Rio

CityProfile: Rio de Janeiro

Dear Friends and Followers,

as promised the Lemonade 25 contributors come from all over the world! I have recruited my good friends to bring you the best tips on where to go and what to do when you travel outside of the US.

The first contributor is an old friend of Cooking in Manhattan and of this website, Isabel Quintella Lecuyer, my carioca friend, so I leave her the screen with her CityProfile: Rio de Janeiro.

Who is Isabel?

I am 31 years old, I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and am married to a French. I lived for 5 years in NY and 1 in France and am now am living in São Paulo, Brazil. I am a lawyer, but what I really love doing is travelling and getting to know new cultures and people. I always liked cooking, but only started experimenting in the kitchen once I moved to NY. My mom is a great cook and never really believed I would enjoy cooking, so she was really surprised when I started trying her recipes in NY! During my year in France, I took some time off being a lawyer, and focused on getting to know French culture that, as I learned, most of the time involves food and wine!

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How do you know Serena?

I met Serena in law school (we both went to NYU), and we became close friends immediately! I would come to her house almost every night for dinner and she was one of the persons responsible for me experimenting in the kitchen! She showed me so much about Italian cooking and culture, that I immediately felt like showing her a bit about my country as well. So I would say my first real adventure in the kitchen was cooking a “picadinho” (traditional Brazilian dish) for Serena and some of our friends from school to try! I brought all ingredients from Brazil and skipped classes to cook for her! At that time, I had never been to Italy before and the first time I went to Rome it was with Serena– I guess I don’t need to say it was one of the greatest gastronomic experiences I’ve had, going from the gelato “senza panna” to the smoked mozzarela that you “can only find in Italy!”

Why are you an expert about Brazil?

Well, I am a specialist in Brazil because I am a true Brazilian woman, in all possible ways! As I mentioned, I was born and raised in Rio and during my upbringing I was always very influenced by Brazilian culture. I love my country and during the 6 years I lived abroad, I always made sure the aspects about my home town and country were always present in my life so that no one would doubt I am Brazilian! :)

Where should we stay when we go to Rio de Janeiro?

There are many beautiful places to get to know in Brazil, that is a continental-size country. But for a first visit you cannot miss the most well known city in the country, and one of the wonders of the world: my home town of Rio de Janeiro. Rio is a thousand cities in one, so where to stay in Rio will really depend on the type of experience you are looking for. There are luxurious hotels by the beach, such as the Copacabana Palace (the most traditional hotel in the city) or theFasano (probably the most trendy one)  to smaller hotels in calmer areas such as Santa Tereza that have a great view of the “old town” of Rio. In this case a good option would be Altos de Santa Tereza, with it’s colonial style and breathtaking views from Rio.

Where and what should we eat?

You cannot go to Rio and not eat at a “churrascaria” and have lots of “caipirinhas” So I would recommend going for lunch at Porcão Rio’s for its great food and view to the Sugar Loaf  (please do NOT go at night otherwise you won’t sleep :) and to Academia da Cachaça for its drinks. At Academia da Cachaça you can try all sorts of cachaça (Brazilian rum) drinks and the best capirinhas in town. You should also try a “feijoada” at Casa da Feijoada  , and go to Jobi  for typical Brazilian food! If you’re looking for something fancier, the Fasano hotel has a great seafood restaurant called Fasano Al Mare.

What to do?

Most tourists like to go to a new city and not do “touristy” stuff, but in Rio it is impossible to avoid the tourist scenes: you MUST go up the Sugar Loaf and the Christ Redeemer… I promise you the views from up there are worth the tourist tour! Other than that, the thing that cariocas (those that are born in Rio) love the most is spending an ENTIRE day at the beach. For us, going to the beach is like going to a party: we wear our best bikinis (and yes, carioca girls have SEVERAL bikinis– we never repeat the same one!), go in a diet during the week to look good during the weekend and enjoy a good day with our friends. Going to the beach is also a great gastronomic and shopping experience, and you can find pretty much anything for sale in the sands of Leblon and Ipanema. I totally recommend it!

What to buy?

Bikinis and beach wear! That’s the first thing I would recommend buying in Brazil! As we have really hot weather all year long, our beachwear is unbeatable! Not to mention, you can get Havaianas for a really cheap price as compared to other countries in the world, and you’ll find them in every corner. For bikinis I would recommend Salinas http://www.salinasswimwear.co.uk/, Rosa Cháhttp://www.rosacha.com.br/site_verao_2011/, Lennyhttp://www.lennyswimwear.com/, Vix http://www.vixswimwear.com/and Andrea Degreas . For beachwear in general Osklen http://osklen.com/ and Richards http://www.richards.com.br/. We also have our own pharmacy/beauty products brand, which is called Granadohttp://www.granado.com.br/produtos/Default.aspx. Granado used to be the pharmacy of the Portuguese royal family when they were in Brazil and today all of their products are made out of tropical fruits and herbs… so instead of finding a traditional verbena soap, at Granado you will find soaps made out of açaí, cupuaçú and many other Brazilian fruits and herbs! They are the best!

Mil Beijos,

Isabel