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Funny fruit

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My brother in Texas shared this with me.  He speaks Portuguese, which is why I assume he ran across something this cute.

 

Our Rio Trip– or lessons learned

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Last weekend we decided last minute to head to Rio.  Since we have kids, we thought we’d break up the drive and sleep in Paraty for the night.  We stayed at the Pousada Eclipse in Paraty, which is farthest from the town, and right off the freeway.  With free wi-fi, 2 beds, and a clean room for R$160 a night, I was fine with having to park in town.  So no photos of this VERY VERY beautiful city, as we basically drove in and thought we’d grab lunch… so I left the camera in the car.  Then we started to walk, as we didn’t realize that half the town is foot access/ cobble stone only. Of course this meant I had to stop and by Haviannas, as I was wearing heels, and you can’t walk these streets in anything but flats.

From Wikipedia– since I left the freaking camera in the car

Paraty is a MUST MUST MUST.  The streets are quaint, and all the restaurants looked great.  They have little cultural events all the time, as they need something to attract people.  When we were there it was a big dance showcase.  We didn’t go in, but in the jeito of Brasil, we passed off our squirmy 2 year old to the waiter (we ate at 7 so no one was in the restaurant), and he took him into the show across the street since he had access to it.  SOO wrong right? I would never do that in the US, but this is Brasil.  For R$30 we went on a buggy ride of the city, I recommend it, as you get a real quick look at all the shops etc, and then can decided where you want to go, versus walking the whole thing.  And you hear a bit of the history.  If we had actually planned to stay in Paraty, I would have loved to go on one of the many day trips on a boat, or taken a class at the cooking school they have there (classes in English too).  Paraty is known for the art/culture, and there were some unique shops and art galleries.  Alas, we were only “resting” here, and didn’t do much other than look and kick ourselves for not visiting sooner.

Sooo Rio… I have to say, it was nice to be somewhere warm instead of cold like Sao Paulo is right now.

taken prior to the “accident”

My initial observations on Rio, are the following:

  1. Architecture in Rio is older and more ornate, there are a lot more buildings and churches here to enjoy
  2. The graffiti style in Rio is different- first there is more art graffiti, second the tagging is more curvy than the spiky styles of Sao Paulo
  3. The beach fairs they have at night, probably have the best touristy chotchky crap I’ve seen yet, I actually wanted to buy a lot of it

So lessons learned on this trip:

  1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check the camera battery before leaving the hotel room to Pao de Acucar– hubby pointed out each and every “photo moment” that I missed
  2. Check the weather at Corcovado before you go.  It seemed sunny until we got to the top
  3. Carry and extra shirt, and bring a second baby carrier- just in case you’re on top of a big mountain and your kid decides to kill both the Moby and your shirt.
  4. Set up a baby changing area on the counter in the bathroom, before you go to bed, so that when your kid poops at 4am, you don’t wake up the 2 year old too.
  5. Bring a point and shoot camera, not just your fancy Cannon, as your husband will expressly forbid it to be taken to just walk around Rio with. It’s the shark rule- it’s okay to swim in shark infested waters if everyone else is a target too (major tourist areas– not the beach)

We stayed at the Windsor Palace for R$360 for a King + twin.  It was a great deal for Rio, and the room and hotel was clean and 2 blocks from the beach.  They recommended a Churrascuria in Copacabana called the Palace for dinner.  I think it’s the first one I’ve gone to that I really really liked.  Again a list.

  1. The meat was delicious, AND varied, they had shrimp, squid, bbq pork ribs, and the best picanha I’ve had (better than Fogo de Chao)
  2. The appetizers on the table were good- garlic fried shrimp, onion rings, farofa
  3. There was a sushi bar, where you could order any roll you wanted or just slices of sashimi– and it was a welcome break from the usual meat fest
  4. The salad bar had a hot bar- paella, grilled salmon, pasta — again a nice change from just red meat
  5. For all of that the price was only R$70

The 2 year old was of course free, but he pounded down food like I’ve never seen him do before, he thought it was all delicious too.  He also polished off an entire cup of watermelon juice (which is just weird to type in English.  Suco de Melancia just seems right).

All in all, Rio was lovely, warm and I enjoyed our quick drop in, and right now as I snuggle my 2 month old to steal his body heat as Sao Paulo is cold as usual, I miss the sunny beaches.

Catupiry – Cheddar flavored!!

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I find it ironic that the other day I published a post about the joy of Catupiry and how it’s my “Brasilian cheddar” (which I misspelled, as I tend to type these posts stream of thought as fast as possible, before work or kiddo- so don’t judge me).  Anyway, point being, I went to the grocery store the other day and they had the flavored Catupriy, which I’ve been buying lately.  But this time, it wasn’t just sun-dried tomato (which both me and my son love btw)…. it WAS Cheddar. Catupiry brand has come out with four new flavors and one of them (which thankfully my store now carries at R$4.59) is cheddar.

I’m thinking of making a nice white sauce base, and then adding this in as the cheese and making my son mac-n-cheese today… we’ll see how it works, but I would think it would have that velveeta-y mac-n-cheesiness to it….maybe.

Catipury cheese – so what if I don’t have cheddar

I’ve learned to love it.  It’s a savory cream cheese they sell here.  Requeijão cremoso is what its generic name is, and like cheddar cheese in America there is a noted difference with different brands.  Catipury is like Xerox, the gold standard when it comes to requeijão .  The flavor is wonderful, and unique, and I’ll miss it.  It’s like cream cheese, but with more flavor like Edam (those little babybel cheeses I loved as a kid).  Either way it is yummy and creamy, and they don’t have it all over the place in the US, unless you haul up to a Brazilian grocery store.  Let’s be honest, the only ethnic stores I will take the time to visit are Asian ones, sorry Brazil.

So anyway, the point is you can TRY and knock it off at home.  Why not right? This isn’t too difficult of a recipe, and as I live in Brazil, I have not tried it yet, since heck I get the good stuff.  But if you are not in Brazil (and for me once I return to the US), here’s a recipe from TudoGostoso… meaning everything yummy.  So how can it be wrong?

Catipury

8 tablespoons corn starch
1 liter of milk (about 4 1/4 cups)
200 g butter (just a smidge less than a cup)
2 cups grated mozzarella
2 cups grated cheese curd (good luck on that, I’ve seen it but I know not too common)
1 can cream (about a cup)
Thicken the cornstarch, milk and butter in a pan.  Once custard like, add the cream, mozzeralla and grated cheese curd together, with the cornstarch mixture.  Beat everything together in a mixure

Refrigerate for 6 hours, then serve.

Yum Sugar had this recipe, which is easier if you don’t want to deal with the above.

Ingredients:

2 packages (9 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 lb. Munster cheese

Preparation:

Over very low heat, melt the two cheeses together until they are completely blended. Remove the mixture from the heat, place it in a container and let it cool. Then put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and after it has been chilled, it can be used in any recipe calling for Catupiry.

Restaurant Wishlist for Brazil

I am sadly let down when it comes to restaurants in Brasil.  I’m sure they exist, like Avenida Paulista I’m sure has some great ones.  But I’m not in the “city” even though I’m in the city.  I’m in Brooklin-Paulista, which is surrounded by a bunch of main roads/freeways.  In LA, this was great news, as it meant I could get places fast.  For me it means that when rush hour hits, I’m blocked in, so we tend not to go out at night.  Ok the truth is, my husband I both work till 10-11pm most night, and I’m pregnant with a 1 year old, that adds to it).

However, I have acquired a list of online researching of places I think look good based on reviews.  This is my fantasy, I’d like to eat here one day and see if it’s as good as it looks.

  1. Rong He in Liberdade makes fresh noodles, and very authentic Chinese food.
  2. Tantra looks cool and is asian fusion, and actually prints the menu online
  3. Food blogger’s restaurant recommendations all look yummy and she lists price points
  4. Olivia no excuses, this one is down the street from me.
  5. Butchers Market doesn’t that just sound yummy?
  6. Ribs Costela Nobre, is just ribs, but ribs are yummy and I’m kind of sick of Outback for ribs.
  7. La Casserole – seems fancy yet reasonable!
  8. Itig0 an Izakaya in Brazil, and I love myself a good Izakaya
  9. Several “best Japanese” restaurants on this list.. I’m a sucker for Japanese food and I really miss it as I haven’t had it yet here.
  10. Portal da Coreia I miss Korean food… convincing the hubby will be the hard part
  11. Namga I miss Thai food too

So that’s the list. Maybe you’ve eaten there, is it worth the time?

 

Pizza! Za.. Za. Za.

Love the stuff, crave the stuff, but am usually let down here.  It’s different, and unless you like real olives, you may not like every pizza they have here.  Thinks CPK, where they throw random things like boiled eggs and fresh spinach on the pizza pies. The crusts are all thing and crispy, and a nice chewy one is rare.  Heck, they’ve gotten to me, I’ve added green beans and carrots to pizzas I’ve made at home.  The throw everything and anything on a pizza way here has gotten to me finally.  However, I still crave American style pizza.

Thus why we were pleasantly delighted with our Pizza from Speranza, simple, doughy pizza.

http://www.pizzaria.com.br/cardapio.html

Buying expat stuff in Brasil

I’m not dead (well I’m sick and super tired, but not dead).  I’m just in the US, and have been for like a month now, letting our monkey visit the grandparents and great grand parents (and well doing a lot of flying for work).

And after a month, I realize while it’s nice to see the family I miss Brasil.  It’s grown on me.  I miss being able to walk to the stores, and buying fresh veggies and bread.  I miss the “Brasil” of it.  Of course while in Brasil, all I could dream about was all of the things from the US I missed.

It’s funny, I never bought sparkling pomegranate juice in the US, but now that I can’t find it for $3.50 in every store, I want it! I rarely ate cheddar, because I’m a havarti, muenster, jack fan, but now I want it, and I want to eat mac n’ cheese!  I also want havarti, muenster and jack, but they don’t have that in Brasil.  It reminds you of home, when the flavor hits your tongue you remember more than just food, you remember the place.  Cherry Caprisun reminds me of sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in Germany as a 7 year old… not that I like it, or drink it EVER, but every now and again I want to be taken back to Germany. Kind of like feijoada for my husband.  Even though my nanny swears she loves my black beans, my husband complains because it’s too American, not feijoada!  And now that I’m in the US, I want my morning Pão, and cooking everything with loads of garlic.  I miss food and baked goods made from scratch not a mix (gasp! I know, but I’ve really gained an appreciation for REAL cooking).

With that being said, here’s my list of the foods expats (American) miss the most:

Cheddar cheese: I’ve seen it at Pao de Acucar in Brooklin Paulista, and bought it (R$88 a kilo!) because I wanted mac n; cheese. I have also found it at the CEAGSP cheese stands.  Neither consistently.

Chocolate chips: They do have them here. Chocorob in Brooklin has it for R$5 for 250 grams.  It’s a bit waxy and not creamy like the good stuff in the US.  But I just buy the bars of Garoto chocolate they sell and chop it up, white, dark, semi-sweet, milk, it’s all really good.  If you get Crocante, you get the nice little toffee with the chocolate, and it’s better than a Hershey bar any day.

Corn syrup: My Pao de Acucar doesn’t have it, but my friend in Morumbi says Karo is in the same section as the honey.  I buy it for a tiny jar at Chocorob because I don’t cook with it that often ever.

Agave Syrup: They sell it and it’s expensive as is Maple Syrup.  I bring both of this in from the US, as a bottle usually lasts me about a year, so Merry Christmas to me… and I do buy the BIG bottles 🙂

Mexican Spices: I’ve found them, although they’re not cheap.  Same thing with Lemon Pepper.  It’s just a matter of learning what they call things. Like Nutmeg, it doesn’t come ground, but I’ve learned to love the freshness of grating my own nutmeg!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake: R$65 at Sam’s Club. I’d rather just make Cheesecake from scratch, and never really ate it anyways.

They do sell small avocados here, and they’re not sweet, they’re perfect for making guacamole.  The big ones are too sweet for my liking. It did piss me off to find Avocados for .44 at Walmart here…. in the snow… when they’re like R$5 a kilo back in the tropics of Brasil.

Everything else you want, you’ve got to make yourself.  Brasil isn’t like the US where you can buy everything pre-made. If you want black beans, you cook it from scratch. You want diced tomatoes with spices, you can buy a can of whole tomatoes (though most boil the tomatoes themselves) dice it and add your spices. That goes for rotel tomatoes. You want them, then boil the diced tomatoes, chop up some hot peppers, and add a bit of salt, boil, and you’ve got something pretty close. There are not huge sections of canned veggies and fruit, or ready made dinners.  Which is good as canned food is bad for you anyway right?

Tortillas are pretty much Wrap 10s, and they’re not that great if you like REAL tortillas… and if you do, well learn to make them yourself.. and give up on corn tortillas all together.

You want chicken broth, substitute their bouillon cubes, or boil yourself a chicken! I usually buy Swanson flavor packets, as they’ve got a great brothy flavor, but are just packets so easy to bring a bunch in the suitcase.  I’m too lazy to boil a whole chicken to get that yummy broth.

Things I have yet to find:

Clorox Wipes: I’ve seen a “how to make your own” online, but they don’t have the same super sturdy paper towels here.

Cheap Toys: Well you can buy them in Centro, but they’re “cheap” as well; you know ala China. Cool toys are more expensive here. So I’m loading up during the holidays for future birthdays.

Bath and Body Works: If you’re into room sprays, I would bring them over from Bath & Body Works, as they are super cheap during their sales. And all the smelly stuff is either lavender or something else yucky, or super expensive fancy stuff.  Like hand soap, if you want nice you go to L’Octainne (which I like) but would rather put out some froofy B&BW pump soap.