I am hopelessly behind at life right now. We got back to DC on Friday morning, after a long but relatively smooth night of travel, and have been doing the headless chicken ever since, trying to reintegrate into DC life and get everything settled in our new apartment. There are so many posts I want to write, but I’ve barely had five minutes to spare. I will get caught up soon!
Even though I’m late, there was too much food and wine goodness last week to skip this week’s wins. And since time is of the essence, let’s get started!
Any Excuse for Churrasco
A group of our Brazilian friends threw us a going away party before we left Bauru. One friend explained that Brazilians will take any excuse to have a churrasco, or Brazilian barbecue. We were more than happy to be that excuse!
We had enough grilled fare to feed an army, with selections ranging from beef to chicken hearts. There was also a bottle of cachaca going around, resulting in an epic dance party to end the night. Brazilians know how to throw down, making for a very memorable last weekend in Brazil.
Delicious Vegan Eats
We were in São Paulo from Tuesday to Thursday dealing with Ashton’s customs paperwork. Although it was a pain to have to drive to the airport three days in a row, the extra time in Sampa was a great way to end our stay in Brazil. I love São Paulo, which is odd considering I’m not a huge fan of big cities. Even more, I love the food and wine in Sao Paulo!
Our hotel was a five minute walk from Casa Jaya, an eco-center and vegan restaurant that I loved so much, I ate there two days in a row! I would love to find somewhere like this in DC. You have two options for lunch dining: either hit up the all you can eat salad bar, full of interesting vegan salads or order one of two hot plate meals, which change daily. You can also get a salad bar with your hot plate. Everything is vegan and organic and delicious. They also offer fresh juice, coffee and vegan cake.
Food + Wine Perfection
Our first night in São Paulo, we had dinner at Vinoteca Paulistana, a bistro and wine shop in Jardins.
This place was so great! The bistro is small, but when we went a little after eight it wasn’t at all crowded. I find this odd, because Vinoteca Paulistana served some of the best food we had during our entire stay in Brazil. After ordering your dishes, the sommelier meets you in the wine shop to choose a wine to accompany your meal. Food and wine pairing at its best!
We got to taste several delicious Chilean wines while we were in São Paulo, which helped make up for the fact that we didn’t get to visit Chile as we had hoped. This Chilean Pinot Noir was earthy and reminiscent of an Oregon Pinot, but slighter fuller in body. It paired well with my cashew-crusted Pirarucu (Amazon river fish, like the one I had here) and banana puree, and perfectly with Tom’s pork loin and root vegetable puree. We also tasted a Chilean Chardonnay that was bright, with notes of kiwi and pear. It was a great pairing with my fish and our appetizers – mine, a fig salad with goat cheese and Tom’s, a perfectly delicate shrimp curry.
Our last night in Brazil, we decided to go out with a bang and visit Maní, rated one of the top 50 restaurants in the world by some people on the internet. We didn’t have a reservation, so we showed up at opening to try to score a table. When we arrived, there were about twenty other hopeful diners doing the same thing. The whole thing reminded me a lot of the Rose’s Luxury experience in DC, which piqued my interest. Would it be worth the hype?
Once the doors opened, we were told to come back in an hour on the off-chance there was an opening. This didn’t seem promising, but we went down the street to have a glass of wine at charming Avek, before returning to find that there was indeed a table waiting for us.
The ordering process was a bit confusing and overwhelming. You can order al a carte, or choose from three different tasting menus. We chose a tasting menu wherein you select your own items. However, everyone at the table must order the same thing. Tom and I like to order as many dishes as possible and share back and forth. But with the way that dinner service is orchestrated at Maní, I can see why they want to keep everyone on the same page.
The food didn’t quite live up to expectations, but it was a fun and evocative meal. Our wine selection was a definite win, although we ordered it on a whim.
Our favorite dish was the talharim de pupunha, which is a noodle made out of heart of Palm with a parmesan truffle sauce that deliciously negates the health factor of a vegetable noodle. The textures and flavors of this dish were show-stopping.
One Last Bite
We drove through Vila Madalena on our way to the airport Thursday, stopping for our final Brazilian meal at AK Vila (sadly, this restaurant is now closed as of 2019). Ashton was with us, but were treated like royalty from the moment we walked in. We both ordered the special of the day – slow-cooked pork in a sweet and savory sauce with roasted sweet potatoes.
And with that, our Brazilian and Sao Paolo food adventures were over, though I have a feeling we’ll be back at some point to pick up where we left off.