Category Archive: Musings

Dec 01

A solution for Santa Teresa while we wait for the Bondinho

santa-teresa-bonde

Anyone who has visited Rio’s Santa Teresa neighbourhood over the last 3 years may have been a little confused. The picturesque streets that trace the area’s steep hills and hairpin bends are covered in tracks, yet the Santa Teresa tram has not been seen here since August 2011. Instead you see posters on walls and stickers in car windows showing the image above.

Back when I first moved to Rio, the tram of Santa Teresa, better known as the Bonde or Bondinho, was a major tourist attraction. The bright yellow wooden tram cars were rickety but pretty and made for an utterly charming way to get around Santa Teresa. However, although tourists and locals flocked to the trams, all was not well.

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Nov 28

Festa Crackers – a British-Brazilian Christmas cultural exchange

festa-crackers

 

 

There are people in life who attempt things that haven’t been done before; people who put self-belief before self-doubt to try something new. Imagine how boring the world would be without those people! Well I met just such a person a couple of weeks ago:

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Nov 25

Less change in Brazil

change-in-brazil

 

There’s a lot of talk about change in Brazil. And whether we’re discussing pulling people out of poverty through the Bolsa Família scheme, or the changes required to improve health and education for Brazil’s poorest communities, change is usually thought of as a positive thing. Well today I’d like to make the case for less change in Brazil. Here’s Exhibit A:

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Nov 07

Should I tip in Brazil?

nova-capela

The longest serving waiter at Nova Capela being very good-natured about having a camera in his face!

 

A question I’m often asked by people visiting Rio is: “Should I tip in Brazil? If so, how much?”.  It’s usually North Americans who ask this question and I’m sure that is due to the strong tipping culture in that part of the world. Well, the short answer is “For restaurants, yes – 10%”. The more helpful answer is “Yes, but the standard 10% is usually added to your bill without you having to think about it”.

This ‘not having to think about it’ aspect of tipping in Brazil got Mrs Eat Rio and I into trouble last time we were out of the country. We were approaching the end of our trip to Mexico (where a gratuity is usually left off the bill) and as it was our last night in Oaxaca before returning to Mexico City, we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy meal at Casa Oaxaca. It was a wonderful night and all the way home we chatted about the delicious food, the beautiful design/décor and the friendly, attentive service. As we got back to our hotel room, I stopped dead: We forgot to leave a tip! It was too late to go back and we were leaving first thing the next morning, so we were in a tricky situation. I gave them a call and they told me (very graciously) not to worry about it and thanked me for calling. I decided the least I could do is give them a recommendation, so here it is. If you get the chance, go!

casa-oaxaca

Delicious morsels from chef Alejandro Ruiz of Casa Oaxaca. Here’s what Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants had to say: “The flavour combinations are often surprisingly striking with Ruiz never shying away from big-hitting palate punches. Food is rarely as refreshingly honest as it is here.”

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Oct 13

Photo post: Lapa Sandwich

Lapa-sandwich

 

I never know quite how to feel when I see this scene in Lapa. Part of me is happy that the little fellow survived, another part of me feels sad that these huge, ugly blocks were put here in the first place.

 

 

Oct 01

Recipe: Bolinhos de Abóbora com Carne Seca

Bolinhos-de-feijoada

Bolinhos de feijoada from Aconchego Carioca

 

Did I ever tell you how much I love bolinhos? When I was first introduced to these little balls of joy, I assumed the word meant just that: little balls. In fact bolinho is the diminutive of bolo, the Portuguese word for cake, so really these are ‘little cakes’, but a better translation would be ‘fritter’ or ‘croquette’. Whatever you call them, bolinhos are hugely popular in Brazil. There are quite a few bars in Rio that owe pretty much all their popularity to their bolinhos.

The photo above shows bolinhos de feijoada from Aconchego Carioca. This is a bolinho version of Brazil’s best-loved dish, feijoada: black bean purée on the outside, shredded couve and bacon in the middle, all encased in a delightfully crispy shell. Along with a helping hand from Claude Troisgros, these bolinhos really put this restaurant on the map. Other bars and restaurants in Rio for bolinho lovers to visit include Bracarense in Leblon and Bar do Gomez in Santa Teresa:

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Sep 23

Coconuts asking for directions

HortiFruti-Coco

“Stop being stubborn and ask someone for directions”

 

Ah, good old Hortifruti adverts. Whether they’re making excellent fruit-based movie puns or racist controversial accent-based puns, they always give me something to think about. Their latest offering covers relatively safe ground – speaking for myself, I know I’m often guilty of being a cabeça dura (literally ‘hard head’, though ‘stubborn’ would be a better translation) when it comes to asking for directions.

But people with cabeça dura living in Rio should really take Mrs Drinking Coconut’s advice – Cariocas still amaze me with their willingness to help out when someone asks for directions. It’s not so much that they’re prepared to help that I find surprising; it’s the lengths to which they’ll go. Imagine yourself in the following scenarios in whichever city you happen to call home:

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Jul 23

Eat Rio in Mexico City

Hola from Mexico everyone! Just a quick update because if I spend too long on the computer, Mrs Eat Rio will kill me! Still, I think I’ve just got time to show you the ridiculously delicious dish we tried yesterday lunchtime. This is Cochinita Pibil:

Cochinita-pibil

Pork that has been marinated in bitter orange juice and then slow roasted. Served on a banana leaf.

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Jul 18

The way things are right now

Image source

Chilaquiles Image source

 

Well it’s Friday, and in days gone past that would have meant a guaranteed post here at Eat Rio. Then along came the World Cup and a deluge of food tours and my whole writing/posting routine got messed up.

So now that the World Cup is over, things should be getting back to normal, right?

Well, not quite yet. Mrs Eat Rio and I have been working 7 days/week for the last 3 months, so we are both completely exhausted. A few weeks ago we decided to book ourselves a holiday to Mexico so we can get away from everything and fully unwind.

I visited Mexico back in 2010 and absolutely loved it. For Mrs Eat Rio it will be her first time in the land of tequila, mole and chilaquiles (we plan to indulge in all 3 of those items, plus much, much more).

Of course I’ll be indulging in some serious relaxation, but I will also be taking my camera with a view to record my experiences and perhaps draw some parallels and contrasts between Mexico and Brazil. And when I get back, things will get back to normal (promise!).

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Jul 15

World Cup 2014 – How did it go?

Brazil-World-Cup

So long, and thanks for all the football…

 

Well, that’s that then. The World Cup 2014 is over. All the worries and concerns about whether the tournament would be a success can be laid to rest because this thing is over.

How do you think it went? Sadly, through an overabundance of work, I didn’t get to attend any of the matches in any of the stadiums, but I was out and about on the streets of Rio throughout the tournament and also met a huge number of tourists who were in town specifically for the World Cup. Here’s my take on the tournament:

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