Month: May 2016

Better Lake Than Never

Região dos Lagos is a picturesque coastal region, radiating with natural beauty. It’s both luxurious and simple, colonial and modern; a perfect alternative to the hustle and bustle of Rio’s capital. Only two hours away from Rio’s centre, one can only think to be in a dream when travelling alongside the beautiful coast. Despite being super later for the coach, speeding through the manic streets of Rio in a super swanky Uber which we feared was a going to empty our pockets (turns out it was a recent convert from Uber Black to Uber X) and believing a ghost had mysteriously nicked a pair of Pedro’s sandals (turns out they were just under the bed), our cares dissipated in the warm breeze and serene atmosphere of our new destination. Praia Do Forte Cabo Frio – one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen – the sand was so unbelievably soft. Staying with your man’s family has perks; excellent local food, a personal tour guide and a warm welcome to an unfamiliar place. I even made …

Christo Redentor Returns

Our last morning in Rio was greeted by warm weather, clear skies and sad goodbyes (our airbnb was so damn beautiful). But this stroke of luck with the weather, that had been toying with us the entire trip, could only mean one thing; it was time to see Jesus. Amazing freshly baked goods at a local bakery… Having already planned to head to the botanical gardens before our coach to Região dos Lagos (lake region), we made an abrupt turnaround when we glanced up toward the surrounding mountains to see the statue in its full visible glory; an opportunity not to be missed. We rushed out of a local bakery, inhaling a fantastic lime cheesecake, carrot cake, mini coxinhas and mini pão de queijos (we had to save most of it, never fear) and ran towards Cosmo Velho where we waited in anticipation to get back on that tram up Corcovado. With one eye on the queue and the other on the prize (and any suspicious looking clouds) we jumped on board and ascended 710m, armed …

At the Copa, Copacabana

To comfort a failed attempt at visiting Rio’s famed Botanical Gardens (who doesn’t have card machines anyway these days???????????) condensed milk popcorn was in order, and yes you heard that right; condensed milk is extremely popular throughout Brazil, it being used as a topping for cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, fruits and more. Including popcorn. On the streets of both Rio and Recife are tiny vendors selling popcorn, salty or sweet. The salty variety is usually topped with something called Bottle Butter – which is exactly as it sounds. The contrary is coated in a slightly crunchy caramel and topped with runny condensed milk. When consuming make sure to have some napkins and bottled water to dribble on your fingers when done, the popcorn makes a rather sticky, yet un-regrettably tasty, mess. In the hopes of being second time lucky with seeing Christ, we abandoned plans to see Ipanema beach and hurried to Corcovado. At night the statue is illuminated and has a supposedly beautiful view of the sunset over Rio. But alas, as if luck …

Sourdough Satisfaction & Sourdough Sorrow

This Summer I’ve vowed to myself to try to make the perfect sourdough loaf. Having once attempted and seriously failed, this new resolution was to turn things around – freshly baked bread is one of the pinnacles of a successful baker’s repertoire. But during my learning process I have learned a few things… 1) You might get sick of bread Kneading for 10-20 minutes a day takes its toll on you; constantly checking on your bread and how it’s doing and how it’s rising punctuates your 24 hours; sampling each loaf, failed or successful, can burden your palette until you almost can’t take the taste anymore. Alright, I exaggerate, but I am prone to getting sick of certain foods extremely fast. 2) You might get sick of cooking Perfect timing is key to bread baking. A little too much rising and your bread is dead; too little rising and bread’s crumb is far too tight, and you might end up with a brick-style loaf (although over-rising can do this too). Too long in the oven …

Bread of Sugar

On the quest to be the ultimate tourist, hitting all the hot spots Rio could dish up, Sugarloaf mountain was next on the list. If you’re not afraid of extremely high cable car journeys and viewing platforms 396m above sea level then this trip is for you. And if you are afraid you should cut the crap, put on you hat of bravery and get yourself up there anyway. Even with misty sky and lurking clouds in the horizon, the vistas were stunning. Well worth the albeit slightly terrifying cable car trip. Its comical name Pão de Açucar (literally bread of sugar/sugar bread) was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil; when transported the sugar was placed in conical moulds made of clay, shaped in a similar peak to the mountain. Lunch called for more traditional Brazilian food as we headed to a common style of restaurant/cafe. The seemingly untitled restaurant was bustling, yells travelling from the tiny kitchen port window to the main cashier …

Tomorrow’s Museum Today

Rio’s centre is filled with both modern and historical gems to discover, and a very new one is Museu do Amanhã – the Museum of Tomorrow; a super slick and modern futurist science museum (as you could probably guess) exploring the Anthropocene and the profound effect of human civilisation’s presence on earth over the past century. Its exterior is one to be seriously impressed by, the architects having modelled its pristine white shell on the skeleton of a whale. Breakfast: orange cake and a much needed coffee. Its interior was no less impressive, being composed of large bright white expanses, undulating curves and organic shapes, all being filled with natural light. The exhibitions were impressively immersive and interactive, visitors becoming unquestionably enthralled in thought provoking games, interactive displays, 15 foot high panels of film, and stunning interior structures, art and installations illuminated with coloured lights. You leave the museum intrigued and inspired, or like me in a state of awe at the entirety of the stunning experience.

Real Rio Nights

Nightlife in Rio is as vibrant as expected, but watch out when in very busy or very quiet areas – hold onto your purses ladies. And use caution when whipping out flashy camera equipment, phones or other tech. I’ve not had the misfortune of being separated from my devices in such a way, but not many people have a Brazilian telling you angrily 109349 times a day to put your phone back in your bag – good intentions I’m sure, no hard feelings…   If without a car your nightlife should be well planned, as we discovered this night; after an interesting trip to CCBB – Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (a cultural centre with art, theatre and more) – to see some weird sound art and German photography, Feira de São Cristovão was our next stop – a famous night market filled with souvenir, amenity and food stalls and many restaurants. The market is notorious for its Northeastern Brazilian goods, unhelpful for exploring Southern culture but nice nonetheless. After an intense restaurant war, being …

Rainy Spells and Fernandez & Wells

Misty dreary days with spluttering skies seem the idyllic setting for train journeys, a perfect time to simply rest your head against the rattling train window, let your mind wander and watch the countryside roll by. These days I grow ever fonder of what should be a long and bleak journey on a slow train, which is remarkably lighter on my budget yet heavier on my time. Spring’s rainy yet warming embrace has painted the fields of England golden yellow and vibrant green, speckled with grazing lambs, calfs and ponies. Today the sky seeps down towards the earth in an enveloping fog and unannounced sporadic drizzle, but alas, it’s not such a sullen scene, perhaps refreshing, alternate, melancholic (in the best of ways). Looking downwards the carriage I glance towards fellow train goers, heads bobbing in sync with the sways and bumps of the train rattling over the tracks. A serenity fills the air. An unexpected bout of design interviews brings me back to London, and I have to peel myself away from the comfort of …

Paleta Festa

Paletas Mexicanas strikes again, but with less gusto than that of the one I devoured in Recife; I have now commenced my search for the best Ninho Trufado lolly. A creamy condensed milk outer with chocolatey fudge inner. Just down the road from my airbnb was an array of organic markets, papelerias (stationery stores), bakeries and a Paletas Mexicanas store. Although not quite the standard of the Recife lolly, it served as a good brunch-time snack en route to Praia do Flamengo – another beautiful beach on the coast of Rio: super quiet, bright white sand and clear cool water. For lunch we took a trip to Senador Camará, a neighbourhood an hours train ride away from the centre of the capital, but still in Rio – it’s a seriously big place. A poor community in the middle of the mountains, Senador Camará is where some family of my Pedro (my man) lives. So clearly we had to take a trip to meet the family, experience local non-tourist life and of course traditional food; to …

Heavenly AirBnBs

Three reasons I love my AirBnB: The beautiful apartment and neighbourhood we’re staying in; from the beautiful rich wooden floor to the cultural art and ceramics all over the walls and floors, this place is something from a dream. The super lovely mum of the host; the host is currently abroad for work but his mum usually greets his guests. And she’s the ultimate apartment must-have (not to objectify). From lending me hats and sarongs to giving advice on where to go to just saying Bom Dia with a sincere smile, she is truly an ace lady. The cost and convenience; paying a tiny fraction of the cost of a standard hotel and the location being so so convenient (right in the centre and by Christ) this apartment was the ultimate God Send.