Posts Tagged ‘travels’
so hello everyone. it’s been a wee while, no? more than a wee while. a long while.
we have been travelling a bit. first we went to queenstown. it was still quite wintry down there but gosh it was beautiful. we walked along the lake, drank lots of coffees to warm up, ate excellent pizza from winnies, travelled on the earnslaw steamship to celebrate fathers’ day .. it was a good time.
L and i spent a few days in pahiatua with my mum and dad. it’s quite different to queenstown, let’s say. i like it though. it’s friendly. people say hi in the street. the countryside is quite cool. there are excellent op shops. and brockies cafe makes a lemon and date slice which alone is worth the trip.
pahiatua is close to palmerston north – the place to go if you want to do a big supermarket shop. there is not a lot else there, i’m sorry to say.
and most recently, L, the rockstar and i went to brazil. we spent most of the time in brasília which was in the middle of the rainy season and not terribly photogenic, bless it. there was a lot of family time. but we snuck away for a night to pirenópolis, a colonial town about 2 hours’ drive away (in central-west terms, that’s practically nothing). it was good to get away, just the three of us.
and a bonus piece of hee-larious brazinglish for your pleasure and delectation. the best bit: this shirt was spotted in quite a chic store in shopping iguatemi brasília, a very very exclusive mall for those who prefer to not to rub shoulders with the great unwashed (which also happens to be the nearest source of decent coffee to the rockstar’s mum’s house; hence my presence there). binge drinking! it’s the new hip trend from the west!
so yes! i am back. i will write more shortly – right now i have to go and stop L from pulling all the CDs off the shelves and then proceeding to chew the corners. as i write she is nomming down on feminist sweepstakes by le tigre. that’s my girl.
a short trip on good friday. ice creams and sea air .. and L’s first look at the sea
(hokey pokey. of course. and it was delicious.)
more from our weekend to come. hope yours was delicious, too. xoxo
There is no real reason why the name for a hot dog in Portuguese – which is a completely literal translation, cachorro quente – should be so amusing to those of us who speak English. Somewhere along the way, we decided to give a sausage-in-a-bun such a bizarre name, so why shouldn’t Brazilians adopt it? All the same, it makes me smile a little bit, thinking about all the other weird names we give to snack foods (angels on horseback, pigs in blankets, mousetraps) and how the names lose any significance until you come across them in another context. Another language, another country.
And make no mistake, Brazilians have taken to the hot dog with the same gusto that they’ve adopted – and adapted – many other types of street food from around the world. All over the country, as night falls, packets of franks are slit open in kitchens and hot dog stands materialise on street corners. Debate rages about the best cachorro quente to be had in any city, and so it is in Brasília – from the chatter of social media to the elevated pages of Veja magazine.
We asked around in Brasília (the rockstar’s home town) and were pointed towards 308 Sul, the shopping area universally identified as the “street with the little church”. And in front of the little church – actually the Igrejinha de Nossa Senhora da Fátima – we found an excellent hot dog.
So how is this different to your standard New York frank and why does it merit an inclusion in this series? Well, first off, while this is still a sausage in a long soft bun, Brazilians have taken the concept and tweaked it into something different.
Rather than floating in a slightly rank and oily brine, the sausages for cachorro quente are heated in a tomato sauce which permeates the meat. The split-open bun will usually be doused with a little of the sauce before adding the sausage. It’s delicious and it helps to take away a little of the aggressively smoked flavour of your average frankfurter.
Then, the major point of difference: the toppings. The rockstar says the very bare minimum of adornments for a cachorro quente should be tomato ketchup, yellow American-style mustard and mayonnaise. So far, so unexceptional. But then come the extras .. and this is where it gets a bit crazy. For each cachorro quente, our maestro dipped into plastic tubs of fillings. At this cart, a “completo” includes tuna, onion mayonnaise, sweetcorn and fried potato sticks. And it can get weirder: the mighty Wikipedia mentions mashed potato, beetroot, toasted cassava flour, even cream cheese. In my opinion (and the rockstar’s) none of these things have any place on a hot dog. But it seems we were in the minority: while we ate, a steady stream of customers came up to the cart and almost all of them ordered all the trimmings.
With this amount of sloppy filling to tackle, it’s unsurprising that cachorro quente are usually eaten standing up in the street, accompanied with plenty of paper napkins. And the verdict: the rockstar declared this to be a particularly fine example of the genre.
You don’t have to travel all the way to Brasília to experience the cachorro quente, by the way. Unlike the pastel, this street food is easily replicated at home. Sweat a sliced onion and a sliced green capsicum in a small amount of olive oil, add a tin of tomato puree and a tin of whole peeled tomatoes, season to taste and leave to thicken a little. Then add your sausages: I used Heller’s Continental Frankfurters which the rockstar pronounced “just like back home”, the highest possible accolade. Heat until the sausages are piping hot and then serve in a soft white roll. Tomato ketchup, mustard and mayo are, as we’ve already seen, mandatory; I’ll leave the corn, the tinned spaghetti and the chocolate sauce up to you
Cachorro quente stand, in front of the Igrejinha, entrequadra 308 Sul, Asa Sul, Brasília — and on street corners all over Brazil ..
To start a series on Brazilian street food with anything other than the pastel (or, to give it its proper name, “pastel de feira”, literally “street market pie”) would be folly. Let’s be clear: as much as Brazil is one country, she is also many countries. Each region has its own cuisine and its own traditions .. and of course, its own street food. The beaches in Rio have the Globo biscuit (which will feature here in due course) and the streets of Salvador have the acarajé (which won’t: I’m afraid I just can’t eat acarajé as the dendê oil makes me ill, and besides, others have written about it far better than I ever could). But everywhere – or at least, everywhere I’ve visited – has the pastel. And with good reason.
The pastel is, in its purest form, an envelope of wheat-flour pastry, filled with something tasty. The traditional fillings are white cheese, minced meat or hearts-of-palm; fancy-pants gourmet variations include salt cod, shrimp and cream cheese or even sweet fillings like guava paste or cinnamon-banana. The pastel is crimped at the edges and fried in very hot oil until the outside of the pastry blisters and the inside is hothothot.
In Brasília, it is always said that the best pastel in town is served at the bus station. The Pastelaria Viçosa, to be exact. Ignore the less-than-elegant surroundings; here, the boys turn out thousands of pasteis a day and their fame is deserved. The house special, two pasteis and a cup of sugar-cane juice, is just R$2.75 — which is $2.20 NZ or $1.60 US. In this incredibly expensive city, this might just be your best value calories-per-buck feast.
Turnover here is brisk and the pasteis are super-fresh. Eaten standing up at the counter, the first bite will be as every first bite of a pastel should be: a little puff of steam rising as you break the pastry shell with your teeth. Don’t worry if the locals stare at the sight of a foreigner: within a bite, you’ll be transported.
In São Paulo, the Mercado Municipal is the place to go. There are a number of pastel places there but the one we chose was the Bar do Mané. A cheese pastel here runs to R$5, nearly twice the price of the Viçosa, but it’s a classy affair: larger, far more cheese and you can actually sit down to eat it, showering pastry crumbs at every bite.
Your first few bites of a cheese pastel will yield little more than pastry but as you work your way down, you’ll hit the mother-lode. The cheese is like a salty but mild-cured cheddar with the same propensity to separate as it melts .. so you’ll need to watch for the odd spot of oil. This ain’t diet food. Calorie estimates I found on the internet say you’re looking at about 250 for an average pastel, but I simply cannot see how this can be true .. I reckon it’s more like about a million calories. But worth every sinful, salty bite.
Finding a good pastel is a question of asking a local, but visitors can find a good one pretty easily. The rockstar says you should look for pasteis that are fried to your order, not ones that are pre-fried and left in a warmer; and my personal tip would be that if the pasteis are good, there will be a crowd of people in the place eating them, any time of the day or night.
Pastelaria Viçosa, ground floor, Rodoviária do Plano Piloto (Central Bus Station) Brasília
Bar do Mané, Mercado Municipal Paulistano, Rua da Cantareira, São Paulo
unexpected treats in unexpected places. lake ferry is a tiny village by a sea lagoon at the almost-southernmost point of the north island of new zealand. we went there a couple of weekends ago .. making the most of a nice day to head out in my temperamental little MG. the scenery was spectacular, the remoteness really bracing .. and in the local pub (the only place that i could see that was open) they serve truly excellent fish and chips.
sorry about that little unscheduled break. i started a full-time job which i love but has been taking a lot of my time and energy. but i have been writing and taking photos and travelling and thinking about fashion, because that is what i *do*. and now that i am feeling a bit more on top of things, i will be around here a bit more.
anyway. in amongst the other things i have been doing, i went to whanganui for the weekend. i spent my school days there and still have family there. so the rockstar and i jumped into my mg and off we drove. we met my mum and dad there. and we spent a very pleasant weekend eating, drinking, seeing family and having fun.
whanganui, like many small towns in new zealand, struggled a bit through the 80s and early 90s. but now, thanks to a thriving art school, it’s a cool place to visit. there’s enough kitsch (the huge plates of old-skool food at the brick house or charming afternoon teas at reflections cafe at virginia lake, a park around which i walked about a thousand times as a kid) and enough sophistication (the fantastic element cafe on victoria ave, where we had an excellent dinner and a truly amazing plum, blackcurrant and marzipan pie!) to keep any city-type satisfied. there are a lot of good antique shops and a really nice hotel to stay in. we had a lovely time.
anyway. how are you? i’ve missed you. it’s good to be back. and i’ll have fashion silliness next time i post. promise.
forget the art deco; on a blue, blue sunshiney day in napier, the thing to photograph was the funfair, sitting silently, awaiting customers.
the rockstar and i got back from brazil on the morning of the 31st. thirty hours of travel and we were wiped out .. valiant efforts to stay awake came to nothing and we slept most of the day, waking in time to see the fireworks in auckland live on bbc world news. i was really not in the mood to get dressed up and go out but the rockstar insisted. so at about 3am, we ventured out. courtenay place was carnage, all the good bars were either full or closing. but i charmed a bouncer into letting us into a place that seemed pretty jumping, and indeed it was .. full of young drunk people dancing to house music. i decreed dancing was the order of the evening and so we danced a lot, drinking steinlager pure from long-necked bottles and smiling like crazy people. another bar, giggling at completely wasted people, nipping into burger king where i had a chicken-pineapple burger bought for me — i ate it because i felt bad, but that’s the first time i’ve eaten chain-store burgers in about 15 years and nothing’s changed :-/ but somehow it felt right, as we wandered home watching the sky get lighter and the sun rising .. not for the first time, thanking the universe for the blackout curtains in the bedroom. it was an unexpectedly excellent night and was the perfect farewell to a year that’s been crazy delirious fun. i can’t wait to see what 2010 will bring.
i owe you about a dozen posts about brazil and you shall have them. i got kind of busy there for a while, but i have a lot to tell you. for now, though, the rockstar and i are heading to napier for a couple of days. see you soon.
so, erm, yeah. about that gap in posting. here’s what i’ve been up to, in pictures:
(this photo was not taken by me but by my super-talented mum. i love it, so i have posted it here.)
first two brasília, at the sound shell; last four padre bernardo, which is where the rockstar’s family have a farm. and where his party was. more coming, promise.
in order: last view of london, real cutlery in business class, a (brief) upgrade to first which was somewhat scuppered by the plane developing a fault and having to switch to another flight, a night in a hotel near the airport because the delay meant i missed my connecting flight. interesting coincidence: the hotel i stayed in was the same hotel my family stayed in the first-ever night we spent in new zealand, back in january 1978. by the looks of those avocado-green bathroom units, it hasn’t been decorated since.
more to come xxx