A Chowzter Balti Mission in Birmingham



To finish off the tales of our recent trip to England, I wanted to tell you about an unexpected culinary adventure that took Mrs Eat Rio and me to Britain’s second most populous city: Birmingham.

A couple of things to quickly say about Birmingham. Firstly, unlike its Alabama namesake, you don’t pronounce the “h” when saying the city’s name (here’s how it’s done – North American visitors: learn this before you arrive to avoid ridicule). Secondly, despite the recent report from satirical news agency, Fox News, non-Muslims are very welcome in the city. This is a constant source of relief to the 79% of Birmingham’s residents who are in fact non-Muslim themselves…

It was almost 2 years ago that I first met Jeffrey Merrihue, founder of Chowzter. Before long he had signed me up to curate the Chowzter list for Rio. I also do occasional writing jobs for them and take part in their awards events. Jeffrey is one of those people who is described by many as ‘larger than life’ – full to bursting with ideas and enthusiasm, particularly when it comes to great food from across the world. Jeffrey left his home in the US years ago and today lives in London, so when he heard we were in town he came up with a typically crazy plan. We would go on a Balti Mission to Birmingham.

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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!

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The Chowzter Awards in London



First I tell you that I’m quitting my day job so I can spend more time on the blog, and then I go and disappear without blogging for a whole week! Well I won’t apologise as that sounds rather self-important (“How did you cope without me?”), but I will say that I’ve been busy!

Yesterday I got back to Rio after a week in London for the Chowzter Tastiest Fast Feast Awards. Chowzter have recruited some of the best food bloggers from cities around the world in their quest to track down the best Fast Feasts on the planet. A ‘Fast Feast’ could be anything from street food to a generations-old family recipe served up in a modest neighbourhood restaurant – the emphasis is on independent, non-pretentious, freshly prepared and delicious dishes!

As well as the awards ceremony, the weekend was filled with a variety of food related events (sometimes I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this good fortune!). And before that started, I even had a chance to catch up with friends and family around London. Now this, is what a proper pub looks like:

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Coming back on a birthday

Well, what an eventful couple of weeks it has been! My 13 days in London were many things – fun, exhausting, chilly but above all else a great chance to catch up with friends and family (though I did miss a few friends which was sad).

I feel rather bad that my post comparing London with Rio seemed to show London in rather a bad light. I guess going straight from Rio carnival at 38°C to a Monday morning London commute at -2°C made me feel a little negative. London is undoubtedly an amazing city and the hard winter months make the brief summer all the more magical (I must plan my work trips more carefully in future!).


On my way to the airport. Heathrow is in a rather miserable part of outer London, but I was pretty pleased with the send off.


Moving between my two favourite cities always makes me reflect. I think about my past life in London and my new life in Rio, the pros and cons of both cities and the things I miss out on by being in one place and not the other (that is a rather ‘glass half empty’ view isn’t it?). But looking at things in a more positive light, I can never feel too sad as I leave either place because there is so much to look forward to in the other.

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Photo Post: The Leysian Mission

The Leysian Mission sounds like some kind of spy thriller doesn’t it? Well in fact it is this fine building that I snapped on my way to work on Tuesday. London really is rather magnificent sometimes…

Leysian Mission

Originally this was a Methodist school which also offered a “poor man’s lawyer”, a relief committee, feeding programmes, meetings for men and women, and a range of services and musical activities.


London vs Rio

Did I mention that I’m back in London for 2 weeks? I’ve been really busy since I got back, but I started writing this on Monday morning as I made my way to work:


This is the first time I’ve been back to England in a year. I landed less than 24 hours ago and already the contrasts with Brazil have been jumping out at me. Here’s how today started…



Everyone in Britain sleeps under a duvet (sounds like DOO-vay). A duvet is a thick quilt, traditionally stuffed with goose or duck down, nowadays more commonly filled with cheaper artificial fibres. Outside the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing, so the single sheet that I used back in Brazil would be useless.



A duvet (AKA quilt). It keeps you cosy when it’s cold, but getting out of bed in the morning can be tough.


Morning Water Torture

Getting out from under the cosy duvet is really hard, but things get worse when you get to the shower. Of course the water comes out hot, but in older houses especially, the bathroom itself is often freezing! Back in Brazil I used love a long, cool, refreshing shower in the morning (and usually at least one more later in the day). Here in London it is like cold water torture…

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A Million Meals in London…

This morning I woke to the sound of cocks crowing and the gas truck playing Beethoven. As Dorothy said, there’s no place like home, and after 2 months away, I’m finally back! But before I get too carried away with all things Brazilian, I thought I’d tie up a few of the loose ends from my time back in London. Depending on your viewpoint, think of this as food-gloating or a few recommendations for your next trip to London.

First of all there was the night out in fast-becoming-trendy Brixton Market.

Apparently there are loads of these stylised shop-fronts around Brixton market. As well as liking the images, I rather enjoyed the fact that Michael's Meat is still displaying an "01" number. 01 numbers were phased out at the end of the 1980s..


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The World’s most wonderful train station?

I’m a big fan of travel, be it across town or around the world. I’ve always known I liked travelling in the ‘around-the-world’ sense, but I only really discovered that I was interested in how people get around town when I started blogging. After a while I noticed that I was amassing more and more Rio transport related posts – how to hail a bus (no mean feat in Rio), priority seats for the obese, metro travel tips, the sexy voiced announcer at the airport.

So I guess it’s only natural that I would find myself continuing this trend during my 2 months back in England. One of the many pleasures of being back has been catching up with old friends and, through a twist of fate, a friend and I recently found ourselves in what was recently described as “the world’s most wonderful railway station”: St Pancras.


Victorian Neo-Gothic architecture. Splendiferous! Photo: © Nick Weall


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Things you don’t get in Rio

As I approach the end of my third week back in the UK I have to say that being back here has stirred up a complex mix of feelings. I’ll quickly get the negative part out of the way and say that I miss my special one back in Rio – 2 months is a long, long time. But on the other side of the things, I spent last night enjoying a wonderful meal with my mum at a spectacular restaurant in South East London – when you live more than 5,000 miles away, these occasions are rare and precious.

And as I sit here tapping away, I look to my right and see a delicious glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and a plate of yummy cheese from Switzerland (gruyere, since you ask). If you ever consider a move to Rio, you’d better get used to doing without these little luxuries.

This is just the cheddar section of the medium sized supermarket that I was in today. JUST the cheddar! So much choice and quality! Incidentally, I'm saddened that most of the world is either unaware of cheddar or thinks of it as a dull, tasteless cheese. Real cheddar is rich, sharp and tangy! How I miss it when I'm back home in Rio...


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Eat London: Soho.

Woo, check it out – 2 posts in as many days! I am back baby! And am I going to pick up where I left off yesterday with another tale from my adventures in London.

A stroll through Soho

Last weekend I set off to meet some friends at a Dutch pub located on a street that borders Chinatown and Soho. I hadn’t been to this particular pub in more than a decade, but my memories (made misty through the combined effects of time and Oranjeboom) were that this was what a Londoner might describe as a “decent boozer”.


The Oranjeboom was gone, but this Lindeboom went down very nicely, even if it did look a bit like an ice-cream!

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