Rio de Janeiro, Brasil – Part II

Our days in Rio are quickly coming to an end. It never ceases to amaze me how the perception of the passing of time can change so much. When I’m on the road, it seems to go by almost twice as quickly, despite the fact that my time is nearly entirely my own. We’ve been in Brazil for nearly two weeks, yet it feels like just a few days ago that we were landing in Manaus.

We only have three full days in Rio, so most of our itinerary has consisted of “must-sees,” modified to our tastes (i.e., not too many museums). Wednesday was fully devoted to two of the most famous beaches in Rio/the world, Copacabana and Ipanema.

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Drinking some coco on Copacabana !

It was so relaxing. And between the scenery, the waves and the people watching, the day passed so quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to head back and find a television to cheer on France against Ecuador.

Alongside our must-see sights, these last few days have included the must-eats of Brasil. This of course included feijoada, the “national” dish dish of Brasil. We received a recommendation to go to Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa from a new friend we met in Manaus. It sounded good, we could get homestyle feijoada in both the traditional AND vegetarian styles for Abby.

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All the traditional and vegetarian feijoada fixings.

The vegetarian version still took care to use ingredients that remained true to the flavors of feijoada. Abby got rice mixed with farofa (toasted manioc flour), beans, pumpkin puree and some couve (kale) Finally, some color in our food! Abby has been a champion though, being a vegetarian in such a carnivore-happy country. Not surprisingly, Abby encountered several confused looks when she told people she was vegetarian, and many people then proceeded to assume that she ate chicken or fish. Everyone ended up being very helpful and accommodating, but there were many times when Abby would have to scrape meat off or settle for something with cheese. (Which is why the veggie feijoada/kale was a welcome relief!)

My plate of feijoada: rice, a stew of various meat and beans, manioc flour and couve It was so delicious, and filling! It was also quite fun to assemble the plate from all the small dishes, adding elements to our taste (including the orange that really brightened it all).

Normally, feijoada is eaten on Saturdays. I can only assume that is because Saturday is when people would have time to let the bacon and sausage and beans simmer together all day long. Luckily, Bar do Mineiro has it on the menu every single day.

We also tried some bolhino com carne seca, or in other words, fried tapioca flour with jerked beef stuffed in the middle. This country loves its fritters. I love how they aren’t drenched in oil, but are still quite gooey in the middle before you get to the filling.

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Bolhino com carne seca [balls with jerked meat in the middle]
The best of the national delicacies though was the brigadeiro, obviously. I’ve been looking forward to sampling the Brazilian bonbon ever since I tried one years ago. They’re very rich, since they’re made with condensed milk, but what a treat! The little bite was a creamy, dense explosion of chocolate. Just the perfect treat! Keith tried a beijinho, a coconut version of the brigadeiro. It was good, and the clove on top was a nice touch, but the brigadeiro was just too good for anything else to compete.

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Brigadeiro (chocolate) and beijinho (coconut)

We also tried a cornbread-esque cake topped with pudim de leite condensado, the Brazilian style flan. It was very good, and surprisingly light. We ate this right before heading out to our night of salsa, and necessarily danced off all the sweets and feijoada we consumed that day [without any regrets!].

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(And just for good measure – we also tried this delightful cake one night at a library/cafe down the street from where we were staying. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was the best.)

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An incredible dolce de leite-esque cake

One of the unexpected joys of being in Brazil was all the sucos, or juices. All throughout our trip, we’ve been able to try a number of juices drawn from the many fruits that Brazil has. We tried siriguela (an Amazon fruit), manga (mango), maracujá (passion fruit), and goiaba (guava). We didn’t try suco de açaí unfortunately, but at least I tried açaí ice cream. Everything tasted so refreshing. In other news, we also saw several magazines dedicated to juicing (and green juicing) alone. Brazil is crazy about the juice.

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Suco de manga (mango juice)
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Manga caipirinha

One thing that I’ve noticed about our time here has been the extra amount of time we’ve spent in bars in order to watch a World Cup game. This has been a very different trip than most that we’ve taken. Several of our days have been spent watching or going to games, which has been interesting. A part of me feels like we didn’t get to see as much as we wanted to (especially in Rio), but then again there’s no experience like going to the World Cup in Brazil. So again, I regret nothing, but will definitely have to venture back to Brazil in the future when a major world tournament is not underway. At least we got to experience a lot of salgados and sandwiches, and other bar fixings, as we cheered on various teams during the group stage of the tournament!

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A misto (a ham and cheese sandwich) and fries during the France v Ecuador match!
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Some sort of interesting peanuts with a spice coating shell

I really enjoyed Rio, and really can’t wait to go back one day again!

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