crack in a can
There were several times during this trip where we bumped headlong into the realization that we really should have learned more Portuguese. Getting a handle on the local language is typically something we enjoy doing as part of our trip prep. For whatever reason, it didn't happen this time around. We got by with charades and a phrasebook and just plain ol' winging it. For the most part, this worked OK, but it backfired a few notable times.
the scary clowns shoulda clued us in
One such time was our first evening in Arraial do Cabo, a beach town outside Rio where we'd arrived for a scuba junket (more on that in a few days). We weren't in much of an exploratory mood after a long battle with our crappy rental car, so we found a brightly-adorned place near our hotel for a quick bite. The menu listed something called "misto de frango," which purported to be an aggregation of three different types of chicken. Sounds harmless enough, one please!
The waitress proceeded to launch into a lengthy discussion in Portuguese that made absolutely no sense to us, but she seemed trustworthy so we stuck with our order. And this is what showed up:
misto de frango, or just mixed up?
Let's ignore the fact that the third item is french fries, and not chicken of any sort. What in the world is that pink stuff in the middle? Our best guess was some awful mashup of ketchup and mayonnaise. Ew. We dumped plenty of hot sauce in there, plus some "African" sauce Mark found on top of the buffet table, and that did improve the pink goo a bit. We were hungry, so we ate it, what more can I say? All in all, not a total debacle, but hardly a wildly satisfying repast.
On the other hand, we did have some great meals in Arraial do Cabo. One of my favorite things to do in a new city or country is browse the grocery store aisles for unusual local treats. (Side note: This is particularly fun in places with non-Western alphabets where you may have no idea what's inside the package but are still seduced by bright colors and shiny happy graphics.) By far our best Brazilian find was Cheese on a Stick, known locally as queijo de coalho.
on a steek
Normally this would be grilled -- common fare at street stalls -- but since we were sans hibachi at our hotel, we just ate the cheese straight from the package, with crackers and some excellent Chilean wine. Ensconced in snugly hotel robes and enjoying the nighttime views of town, this was the perfect way to unwind after our scuba adventures.
life is good
(and photogeeks, check out that bokeh!)
The other stellar meal in Arraial was, unsurprisingly, at our hotel's restaurant. We thought about giving the clowncar restaurant a second chance, but instead went with the swankier option. A wise choice, rewarded by a lovely view of the pool and gardens, a nice cold bottle of wine, and some delicious fresh seafood dishes. Redemption!
swanktastic lunch at Pousada Caminho do Sol
Be sure to check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.