

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The weirdest fruit tree in Brazil: Jaboticaba

brazilTrying to describe a Jaboticaba/Jabuticaba tree to someone who has never seen one is a particularly humorous and futile task. While the fruit of the Jaboticaba itself is not that visually unusual, resembling and tasting like a large black grape or a small plum – the fashion in which it grows is quite unusual – with the fruit attaching directly to the trunk and the branches of the tree. Jaboticaba is very popular in Brazil, and you will often see it as a flavoring for sweets or as a jam. We first saw a Jaboticaba tree in the courtyard of the restaurant Paraíso Tropical, in Salvador, Brazil where it was practically dropping fruit onto our table. “It looks diseased” was the succinct response of one of our American friends after we showed them a picture of a Jaboticaba tree. We have never seen Jaboticaba fruit sold outside of Brazil, and they apparently have a very short shelf-life, so you just may have to travel there to enjoy it!

Jaboticaba

Jaboticaba tree at Paraiso Tropical restaurant in Bahia

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Celebrate Brazilian Independence Day in Chicago

Ipanema Beach and Dois Irmaos

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro and Dois Irmãos…saudades.

brazilTomorrow is Brazilian Independence Day, September 7th, when Brazil celebrates its independence from Portugal in 1822. There are plenty of places to celebrate Brazilian Independence day with delicious food in Chicago. Check out Brazilian Bowl, Taste of Brazil, Sinha Elegant Cuisine and Fogo2Go, some of our favorites. For more inspiration check out all of our posts about Brazil, where you can pick up a recipe or two. If you really want to get into the Spirit, Chicago Samba is having a Brazilian Independence Day party with music and dance lessons at Logan Square Auditorium – 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd. in Chicago – from 10PM to 3AM (Entrance is $10 and is 18+) and there will be Caipirinhas and food catered by Sinha’s. The Eaters? We plan to be making a batch of brigadeiros in celebration!

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Brazilian Samba Food: Bolo de Fubá

brazilIn our other lives, we are Brazilian music aficionados. As much time as we spent eating everything in sight while in Brazil, we were as dedicated to listening to as much live music as we could, including seeing the world-famous carnival parade twice: once at the technical rehearsal, and finally during the main event. We had the good fortune both times to see the eventual parade winners, the GRES Unidos de Vila Isabel (headlined, as always, by one of L’s favorite sambistas, Martinho da Vila). Vila’s 2013 samba-enredo (theme song) was the unrelentingly catchy “Água no feijão que chegou mais um;” sing along with the video below:

The song is a celebration of the simple life in the Brazilian countryside, and makes use of some creative wordplay to talk about the samba school’s job of making music using words that evoke farming, planting, and harvesting country crops (“Vila Isabel is going to plant some happiness tomorrow morning”). Once we had listened to the song on repeat 30 times, one particular verse caught our attention:

Bota água no feijão (“[He] throws water in the beans”)
Já tem lenha no fogão (“There’s already wood in the stove”)
Faz um bolo de fubá (“[He] makes a cornmeal cake”)

Question to us, then: what is a bolo de fubá, and given our self-professed love of Brazilian pastries and cakes, why have we not made one yet? A bolo de fubá is literally a cornmeal cake, but it is more than cornbread: using finely ground cornmeal (the finer than the better), you make a slightly sweet cake that is a ubiquitous accompaniment to breakfast or midday coffee. Bolo de fubá is also a popular food eaten in the Brazilian June Festivals, or Festas Juninas

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Gluten-free bolo de fubá cremosa with orange, from Sabor Saudade.

Everyone has their own take on a bolo de fubá. The most common variations are to make it a bolo de fubá cremosa (“creamy”) or bem cremosa (“super creamy”), usually by adding coconut or a creamy substitute like extra cheese or eggs. For beginners, try this recipe for a simple bolo from about.com. Denise Browning over at From Brazil to You has a good recipe for a bolo de fubá cremosa with coconut, complete with some reminiscing about some of her bolos of years past. But really, the good recipes will all be in Portuguese: try the one from Sabor Saudade (above), or this one from Tudo Gostoso (Everything Tasty).

And thanks to Vila Isabel for introducing us to a new treat: now we have a food to get addicted to as we get more and more addicted to your song. E está chegando o povo do samba!

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Moqueca at Terra Brasil in Salvador Shopping

Terra Brasil
Av Tancredo Neves, 2915 Piso L3 – Salvador Shopping
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

brazilWe are not ones to go to the mall very often, but on a terribly rainy day in Salvador we decided it might be fun to go to Salvador Shopping, considered the most luxurious mall in the city. Coincidentally, its food court also houses Terra Brasil, one of the highest rated restaurants on Trip Advisor for Moquecas. Since the moqueca came pretty highly recommended, we decided we would give it a try, even though the food court location made us a little wary. Sure enough, there it was in a large corner location, though for what is worth, it had a more of a botequim environment, and was partially enclosed. 

Terra Brasil

Terra Brasil in Salvador Shopping

The menu at Terra Brasil is primarily northeastern Brazilian food. On this day, they had a lunch special where all moquecas for two (with the choice of shrimp, fish or vegetarian) were only R$48, which is a pretty reasonable price. Other options include German sausages (R$ 38) and Casquinha de siri, a crabmeat gratin baked in a crab shell, (R$ 16) as well as a wide variety of empadas and of course the ever-important Chopp (draft beer). Our moqueca came out pretty quickly, served on a hot stone, which we have found out is a very good sign for some quality moqueca.  The moqueca was on the small side, and we made pretty quick work of it. Overall, we were pleased that the shrimp in the moqueca were some of the best we had at any restaurant! For sides there were farofa, Bobó de Camarão (an atypical side dish for a moqueca in Bahia) and rice. M had to ask for extra pimenta to spice things up a little bit. The flavors were good, but a little mild.

Moqueca at Terra Brasil

Moqueca at Terra Brasil

Overall, the moqueca was very good, but perhaps a little overrated as one of the top bowls in the entire city. The setting alone does leave a little bit to be desired, and we’re not sure if eating a moqueca next to a Bob’s Burgers and a KFC is the most “Salvador” experience that visitors hope for. On the other hand, if you find yourself at the city’s biggest mall on a rainy day, hungry, why not?

 

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A Visit to “Delícias do Porto” Street Food Market in Salvador da Bahia

brazil

July 2nd (Dois de Julho) is celebrated as Independence Day in Salvador da Bahia, and was considered the definitive end of Portuguese rule in 1823, so it’s the perfect day to celebrate Bahian food! Bahia has great street food, and you can find wonderful Acarajé on nearly any corner, so what could be better than an Acarajé stand surrounded by tons of other great eats? On Friday evenings during the summer (December – April in the southern hemisphere) there is a great street market put on by the Instituto Mauá in the neighborhood of Porto da Barra in Salvador called “Delícias do Porto (Delicacies of the Port)” Though the summer is now over in Brazil, it appears to be a yearly event, so check back for further updates. We highly recommended this fair for its variety, and for bringing a little culinary nightlife to the Porto da Barra area, which can feel empty during the evening hours.

???????????????????????????????You can recognize the market by its characteristic yellow booths, which seem to pop up out of nowhere on Fridays. In addition to food, there are also artisans selling traditional crafts as well as jewelry, clothes and other items. However, of course for us, the draw was the food! There was all sorts of Bahian food for sale: street favorites like BeijusAbará, Queijo coalho, Acarajé – and even some things less commonly found in street stalls – Sarapatel, Bolo de Aipim and Xinxim. In between all of the stalls is a large, open seating area, so eating your food at a leisurely pace is encouraged.

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The Xinxim (whick we had before, but in reference to a VERY different dish) was made of ground nuts, dendê (palm) oil, coconut milk, okra and shrimp. Though perhaps not the most visually appealing dish, we loved the unusual combination of savory flavors. Don’t forget to add the hot sauce and dried shrimp!
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Of course no outdoor market in Bahia would be complete without Acarajé – the trusty black-eyed pea fritter that is pure “Bahia.” This one was from Dona Emilia (whose booth is there even when the whole fair is not), and was cooked fresh to order. Everything at the fair was very reasonably priced, and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend a balmy evening – watching the sunset and washing down our Acarajé with some Guaraná soda in hand.

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Eating Cheap and Well in Jardim América, São Paulo

brazilThe area southwest of Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, bordered on the west by Avenida Rebouças and on the east by Avenida Nove de Julho, encompassing the neighborhoods of Jardim América and Cerqueira César, is one of the swankiest and most upscale neighborhoods in the Americas. It is home to São Paulo’s finest restaurants – i.e., some of the finest restaurants in the hemisphere – and thus is a must for any foodie. Yet this high concentration of culinary awesomeness comes with an annoying tradeoff: eating there can be exorbitantly expensive. But, determined eaters as we are, we did some exploring and came up with a tasty, cheap snack itinerary for those of you wanting to explore the area without breaking your wallet.

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Street art in Jardim America

Start out at Casa Bauducco (Alameda Lorena, 1682), a well-known Italian bakery famous for their Panettone. Sample the wide variety of cookies and pastries available, but do yourself a favor and get a fresh slice of chocottone (chocolate panettone, R$5.80), heated with cinnamon and sugar on top. The recipe supposedly takes over 40 hours to make, and you can taste every bit of effort in that chocottone.

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Casa Bauducco

A few blocks away, continue with the Italian trend and cool off your mouth with a few scoops of the finest gelato in Brazil at  Bacio di Latte (Rua Bela Cintra, 1829). Get a grande size for R$12, and up to three flavors. We recommend the maracujá (passionfruit) and negrissimo (super dark chocolate) flavors, especially in combination. Be sure to sit on one of the converted milk jugs as seats.

If you need a little relaxation time, take a load off in the excellent book selection and beanbag chairs at the famous Livraria da Vila (Alameda Lorena, 1731), where you can admire the famous bookshelf-doors while sipping a coffee or cappuccino at their cafe and wondering why anyone would pay R$ 10 to valet a car at a bookstore.

Still hungry? Walk south to the unassuming Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo (Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408), serving up the best cheese bread in the city, if not the country. If you have time, wait for a fresh batch to come out: you will get the most for your R$4.50, which is worth it [full review here].

Having had your fill of cheese bread,finish up your explorations by deciding what other flavors could entice you at Folie (Cristiano Viana, 295), purveyor of excellent French macarons. Choose from Brazilian-inspired flavors, including brigadeiro and beijinho; or go with something even more inventive, such as drink-themed macarons with flavors like Gin & Tonic and Green Tea.

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Romantic treats for Dia dos Namorados – Brazilian Valentine’s Day

brazilIn Brazil – “Valentine’s Day”- Dia dos Namorados – actually occurs on June 12. February 14 is too close to Carnaval – which dominates the festivities for a month in Brazil – so putting the holiday in June makes a lot of sense. Dia dos Namorados is celebrated in similar way by showering your sweetheart with chocolates, cards, flowers and the like. This year we made brigadeiros to celebrate, however there are a wealth of other Brazilian treats appropriate for the day, some even with romantic names: beijinhos (little kisses), casadinhos (little marrieds) and bem casados (well-marrieds).

casadinho

Casadinhos with a rainbow-colored brigadeiro by Marcio Cabral de Moura

Beijinhos are little coconut candies, “kissed” with cloves, hence the name. They are almost like a coconut version of brigadeiros, and are nearly as popular in Brazil. The recipe for making them is almost identical to a brigadeiro recipe (minus the chocolate), whether covered in sugar or coconut flakes. Casadinhos are black and white brigadeiros (“marrying” the two flavors) – unfortunately I can’t find a recipe for these in English, but here is one in Portuguese. Bem casados are sandwich cookies with a doce de leite filling, which are understandably popular at weddings on the dessert table or as favors. Here is a recipe from Kitchen Corners that even includes homemade doce de leite, and another from the Cookie Shop blog with frosting. Feliz Dia dos Namorados!

Beijinhos

Beijinhos with cloves by Bianca Bueno

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brazilThe BBC recently did a short video piece on the culinary renaissance in Brazil’s favelas, brought about by the recent pacification programs. The Guia Gastronômico das Favelas do Rio (“Gastronomical Guide to Rio’s Favelas”), mentioned in the video, was recently released, giving intrepid foodies a roadmap of 22 restaurants in eight comunidades. We’re always for unique food options – so let’s go!

Guia Gastronômico das Favelas do Rio

Guia Gastronômico das Favelas do Rio

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June 5, 2013 · 8:53 AM

Our favorite Acarajé in Rio de Janeiro: Cida Acarajé at Largo do Carioca

brazilAcarajé, a bean fritter fried in palm oil and filled with various toppings is one of the iconic foods of Brazil. We were spoiled for choice by the cheap and plentiful acarajé options in Bahia, where acarajé is most commonly found, (a complete Salvador acarajé post is coming soon). However, we are happy to report we found a great and centrally located acarajé spot in Rio de Janerio as well. Right in the bustling Largo do Carioca in Centro, Cida Acarajé sets up shop every weekday at around 12:30. It’s a pretty big production, so we are always impressed that it seems to pop up out of nowhere every day at lunchtime.

Cida Acaraje in Largo do Carioca

Cida Acaraje in Largo do Carioca

An acarajé at Cida costs R$ 9 without dried shrimp, which is highway robbery by Bahian standards, but is largely in keeping with Rio’s generally inflated prices.  However, this was actually some pretty good acarajé, so we were prepared to shell out a little extra money for one of our favorite Bahian treats. The acarajé are made fresh to order in a giant vat of dendê (palm oil) – which is absolutely imperative to a good acarajé experience. As far as places in Rio go, we definitely preferred Cida’s acarajé to the one we had previously sampled at the Feira Hippie in Ipanema (another high profile location).

Acaraje in Dende

Acaraje Frying up in Dende Oil

The acarajé was perfectly fresh and we enjoyed the good renditions of the traditional acarajé fillings: vatapá, caruru and salada. M also appreciated the spicy sauce with a nice kick. If you are going for the full authentic experience you must also top the acarajé with dried shrimp (though we are on the fence if we actually prefer this). In addition to acarajé, there were various chocolate and coconut cakes by the slice, cocadas and even small puddings baked right in a coconut shell. This was our friend M’s first venture into acarajé and we are happy to report that she heartily enjoyed it. Another Brazilian food convert won over!

Cida Acaraje

The finished Acaraje with all the fixins

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Pastry Post-Doc: Brazilian Brigadeiros for Chocolate Lovers

brazilAs much as cupcakes and the myriad permutations thereof are popular in the USA, brigadeiros are the primary bite-sized dessert in Brazil. Named for a Portuguese brigadier in the 1940s, a brigadeiro is essentially a chocolate caramel truffle coated in chocolate sprinkles. However, much like cupcakes, riffs off of the traditional brigadeiro are increasingly common, including exotic flavors and coatings. If you are not looking for anything fancy, the basic brigadeiro is found at most Brazilian restaurants and cafes, and pretty much every snack shop has brigadeiros in stock for less than a dollar. Perhaps the best thing about the brigadeiro is how easy it is to make, and how few ingredients it requires. For example, this America’s Test Kitchen recipe has only condensed milk, butter and cocoa. Some other recipes, like these from Honest Cooking and Cuca Brazuca also require chocolate drink powdered mix. The typical finish for a brigadeiro is being rolled in classic chocolate sprinkles, though another Brazilian favorite is a coatings of large black and white candy puffed-rice spheres known as “crocantes.” Of course you can also play with different brigadeiro flavors, including peanut butter or almond

Classic Brigadeiro

Classic Brigadeiro by Mayra ChiaChia

If you are in Brazil, we highly recommend some exploration to find your favorite brigadeiro. Nearly every corner bakery/cafe/deli/lanchonete will have brigadeiros for sale, so you can sample dozens a day, if you would like. If you are going for something unique, visit Maria Brigadeiro ( Pinheiros: Rua Capote Valente 68) in São Paulo, where there are over 20 varieties of gourmet brigadeiros available at the shop, including esoteric choices like Port Wine or Sesame. Time Out São Paulo has a feature on the some of the other best brigadeiros in Sao PauloOur favorite Brigadeiro stop in Salvador was Brigadeira Mix in Shopping Barra, which was just a small kiosk, but it boasted a large variety of flavors, including our favorite, negresco (cookies and cream). But brigadeiros are not only the purview of fancy shops. In Rio de Janeiro you can buy them on the street (though it is a wonder that they don not melt in the heat).  Our favorite classic brigadeiros in Rio de Janeiro are found at Bomboniere Pathe (Centro: Praça Floriano nº- 45). But don’t take our word for it – go try some for yourself!

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Delicious Kibbe in Salvador: Kiberia

Kiberia
Barão de Itapuã, 145
Salvador – Bahia

brazilWe had some good kibbe (fried Middle-Eastern bulgar-and-meat meatballs) in Rio. But this tiny little counter in Salvador blew them away. You can’t miss Kiberia’s signature neon orange building, tiny as the restaurant itself may be. There are maybe only four seats in counter space in Kiberia, and the take-out trade is brisk. With three people in there it was a full house! The menu truly is limited, and all you can order are several permutations of kibbe and bottled or canned drinks. The cost for a kibbe (500 grams) is a surprisingly reasonable R$ 6. Another option is to get 6 mini-kibbe for R$ 12.

Kiberia in Salvador, Bahia

Kiberia in Salvador, Bahia

In the larger size, you can get a plain meat kibbe or one with cheese added (paradoxically this one is slightly cheaper and smaller). As kibbe purists, we went for just plain meat. The kibbe were fried up to order, and came to us piping hot, even garnished with a wedge of lime. The shape of the kibbe was not too overly-footballish, as we were accustomed to seeing in Rio. The outside was perfectly crisp and crunchy, and the bulgar and meat inside was tender and moist. We also appreciated the wide range of dressings set up on Kiberia’s counter: tahini, sriracha, malagueta pepper, tabasco, Molho Arabe and garlic sauce, among others.

We ate our kibbe so quickly, we were not able to get any pictures. Even after devouring our kibbe, we decided to go for a dessert. The only choice was a Belewa (spelled elsewhere as Beleua), for R$ 3. Beleua is a riff on baklava, but definitely not as sweet, and is composed of a spiced nut paste in layered puff pastry sheets. Like our kibbe, the beleua was delicious. We went into Kiberia expecting only a fast food fix, but we heartily recommend them for some great kibbe in Salvador.

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Adventures in Brazilian Produce: Feijoa

In the latest chronicle of the unusual produce choices we find in Brazilian grocery stores, we came across the feijoa. The feijoa is so unusual that we caused something of a commotion when we asked a worker in the Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro branch of the Pão de Açúcar grocery store how much one of these little (unlabeled) fruits cost. It turned out upwards of 5 employees of the grocery store had simply no idea what it was, but the 6th finally identified it as a feijoa. We figured the taste of the fruit would be something like an avocado due to its green, bumpy appearance, but instead, it had a gelatinous sweet center (shedding more light on this flavor is the fact that feijoa is also known as the pineapple guava). Feijoa had a pleasant, sweet and fragrant taste, but one unpleasant feature is that it is nearly impossible to know when it is ripe. Bizarrely, though they originated in Brazil, feijoas are actually most popular in New ZealandTypical uses of the feijoa are for making smoothies or simply eating raw, but the adventurous among us can make a feijoa chutney, a feijoa cake or even feijoa wine.

Feijoa

Feijoa Fruit by Sandy Austin

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Bobó de Camarão in Rio de Janeiro

Bobo de Camarao

Bobó de Camarão

We heard from a friend that one of the best renditions of the classic Bahian dish “Bobó de Camarão” in Rio was found at Marinho Azul (Av. Francisco Bhering s/n, Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro). Marinho Azul overlooks Arpoador beach, basically a rock outcropping that is the dividing line between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, and you have a niced view of the Ipanema side. Marinho Azul (Marine Blue) unsurprisingly sells primarily seafood dishes, in straightforward preparations as well as regional favorites. The Bobó de Camarão (R$ 98 for 2 people) is a sort of stewed dish made from pureed cassava, dendê oil and shrimp. The term “Bobó” is used to refer to any dish thickened with cassava, a type of dish that originated in Africa. Unlike moqueca, which has coconut milk as a base, the cassava makes a bobó a lot thicker. We thought their rendition was very good for Rio, but Bahians would definitely blush at the price (and it is worth noting that the service is more than a little brusque). However, you can’t beat the location, and we lingered over our food to enjoy the view. Though we have tried our hand at moqueca, we have never made a bobó; but we like the look of these recipes from Cuca Brazuca, Maria-Brasil and Flavors of Brasil.

Ipanema Beach and Dois Irmaos

Stay for the view: Ipanema Beach and Dois Irmãos

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São Paulo vs. Buenos Aires in Pictures

Our time in Salvador is drawing to a close, as is our time in Brazil, if you can believe it (we can’t)! We will be spending our last week in Brazil in São Paulo. So we thought it was particularly appropriate that we came across the blog Sampa versus Buenos as we prepare to leave for São Paulo. Taking a cue from the popular blog (and now book) Paris vs. NYC, the blog humorously compares the differences between the foods, culture, and icons of South American rival cities Buenos Aires and São Paulo (aka Sampa) in graphic form. Our favorite picture so far is that of the rival sweet treats, the Brazilian brigadeiro and the Argentine alfajor. We love both!

BrigadeirovsAlfajor

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