Comida di Buteco 2014 is nearly here!


If you like to eat, drink and have fun, Rio really is a great place to live. Sure it might not have the range of cuisines and night life of a cosmopolitan city like New York, nor the levels of culinary sophistication of a city like Paris, but what it lacks in those departments, it makes up in sheer gusto.

It’s only been a month since the excesses of carnaval died down, and already the spectre of the World Cup is looming (62 days and counting!). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – this Friday (11 April) sees the start of everyone’s favourite bar food competition – Comida di Buteco 2014!

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How to order food in Brazil

The first time some friends from back home came out to visit me here in Rio, I was more than a little excited. It had been 18 months since I’d seen them and after such a long time, where better to have a reunion than Rio de Janeiro? On their first night in town, we had a few drinks in Copacabana and then went for a meal at La Fiorentina in Leme (that link is to an official Eat Rio review!).

La Fiorentina, Rio

La Fiorentina – legendary seafood and pasta restaurant on the seafront in Leme.


Back in London we would often meet up at a favourite restaurant (or try a new one), so it was like old times, chatting over a glass of wine as we perused the menu. However, when the food arrived, they realised that they weren’t in Kansas London anymore.

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Rio Restaurant Recommendations

When people come to visit me here in Rio, one of the first things they ask is “What are the best things to do in Rio?”. Once they’ve seen a few sights they come back with more questions (they’re very demanding) – “Can you recommend a good restaurant?”.

As discussed before, I try not to be a bore about food, but that doesn’t stop me being a little food-obsessed and keeping an eye out for the best places to eat. Recently it occurred to me that there may be other people coming to Rio who’d like a few recommendations. I don’t pretend I’m a food expert (well, maybe deep-down I do think that a little bit), but perhaps some honest recommendations could be helpful.

Restaurants in Rio

Hmmm, Restaurants in Rio!


I decided not to bother with negative reviews – what’s the point in me telling people “Hey, you know that place in Ipanema? You know, the one next to Praça General Osorio? Well don’t go there, it sucks”.

Instead I’ve put together a list of my favourite places in Rio. It’s not a complete list by any means. There are places like Oro that I’m still saving up to visit (I’m not made of money you know!) and I expect that there are still places I need to discover (in case you haven’t guessed, this is my disclaimer in the hopes of avoiding angry messages telling me I missed the “best place in town!”).

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Bahia in Brief

Hi everyone! After 5 days in Bahia I thought I’d attempt a mini-post to tell you about how things have gone so far. I only have my phone, so please excuse weird typos…

We flew into Salvador, state capital and first capital of Brazil (replaced  first by Rio and then more recently by Brasilia). Salvador reminded me a bit of Panama City – large, rather ugly outer city, surrounding a beautiful, historic area that is popular with tourists. In Panama City, Casco Viejo is a lovely wreck of a neighbourhood full of beautiful crumbling facades. The perimeter is guarded by heavily armed police to keep the rich tourists safe.


Check out the phone boxes that look like coconuts!

Salvador’s equivalent is called Pelourinho and is far prettier and better maintained. Lovely old colonial houses, painted in complementary shades, line steep, cobbled streets. The heavy police presence (coupled with frequent warnings from random people) remind you that there are people who’d like to take your valuables if given the chance, but the overriding sense is that this is a city rich with music, history and culture.

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Great food in a favela: Bar do David

Remember I was talking about Comida di Buteco recently? Well today I thought I’d tell you about one of the participants that I visited recently. Bar do David is located in Chapeu Mangueira, a favela in the neighbourhood of Leme, right next to Copacabana. It has been on the ‘favela food map’ for a while now, renowned for its excellent food, in particular a seafood feijoada.

So, last weekend we decided to go and see what all the fuss was about. The idea of seafood feijoada had already piqued my curiosity and when I realised it was involved in the Comida di Buteco competition I had one more reason to go!


One of the best favela restaurants in Rio, Bar do David is situated in Chapéu Mangueira, not a million miles from Copacabana.


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A Nasty Food Surprise

Yesterday I told you about the Sanduichão (better known as Torta Salgada Fria), an enormous, savoury, sandwich cake, often decorated with large amounts of mayonnaise and tomatoes that have been cut into pretty rose shapes. Looking at the comments I think it’s fair to say that the non-Brazilians who have tried it (been subjected to it?) did not like it. Too much mayonnaise was a common complaint. But of all the comments, the one that made me laugh the hardest (in a mean way) was Brasilicana‘s:

I am permanently prejudiced against the Sanduichão because my first experience with one was traumatic. It was covered in mayo (without all the veggies on top) and it was dark at the party. I cut a big slice for myself, thinking it was cake, and imagine my surprise when I tasted corn, chicken, and lettuce. BLARGH!


Ahhhh, I know it’s not nice to laugh, but I can’t help it – I’m a bad person I guess. As well as making me laugh, Brasilicana’s story brought to mind all kinds of food-surprise memories.

It does look like cake doesn't it? With the lighting low, I'm sure we'd all make the same mistake... (Thanks to Rebecca for the link).

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British Christmas Food in Brazil (part 2), OR: It’s a Mere Trifle

Yesterday I did my best to convince you all that I’m some kind of super-chef (it’s great having your own blog, you can tell stories that make you sound great). Today I’m going to continue in the same vein by telling you the story of this year’s Christmas day cooking adventure.

Pavlova - a delicious dessert that I didn't make this year.


After the stress and hassle of last year’s Beef Wellington, I made a point of opting out of the main dish and instead offered to make sobremesa (dessert). I decided to do a pavlova – none of my Brazilian family had heard of this delicious dessert made up of layers of meringue, cream and summer fruits, so it seemed like a great option for wowing them once again. Problem was we ended up being dangerously short of time. And it was stiflingly hot. And we had to make the dessert at our place in Santa Teresa and then transport it across town to my mother-in-law’s house in Gávea. I had visions of arriving across town and unveiling some broken, melted mess.

So we switched to Plan B.

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My Favourite Brazilian Christmas Treat

OK, don’t all laugh at me, but I heard a rumour going round that Christmas is fast approaching. I haven’t worked it out exactly, but my guess is that there aren’t many shopping days left until the big day itself. This information does not compute. I have spent every day this past week thanking whoever it was that invented air conditioning (and also thanking my father-in-law for donating an air conditioner a few weeks back).

Seriously, I put up a hammock yesterday. Hammocks and Christmas are not, in my book, words that go together.

Ah, my lovely hammock from lovely Colombia. This trusty fellow looked after me on an interminable boat ride down the Amazon and it's great to see him again. However, does this scene strike you as Christmasy? I guess the hammock does have a bit of a Santa colour scheme going on...

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Corny Stop Motion

As I wandered home last night I passed a guy standing at a little metal cart selling sweetcorn (milho). This must be one of my favourite street foods – there’s just something pleasing about selling this as a quick snack. 


I know he doesn’t look it, but this guy was actually very friendly. It’s just when I took the photo (I did ask!) he put on his stern face.

Whereas most snacks are high in fat or sugar (or both!), here is a yummy snack that is relatively good for you. The sellers use the outer leaves of the corn as the wrapping, so there’s no need for plastic bags and all the usual packaging – once you’re finished you are only throwing away a biodegradable husk and some leaves! I wish it was more popular everywhere. 

However, last night I didn’t buy sweetcorn. I bought pamonha (sounds like pam-ON-ya). 

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A handful of magic beans

Ah! We had gorgeous weather today – finally some weekend sunshine. I got up early and decided today I would do things. A half-built trellis has been taunting me for weeks and so today I thought I would finally put it in its place (up on a wall). I set to work and everything was going fine until I realised that I needed a thicker drill bit. This trellis has been an ongoing saga for so long now that it seemed only natural that there would be another hurdle. I wandered off into Catete (an nearby neighbourhood) on a long-shot mission to find a shop selling drill bits open on a Sunday.

I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear that after an hour and a half of wandering I found my drill bit in one of those shops that sells a bit of everything. I was delighted and probably overreacted a little – no one should be that excited about finding an 8mm masonry drill bit…

On my triumphant way home I stopped in on the Glória street market and picked up a few things. One item I really didn’t need but couldn’t resist was this:


Cacau – where chocolate comes from.

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