Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rio outakes

I wanted to share a final round of photographs from the adventures in Rio. 

food and drink pictured:

lunch on Copacabana | caipirinha | grilled chicken hearts and sausage skewers 

snacks at Amir | burreca - pastel roast stuffed with meat, cheese and eggplant, mini esfihas - meat, ricotta and spinach

dinner at Zaza Bistro Tropical | pork ribs w/ honey glazed carrots and brazillian polenta,
grilled namorado fish w/ caramelized plantains and hearts of palm sauteed in chili olive oil

dinner at Brigites | argentinian steak w/ heart of palm couscous, osso bucco 

drinks in Leblon | local cerveja - Chopp Brahma | kiwi caipirinha

(for more see albums here and here)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beautiful Rio

1 | The view from Sugar Loaf mountain - those colors!
2 | One of many beachfront snack shacks. Cervejas are $2.50. Coconuts are $5. Make sure when you finish sipping your coconut to have the waiter chop it up (he hacks away at the thick skin with a machete) so you can eat the actual fruit. He will cut you a spoon from the coconut shell so you can scoop out the flesh. 
3 | Graffiti on Ipanema. One day we watched  a couple artists spray painting the wall.
4 | CRISTO REDENTOR. 
5 | A fantastic oxtail and polenta dish
6 | Bright colors happening on Cobacabana
7 | The beautiful cast iron bowl my mussels came in
8 | Everything is so stunningly, vibrantly, GREEN. 
9 | And the actual moules frites!
10| Partying on the sailboat, taking in the city lights set against Corcovado, the crescent moon, Christ the Redeemer looking mighty. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rio de Janeiro | Brazil

Seven of us spent a week in magnificent Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city, where an urban meets beachfront hotspot is dominated by concrete skyscrapers that stand among the foothills of emerald green mountains. Along the legendary beaches of Guanabara Bay - the notorious and breathtaking Copacabana and Ipanema with their deep azure waters and illustrious white sand - we sipped coconuts, caipirinhas and local beers while we baked in the hot South American sun and swam in the warm Atlantic waters.  

We ate extremely well, often venturing out to the trendy neighborhood of Leblon for dinner. There was local cuisine at upscale and cozy bistros (Brigitte's, Zaza Bistro Tropical), Brazillian BBQ at fancy churrascarias (MaruisPorcao), and a most memorable sushi feast (Togu) - consider this my ringing endorsement for all the restaurants listed. I was consistently impressed with the cuisine as it varied from Argentinian steak, oxtail to octopus, tender hearts of palm salads and local grilled nomorado fish. Lunches on the beach were equally delicious - a pile of crispy fish fritters doused in lime, grilled sausage skewers, or shrimp empanadas always came hot and with a smile. And last but certainly not least, there was the street food. A real highlight of the eating experience, the small carts line the black and white tiled sidewalks selling treats like refreshing acai bowls with granola, steamed corn on the cob placed back in the husk and drenched in butter and cayenne, and churros - piping hot, coated in cinnamon-sugar and stuffed with doce de leite or chocolate. I was also a big fan of the Tapioca Recheada - Brazilian tapioca is similar to a crepe, but significantly thicker and more dense, stuffed with any combination of sweet (strawberries and chocolate, banana nutella) or savory (sun dried meats, curry chicken.)
We rang in the New Year at the infamous white party on Copacabana beach with two million others and the best fireworks I've seen to date. 
The nightlife scene in general is as vibrant as they come; a must-visit is Rio Scenaruim in Lapa (above) where in one room a local samba band jams late into the evening, in another a DJ spins the hits. The lively bars in Leblon and Ipanema see local crowds overflowing to dance and party outside. 
During the day, if we weren't on the beach, we were marveling in the presence of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) as he stands watching over the city from the top of Corcovado. Or we were Riding a gondola to the top of Pau de Acucar - Sugar Loaf Mountain, to take in the jaw dropping 360 degree views. 

One afternoon we went sailing with Cassio on his 40 foot boat "Kamehameha" around the striking green and rock landscapes of Guanabara bay, taking in the crowded shores of Copacabana from a different vantage point. We watched the sunset behind Corcovado and surrounding mountains from the marina.


It was an absolute dream. 

I have lots more pictures to share. I am hoping to be back here more than once a month in 2014! This year has many adventures in store.