Back from Mexico


Detail from a huge mural by brilliant Mexican artist Diego Rivera.


Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened to me: I had a day off.

Of course it wasn’t a real day off – I answered about 25 work-related emails in the morning and did a few house-keeping jobs on the website in the afternoon – but, as you can see, I also found enough free time to finally write a new blog post.

Life has been pretty hectic recently. This time last week I was in Mexico with my colleagues from FoodieHub (formerly ‘Chowzter’).

FoodieHub have been making massive improvements recently so the trip to Mexico was a great chance to catch up with old friends and discuss how everything is going. For those unfamiliar, FoodieHub is a network of independent food writers located in cities all over the world. Each expert recommends the essential places to eat in their city, from street stalls and traditional family-run establishments right the way up to luxury fine dining. As the FoodieHub expert for Rio I guess I am duty-bound to recommend the service, but as it happens I’ve been using the site for all of my travels over the last 18 months and I’ve found it to be a brilliant way to track down the essential eats in unfamiliar cities (check out my list for Rio here).

Read more

Rio de Janeiro

A Brand New Eat Rio


Feijoada. Because by the time you read this it will probably be Saturday Sunday.


Hello readers! Remember me? I’m not sure whether a 7 week break can really be called a hiatus, but that’s what I’m going with. I’ve probably gone on about this too much recently, but things have been really busy over the last few months! There have been all kinds of adventures – lots and lots of food tours, recruiting new staff, dabbling in a little catering, changing accountants and getting boring businessey stuff organised, working with a major US broadcaster, preparing for an upcoming trip to Mexico and also working on the brand new Eat Rio website. Oh yeah, and it looks like an actual physical book with my name on it could possibly be appearing next year!

The book thing has not been confirmed yet so we’ll have to see how that goes, but the new website is almost upon us. Now then, long-term readers will read the last part of that last sentence with a certain amount of (justified) scepticism. Over the last 18 months I’ve mentioned this ‘new website’ many times but until now it has been all talk. But the time has finally come! With the help of Tamara at Just Add Glitter, the new site is finally done!

Read more


Dangerous fun in the skies over Niterói


Long exposure of a plane taking off into the night sky over Guanabara Bay with Niterói in the background.


Have you ever had one of those moments when you saw something so weird that you just couldn’t explain it? A few years ago I had such a moment when I was looking out over Guanabara Bay towards Rio’s near neighbour, Niterói. The night sky above the bay is often pretty busy – passenger jets taking off and landing at Santos Dumont airport, helicopters buzzing around, perhaps the odd fireworks display or some beams of light coming up from a concert somewhere. However, on this occasion I spotted something quite different.

Read more


Christmas Culinary Adventures in London



Hi everyone! Remember me? Well I wouldn’t blame you if you’d forgotten all about Eat Rio – it’s been a shameful 4 weeks since my last post. I’ve never left it that long before and such a long hiatus deserves an explanation. How about tell you what’s been going on since this time last month?


Eat Rio Food Tours


Going from strength to strength. Eat Rio Food Tours are currently sitting at #14 in TripAdvisor’s list of activities in Rio!

Read more


A solution for Santa Teresa while we wait for the Bondinho


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.

Read more


Less 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:

Read more

Should I tip in Brazil?


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!


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.”

Read more


Photo post: 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.




Recipe: Bolinhos de Abóbora com Carne Seca


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:

Read more