One of the best things about travelling is the food. I love trying new dishes and stumbling upon weird and wonderful treats unheard of in the UK. My recent trip to Brazil was a culinary affair as I was lucky enough to be travelling with three girlfriends who share my love of good food and were happy to spend a little more and ‘Glam-pack’, a little different from my previous backpacking adventures. We ate out every evening using TripAdvisor and Kate’s handy “Top 10” guidebook as a reference on where to go. We also asked locals we met en route and staff at our hotel on the best local eateries.
Meals included ‘Churrasco’ which involved many different types of meat all-you-can-eat style (above), ‘Feijoãda”, a national dish consisting of a stew based on black beans cooked with pork and jerk beef (below left) and a fish soup called “leão veloso” from Lua e Mar (below right) which consists of a broth with fish and seafood cooked with tomato and saffron.
Another two dishes we tried which was possibly my favourite of the holiday, was fish fillet in passion fruit sauce and fish fillet in banana and coconut sauce from Dom Mario on the island of Ilha Grande which was simply divine, if a little rich! As with the majority of Brazilian main courses, these were made to be shared between two and served with rice and Farofa, a toasted manioc flour mixture often including pork scratching or fruit.
We also had a couple of BBQ’s on the beach with our toes in the sand, watching the sunset and enjoying an ice cold Caipirinha – bliss! I enjoyed grilled Halloumi, steak and chicken with more rice and a nice fresh salad. The best restaurant we visited was Rustico in Santa Teresa which was recommended to us by a local girl at the hostel. By Brazilian standards it wasn’t cheap but the menu sounded interesting and included rabbit and wild boar. I went for fish topped with mix seeds and served with a sweet pumpkin purée (below).
For dessert we all had this dome-shaped cake which tasted a little like a doughnut but with a cakey texture (above). Inside was warm caramel which oozed out when digging your spoon in. Served with what can only be described as frozen whipped cream this was by far one of the highlights of my trip.
After hearing about Rio’s Favelas from others we met we decided to book an organised tour around South America’s largest favela, Rocinha (above). It was here I picked up a coconut cookie fresh out the oven. This tasted more savoury than a sweet cookie and most definitely contained some form of fennel or saffron – yelch! At least I felt like I was giving something to the community so my purchase wasn’t wasted.
Our trip to the island Ilha Grande was a somewhat sweeter affair to the bright lights of Rio. In addition to some fantastic meals out mentioned above, I made multiple trips to the cake carts which have been covered in a separate post all about Brazilian cake! (click here to read it) As well as the mountain of cake on the island, there were plenty of self serve ice cream parlours which were incredible if a little dangerous! While I was careful not to pile my pot high and spend too much, it was impossible to stop due to the number of flavours on offer and the extensive range of sauces and toppings such as nuts, cookies, whipped cream and jelly sweets. The ice cream wasn’t anything special but the range in choice was what made these parlours so amazing!
As for sweet snacks, the majority of confectionery found in supermarkets were similar if not the same as you’d get in the UK. I found it hard to pick up something new and if it wasn’t for the Brazilian family on our speedboat trip I would never have found Tachao De Ubatuba’s banana bars. Ok, so technically these aren’t a “treat” as they are far too healthy and made from pure fruit but they are sweet and incredibly tasty! They come in a few flavours such as banana and cinnamon, sugar-free banana and a chocolate coated one which I managed to pick up from the local shop before heading off to the airport. Chocolate and 36 centigrade heat don’t really mix and the chocolate covered one had to be gobbled before it disintegrated into a sloppy mess.
My trip to Brazil certainly opened my eyes to an extraordinary country full of great food, drink, people, parties, beaches and weather! There’s still tons left to explore in South America but this trip means I can add a pin on this side of the map.
Living life, loving cake,