Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day (and Night) out in São Paulo

So many things to do, so little time to do them. Finally went Ibirapuera, which is filled with couples, families, and everyone in between strolling, exercising and just hanging out. It’s like the Central Park of Sao Paulo.

And while you all are freezing in NYC or wherever, I enjoyed 78 degree weather, walked around some reservoirs, and got lost. I thought I was leaving from one exit, but apparently I was leaving from another one. I would never have gotten where I wanted to go since I was going North, instead of West. Thankfully, the heat got to me and I saw a taxi stand, got into a taxi and asked to be taken where I was heading, decided to check the map and thought “huh, that’s interesting, no wonder the walk seemed so long, I would never have gotten there!”

In the evening, I dressed up and headed over to Hotel Unique. I’d seen pictures of the skyline and was told I really shouldn’t miss it.

Although I personally think going to a hotel rooftop bar by yourself is a little sketch, I went early enough (6:30pm) for it to not be so bad as there weren’t a lot of people. The view was fantastic and the drink, passion fruit and basil, was delicious (I really like that combination, there’s a passion fruit basil macaron at Gerard Mulot in Paris)

After finishing my drink, I headed over to Tordesilhas, which was also profiled by the NYT in that same article as the restaurant I went to last weekend. The restaurant was incredibly charming on the inside, with a covered courtyard and walls painted a sunny yellow. I especially liked the water fountain feature (unfortunately it wasn’t turned on) and mini bananas growing on their plants (see if you can spot them!).

I had the 7 course tasting menu, but, unfortunately, it didn’t blow me away. But, I can’t complain when a 7 course tasting menu is only R$100 (that’s about $55), so, here we go!

Drink: Caipirinha (this wasn’t part of the tasting menu)

Accompaniment to the tasting menu: Three types of marinated peppers

Not knowing what they were giving me, this is a retelling of what happened in my brain: “Oh hey, what are you? Let me put you in my mouth to find out! Oh you’re very spicy. I can’t spit you out now. Oh this was a bad idea…oh I wonder when the waiter will come with my water…”

Appetizer #1: Tasting of tropical fruits with cachaca and small pieces of chicarrones. I did not drink that cachaca shot.

Appetizer #2: Cheese with honey made of sugar, and fried manioc balls with parmesan

The cheese felt like rubber, so much that is squeaked on my teeth. But a very palatable, somewhat salty rubber, with a sweet coating. The manioc balls had the texture of warm deep fried smooth mashed potatoes, with the outside delivering the satisfying crunch and saltiness of a potato chip

Appetizer #3: Duck cooked in Tucupi, served with Manioc to mix into the broth

The texture of the manioc was a bit like gravel and even after I mixed it into the broth, I was a little afraid I might chip a tooth while chewing it. The greens themselves made my tongue tingle so I freaked out a little thinking I was having an allergic reaction. Apparently, that’s supposed to happen; the menu online in English says “tucupi is a liquid extracted from manioc and the jambu, a vegetable that provokes a light and pleasant numb sensation on the tongue”. Great, and I thought I was going to die. At least I had my epi pen with me!

Entrée #1: Grilled shrimp with thin slices of marinated squash served with tiny greens

Those are totally not tiny greens, and I don’t eat shrimp but wow, that marinated squash was delicious (its hiding under the tiny giant greens).

Entrée #2: Barreado (meat simmered for 12 hours in a closed clay pot)

This was so cute! It came in a mini clay pot and the waiter first poured some manioc flour into my bowl, then ladled some of the stew, mixed it, and topped it with plantains. And wow, those were some good plantains, counteracting with the saltiness of the stew. I love well prepared plantains!

Dessert #1: Two kinds of Amazonian fruit ice crema (açai and cupuaçu)

MMM, açai, that’s getting a post of its own later. I have no idea what cupuaçu is but it had a really pleasant, milky taste with a bit of a tang (ok I just read apparently its an Amazonian fruit that’s related to cocoa and has the most free-radical killing power, meaning, it’s the healthiest superfruit). That green stuff? I didn’t know what it was. At first I thought it was some kind of passion fruit but those things aren't seeds, they have the texture of tapioca and it made my tongue itchy so I decided to stay away. Then I asked the waiter. It’s that dreaded jambu tongue numbing thing again! Damn you unknown Amazonian plant!

Dessert #2: Chocolate with a touch of tamarind and pepper, served with coffee

I don’t drink coffee but I liked the messy chocolate thing! Does anyone else think the presentation looks a 

And now my tummy is happily poofy and stuffed. Not nearly as good as my outing last week, but completely palatable and a great deal. However, I'm left wondering whether I would've been better off ordering a la carte, although I think this was a better choice since it lets you try more.

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