A Brazilian Rip-Off Story: Rodeio…

16 July 2017

My knee was a little better and I headed out to wander in the early evening. It’s Sunday, and despite that pretty good lunch at Tordesilhas, most of the city’s eateries are closed for the evening. I ended up going to a place that is quite well-known for its meats, which is a great way to finish up the week — Rodeio.

I got there and it was pretty empty. Hmmm… I was seated and just my bloody luck, there was a loud table of folks speaking Chinese. I tried to ignore their loud yapping as I ordered. I chilled with some wine and then the yapping got louder, one girl pounded the table and walked out. Lol…free entertainment with my dinner…

sausage

And soon the starter arrived, what was supposed to be spicy sausage. Not very spicy, but very salty… Drank more wine before my main course arrived, sliced picanha…and it was plated…

plate with picanha

Ugh, the meat was not good. I know people like sliced picanha, but when you slice it away the table, who knows if it’s been sitting there. The meat was not good at all. The only thing that saved the day was the palm heart… I finished and waited for ages for them to serve more meat. It’s like they didn’t want to…

After the second time they did that, I started giving them an ugly look, and they started to do it faster. I asked also for a morcela, and that came quick with more beef.

plate with morcela

At this point I noticed that some of the tourists dining here were being short-changed on their meats. They did not know how much they had on the side, and when the servers went lazy they thought they were done so asked for the bill. One even left after 1 serving — 3 measly thin slices! For about 50 US dollars!

This is a blatant rip-off that’s just pathetic. Again, why does Brazil feel it needs to rip off tourists instead of making them want to come back? Just ridiculous.

One more dirty look and they gave me the rest of my meat. What an underwhelming night. Of all things the palm heart was the best thing. I ordered a fruit dessert and it was a bit lame…surprised? And to close the night I asked for an after-dinner drink list and they said they don’t have one…and gave me the cocktail list. I asked for a sazerac and they brought out this undrinkable thing…

I sent it back and they apologised and I just paid the ridiculously expensive bill and left. This place is an insult to dining — from the service to the food, from the drinks to the price. If there ever was a tourist trap in SP, I’ve found it. This is a perfect reason why I just can’t see myself coming to Brazil again…

FUCKING avoid this place. It should be shut down for fraud, incompetence, etc…

Rodeio
Rua Haddock Lobo 1498, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil

Review: Tordesilhas

16 July 2017

I woke up a little later than planned, but got some extra sleep. Still enjoying that excellent dinner last night at Tuju. It was a quiet Sunday morning in this São Paulo neighbourhood, and I wasn’t going to wander too far today. It was certainly not snowing here like yesterday in Santiago…

I walked around a bit, not realising how hilly this area is. Up and down hills are fine, but when the slopes are sidewards it really puts a strain on my joints… Plus the pavements aren’t all that great. In any case, I eventually got to where I planned to have lunch, Tordesilhas.

They had just opened at midday and it was quiet — apparently I was on the early side. This is an old-school place you can see quickly. I took a seat next to the window and the bright sun was blazing even through them. I ordered a glass of wine and enquired about the tasting menu, but alas only for dinner. So I ordered normally.

Chilled out for a bit to enjoy the wine and people watch out the window, but soon my starter arrived.

1-casquinha

First up was the casquinha de siri, which is stuffed crab. Excellent, lovely flavours, a generous portion of the good stuff. The wine flowed very well too, although it’s Spanish. Enjoyable. Then soon after my starter arrived.

2-pirarucu

This is the grilled pirarucu, the legendary fish of the Amazon.. Quite excellent, and the palm hearts are just a joy to have…love these things. The vegetables were nice with the excellent broth. Pretty enjoyable I must say!

3-fruits

I chilled out and decided to have some fruits as a dessert…and it’s certainly a better selection than the really sad plate I had at Soby’s a few days earlier!

Generally a good lunch, I enjoyed it. I headed out pretty happy. A bit of a long walk in the neighbourhood but the hilly terrain somehow did something to my left knee, and it was really starting to bother me, so I headed back in on this lazy Sunday…

Tordesilhas
Alameda Tietê 489, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil

Review: Tuju

15 July 2017

This morning was when South American became Latin America…I say that with love, but… I woke up in darkness — not because of the snow outside (yay!!!) but the power had gone out in the hotel. Oh goodie, that’s 10 floors to walk down with my luggage… But thank goodness it came back after about half hour…and I got down the normal way…

Ride to SCL was smooth but it was sheer chaos at the airport as the weather caused mass chaos with flight schedules… It really doesn’t help when the airport’s management seems to be on a different planet to the airlines, as nonsensical info was being constantly posted, forcing folks like me to run across the entire airport several times to false info. People were all getting into wrong queues and I almost ended up on a flight to Colombia because of this chaos… Hours later, 5 gate changes later, we finally got off the ground…sigh…

Got into São Paulo bit late, but thank goodness the hour was odd enough that GRU Airport wasn’t chaotic. But unfortunately my phone signal was messed up so had to take a rip-off taxi from the airport…ugh… This was a defining feature of Brazil, compared to elsewhere in the region… Got to my hotel and dropped my stuff and quickly changed and hopped onto a Cabify — which works great especially in Brazil and is cheap as heck — and went to dinner.

Tonight’s dinner is at Tuju, a place that has that similar ethos of using ingredients found locally that’s not really accessible elsewhere. I like this type of dining when I travel. With that amazing dinner last night at Boragó this place has a big challenge on its hands… I got there at about 9pm as I smartly made my booking so late — just in case my flight had issues (and yes it did)…

It’s pretty relaxed and I order a cocktail and decide to happily go with the tasting menu. Things look very interesting. It’s a chilled place, so I chilled and enjoyed watching the open kitchen at work. Then soon, with a pour of local cava, the procession of snacks started…

01-corn-crab

The first was a totally delicious “sandwich” filled with crab, corn and peppers. Damn this was good! Then surprisingly a pour of a local microbrew wheat beer for the following snack…

02-sunchoke-salt beef

Next up was a sunchoke crisp with salt-cured beef and gherkins. Surprisingly tasty as all the flavours worked very well with each other.

03-perilla-eggplant

Following that was eggplant with miso and seaweed, wrapped by a perilla leaf. Really nice, the eggplant really comes out great here with the miso made with local nuts. Excellent!

04-milk crisp-trout roe

Following that was a milk crisp topped with trout roe, with just a touch of avocado and kombucha. Was a little hard to eat as the roe flew everywhere, but it was delicious!

05a-flowers

Then the last “snack” was quite something to look at — a plate of local edible flowers with nasturtium and a touch of persimmon. And then a palate cleanser…

PC

Wow, this “ginger ale” is all ginger. House-made with local gingers. This was fantastic, and that’s saying a lot from someone who usually doesn’t like ginger. Fantastic!

Things slowed just a wee bit but still moved at a good rate. The dishes were often brought out by folks in the kitchen, and they did a fantastic job of describing the dishes. Little did I know this would be a total anomaly here in Brazil, but this was running great and the kitchen staff is fantastic. A pour of an Argentinian white and here we go.

06-turnips

I chuckled a little when I saw this pickled turnip dish…yeah, I won’t say more. It’s probably a tribute. But it was tasty, the acidic base worked really well here with a touch of local honey. I saw later that they harvest it themselves on-site, so that’s pretty cool. A nice start before we go to something a bit heavier — evidenced by the pour of a sherry…

07a-duck egg porcini soup

Oh this is a fantastic soup, with very intense flavours of duck egg and wild porcini. Absolutely lovely stuff here. One of my favourite dishes of the night. Then with a pour of a rose we move into the larger dishes.

08-red mullet

Today’s local catch is red mullet, and it’s quite nice. Touch of tumeric as you can guess, and some delicious palm heart — I love these things! I was told the fish is from near Rio. Very nice dish!

Surprisingly the next pour was a Brazilian pinot noir, the first biodynamic wine from the country. I imagine we’re moving into a meat dish, but little did I know how good it was gonna be…

09b-montau pork_edited

This is Montau pork, which was just drool-inducingly good. Lovely flavour and happily rich, this was really a fantastic item to finish the savouries on (I’m counting the dishes). The wee salad was also quite nice. Oh this was good!

A wee moment to catch my breath. This intro to Brazilian cooking has been pretty damn awesome! Again I’m so glad I picked a good place to start things out like in Santiago! This is excellent! Then they brought some local coffee and I was intrigued they did that as a pairing to…

10b-cheese

…Cheese! Some nice local stuff from Minas Gerais, mostly cow milk but one goat. Really tasty stuff, and surprisingly the coffee worked! And then we shifted to the desserts with a German white.

11-jackfruit_edited

A jackfruit mousse graced with clovers. I have to say those clovers are just amazing, the citrousy flavours that fly out of them just work wonders here. Fabulous, especially with a very mild wine. A good dessert! And finally, the last of the 12 courses arrive with a pour of some port…

12-fig sorbet

Fig sorbet, with a coconut tapioca base. Delicious! What a nice way to finish things up! As I enjoyed the last of my port and was gonna as for some coffee, they brought out the closer — what they call the Pandora’s Box…

13-sin chocolates

I had to laugh as they joke that this is an offering of local sins…chocolates in tribute to tobacco, cachaça, coca and poppy. LOL! I was enjoying myself so much I ordered another cocktail to slowly close the night. A cool little place. The dining area was emptied out a bit by now, but the bar was still very busy. It was about midnight and I was running a bit out of energy from all the unnecessary drama at SCL Airport, so I called it a night and grabbed a Cabify to head back to the hotel.

I have to say this is an excellent opening here in Brazil, as Tuju is a really awesome restaurant. Good service, excellent cooking, a really nice way to spend a late Saturday night here in São Paulo! Awesome start!

Tuju
Rua Fradique Coutinho 1248, Pinheiros
São Paulo, Brasil

Review: Boragó

14 July 2017

By later in the afternoon it started to sink in that this is my last evening in Santiago, and I felt a little sad. Too many places to go, so had to schedule maximum of 3 evenings in each city. But this was a great start, and I reckon tonight would be the toppiing on the cake with dinner at Boragó.

I’m always cautious when a restaurant like Boragó is so praised, having been crushed by some awful experiences like Quintonil in Mexico City and the just-terrible Maido in Lima. But for some reason I was confident, as the ethos of this place is again to celebrate the ingredients of this diverse country — much like that awesome dinner at Peumayén a few days earlier.

I took the Metro out to as close to the trendy suburb of Vitacura as I could and walked the rest of the long way to the restaurant. It was a bit further than planned thanks to some construction, but I got to Boragó a few minutes early — just in time to watch Chef Rodolfo Guzmán out front cooking the lamb for tonight…perfect timing by an idiot trying to park to get them headlights on Chef!

I was seated and chilled out pretty quickly, though the dining area was thick with smoke from the lamb being cooked…some may not like it, but for me was aroma heaven. They vented the place pretty quickly tho. And we were poured some ultra-clear rainwater from the mountains…

Enjoyed a house cocktail from a local peach as I happily requested the full tasting with wine pairing. Very smooth service already at the start, an unusual thing in South America but a happy anomaly! As people started to fill up the restaurant not a step was missed — very impressive. After I finished my cocktail the procession of snacks starts…

First was a pulmay, a broth that’s common to Chilean cuisine. Wee acidic but went down easily. Nice receptacle…

01-cold pulmay

This was paired with a chilenito, a local biscuit filled with jaiba paco — a local crab that was just absolutely delicious. I now see why they had the acidic pulmay to start with!

03-ulte & snail broth_edited

Then next up was an interesting seaweed broth with uite, a rare local seaweed and conch. Lovely deep flavour here, excellent! The next snack was just gorgeous…

04a-copihue & coconut

A copihue flower — the national flower of Chile — is filled with a cream of a local small coconut. Delicious again, the flower surprisingly flavourful. This is a wonderful series of treats. Then some nice local rolls as a bread service.

05-marraqueta

Then we were given a pour of a wonderful light Chilean red before the next item, a “chupe” of local mushrooms…

shroom

Well, the “chupe” (or stew) is actually in a very light base of fermenting whey, really nice and gave the tiny funghi a lot more depth. Nice stuff. Then next up I laughed when I was told it’s something locals hate because they associate it with poor folks…

07-jibia_edited

This is fabulous, a wonderful tasting of jibia, or giant cuttlefish. The flesh of this specific type is so tough that it took them a year to break it down by freezing it, then quickly smoked. With some seaweed and horseradish, this was one of those wow dishes…

We moved onto something more structured at this point with a pour of a nice sauvignon blanc, then a dish that puzzles by appearance…

08-rock vegetables

“Rock vegetables” it is called… Gathered from Punta de Tralca near the coast due west from Santiago, this was a bit of a strange one… No, the chips are just chips as decor, there were veggies under it, mildly pickled. Pretty good, worked as a palate cleanser. Then with a syrah we had another showy piece.

09-rock broth

A broth cooked by a hot rock — somewhat like at Peumayén the other night — with some kolof root. The broth was quite fantastic, the root tinged with ink. Very rich, I wanted to lick the bowl (and the burning rock) afterwards! Excellent stuff, I love the use of these ingredients so exotic to me!

Now we have a shift into the mains for the night. Another sauvignon blanc is poured and we move into the seafood course…

10b-fish

This is a beautiful local whitefish baked in avocado leaves, with tinges of ash. Nettle and seaweed complement this item, and it is gorgeous. One of the things I love is the use of so many different types of seaweed that I couldn’t even name. They are so diverse in flavour and texture… What a joy to have them accompany so many of the dishes! With a pour of pinot noir I knew we were shifting towards the meats now…

11-changles, red plum leaves, miso

Hmmm…lovely presentation but what is it? It’s changles, a local coral mushroom, under plum leaves, with a sauce from wild blackberries and duck fat. Nice, tho it is rather on the sour side. Maybe a little too much, probably the first dish all night that I thought missed a little. Tasty, but the sour from the wild berries is pretty strong.

Next up is something I thought missed, the only real miss all night…

12-kombucha_edited

“Kombucha as a meat” is what they called it. No, no thank you… But all came back to awesomeness after the cab was poured and we finally get what was cooking outside…

13a-lamb_edited

This lamb was just dreamy… The meat was soft and delicious, the skin was uncompromising. I just forgot about the wild Patagonian fruits with this lamb…damn… One of the best lamb I’ve had, just uncompromising in so many ways. Definitely not the crap mass-raised lamb you get from stores. If you love lamb you’ll go nuts over this. I secretly wanted to ask for another, but…alas…

Wow, this has been quite amazing. And the great thing is that it is not uncomfortably filling as many long tasting menus can be. We shifted into the desserts with a nice local Gewürztraminer and the cute first item arrived.

14-tres leches_edited

A deconstructed tres leches as ice, featuring goat, cow and donkey (!!) milk. Fabulous taste, with local fruits and a nice little flower-based branch you’re suppose to lick clean… That tres leches ice was, wow…

15-16-ice brulee-ice cream sandwich

Next up was the twin dessert of a rose ice cream sandwich, which was delicious, and an ice brulee made from bitter plants that came from the Atacama dessert. I cracked it open and it was a joy…

15b-ice brulee

Surprisingly mild and tasty. As a person who doesn’t like my desserts sweet, this was pure heaven…unique and perfect way to end the night for me. And we close with this…

17-cold glacier

They call it the “cold glacier” and it’s just a wee menthol thing to almost swallow a blizzard…oh, for a person who loves cold this is just pure heaven closing it like this..

What a fantastic meal… Clearly one of the top dinners of 2017, if not near the very top. The balance was excellent, and that lamb was dreamy… I finished with some coffee and a pisco, to round off this nearly perfect evening of food enjoyment. Amazing ingredients, cooked to near perfection, all graced by wonderful efficient service that could easily pass for a few Michelin stars. Easily the best service I’ve seen in Latin America, easily.

All this makes for a wonderful last evening in Santiago, and more and more I’m sad that I’m leaving tomorrow — especially with news that there may be snow tomorrow!

They called a cab for me and I headed back towards my hotel, still enjoying that wonderful dinner. This has been a fantastic three days in Santiago, and I know, like Bogotá (and unlike Lima), that I will return some day!

Boragó
Nueva Costanera 3467, Vitacura
Santiago, Chile

An ‘Offaly’ Good Time in Santiago…

12-14 July 2017

Recalling when I first arrived into Santiago on the Wednesday morning, I enjoyed a nice hike around the Cerra Santa Lucia, checking out the Fuente de Neptuno and Castillo Hidalgo. Lovely views from atop, although some of the paths were on the dangerous side…

I then walked along Providencia north-east for quite a long way just to take in the city and the people moving around during the morning hours, eventually arriving at my destination quite a bit aways for what I thought would be an early lunch. But I arrived at Liguria to be told they weren’t serving their full menu until 1230. Great… Wandered and chilled out at a park next to the Mapocho River that ran through the city for a bit and eventually went back and was seated at the legendary eatery.

callitos

It started to fill up as I ordered some wine and a simple hearty dish of callitos madrileños. My readers know I love offal, so this was perfect, with sausages and a hearty sauce that worked well with the bread. After that long flight I wasn’t overly hungry so this did very well. A nice place to hang out, I can see why people like it.

As you read earlier, I had a wonderful dinner at Peumayén that evening and drank myself stupid…and was in no mood for lunch the next day. The dinner at Bocanáriz, as I also wrote, was quite nice. So for my final day in Santiago I wanted a big ol’ lunch.

I spent the morning trekking through the historic Cementerio General, which is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve been too. One of those places you can just get lost in, just admiring the beautiful graves and mausolea. Hours of that and I was hungry, and I took the Metro towards the main train station — which was a zoo, as you can imagine on a Friday afternoon…

I walked a few blocks away from Estación Central and found my destination — El Hoyo. I’ve read some interesting things about this place, beloved by locals but few foreigners have discovered. Exactly what I like. I ordered a beer and something I’m dying to have — tongue. In this case a 1/2 order, knowing how sizes are…

lengua

Well, the 1/2 order is literally half a tongue…wow, this was huge, but it was so amazingly good. It almost melts in your mouth, but does NOT lose the consistency you know that is tongue. One of the best-cooked tongue I’ve had in my life, and I’ve had many believe me. Amazing flavour. So good… I can literally eat this all day and every day…

I finished the whole thing and was a happy and bloated chappie as I fought my way back thru the Friday zoo that is Estación Central to the Metro and back to the hotel. I am so loving Santiago so far…even the most simple of places are awesome…

I’ve certainly got my offal fix so far on this trip! And don’t forget the beautiful offal at Peumayén too!

Liguia is nice but El Hoyo is heavily recommended!

Liguria
Avenida Providencia 1353, Providencia

El Hoyo
San Vicente 375
Santiago, Chile

Review: Bocanáriz

13 July 2017

Ugh…drank way too much the previous night. The crazy drinking, plus the lack of sleep from the red-eye flight, turned me into a zombie…I actually didn’t get out of bed until the afternoon…crap… A wasted day, but I needed the rest. I felt more like a human being in the afternoon.

Strolling around the area during the afternoon was all I was capable of doing, but at least I’m not hungover — which is a shock. Dinner tonight is at the much-lauded winebar/restaurant Bocanáriz.

My liver fluttered as I got to Bocanáriz since it’s just next door to Chipe Libre, the source of my excess last night…

Shuddered for a second and walked in. I chilled out, ordered some wine and looked over the menu and smiled. I ordered and took in the chilled environment…ah, Santiago, I can really get used to spending more time here. I love the feel of this town…

Soon my first course arrived, and it was a nice one…

1-erizos_edited

A nice urchin dish, done in the usual South American acid fashion. Not bad, a generous helping to be sure. I enjoyed that. More wine, and soon the main course arrived.

2-pulmay_edited

The pulmay de la casa — an excellent stew of pork and seafood. Lovely broth and some very tasty ingredients. The fish was especially nice. A really nice, rustic dish to have for a South American winter with good local wines! I was enjoying myself so much when they asked if I wanted dessert I said yes and ordered — and was greeted with a smirk…

I had more wine before my dessert arrived…

3-oysters_edited

Yeah, why not, right? A dozen locals, 4 oysters per type. I actually got way more because they had a cluster that had 4 oysters growing together. Not really shucked, so had to do it myself, but they were very tasty. What a great dessert!

I was now too full and didn’t want to push the drinking having drank the equivalent of a bottle by now, so called it a night. I can see why people like this place and why it has so much buzz!

I walked back to my hotel — a lot smoother than last night’s walk-of-semi-shame… Anyway, highly recommended! Again, I am loving Santiago!

Bocanáriz
José Victorino Lastarria 276
Santiago, Chile

Review: Peumayén

12 July 2017

I got to Santiago after an unpleasant red-eye flight where Delta gave away my booked exit row seat…sigh… But after a long morning and afternoon of exploring that included a nice lunch (to be detailed later), my first dinner of this long South American trip takes me to Peumayén.

The full name of the place is Peumayén Ancestral Food, and I love the ethos of this place — to highlight the very rich and diverse culinary culture of this lengthy country, from the northern edge to the southern tip, as well as the islands. I was so looking forward to this dinner.

As I looked over the menu I had to get a pisco sour…why not, right? As I enjoyed it a nice amuse was offered…

AB

Mmm, a nice croqueta with some horse tartar. Nice. I ordered and was told that is a lot of food, but why not, right? I chilled with the pisco sour until the bread service arrived and I was blown away…

01a-bread_edited

Yeah, that’s the bread service. It again highlights the varieties of breads using varied ingredients from grains to roots — including a taro-based one from Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Touch of honey on one, a wonderful spicy dip on another, smooth texture on some, complex texture on others, it’s just a wonderful variety!

Menu - 03

It was a treat to take a trip up and down this country with these most humble of staples. Amazing!

And it didn’t take long before the starter tasting arrived, and again I’m blown away…look at this spread…

02a-starters

From left to right we have razor clams and cuttlefish, shredded fowl, lamb tongue, a tongue pâté, sweetbreads, and rabbit. Wow… The shellfish were amazing, so fresh. The fowl was lovely, full of flavour, as was the rabbit. The sweetbreads were superb. Wow, this was something, and huge as they said!

I finished this off, loving it. I was starting to worry about my main, which I was told was a large spread too. But before then a unique palate cleanser…

PC

Fried seaweed with avocado. Nice! Then with another drink in hand my main arrives and I’m drooling once more. This is the “From the North” special…

03a-north_edited

A whole bunch of stuff here, from some amazing tripe to goat cheese, to some nice local maize to a soup cooked by a heated rock. But the star here of the already amazing spread was the stew on the top left. Amazing spicy flavour, one of those things I can eat all day and night!

As I polished off the food with glee, I had to ask the staff what the music was, and it was from a progressive folk band called Los Jaivas. Amazing musicianship and sound, a perfect soundtrack to tonight’s dinner! I knew something was up when I saw them tweeting a picture of Geddy Lee visiting the restaurant last year!

I was stuffed… Could not attempt a dessert, so they brought out a nice little cinnamon-themed closer for me…which was aromatically awesome. So why not, I asked for a pisco flight…

pisco tasting

What a nice way to end this excellent dinner!

I’m blown away by the amazing diversity of flavours and ingredients, some I know I will never see again unless I come back to Chile! Just that bread service was overwhelmingly fantastic. There is frankly no better way to introduce oneself to Chilean culinary diversity in one sitting as this! I am so glad I did this first!

Oh this was such a fantastic dinner and a fantastic start to this trip! This place is a MUST for so many reasons!

Peumayén
Constitución 136, Providencia
Santiago, Chile

* PS…well, the night didn’t end here. Despite being utterly knackered from the red-eye flight I stupidly went drinking. First up was Chipe Libre, one of the best cocktail and pisco spots in town. I don’t know how many cocktails and pisco flights I drank, but it was a LOT. Then for some reason I vaguely remember drinking a beer with some locals in a local dive bar as I became something of a curiosity for the confused locals…oh my I’m gonna pay for this…