Eating and Drinking Our Way Around Rio
A few of us on our trip to South America had previously visited the vibrant and crazy city of Rio De Janeiro so I was on the look out for a unique experience. Nick, our Chimu Adventures representative in Brazil said he had the perfect day trip, a walking food tour through the lesser known parts of Rio.
We met our guide Mary-Lou at the start of a local market street. Originally from England, she like many had visited Rio on holidays, fell in love with the city and never left. She was fantastic. She entertained us all day with wonderful stories of her experiences, history lessons, cultural insights and of course explained to us about the food and drink of Brazil.
At the street market we stood and chatted to store holders who allowed us to sample their produce. We tasted ‘Caldo de cana ( sugar cane juice with fresh lime), Beiju de Tapioca (tapioca pancakes), Manga Palmer (large sweet mango with no strings), Atemoya (a hybrid in the custard apple family), Jaca (Jackfruit), Cacau (Cocoa pod – the fruit that gives us chocolate!), Pitomba (like a primitive lychee), Carambola (star fruit), and Figo (fresh fig). Every so often she would take us off to the side, and pull out of her bag, fruits, nuts, glasses or spoons, tissues and hand towels. She’d cut up exotic fruits, some of which we were too scared to try. She was so prepared and went to so much trouble. Our knowledge of fruit, vegetables and other produce found in these parts was certainly expanded.
After our fun walk around the market we jumped in a cab to an old Portuguese restaurant called Nova Capela, here we tasted Colorado Appia (honey beer from São Paulo brewery), Bolinhos de bacalhau (salt cod and potato croquettes), Pastel de cabrito (deep-fried pastry pocket filled with roast lamb and mint), and of course the favourite Pastel de nata (classic Portuguese egg custard tart)
After our delicious snack it was off to Boteco Belmonte for a lesson in making Caipirinhas. I have had the traditional Limão (Lime), but today we were also treated to taste Maracujá (Passionfruit), and Jabuticaba (Brazilian black berry) flavours.
To work off our sugar hit we walked to Escardaria Selarion, the world-famous steps of Rio, which are the work of artist Jorge Selaron. These are so interesting as it his life story. It’s a great place to sit and watch the world go by, so many interesting people. Next stop a typical Rio juice Bar, where we enjoyed Suco de Acerola (juice of the acerola berry, high in vitamin C), Suco de Graviola (juice of the fruit also known as soursop or guanabana) and Suco de Amora (juice of the Brazilian blackberry)
We had tried so many different types of food and drinks I couldn’t imagined there was many more until Mary-Lou took us to a tiny Amazonian Restaurant, this was unique. We drank Tacacá which is a strange Amazonian soup which leaves your tongue tingling, became instantly healthy eating Açaí (fruit pulp of açaí berry, slightly sweetened with guaraná syrup), whilst drinking Cerpa which is a pilsner beer brewed in the Amazon.
From here we took the train to our final stop, the Northeastern Restaurant. After 5 hours of eating and drinking I didn’t think I could eat any more. The food was delicious. We enjoyed Pastel (deep-fried pastry parcels), Queijo coalho com melado (grilled slabs of cheese from northeast Brazil served with sugar cane syrup), drank Cerveja Therezópolis (locally brewed beer), and then they introduced us to Cachaça de Jambú a weird spirit that makes your tongue tingle!. Then out came platters of Carne seca com abobora e feijão de corda (air-dried, salted beef with pumpkin and beans), Moqueca Baiana (stew of shrimp or fish, made with coconut milk, peppers and red palm oil), Escondidinho de frango (creamy mashed cassava with chicken, topped with grilled cheese), and Couve (shredded bitter collard greens cooked with garlic). Incredible flavours.
Mary-Lou was so knowledgeable, we learned so much and experienced local food and drinks in bars and restaurants we would never have known existed in all different areas of town. I talk about this experience to a lot of people as it certainly was one of my most memorable. Really happy that Chimu Adventures, one of our trusted suppliers organised this experience for us, my friends were blown away and really had a true local Rio experience.