Category Archive: Food and drink

Dec 11

Ferro e Farinha returns!



To say that Rio is not known for good pizza is a bit like saying that Manchester is not known for sunny weather (sorry Mancunians!). Cariocas have a strange habit of eating their pizza with sachets of tomato ketchup or even (gasp) mustard – that’s how bad pizza in Rio is! One of the biggest complaints about Carioca pizzas is that they are topped with way too much (bad) cheese and not enough tomato sauce (perhaps that explains the ketchup?).

I used to wonder whether perhaps Cariocas just liked their pizza that way. Perhaps they didn’t want decent pizza? Well, just over a year ago, Sei Shiroma and his Ferro e Farinha team came along and disproved that little hypothesis. I wrote about Ferro e Farinha back in September 2013 when they were just getting going and the response I had to that post (it is still one of my all time most-read posts) made me realise that people in Rio (locals and expats alike) were crying out for a better quality pizza.

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Oct 28

Brazilian Recipes: Baião de Dois


A few of the things you’ll be needing for today’s recipe for Baião de Dois.


Today I am stepping into dangerous territory – I’m going to tell you about one of the classic recipes of Northeast Brazil. Why dangerous? Well try to imagine a beloved recipe from your hometown/region. Now imagine that some idiot from another country comes bumbling along and tries to tell everyone how to make it, but of course the bumbling idiot gets it so, so wrong. So before I get myself into an on-line version of this classic culinary car crash from Keith Floyd, I will quickly attempt to pre-empt outraged complaints by saying that this is just my way of doing it and I accept that true Nordestinos may do it differently.

OK, so with that pusillanimous pre-emptive apology out of the way, let’s get on with it shall we? Baião (sounds a bit like ‘buy-OHWN’) is a style of music and dance from Northeast Brazil (if you’d like some extra Nordestino atmosphere, why not have Luiz Gonzaga sing Baião in the background while you read the rest of the post?). So if “Baião de Dois” is a dance for two, then who are the principal protagonists in this culinary caper? You guessed it – Mr Rice and Mrs Beans:

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Oct 18

Manguinhas – another reason to visit your local feira



Here’s a little factiod for you: while many fruits have evolved bright colours to attract birds (birds have excellent colour vision), mangoes are generally a dull greenish-red colour because they have evolved to be eaten (and therefore distributed) by fruit bats and other animals that rely more on smell than sight to find food. See? 3 years studying zoology wan’t a complete waste was it? According to my old ecology lecturer, we silly humans have spent the last 100+ years attempting to breed bright, colourful mangoes which appeal to the average human shopper.

There are mango trees (mangueiras) all over Rio. In fact here’s the view out of my window right now:

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Oct 08

Soups and Stews in Botafogo: Feijão, Angu e Cia



A few months after I arrived in Rio, I got my first job. I was working half way along one of Botafogo’s main streets, Rua Voluntários de Pátria. Back then, life in Rio was a bit scary and bewildering, full of lessons to be learned: how to catch a bus, how to get a waiter’s attention and how to have lunch.

That last item might seem strange (what is there to learn about lunch?), but I soon found that my London lunching tradition (a quick sandwich eaten at my desk) wasn’t going to work in Brazil. The idea of eating at one’s desk seems to be rather repulsive to Brazilians, and on this question I have come to see their point. I soon realised that I needed to find somewhere outside of the office to eat. I took to the streets of Botafogo in search of something quick, convenient and delicious. Here’s what I found:

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Sep 18

Fruits in Brazil: Sapoti and Jenipapo

One of the most exciting aspects of Brazilian food is the wide range of little known fruit. From the moment I first crossed into Brazil from Colombia, I encountered strange fruits and berries that I had never seen or even heard of before. Words like Bacurí, Muricí and Cupuaçú jumbled about in my head after a visit to a market in Manaus. Although it’s not quite so easy to get hold of the exotic Amazonian fruits here in Rio, they do show up from time to time in the street markets (another good place to look is Hortifruti) and whenever I see something new, I try it.

I visit Rio’s street markets at least twice a week and there is almost always this one stall, run by a rather grumpy old guy, which has the weird items. A few days ago I visited the grumpy stall and picked up two fruits that are pretty interesting: Sapoti and Jenipapo.


Sapoti (aka Sapodilla)



For all I know, I have been walking past these Sapoti (sounds like ‘sappo-chee’) fruit for years without noticing them and you can hardly blame me can you? As fruit go, these dull brown, tennis-ball sized spheres don’t exactly jump out and say ‘eat me!’ do they?

Better known as Sapodilla or Níspero in their native range of Southern Mexico and Central America, Sapoti (Manilkara zapota) grow on large, evergreen trees. The ripe fruit are firm and when cut open release a delicious sweet fragrance.

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Sep 12

Osso: Meat Mecca in Lima



My recent trip to Lima only lasted 5 days, yet it was so full of highlights that it felt like I was away for a month. Within minutes of arriving, I had dumped my bags at the hotel and was heading to Mistura for a day of serious eating with Mijune (aka Follow Me Foodie) and David (one of the head honchos at Chowzter). Over the following days we attended the Chowzter Latin America Awards, were treated to a personal chat with king of Peruvian food, Gastón Acurio, and ate and drank our way across some of the city’s finest restaurants, bars, street food stands and markets. Lima really is a food-lover’s paradise and not to be missed if you get the chance.

I am always mesmerised by all the amazing seafood in Lima, but on this occasion the two high-points of the trip centred on meat. Today I’ll tell you about my trip to Osso.

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Sep 05

Mistura 2014 & the Chowzter Latin America Awards


Chicharron sandwich from Lima restaurant El Chinito. Pork, sweet potato and ceviche-style red onions. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter.


Hola from Lima everyone! I jetted in yesterday on a very unglamorous 4am flight from Rio and stopped in my hotel just long enough to dump my bags before heading off the Mistura, Latin America’s biggest and best food festival. Yesterday I overheard a first time visitor to Mistura saying “This place is just amazing. I didn’t realise it was on my bucket list until I got here!”. I know exactly what they mean – if you’re looking for a huge, rich, delicious, fascinating food experience, Mistura should be on your list too.

This is my second visit and it is proving to be just as enjoyable and interesting as last time. In just a few hours I ate and drank my way through upwards of 35 dishes yesterday. I know that sounds shameful/gluttonous/amazing (depending on how you feel about excess), but I should quickly point out that many of those 35 ‘dishes’ were in fact small tastes of something delicious, rather than full-blown plates of food.

I don’t want to be down on Rio, but the recent Rio Gastronomia event has a long way to go before it approaches the heights of Mistura. I have a hard drive full of mouthwatering photos, but not enough time to show you everything, so I’ll just give you a little amuse bouche for now.

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Sep 03

Proof that British food isn’t terrible



A little while back, Jamie Oliver stirred up a whole lot of trouble (while hungover) by describing brigadeiro and quindim (Brazilian sweets) as “a load of old shit” on Brazilian TV. A little while later, Andrew Creelman over at “What About São Paulo?” asked the question Why do some Brazilians think British food is shit? Andrew’s question was partly prompted by Jamie’s ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment and partly because plenty of Brazilians (and other nationalities) have a poor view of British food.

It’s interesting how personally we take criticism of our food, regardless of where we’re from – when I read comments like “Sorry, but British food is disgusting” I can’t help but feel a pang of indignation, just the same as Brazilians felt miffed that Jamie dissed their sweets.


Quindim – not everyone’s cup of tea.


In case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a fan of Brazilian food, but in the case of brigadeiro and quindim (a mix of egg yolks, sugar and coconut) I have some sympathy for Jamie. I know there are some foreigners who like those sweets, but to most untrained palettes they taste bland and sickly-sweet. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to like Marmite if they hadn’t grown up with the stuff. So if anyone feels like saying that Marmite is a load of old shit, be my guest (all the more for me!).

But sweeping statements like “British food is terrible” (or “Brazilian food is terrible” for that matter) are generally made by mischievous people who are looking for a rise, or who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the best the country has to offer. I’ve defended Brazilian food in the past, so today I’m just going to put forward 2 examples in support of British food.

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Aug 29

Amazon Beer taste test



In the previous post we established that there are a growing number of places that stock decent beer in Rio, but what should you order when you get there? Most of the Carioca beer enthusiasts I’ve met seem obsessed with Belgian ales, particularly those with heavy flavours and high alcohol contents. I suppose that if you’re going to spend R$30 ($13) on 330ml of beer, it’s nice to feel that you’re getting some bang for your buck.

When I take guests out on food tours, we taste a few different Brazilian beers including some from the state of Rio and others from further afield, but my favourite by far are the Amazon Beers. Amazon Beer (Cervejaria Amazon) is a brewer located in Belém in the northern state of Pará. They produce a range of 7 beers and a few days ago I decided to taste 3 of them:


From left to right – Açaí Stout, Cumaru IPA, Bacuri Forest.

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Aug 27

Where to drink beer in Rio




Beer drinkers coming to Rio may be disappointed at first – many bars and restaurants only serve the lightest of beers such as Brahma, Skol and Antarctica. The near absence of flavour in these beers is primarily due to the use of up to 45% unmalted cereals, primarily corn and rice. This lack of flavour is why Mrs Eat Rio refers to these as ‘beer soda'; some people even debate whether you can honestly call these beverages ‘beer’ at all.

Moving up the food chain a little, the fancier beach kiosks and even some beach vendors are starting to stock Heineken. It might not be a wonder-beer exactly, but it has significantly more flavour and bite than the bog-standard beer sodas.


Carioca Beer Enthusiasts

With this background of terrible beer, you might be surprised to hear that during my time in Rio I have met more beer enthusiasts then in any other city. My theory is that if you spend your early drinking years indulging in tasteless budget beers like Itaipava and Nova Schin, then when you finally taste something decent, it blows your mind. I picture an 18 year old Brazilian tasting his/her first Guinness or Duvel, realising that real beer has real depth of flavour and embarking on a journey of beer discovery.

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