One of our favorite stops in Rio was Bar do Mineiro in Santa Teresa (R.R. Paschoal Carlos Magno, 99). From outside it’s a welcoming, well-lit haven on the hilly streets of Santa Teresa. Inside under intense fluorescent lights everything (the tables, people, old photograph portraits and posters, and the mosaics and knickknacks that line the white tiled walls) is honest and down to earth.
Food-wise – Bar do Mineiro is a local favorite for its feijoada pastels and ginger caipirinhas. We also tried Trouxinha de Minas (from the list of Novidades da Casa) which were made with carne seca desfiada, mussarela e aipim and served with molho de laranja apimentado. These were a spot on pairing with the strength of the caipirinhas – and great for sharing.
Caipirinha Trio: Ginger, Passion Fruit, Traditional
Just received this great-looking special from SUSHISAMBA dromo in Miami:
taylor bay scallops opened on the grill with fennel-yukon purée, shibazuke, kuromitsu jelly, puffed quinoa and cilantro
In Rio we paid a visit to Academia da Cachaça in Leblon (Rua Conde Bernadotte 26) where they offer over 100 different types of cachacas by the bottle – and as a result – a wide variety of caipirinhas.
Koji went with the Cocada Geladinha – a cocktail of fresh coconut, cachaca, coconut water and fig marmalade served in a wine glass – while Mere tried the Cachaca Cristalina, made with sweet lime, lemon, passion fruit and jabuticaba served in a small, straight water glass with a salt rim. [Side note: jabuticaba is pretty much the equal of the American grape - but with a deep plum/black skin and white/rose-colored flesh... we'll post a photo of the fresh version from the market soon] I went with a ‘traditional’ caipirinha so that we had a foundation for comparison and we paired everything with bar snacks like Bolinha de Carne and Bolinha de Queijo (fried meat and cheese balls), Bolinho de Mandioca (fried manioc and cheese rolls), Inhame Crocante (crispy yam chips). All of us remarked at the strength of cocktails in Brazil, where cachaca flows like water and nobody minds the sharp citrus burn down the back of their throats. While we sipped out drinks slowly – the locals at the table next to us had already finished their second round. It’ll take some getting used to – but we’re up for the challenge.
Here’s a list of some of the Academia’s local cachaças:
SC – Armazém Vieira SC – Warehouse Vieira
GO – Atitude GO – Attitude
RS – Casa Bucco RS – House Bucco
CE – Chave de Ouro EC – Gold Key
MG – Lua Cheia MG – Full Moon
RJ – Magnífica RJ – Magnificent
RJ – Santa Rosa RJ – Santa Rosa
ES – Santa Terezinha ES – Santa Terezinha
PB – Serra Limpa PB – Clear Mountain
For our first official dinner in Ipanema, Rio, Koji, Mere and I chose what we thought would be the most obvious orientation to Brazilian cuisine: churrasco.
Porcão churrascuria (“Pig Pen” in English) was founded in Rio in 1975. Here, you pay up front for an all-you-can-eat buffet (consisting of salads, cheeses, cold meats, Brazilian vegetables and even sushi) as well as tableside meat service. During dinner, each person has a coaster to rest next to their place setting. When the coaster is green-side-up, it means you’re ready for more. When the coaster is red-side-up it means you’re down for the count. We’re not sure how well this system really worked, though…. no matter which side our coasters were on – we were always getting more meat on our plates!
The line up: Roast Strip, Picanha, Sliced Sirloin (from Argentina!), Beef Steak and Saddle of Lamb (from Uruguay) and chorizo, chicken breast, sausages and short ribs….
There’s nothing better than waking up each morning to a tall glass of fresh Brazilian fruits. We’ve been trying new flavors at Apo’s across the street since we arrived…. everything from maracujá (passion fruit) and fruta do conde (‘sugar-apple’) to caju (cashew fruit) and, my personal favorite, cupuaçu. I’m not sure that I can compare the flavor of cupuaçu to anything, really – but if I had to give you a ‘taste’ in writing I’d say it’s like a juicy pear with a citrus kick at the finish.
While we’ve been serving fresh passion fruit purée in our cocktails at SUSHISAMBA from the start, in Brazil maracujá is served with the whole seeds. They add a complex texture to juice and caipirinhas – velvet on the tongue and a gentle crunch after each sip. Mere and I are going to do some detective work once we’re back in the States to see if there new ways to import these awesome fruits – and add them to the samba table.
Here’s a shot of Apo’s – which is a good example of a common fruit stand here in Rio – which also sells traditional Brazilian snacks.
Rio, so long I waited to finally meet you!
Today Koji, Mere and I arrived in Rio de Janeiro at 5:30am. It’s beautiful here…. perfect temperature, kind wind from the north and three freshly-muddled caipirinhas to quench our thirst after a stroll from Copacabana to the Ipanema Market…
And so begins another SUSHISAMBA tour! Almost every other month I have a chance to visit the Chefs at all of our locations and then some…
The journey kicks off in Miami (this blog post is a sushi bar 10:21pm action shot).
Here’s the full schedule…
7.25 NYC>RIO DE JANEIRO
8.1 SALVADOR>SAO PAULO
8.4 SAO PAULO>BUENOS AIRES (for a quick visit with my family)
8.8 BA>NYC>BK, yo!
Good thing I’m not afraid of flying…. Er….