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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Pre lesson apererif

The decor works... Trust me

Seeing as this must be my 10th trip or thereabouts, it's only fair to mention Real Kebab in Osorio Square. A fraction of the price of Belmonte next door and Somehow more alluring than Shenanigans across the way.

Anyhow, just got time for a tipple before I'm one step closer to speaking this mysterious toungue. If I get a shift on, I might slide in a cheeky couple. Then I might just be able to freestyle it without a teacher and head to the nearest debating society. Get in. I have such moments of genius with a beer in my hand. Join me anyone?

Posted from my mobile! Assuming I haven't been mugged.

Location:R. Gomes Carneiro,Rio de Janeiro,Brazil

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ever had a glorious lost weekend?

My student days were largely lost. Not just the weekends either. I would occasionally even stir from my heavenly resting place after the latest in a series of parties of my life and realise I'd missed a nine o clock lecture. By a day and a half.

Well, this weekend was a touch different, although as I sit here trying to piece it all together it occurs to me that the glorious weekend must have involved more than just a couple of cheeky ones. We did some really cool bits and bobs though - so if you're interested, here are the headlines.

Saturday was a lazy morning with lunch from the local bakery/petrol station. This place is an institution, and I'm sure I'll bang on about it for years to come.  Anyhow, given that the world (or at least the world that I'm familiar with) seems to be football obsessed, we decided that it might be time to just roll with it. We met up with a crowd at INVICTO - "Sports and Fun Restaurant" to watch events unfold. Pretty good boozy fun really - and our little man joined in where he could. As the afternoon progressed, his banter seemed more and more profound and sensible. Come to think of it I was concentrating so hard on the refreshing Bohemia, I must have forgotten to pay closer attention to the game. Still, I'm sure I can ask a few of the United fans I know to enlighten me.

Anyway - this bar was pretty trendy, and had one of the infamous 'consumption card' systems. Best get used to these. Its like a reverse debit card. You just collect one when you arrive and go as mental as you like. Everything you buy goes on the card. Three course meal, bottle of vodka, beers for everyone, you name it. All you have to do is pay it off and collect a ticket so you can leave. I've heard some pretty grim stories about what happens when these cards get lost. Still, not to worry, I can't imagine how anyone could be so daft - especially after 2 barrels of booze and a bag of chips (which cost a tenner, incidentally)

And so onto the lagoa for a lovely evening stroll ending at 'Bar Lagoa' - where apparently the waiters can be a bit arsey. This is a real Carioca institution - frequented by misty-eyed students, pensioners and novella stars alike. Our waiter was a top bloke - shame really, I was expecting the full-blown quasi Parisien snort. Never mind, I'm sure if we go again we could ask for someone a bit pissed off.

Maybe if I kicked him in the knackers....

Friday, 27 May 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

Feel free to add your own slogan. Something along the lines of 'AAAAH!!! SLOW DOWN YOU MAD BASTARD!!!'
Can you see why I'm not in advertising?
This cracked me up. I don't know what these guys did to upset someone, and April the first is a lifetime ago. Anyhow, the gaffer back at the Fiat dealership must have told them to go and stand at the mental crossroads ALL DAY in the pissing rain and jump out in front of the traffic with an advertising sign every time the lights change.

Still, at least they're kitted out with the latest in all weather anti monsoon gear. Ah wait a minute. They're not.

Frankly I have only admiration for the fact they got out of bed this morning.

And I hope they survive till their next gig. I hear they're going to wear branded speedos and swim in the shark tank at the aquarium. All sounds a bit jackass to me.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Me & Macca

the fab 3 (plus a buggy)

Well, when I say Paul McCartney, I mean a bloody good real life impression of him. So good infact, I felt like taking my shoes off and following him accross the nearest zebra crossing.

Beatlemania 40 something years on (and without the other three) has firmly established itself here. Paul is our new neighbour at the nearby Copacabana Palace Hotel, and he's doing a couple of gigs out in "Engenhão" tonight and tomorrow. To be honest, anyone would have thought that Mr Lennon himself had teamed up with Elvis to do a couple of numbers, - but it seems that Paul alone is worthy of this incredible hype.
I wonder if he had the same room Miley Cyrus had last week.....

Its 25 years since Paul played Rio - which really makes me feel old. I remember my grandma buying me the tape of the concert to put in my walkman. To be honest I reckon he'll hardly change the set list this time - if it aint broke and all that. 

Everybody here has been waiting for this moment for months and we stumbled upon a fair sized crowd staking out the hotel this morning. Oh to catch a glimpse of the legend as he polishes of his full english. I met one bloke who was the absolute spitting image of Paul in the Sgt Pepper era - tash and all. I mean it. People were lining up to get a photo. I joined them - he was decidedly amenable considering the number of randoms harassing him. Come to think of it, a twenty something Brasilian Paul McCartney doppelgånger deserves to be the subject of some mild harassment at least. 

Hope its a good gig - its R$180 - R$700 a ticket (68-260 quid!) - At that rate, I'd not only expect  Jude and Michelle and Prudence and Eleanor and Sadie and Sally and Anna and Martha and Madonna (to name but a few) - I'd also expect Nancy's phone number!

Oh for god's sake.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

All bottled up

Now, I was always partial to filling the trolley with a selection of as much beer as possible, and as such I've regularly sampled bottled beer till it has emerged from my lugholes. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a healthy selection of English real ale in Rio Design earlier. I tell you what, if the urge to taste the sublime bottled genius of Marstons and the like hits me, then I might just get a bottle or two. Heaven knows how much it costs - this is one of those places where there are no price tags.
I could never have imagined that there would be a day when a pint of pedigree would be deemed a designer label.

Shit hot. I've been a style guru for years. Effortless chic mate, that's me all over. Pork scratching anyone?

Posted from my mobile! Assuming I haven't been mugged.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Breakfast of kings

The Cafe Imperial, Rua Vouluntarios da Patria

Coffee, beef sandwich,death by chilli. Take a bow Andy, you did very very well.

This place reeks of tradition. And it does everything with style. If this place were in London, people would travel from far and wide. Once a weekish, this is where I treat myself, however deserving! This cafe is worth a 6000 mile commute for any self respecting member of the modern workforce. Have the chilli sauce, even if you only stop by for an apple. Bloody hell. Nuff said.

Told you it was old - here it is way back when...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dial out....

Nothing like Baba ghanoush on a motorbike
I know its unremarkable for most people, but I feel I should announce that we just ordered takeaway food online. This most basic pastime represents our Carioca coming of age. This was the first time we have embarked on any such mission without encountering a single obstacle.

We used disk cook, which provided a good list of local restaurants. Sure, you have to sign up here, enter all manner of personal details and generally faff about, but we are slowly getting used to all that. The main thing was the food arrived within the alloted time, it was what we ordered, and we didn't have to venture out in the pissing rain. Spot on.

So, what did we eat? We ate arabic, from the swanky place down on the seafront. We've always fancied giving it a try. Jill would love it! Would I disk cook again? Yep. Especially when pushing the buggy through a monsoon seems like being as much fun as punching yourself in the face.

Back in Brighton, we ordered internet pizza sometimes. It was always crap.

Keep it Informal...

Can you guess the dress code?

Now, I usually avoid chain restaurants, in favour of smaller, more intimate dining experiences. To be honest I enjoy the game of culinary Russian roulette. You might just uncover a hidden gem. On the otherhand you might get shot in the head with a dose of week-long botulism.

Last night we went for a chain place. No idea of the size of the chain. Its called 'Informal' on Nossa Senora de Copacabana. Just around the corner from my local (which I really must get around to writing about).

Anyhow, Informal was great. Honestly priced menu (mostly traditional Brazilian fare) And Antartica Original in fun-sized bottle (and by fun-sized I mean fun, not miserable and small - I call those ´no fun whatsoever sized´

We plummed for pasteis. How predictable.We chose a cozy little table for three overlooking the traffic jam and relaxed as afternoon turned into early evening and the unbridled psychotic aggression of the nearby motoristas subsided into mild anarchy. Ahhh.

A Botequim - Fun sized watering hole.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


It amused me that the message here seemed to be: ín order to light the barbeque, get absolutely trousered.
Itaipava is about an hour out of Rio, traffic permitting, and each weekend hoards of city types jump on the motorway to hobnob with mountain folk.

This time of year seemed like a good time to go and sample the pseudo alpine hospitality (we even went to a German style sausage restaurant!).

What cracks me up is that in these inclement freezing times (it nearly dipped below 20 today) it seems there is nothing more chic than to put on a big jumper (and even a scarf) an sit on a terrace somewhere clinging to a hot chocolate for all you are worth.

Personally I want to see If I can go a full 12 months without wearing a jumper. So far so good.

The highlight of the weekend had to be our (extremely) successful churrasco. This Brazilian art form is not for the faint hearted, and we knew we were taking on a tough challenge as we blitzed the supermarket and bought the essential gallons of beer and picanha (the sublime cut of beef that really is a must on these occasions).

Lighting the fire was a bit tricky, until our delightful housekeeper pointed out that it would be much easier if we just plugged in the massive electric fan and blasted it until the ensuing inferno threatened to burn the bloody place down. Still, I reckon we had enough beer to douse the flames and get trousered. Nice.

It rocked. Really. And to top it off the beer was 89 cents a bottle. Which beer? Itaipava of course - very nice too.´ Can't thank our friends enough for getting us away from it all. Just what the doctor ordered. Nice one.

Itaipava, the beer.

Itaipava, the place they named the beer after. And you can see why. Frankly I might suggest it as the name for our next child.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

It´s All In The Past

Ok, my latest dose of neat Portuguese went pretty well. I don't know if this was because I've been making more of an effort here and there to try and communicate with those kind enough to listen, but I seem to be getting around without constant communication meltdown.

 The vague feeling that every time every time I open my mouth I might as well just make the first animal noise that comes to mind seems to be subsiding.

Anyway - my lesson, and my first introduction to the past! - I can now theoretically say what I drank, or said, or ate. I can even wax lyrical about what I did or made (although that fried my head to the point of spontaneous combustion). I feel empowered and ready to venture out into my brave little new world. Bollocks to the present, the future´s in the past.

Anyhow, my new found confidence this morning offered me the courage needed to go and chat to the bus driver about my best alighting location. He screeched the whole charabang to a grinding halt, smiled, opened the doors and urged me out of the door. He waved as he sped into oblivion.

I walked the last couple of miles.

Dia Das Maes

Now, one thing is becoming crystal clear. If they do something here, then they do it in a way you are unlikely to experience anywhere else on our planet or anyone elses. Sunday was Mother's day - and just in case there was any possibility of over looking the fact, every high street stall had a total refit in order to accomodate more branded plastic than is sensible. I'm not kidding.

Our little man has been preparing for a while and a special selection of his fine art went into a portfolio for his mum to treasure for eternity, along with a screen printed washbag of his nifty brushwork to remind her how much he cares everytime she trims her toenails.

All of this presented at a special cult-like mummies only event at the nursery, where the ceremony of the gifts was topped off with the presentation of a muhassive paper heart.

Mum, you live in my heart. Could I have a tenner for the pub?

Copacabana was awash with them. Paper hearts and paper roses. Now I know its really cheesy, but somehow it does actually feel nice to be somewhere pure love is so publically and joyfully expressed. Pass us a bucket someone? - I do believe I've just had another emotional episode.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bella Blu, Copacabana.

Itaipava was our Saturday  destination, so we went steady Friday night. We ventured along the road for pizza at Bella Blu. Good grief. Rodizio de Pizza means that an army of pizza wielding maniacs will keep appearing to fill your face until you start crying.

To be fair, the pizza is excellent (although I can´t say I eat that much of it) - it certainly makes pizza hut look a proper disgrace - Even if the one at Arpoador has valet parking, for crying out loud.

Just as the need to chunder my overindulgence around the place subsided, the army mobilised again and the sweet pizzas started their onslaught. I stuck to a bit of chocolate and about 15 degrees of banana and apple.

Incidentally, the sushi is also fantastic
We walked home too full to stop off at the Pavao Azul for a cheeky cold one. Serves me right really. Greedy git.

Monday, 9 May 2011

How To Show Off In Rio

Oh how proud I was last Thursday when I had another chance to show off my new home from home....

This time I was tour guide for one evening only, so I planned it down to the last drop. I have to say it went rather well - so if its a boozy whistle stop Copacabana type of evening you're after, you might want to try out something similar to this. Here goes.

Step 1...Fail (once again in my case) to catch the sunset at Arpoador. This time we were all there with time to spare. Unfortunately a coupla perfectly positioned massive annoying clouds were too. We grabbed a couple of cans and went to stand on the rock anyway. I have to say the surf was up. Bigtime. Seriously - guinness and old spice combined would have binned it all and started filming again. Personally, I couldn't find anyone to hold my tinny, so I had to stay on terra firma. Bummer dude.

Step 2.... Head off towards posto seis (where the big din was way back in February) for a cheeky caipiirinha at a kiosk. By far the best value and after a couple of beers, it should really help to get a buzz going.

Step 3.... 
Cross into the middle of Avenida Atlantica and peruse the art stalls and souvenirs while trying not to give away the fact that you're an entourage of tipsy gringoes. Blow your cover completely by walking into the lobby of the Hotel Othon Palace.

Step 4.....Take the lift up to the 30th floor 'Skybar' and have another caipirinha by the pool. (this is the point at which showing off my fluent portuguese to the wonderment of my guests fell flat on its arse when neither of our waiters had a clue what I was uttering). Incidentally, the loo is past the lifts and on the left (just to save you an embarrassing game of charades).

Step 5...... Head along Barrata Ribeiro to the wonder of wonders, the Pavão Azul. Order Pasteis (smashin deep-fried envelopes of happiness - the cheese and sun-dried tomato ones won this time). Drink shedloads of Antartica Original whilst stood around a stood in the middle of the pavement. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. Thursday nights may never be the same again.

Step 6....... At this point I decided that step 6 was to abandon my mates and go home before I did anything too daft (such as embarking on a one-man stag do and winding up swinging by my bollocks from the nearest lamp post - very wise Andy, very very wise. My how you've learned)

The rest of the entourage, however, powered on with the boozing and wound up jumping off a nearby cliff. 

But thats another story.

The Glorious Blue Peacock. Mwah.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Pimenta (some like it really hot)

Everywhere that sells food (and that really dosen´t rule many places out) has Molho de Pimenta (chilli sauce) - its perfectly normal to splatter it all over everything. Dip stuff in it, add it to your soup or gravy - just don´t accidentally feed it to a one-year-old.... Nah... Nobody could possibly be that stupid.

It comes in approximately a million varieties, and the most serious is the homemade stuff that is quite simply oil with chillies left in it for about a decade. That stuff is a bit unpredictable, so take care - you might want to drop a bit on the table first to see if it burns a hole.

Now - those of you who have braved such madness as Dave´s insanity sauce (famous for ruining sphinkters the world over) might not want to bother with the milder ones that use vinager instead of oil, but most people, I imagine, would find these ones bearable - maybe even pleasurable.

They even have a couple to choose from in the School canteen. Does that mean its educational? - Best not miss out just in case.

But maybe put the bog roll in the fridge, just to be on the safe side.

Here´s a few I tried earlier

A home brewed deadly one.

A factory made one. For wusses to pretend they´re tough

This gave me blurred vision. If a wuss got hold of this, I wouldn´t fancy much for their chances.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Arpoador (where we nearly saw the setting sun)

Ahh, the Setting Sun - one of my favourite Brighton boozers...

Still, I digress...

Now, when I say nearly saw, you know precisely what I mean. We faffed about and  missed it. 

But a school of budding photographers and more than a handful of passers by can't be wrong. 
Arpoador is the area where Copacabana turns into Ipanema, and there are all manner of distractions. The waves here are probably the most impressive within the city and that attracts all manner of dudes. There's a great little extreme shopping mall for roller bladers and boarders of all varieties. The skate park it right at the top of the hill. 

There's beer too, from any number of sellers near posto 7 (also handy if, like me, you're a stickler for tradition and like to go for a wee in an actual loo) to the swanky looking Astor bar just along into Ipanema proper. Good grief, I feel like a one man commercial. 

Most of all though there is the rock, with the shit yourself view of Copacabana in one direction and Ipanaema in the other. Apparently, if you get your act together and turn up on time, the sunset is breathtaking and there's a round of applause as it disappears. 

So stunning, I'm told that it makes one forget the occasional waft of piss. Now that really must be beautiful unmissable moment. 

PS. - Don't hang around too long after the main event. I hear that getting off the rock after dark may well lead to an unwanted rendezvous with someone or other seeking to borrow some cash, or a camera, or both. We vacated the area while it was still pretty buzzy. 

Sometimes it pays to do things on time.
Our boy and Ipanema... almost sounds familiar.

And here's one I stole.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Shopping Cidade Copacabana

Lovejoy would have loved this.... (click and see if you can still sing along!)

The second floor of the shopping mall at Shopping Cidade Copacabana is a gem. A real find. Its like a glorious step back in time and a trip around a shopping mall just as its meant to be. Not a global label in sight - just shop after shop of delightful chic surprises.

Art lovers, antiques hunters - don't miss out. This is where you should buy something truly groovy to take back with you.

And to think we found it by accident.

The retro spiral ramp in the middle of the mall is a must-see. And the car fumes are free!

Once you get over the feeling of being an extra in 'The Shining' it really is  a top place to browse..

The Zoo

I'm a bit nervous about visiting a series of imprisoned animals at the best of times, and today was no exception. But, you know how it is, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was headed across the park towards the incarcerated doolittle exhibition.

Turns out it wasn't too bad, although (and i'm no expert in these things) I reckon a grown tiger deserves enough space to swing itself in.

Incidentally - there are a pair of tigers there aptly named William and Kate - although there was no evidence of their wedded bliss. (nor were the penguins and giraffes joining in a disney-like chorus of 'oops upside yer head.) - I'm not kidding - here's proof:


Needless to say we left the zoo sharpish.

(Its really cheap to get in though - R$5 buys you all the caged up shenanigans you can goggle at!)

I quite enjoyed this one - although I did find it hard not to go - oo ,oo,oo at the Monkies

Count the turtle's heads.....

Herein lie some massive nasty bastards. Go ssssss at them if you want - they'll deal with you as they see fit.

Try one of these....

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