One decadently typical past-time in Europe or the states is a good old-fashioned Sunday Brunch. Not just about the delicious and varied food choices, this lazy social rendezvous is as much about the chat, relaxation, and mutual hangover recovery. São Paulo is catching on, and one place where you can find such a Brunch is Paribar. They have Pancakes and Waffles, Bloody Marys, Bellinis and Mimosas, of which the latter can be made with a variety of exotic juices. Of course they serve Eggs of every variety – not just the standard Benedict and Scrambled, but in addition some Brazilian twists – one with a meaty mushroom sauce and another with Asparagus and Brie. Simply sumptuous. Situated on the corner of the leafy Praça Dom José Gaspar, it’s the perfect place to unwind to the live Bossa Nova that is often played. And if you have room, there is always the Tapioca with Doce de leite…
30 minutes east of central Sao Paulo lies a town famous for it’s feira (market). Embu das Artes straddles several hillsides, sheltering a central area that is crammed with stalls, shops, botecos, cafes and restaurants of every description. Open at the weekend, the market specialises in arts and crafts, and includes paintings, crystals, furniture, accessories, decorations, sculptures, clothes, plants, and pretty much every type of hand-crafted item you could imagine. Each idyllic street houses row upon row of gaily painted cottages and stables, perfect for displaying the local produce. There is even a small area for filhotes (pets), should you be inclined to purchase a puppy. Its pretty easy to lose 6 hours here in the blink of an eye, and considering most vendors accept credit cards, it’s even easier to lose a good chunk of your salary.
As Paderias are something of an institution within Brazil, I couldn’t leave it too much longer without mentioning the infamous Bella Paulista (Rua Haddock Lobo 354, São Paulo), The bakery to surpass all bakeries, this is the Mama Paderia of São Paulo, attracting a full crowd 24 hours a day – there was even a queue on New Year’s Day (of course it was worth the wait). Beyond the rodizio, you can enjoy a complete menu of excellent quality. However the main attraction is if course the cakes, tarts, buns, sponges, mousses, chocolates, trifles, flans, cookies and puddings. Or if you don’t have a sweet tooth, the coxinhas, croissants, pães, bolinhos, empanadas, pizzas, pasteis, and other salgadinhos. Faced with all this choice, who would have guessed that a firm favourite is the simple pão na chapa com requeijão? Toasted both sides with half a tub of requeijão, I certainly left utterly satisfied!
The Brazilian culture of friendliness, social interaction, and festivity doesn’t stop with humans! At the Cachorródromo do Ibirapuera (Rua Curitiba 290, São Paulo), you can bring your dog/s to make other canine friends, participate in games and training exercises, improve their tail-wagging social skills, and run and play to their heart’s content, securely watched over by many other canine admirers. In a city where large, safe open spaces are at a premium, it is a welcome respite to let your dogs run free, as the area is completely enclosed. and there is also no charge for entry. Nearby, Ibirapuera park could make up part 2 of a complete day out for your dog!
Sao Paulo is never short on culture of any kind, and one of their best “livrarias” (bookshop) is the “Livraria Cultural”. The name gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect, and their main branch (Av. Paulista, 2073) offers a maze of several floors stacked high with books magazines, journals and other literature (including audio/visual). The strange design contributes to a quiet and secretive atmosphere, where you can curl up on one of the giant bean-bags and thumb through a paperback or three. In addition they have a coffee shop and a small theatre for plays, talks and conferences. Recently Jean Wyllys was there for a sell-out interview with Drauzio Varella and a book-signing, complete with complimentary drinks and canapes. Just as well, as the queue was practically out the door!
One thing you have to do in Manaus is watch the sunset over a few Chopps (Shot glasses to Europeans) of ice-cold beer, hand-pulled by you! The best place is by the waterfront, where you can jostle amongst the locals and the brightly painted wooden boats. Battuta Chopp provide giant taps of beer delivered direct to your table, perfect to share with friends and excellent practice for wannabe bartenders. It also saves a lot of time in ordering fresh Chopps!!
São Paulo is home to some thoroughly decent Asian food, due to it’s high population of resident Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. There are plenty of good Asian all-you-can-eat restaurants, but one of the best can be found right by Liberdade Metro station in the heart of the Japanese area. At Tanka (Praça da Liberdade 149, 1st Floor, inside the Hotel Akasaka) there is an outstanding Rodízio of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Korean food, complemented by bottomless Iced Tea and never-ending Frozen Yoghurt. The only thing missing is a good Pho. The cost is an entirely reasonable R$50-70, depending on which day of the week you go.