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IN RIO, ACCENT IS ON FLAVOR

IN RIO DE JANEIRO FOR THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL, PHOTOGRAPHER EVE EDELHEIT DINED AT SEVERAL RESTAURANTS INCLUDING RESTAURANTE APRAZIVEL, IN THE SANTA TERESA NEIGHBORHOOD. THE DISHES? MANGA MARAVILHA (MARVELOUS MANGO) WITH SLICES OF THE FRUIT THAT ARE SERVED IN A LEMONGRASS INFUSION AND PAIRED WITH MANGO ICE CREAM AND MANGO COULIS. SIMPLY DELICIOUS.

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One of the best ways I know to become well-acquainted with a culture is to sample its food, from neighborhood markets to fine restaurants. In Rio de Janeiro during the FIFA World Cup earlier this year, I stayed with a Brazilian woman who shares my culinary enthusiasms, and I was able to experience dishes that may elude other tourists.

Visitors to the coastal city will find that the scene for foodies is at a crossroads between traditional dishes and innovative new approaches.

Many outsiders are familiar with Brazilian steakhouses called churrascarias, which serve a variety of meats served tableside on swords. Picanha, a perfectly seasoned prime cut of top sirloin, is a popular choice and my personal favorite. Typical accompaniments include pao de queijo, which are little puffy cheese rolls, and other treats that are shared family-style.

With its Portuguese influences, the area also offers an abundance of fish, chicken and vegetable dishes.

Local weekday markets in Rio are filled with fishmongers bringing in local catch, including sardines, that are filleted in front of customers.

Bacalhau, or salt cod, is another cherished element that can be served in a variety of ways. We tried deep-fried bolinhos de bacalhau and a casserole that included potatoes and onions.

At Restaurante Aprazivel, in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, the interior feels like the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, with glorious views and seating areas in a variety of bungalow-type settings.

While a traditional cold vegetable side would be hearts of palm, Aprazivel improvises on familiar flavors, grilling the hearts inside the palm core and serving them tableside with a basil- and cashew-embellished tapenade.

A perfect way to relax after a day of exploration is to have a traditional Brazilian caipirinha. The typically strong drink is made with Cachaça, a sugar cane liquor, mixed with sugar and lime.

At Rio's outdoor Palaphita Kitch, the national libation gets craft-cocktail treatment in custom tropical flavors such as passion fruit, mango and kiwi.

With World Cup enthusiasts filling stadiums, bars and street parties, we immersed ourselves in the games - and in Rio's marketplaces and foodways.

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