Foods of Brasil

13 August, 2009

So as we are nearing our departure date, thought it may be helpful to provide our top food and beverage in Brasil (and a few comments on our least fav too!).

Prior to coming here I had visions of beans, beans and more beans. Oh a little rice to mop it all up. Well, I was kinda right but there is a whole lot more to this terrific countries table… my personal top 10:

10. Coxinha de Frango.
Drink Cachaca, wait 12 hours, get really hungover, then enjoy the delight of one of these. Mixed chicken in the middle, covered by a smooth covering of mash potato, covered in bread crumbs, deep fired all in the shape of a scrumptious little cone. All at the going rate of R$4 … bargain!!!


9. Carpaccio de Carne (as a starter).
Raw beef, sliced finely, on top of mini toasted bread, maybe a little Rucula, parmesan, capers and a sauce of mixed herbs and good olive oil… and I even convince myself it is healthy!


8. Mini Hamburgers.
The perfect late nite treat. Hamburgers the size of mouthfills with all the layers, meat pattie, cheese, tomato sauce, mustard and a wee gherkin! This is civilised!

7. Farofa.
Flour with curry powder and cooked Bacon to go on top of the Fejao. I know this one is a little strange, and I was very sceptical of the sawdust material that kept landing on my beans and rice, until I tried Farofa made by our wonderful lady who helped in our house “Nice”. Now I get cravings for it!!!!


6. Chimichurri and Picanha.
So we all know the beef is amazing in Argentina and Brasil, but try some of this magic sauce and it is mindblowing. Tastebuds, time to engage! It is finely chopped onion, herbs, garlic, ginger, vinegarette and a little olive oil.


5. Doce de Leite .
Ok, so its Argentinean, so it knows its good, but this time it really is! Its basically liquid caramel to be had on tabioca pancakes, rice, bread, chocolate, ice cream, spoons, fingers etc ….


4. Pao de Quiejo.
Literally, cheese bread. I call them little pillows of yumminess! Mandioc flour with cheese, about the size of a squash ball… The staple for breakfast. Truth be known there may have been a few fights in our house over the last one.

3. Bananas.
So many varieties, so little time..


2. Polenta Frita com Quejio.
Aaghh… first nite memories from the bar literally downstairs from us which have now become a staple at any drinking session. Definitely one I will be cooking at home!
polenta frita

1. Acai.
WOW!!!!! The best discovery here. Enjoy with granola, banana, honey … you cant go wrong!


Greg is also keen that I put in the following “highly recommended” foods:

Corn at the beach
Taken off the cob, kernels in a plastic cup with lashings of butter, salt and pepper and a spoon….
Quiejo stick
Like Hullomi, but not as sharp, on a skewer, BBQ’d. Also at the beach!
Pao na Chapa
Very simple. A super fresh french baguette, smothering of butter (or olive oil) on a hot grill squashed …
Pão na chapa 1
Sanduiche com Mortadella
You can buy them by the gram … Greg goes for the 500g option (yes, 500g of grilled, hot, Mortadella), am afraid I was too scarred by Luncheon meat in my youth to have been tempted.


On a personal note, there are a couple of foods that I was happy to avoid in Brasil:

– Fejoida Heavy. This is the “traditional” Brasilian feast served every Wednesday and Saturday. Basically, it is cuts of every “animal type” imagineable. Yes we are talking lips, tongues, gullets, eek, eek. Fejoida light, now that’s a different story: good cuts of meat and sausage with beans, rice, grilled banana, pork chop, kobe, farofa… Happiness is….
– Cheese. Errrrghhh…. Generally it was awful. Avoid.
– Olives, hmmm … the less said the better
– Pizza. Often too reliant on cheese and olives.
– Fresh white fish in Sao Paulo. Frozen, overpriced …. Even at the top restaurants
– Curries. Wrong continent.

– Bachalau!!!! What the hell ????? Are you kidding me? Fish from the North Seas, salted and dried, then covered in oil and cheese (refer note above) to make it taste good. The Portuguese ate this 300 years ago because refrigerators did not exist, there is no need to keep going with this insane tradition!!!


5. Cold Coconut Juice (fresh from the Coconut).
If you are going for a run or had the runs – this is highly recommended. Guaranteed to help any “digestive problems” shall we say whilst being really refreshing. Don’t be shy and ask for the coconut to be cut open after drinking so you can scoop out the flesh.

4. Chopp.
We are talking beer. It has to be 200ml, ice cold (minus 4 degrees is perfect) with a head the same size of the volume of beer. In my country, this would constitute a free beer or getting punched for trying to fleece a customer, but not in Brasil.

3. Abacaxi com Hortela Suco.
Pineapple juice with a sprinkle of mint, there is nothing more refreshing!

2. Suco de Caju.
The juice from the fruit that surrounds a cashew nut… quite sweet, but when mixed with the right amount of crushed ice, a little lime, just devine.

1. Caipiroska com Maracuja.
Vodka with Passionfruit juice, I may have had a few of these in the last 18 months. Its amazing how well these can make you samba, sing, speak Portuguese etc ….


Ilhabela – it’s Portuguese for beautiful island…

16 May, 2009

Easter was a great excuse for another mini adventure to….

you guessed it.. the beach!

Somewhat strangely for a country that loves public holidays, Brasil has just only one day off for Easter, but we aren’t exactly complaining, it feel like there is a public holiday every couple of weeks at the moment!!

With only one day off work we headed up the coast to Ilhabela, and island just off the coast with probably the most famous set of beaches in the state.

By chance I got a haircut on the morning that we drove up and my barber told me the three things that the island was famous for – stunning beaches, beautiful women and mosquito’s!

But the fourth thing that the island is famous for is the traffic jams over long weekends with people heading there from both Rio and Sao Paulo. As you can see from the map below, its only 200 odd kms to Ilha Bela, with one short ferry ride across to the island. But the consensus among the staff and customers at the barber shop was that it was going to take us five to seven hours to get there.

In the end it only ended up taking four hours, so we werent complaining!!!

The wait for the short fifteen minute ferry ride can be up to an hour – or over a long weekend even longer, but we did learn a great tip from a friend, that was to book ahead on a specific ferry and prepay, then as long as you arrive around the time of your scheduled ferry (we were about an hour early on the way there, and an hour late on the way back) you can drive right past the queue (which must have been at least three km long on Sunday afternoon) and straight onto the next ferry – thank you very much!!!

The island is basically one giant nature reserve (90 percent of the island is national park) with just one road running from north to south along the western side of the island, its along this road that all of the houses, hotels and restaurants are.

There is also one 4×4 track that goes over the island to the beaches on the eastern side.

All around the island are an amazing 41 beaches with great snorkeling and diving and whole host of ship wrecks to be explored, behind the beaches are massive expanses of lush jungle, not the famous rain forest of the amazon, but remnants of the once equally important Atlantic Rainforest.

The map below shows the two beaches that we visited:

It also shows how close the island is the the mainland and the port of Sao Sebastiao, which unfortunately is a major Petrobras port, so the side of island facing the mainland isnt as nice as the wilder eastern side.

There is only one town on the island, which is really cute and still has a bit of a colonial feel.

We went to Ilha Bela with two german friends, one of whom is lucky?!? enough to need an armoured VW Tourag as his company car, as you can see its a beautiful and somewhat sinister machine:

But as you can also see in this shot, the thickness of the armour plating in the windows and the body add a massive amount of weight to the car, in fact it takes two people to close the boot!

So we werent about to tackle the 4×4 track over to the east of the island in it!!

But we did take it to the beach on the north of the island Jabaquara which is right at the end of the road, which is beautiful:

But dont start thinking this is some isloated hideaway, as you can see here, its quite popular with the boaties and has a couple of excellent beachside restaurants as well as a couple of little snack shacks:

We were told that the best beach on the island was over on the east side, called Castelhanos, so we hired a little speedboat to get around the island which took about an hour and a half. But as you can see the trip around was just stunning:

But the beach at Castelhanos may be now my favourite brasilian beach, though still a little crowded, having beautiful warm water with proper waves and a couple of beachside eateries serving awesome caiparinhas, fried fresh squid and fish make for a perfect way to spend the day at the beach….

Another rough weekend in our brasilian adventure!

And yes, my barber was right, the beaches were amazing, the women were beautiful (as usual in brasil) and the mosquitos were nasty little beggars, whatever variety they are on the island they were evil little creatures, but the problem was easily solved by sleeping in late and hitting the bars early (thus avoiding dawn and dusk when they are most active)!!!

One year in, we are still here and still loving it!

2 March, 2009

Hello Hello,

Long time no chat!

We have now been in Brasil for over a year, many people predicted the initial six months would keep going and going and it has.

So it now looks like we will be here for another year or two – which in our world is practically forever, so we are settling into our Brasilian lifestyle even more and making ourselves more at home here in sunny Sao Paulo.

Of course because we are now going to be here for longer, all of you who have been talking about coming over to visit us can now go ahead and book your tickets!!!

I know I have been a bit slack on the blog front for a while now, work and other not so exciting things have kept us a bit quiet for the last few months, plus we have also been traveling a lot, trips to Australia, England and Spain have kept us on the move and having fun catching up with family and friends all over the world.

Work for both of us is good, as usual busy, but good and with summer finally in full swing over here we really have nothing to complain about.

Last night we were watching the travel and living channel (gregs favourite channel after Speed), and we happened to see TV chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain presenting a show from Sao Paulo. His encounter with Sao Paulo and his view of the city very closely mirrors our own thoughts on the city, so i thought i would post the show here for anyone who wants to see it.

Thanks to youtube, the full show is available to watch online (but its broken into five bite size pieces)  the show is about forty minutes all up,  so get yourself a comfy chair and a cool drink and settle in and follow Mr Bourdain as he falls in love with the city we also love:

Of course for anyone who wants to download the whole show, you can download it here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Watch this space as we will back soon with another post on our latest adventure to Patagonia!

Finally, we get into the new house!

14 September, 2008

Hey folks,

Yep we know its been a while since we updated the blog – sorry – but we have been busy kids!

Greg was finishing his book (it’s off to the publisher now) and Cath was busy at work (as usual) and amidst all this we have been trying to find and sort out our new house.

As with lots of things in Brasil, the processes for renting somewhere to live is subtly different to the way we have done it in the past in London and Oz and Nz, and importantly a somewhat longer process. Greg will do a follow up post with some lessons we have learned going through the process of renting a home in Sao Paulo soon as lots of people have been visiting our blog and asking for information on our experience.

We choose to rent a house over an apartment because coming from Oz and Nz we are not really apartment people, even though we were living in an apartment for the last eight months, and have previously spent 12 months in one in London, we enjoy having a real outdoor area, and most importantly not having people above, below and beside us, so even though the security risks are somewhat higher (apparently) we decided that a house was the right home for us while we are in Sao Paulo.

So last Friday we finally said good-bye to our forty-eight square metre studio (which included the balcony and ten boxes of stuff shipped over from London last month) and said hello to our three hundred square metre house. The house was built in 1977 (what an awesome year, lots of quality produced in that year) and I don’t think anything has been renovated since.

When we finally arranged a time to hand over the keys we were in for a bit of a surprise, as well as the keys to the front gate and the front door, we were told that the rest of the keys for the house were in the box in the kitchen – we didn’t really realise what we were in for here though – the box contained over 180 keys “for the house” none with any labels, so our first challenge was trying to match these keys to the forty odd lockable doors, windows, cupboards and drawers in the house! Here is Greg half way through the great key sort:

The “keys to the house”

So the house is actually divided into two separate houses, in the main house, we have three bedrooms, four bathrooms, kitchen, conservatory and two dining rooms… you get the picture. It is huge.

Then there is a separate house at the back, its double storey and on the top floor it has an art studio with amazing views to the city and to the park. Downstairs is where the maid would live, it also has a laundry room, a small poolside party room and a bathroom for the pool, taking the grand total of bathrooms to seven.

Oh yeah and it also has a pool and a second larger “sala de fiesta” which translates to the party room!

So here is a quick tour of the new place, starting at the street and working towards the back:

The front gates (and the car)

The Sala de fiesta (just waiting for the pool and ping pong tables)

The lounge

The conservatory (and Gregs soon to be cactus garden)

The dining room

The kitchen (with new cooker and fridge)

The “yellow” bathroom, we also have similarly “lovely” grey, brown, chocolate and white bathrooms too!

The second bedroom leading to the pool

The second house

The artist’s studio (now gregs office)

So as I mentioned rental agreements are a bit different here and our new house is really tired inside, the kitchen, bathrooms and paint doesn’t look it has been touched since the place was built, so we negotiated three months rent free so that we could spend the rent money renovating the kitchen, bathroom, and re-painting everywhere.

There are lots of things that are different between a Brasilian house (well our Brasilian house at least) and the houses that we have lived in before, the electric showers is an obvious thing, instead of having hot and cold water in the shower, there is just cold water, and an electric shower head which heats up the water before it comes out the nozzle, a great idea once you get used to mixing electricity and water! But Gregs favourite thing is definitely the numerous hammock hooks around the property (inside and outside the house), there are a couple set into the wall near the back door of our place (where there is a nice breeze), they are a great idea, the fold into the wall when not required and are definitely something that could definitely catch on:

Hammock Hooks

So, the house is definitely a lot bigger than what we were planning to get, but after four months of looking for a house we were quite keen to move somewhere/anywhere!!! As well as an amazing house where we live is in walking distance to loads of great restaurants, the biggest park in Sao Paulo, and is considered to be the safest neighbourhood in town, and the best thing is that the rent for this house is not much more than we were paying for a small 2 bed terrace house in Chiswick, London.

But of course the first thing that everyone wants to know about when we mention we are living in a house and not an apartment is the question of security, so for those who are interested, the house is surrounded by three metre high walls, with an electric fence on top, a motion sensing alarm system, panic buttons in most of the rooms, a secure inner locked up area (where you can “double lock” at night) and a guard outside twenty four hours a day that guards our house and the ten houses around us. So I think we will be fine!

Its pretty funny, though this level of security may seem extremely high to some of reading outside Brasil, it already feels completely normal and we feel more secure in house that we ever have before in a house!

So the painters start tomorrow, so hopefully in a month of two our house should be fixed up nice, just in time for summer and a pool side bbq party or two!

Why don’t you boys go outside and fly a kite or something?

24 July, 2008

Well after just over six months in our tiny little flat, we are finally moving somewhere a bit more permanent. We are moving next week into a real house – no more apartment living for us (we say yet again)!!!

But living on the 18th floor definitely has it advantages if you like to watch the world go by, at the moment its school holidays in Sao Paulo, so some kids in a building near us went to fly their kite.

Here is their kite:

And here are the kids:

The best thing is they are thirteen stories up, so their kite is really really really high (kids and kite highlighted):

Here they are another day, this time with an afternoon flight departing from Congonhas airport:

As you can see in that picture, they sky is quite grey on the horizon, aparently because its July, one of the driest months of the year so there is no rain to wash the pollution away.

Talking of departing flights, here is one of neighbours coming home from work (or maybe a hard days shopping, it s hard to tell from here:

Another great thing is the evening views; here is a time exposure shot I got of the evening traffic near our place (including the lights from a passing plane in the top right hand corner)…

We are really going to miss the view, but we sure aint going to miss the twenty four hour traffic noise!!

Six months in –you know it had to happen – Greg falls victim to street crime.

24 June, 2008

Yep we all knew it would eventually happen, unfortunately i never imagined it would happen quite like this…..

You see rather than being violently assaulted by some gun toting maniac, Greg was back in London arranging shipping of the last bits of our belongings over here to Sao Paulo!!!

He was staying near Clapham Common with Carey and Lou (thanks dudes!) when some dodgy crack head swindled him out of his pocket change using the age old trick of asking for change for the phone.

Though he only got away with about five pounds (and Greg feeling more than a little embarrased), the irony of being “robbed” in London after travelling around South America and living in Sao Paulo for six months was certainly pretty funny!

Though the statistical chances of being a victim of crime are definitely higher in Brazil, that’s possibly not the whole story. For example according to Wikipedia (the Brazilian government doesn’t release crime statistics) last year Brazil had 24 murders per 100,000 residents, New Zealand had 1.2 murders per 100,000 people, Australia 1.53 and the UK 2.03. So there is no doubt that there is more crime in Brazil, but i don’t think that its spread as equally across the community in Brazil as it is at home.

In Brazil from what we have picked up from watching TV and in the print media the majority of crime happens in the poorest parts of the country. The slums/favelas that surround most of the cities in Brazil are effectively un-policed, a combination of local gang control, police corruption and a simple lack of police resources means that the poorest people in Brazil have no real recourse to legal protection.

It is interesting to note that New Zealand has one of the highest numbers of reported crimes of any country in the world. Kiwis reported 12,000 crimes per 100,000 people according to the latest statistics on maps of the world coming in third after Iceland and Sweden.

Possibly due to a lack of faith in the police forces of Brazil and the fact that crime statistics are rarely if ever reported one Brazilian professor has created a website allowing people to record details of the crimes they have fallen victim too, you can see these anecdotal crimes here on wiki crimes.

So we are glad to say Greg is now safely back in Sao Paulo!