RSSCategory: Food & drinks

the best coffee in the world?

the best coffee in the world?

café

Do not let Colombians be upset by the title of this blog post. There is a slight touch of irony on it.

Brazil is the main coffee producer in the world. In 2004 it was responsible for 35% of the world exports. Its fame is due to the quality of the beans grown and the great variety of types of coffee.

The main coffee-producing states, in order of importance, are Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Paraná and Bahía. The best quality coffees are found in the south and the Cerrado region of Minas Gerais, and in the Mogiana region of the state of São Paulo.

Museu do Café / Bolsa do Café, Santos

In general, Brazilian coffee is known for its soft taste, pleasant flavour and balanced content. It is neither to acidic nor too bitter.

The importance coffee had for Brazil is seen in its history. It was coffee that brought waves of Italian and Japanese immigrants to São Paulo, and it was the commodity behind the growth of the city.

Museu do Café / Bolsa do Café, Santos

Don’t be surprised if, when ordering at a café the quintessential Brazilian cafezinho (expresso coffee) you feel let down. For a long time, the best Brazilian coffee beans were exported, while Brazilians drank a substandard product.

Thankfully, the last few years have seen a renaissance of coffee within Brazil, of which the opening of gourmet cafés is an unmistakeable sign.

Museu do Café / Bolsa do Café, Santos

The best cafés are found in São Paulo (the Octavio Café is unmissable), Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Curitiba. Santos is known as the “city of coffee” and is host to one of the most interesting museums in Brazil, the Museu do Café.

cafés / coffees

November 26, 2008 | By More
<em>Couvert artístico</em>

Couvert artístico

In places with sizeable concentrations of tourists it is quite common for restaurants to present a band or an artist playing live music. Could be just the one singer with a guitar, could be a bigger group. Whenever there is live music at the restaurant it’s good to pay attention, as your bill will include a couvert artístico – an extra charge. In many cases the couvert artístico is reasonable and you don’t mind paying for it. Live performances are more often than not of a really good quality. But be careful as the couvert artístico of a number of places is outrageously expensive.

October 24, 2008 | By More
Octavio Café, São Paulo

Octavio Café, São Paulo

Brazil, the largest coffee producer in the world, and we hadn’t mentioned a café in the blog yet. It’s time to make amends.

The Octavio Café is a coffee shop that in its short existence has gained the reputation of being the best café in São Paulo. It is found in the Jardim Paulista upper-class neighbourhood, near the exclusive Rua Amauri.

As you approach the café, the first surprise is provided by its external shape – resembling the form of a coffee bean.

Octavio Café

Inside, the café is separated in three big areas: one for smokers, one for non-smokers, and an open-air section. Thankfully, non-smokers got the best part, a beautiful space right in front of the bar.

Octavio Café

While you sit on extremely comfortable sofas, you can watch the time go by while you take pleasure in smelling the coffee aromas that permeate the building. The ramp going up the lavatories is full of surprises. From the top there is a wonderful view of the café.

Octavio Café

As it is to be expected, the Octavio has a extense coffee menu. Your basic order is a expresso Octavio (R$3,80), the cheapest drink you can order.

Octavio Café

There is an extremely tempting Degustação de Cafés (Tradicional, Especial Octavio e Café Importado) (Coffee Tasting) on the menu, costing R$11. However, we’ve been to the Octavio twice and the tasting wasn’t available both times. We wonder whether it’s worth including an attractive item on the menu only to let customers down when they order it.

If you want coffee prepared on a different fashion, you can order coffee prepared on the cafetera francesa (cafetiere, costs R$5,10), a Turkish coffee (R$4,90) or the very traditional café de coador (colander coffee, R$4,90) shown on the next photo. The three coffees serve two cups.

Octavio Café

Our only word of warning, beware of the Black Coffee, described on the menu as hot chocolate with coffee. It costs R$7,10 and if you want to feel conned, order it. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Other than that, the Octavio Café is a place worth visiting. Its coffee is not cheap, but then a cup of coffee is unlikely to wreck havoc on your budget.

Octavio Café. Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2996. Jardim Paulista. Website.

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October 20, 2008 | By More
Bananas

Bananas

Any Brazilian fruit stand or greengrocer’s is a true festival for the senses. Sometimes the surprise is not related to the exotic – abundant as exotic fruits are. The best known fruits are also full of surprises. Take the humble bananas.

bananas

On the photograph you can see, clockwise, four types of different bananas: nanica, prata, ouro and da terra. There are several others (figo, maçã, …). The moment you can identify them with ease you realize your process of cultural adaptation is well under way.

October 10, 2008 | By More
<em>pão de queijo</em>

pão de queijo

Today we want to introduce you to one of the greatest contributions of Brazil to the world: the unmistakable, inimitable and genuinely Brazilian pão de queijo. There will be those – and not without reason – wanting a more specific attribution of fame: pão de queijo is, above all, a Minas Gerais institution.

pão de queijo

The pão de queijo is a cheese bun made of cassava flour, eggs, salt, milk and cheese. It is rounded in shape and the size can differ quite a lot. It is eaten hot and if it has been properly backed, it should have a soft and creamy feel to it. It should never be chewy.

You might find pão de queijo for breakfast at your hotel or pousada. The more you go up north, the less likely you are to have pão de queijo for breakfast. It is also served at snack bars, where it is often eaten next to your mid-morning coffee. There is a snack bar chain called “Casa do Pão de Queijo”.

pão de queijo

You can buy frozen pão de queijo to bake it at home, and there are also mix packages if you want to prepare the bread yourself.

Similar products can be found in other South American countries. In Colombia cheese buns take the name of pandebono; they are chipás in Paraguay and Argentina.

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August 25, 2008 | By More