Aside from seeing amazing sights, my next favorite thing about traveling to another country is trying all the food. Brazil has much to offer when it comes to fruit and all things coconut. They also love salty pastries and LOVE putting condensed milk in all their deserts. Brazilian cuisine has much to offer, and I really can’t vouch for a bad experience with their dishes.
Perhaps my most favorite thing to eat is something so simple and so common in every household: pão de queijo
The size and texture of these pastries can vary, but the warm, delicious flavor always had me drooling. The ones in the above picture are actually a rather large size, and as you can see, the pastry is most commonly paired with coffee. So what is this delectable treat? The literal translation comes to “cheese bread”, but I can tell you I’ve had nothing like it before. The cheese is unique and baked into the dough, making it better than any mozzarella stick or stuffed crust pizza you’ve ever had. When Carlos first told me about these, I had a hard time understanding their composition and how they could be so unique to Brazil, but I get it now. I probably had these close to every day that I was there – had to take advantage! There was one night around 10:00 I turned to Carlos and said, “I really want some pão de queijo!” which resulted in us running out in the rain to closed bakeries and having to give up on that dream. It made for an adventurous evening though!
Another favorite of mine was Açaí. I don’t have a picture of this one, but the way it’s served at the different açaí stands is very close to an ice cream. Made from the Amazonian berry, the dark purple deliciousness can be topped with fruity or sweet toppings, my favorite being something called leite em pó. It’s very refreshing on a hot day in Rio, and delish!
Passion fruit juice was another favorite treat, being sweet and tart at the same time. And of course, I can’t forget, all the actual coconuts I had! It still amazes me how you can just walk up to a little place under and umbrella on the beach and have them chop a hole into the top of a coconut for you. You insert the straw and get to enjoy the coconut water at its freshest, finest state!
Here is an example of one of those places. The above picture was taken near the end of a bike ride up and down many different beaches in Rio. We stopped to enjoy the onset of twilight and Carlos purchased two coconuts from that little stand.
After finishing the water, he went back to have them chop open a coconut so we could eat the inside. That was a first for me! I was loving this moment sitting on the beach after a long bike ride, scraping off bits of coconut to snack on, and passing the time with Carlos in a cooler part of the day. The people sitting around this stand had such an air of happiness and contentment it was contagious. Soon after, we started biking back, stopped for a coconut popsicle, and then got caught in heavy rain! We were laughing as we returned our bikes and embraced the rain, getting back to the apartment soaking wet!
Some other pics from earlier in that bike ride:
Back to the food…
Perhaps my favorite meal of the day is breakfast and I love going out for breakfast. Many mornings we would stop by a bakery for salgado (salty pastries) or some pão de queijo. There were a couple mornings, however, where we went out for a nice breakfast, and I was truly blown away the the location and the view of these places.
This was the first place we went to with Corcovado right behind it. We sat at a table under one of those white umbrellas. The outside of the building and surrounding areas are pictured below.
Here was the breakfast itself:
Not by any means a hearty breakfast, but perfect for tasting a bit of everything they had and being completely full by the end. One spread available here was requeijão, the Brazilian cream cheese.
The next breakfast place was unreal, seating us right by the ocean and giving us a view of the whole coast line.
We got to walk around the area a little after our meal and enjoy views from the military fort overlooking the ocean. It was hard not to just camp out up there and take in the view together. An impending threat of sunburn on my skin was the only thing causing us to leave in search of some sunscreen.
Other food highlights:
Carlos took me to a restaurant with traditional Brazilian food, and my palette enjoyed all kinds of things I can’t pronounce or remember the names of. I had to ask him to write a couple of them down so I might include them here. The main meats in these dishes were carne seca (it’s almost like jerkey) and carne de Sol (sun-dried meat). Yum! Also, a typical side dish with most meals including meat is something called farofa, which is a type of flour mixture, and great when mixed with other items on the plate.
This drink is called caipile, and it was so much fun because it came with a popsicle inside! The alcoholic base is cachaça, of course, and the flavors are very fruity! You get to choose your flavor of both the drink and popsicle. The above, my personal favorite, had pineapple in the drink and a coconut popsicle. Now, you get bits of the real fruit in both things, and it was so delicious! That popsicle is probably the best I’ve ever tasted in my life!
Another treat I can’t forget to mention is brigadeiro. This includes chocolate, condensed milk, chocolate sprinkles, and it’s formed into little balls that make a delicious candy. A friend of Carlos’ made them while we were staying in a beach house, and one of the other guys there as well as myself finished eating all the leftover goodness inside the bowl after the candies were formed. It might not be a proud moment of mine, digging into a chocolate mixture with a spoon, but I couldn’t help myself!
I also had a Brazilian chorro, which is slightly different from the chorros we know back home. These have different toppings added to the cinnamon sugar treat. My favorite had dulce de leche inserted into the middle of the churro, making it simply scrumptious!
Once again, I was very grateful to my boyfriend for making sure I could try all of these different things. I can’t wait to go back to enjoy my favorites again!
More on Rio still to come…