Hot in the Kitchen

July 8, 2013

Where have I been for the last seven months? It’s okay for you to ask. My husband does, along with some friends and many members of my family. I’ve been working the line at Delfina. I was ready to let go of this blog to eventually start another, refocused one, and so I haven’t even really looked at in months, until just now when I glanced back to look something up and realized that the last time I wrote was just before I started working on the line. Feels like I should fill you in.

So where have I been? Busy, and hot, and learning, and stressed, and on the clock, and sublimely happy. I spent the last seven months working from 1.30pm to about midnight, sometimes later, trying to see Scott, keep in touch with people and slowly nurture friendships that barely started forming in the short time between arriving in California and what I think I’ll call the Delfina time warp. After starting as an intern at the end of August, I moved from the safety of relatively pressure-free prepping to working the guarde-manger station at the end of November. A while later I moved from making cold appetizers and plating desserts to the wood-burning oven station (hot first courses, some sides and an entree), and then to the grill (which is also kind of the saute station at other restaurants). Every day has its arc. I’ve always loved restaurants before they open, where there’s a certain kind of quiet, and also the energy of getting ready, of possibility. Each day at Delfina starts much earlier than when the cooks get there (more on that later), and picks up speed after lunch when we all arrive. Chef coat on, apron, knives, spoons, and spatulas gathered. Spaces are cleared, ingredients are procured, menus are doled out and prep lists are penned down on scraps of paper from the ticket machine. Then it’s a race to 4.45pm. In that time so many things are chopped, blanched, roasted, emulsified, gathered. Everything is put into order, a grid of delicious things that could become salmon with summer succotash and basil aioli, or fried, stuffed squash blossoms,  clams al forno with tomato sauce, or the best spaghetti you’ve ever tasted. At 4.45pm we take a break (hopefully), take a deep breath, eat some food, get ready for dinner service. We come back, put up dishes for line up to make sure they’re spot on, and then, very often it feels like all of a sudden, guests are in the dining room, menus are open in front of them, and just after, tickets start buzzing through the machine and it’s (usually) constant movement and plating and cooking and spooning and saucing until the last guest has ordered the last thing they’re going to eat.

Sometimes it’s stressful. It’s almost always fun. Usually, by the end of each night you feel like you’ve been through something. Everything that was prepped out in the afternoon gets quarted up, turned off, taken apart, put back. It all gets scrubbed down with hot soapy water. As if it never happened, all to happen again the next day.

There’s the staff drink, sipped during break down, then the late night trip home (for many of the cooks there’s the transition to the bar). There’s the shower before bed, that to me often feels like the shower at the end of a day of moving, washing off something physical and consuming. I’m not sure what I expected, but I’ve definitely been consumed.

So why am I surfacing all of a sudden? I just started working with our insanely talented pastry chef. It’s challenging as well, but totally different, and the arc of the day goes from 7am to about 4pm. It means that I get to learn an entirely new skill set and get to have dinner with my husband. I don’t know how long it’s going to last (I’ll go back on the line eventually, splitting my time between the two), so in the meantime I’m savoring what feels like new found balance. And so here I am, that’s where I’ve been.

California

July 22, 2010

I was in California for the last week, mostly in Los Angeles visiting Marshall and then in San Francisco for the weekend visiting Lindsay. LA is always fun–laid back with good food, a lot of time outdoors hiking and running in Griffith Park. I got to see Marshall and Heather’s house for the first time. It was formerly owned by one of the members of the band 311 and they definitely had some whacky decor choices. I wish I had taken more pictures–for example–of the Little Mermaid Bathroom. A few steps down, every surface is covered in blue and turquoise glass tiles. Marshall and Heather have done an amazing job making it theirs, with a screening room, a bright kitchen, and a peaceful pool in the back.

We started off with a hike, and then later than night went to the Barnsdall Art Center for their weekly wine tasting. Marshall is now the co-president of Barnsdall, and he and his friend Avidan started and run the wine tastings. It was packed with families, all of whom brought elaborate picnics. The setting is beautiful and as we launch into wedding planning, I wish that there was someplace like that right in the middle of Manhattan.

If Cookie still existed and I still worked there, I would definitely include Barnsdall. It’s also such a nice community event. So much LA schmoozing. They also attract food carts–a great Vietnamese one and also Lets Be Frank, Alice Waters’ fearless hotdog truck.

Saturday morning I jetted to San Francisco to help Lindsay move. It’s been five years since I was there, and it was nice to be back and jog my memory again. I really feel like I should live there at some point in my life. Saturday night we hung out on the patio of Lindsay’s old apartment and then Sunday we got up and went for a run along the marina, to the farmer’s market for some breakfast, and then drove to Napa. We visited a few vineyards, and aside from being incredibly convenient and easy to get to, it was stunning. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

I already can’t wait to go back, ideally with a bicycle. The wine was great, too. Monday I went back to LA where Marshall picked me up and we went to a heavily Hispanic area where the tacos were UNBEATABLE. The salsas, red and green both, were perfectly fresh and spicy, the tortilla chips were just fried, the cojita cheese was salty. Everything about it was heavenly. It’s one thing we definitely don’t have here in New York.

To continue with the eating (there was running and insanely hard pilates in the middle) we had dinner on Tuesday night at a new restaurant owned by Ilan Hall (of Top Chef fame) called The Gorbals. The menu featured bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (as Marshall said and Scott added on “Bubbe’s Bacon Nightmare: A Hipster’s Revenge”). The food was mostly really good and the restaurant itself was in this whacky hotel/ballroom/apartment building/movie set hybrid space that was a little bit grand and a little bit rundown. On the way to the men’s room, Marshall discovered this television set. Creepy, no?

We rounded out our last day with a drive to Venice, a walk along Abbott Kinney, a stroll along the canals and a final stop at Watts Towers. Our detour almost made me miss my flight, but it was worth it.

Now, after a layover in Vegas and a pretty uneventful, if rather sleepless redeye back to New York, I’m home.

Procuring Edibles

May 16, 2010

Sort of by accident, yesterday wound up being a day for procuring food.  Scott and I walked up to Grand Army Plaza in the sunshine to go to the Greenmarket.  Now that we’re settled and have a kitchen of our own, I’m excited to really indulge my Omnivore’s Dilemma kick. We’ll see how it goes.  From there I went to meet Emily far east in the East Village and we wandered through downtown, stopping at Pulino’s, the new Keith McNally pizza place on Bowery and Houston for a crackly thin crust pizza smeared with tomato sauce and scattered with sweet shrimp and fennel.  We paused at Emily’s adorable new apartment and then set out for Chelsea Market, where she wanted to buy ingredients for dinner.  It was a fun reminder of how delicious New York is, everywhere, all the time.  I think I’ll go crack open one of my Ronnybrook yogurts for breakfast and eat it with some Greenmarket strawberries.

Our Apartment

May 7, 2010

We’re in.  We made it.

After being vaguely nomadic since December (see previous post), we have an apartment again that’s ours, with all of our stuff.  It’s big, and bright, and we’ve almost put all of it together.  I can’t wait for people to come over and more importantly to really be around. We’ve sort of been here, but it’s been really difficult to make plans and see friends, so now, friends, we’re around.

There were some challenges moving in, but I think it’s wiser not to put those in writing.

As for living in Brooklyn, I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ve said this to Scott, but living in Brooklyn to me feels like moving to a new city that I can explore and discover, while living where all of my friends are. I only know it from when Marshall lived here and from visiting friends down here, but so far every restaurant we’ve tried has been great (and cheaper) and there are so many beautiful streets to run on, and cute shops to check out.  I think it’s going to be great.

Dred Scott

April 22, 2010

Scott and I saw Chief Justice Breyer speak last night, thanks to my dad’s involvement with the New York Historical Society.  We spent the car ride into the city talking about the finance reform bill and Obama’s possible appointees for Justice Stevens seat, wondering which he would address.  Neither.  He gave a lecture on the Dred Scott case.  He was a wonderful speaker–very professorial and funny, and it’s been a while since I brushed up on my Supreme Court Cases from 1857.  It was great.  As it followed another manual driving lesson, it was a very educational day.

We went to the uptown Fatty Crab for dinner afterward with Emily, Scott’s sister.  I had the same impression I always do and always forget about.  While the flavors of the food are always good, it’s pretty inaccessible and hard to eat.  You get big pieces of things, but no knife, and super sticky or saucy things that you’re supposed to eat with your hands, but nothing to clean your hands with.  How are you supposed to eat chicken wings with chopsticks?

Little Big

April 15, 2010

Tuesday night we took over Perbacco, a tiny restaurant on 4th and B.  It was Scott’s family and all of the Brazilian cousins–Edite, Karen, Elen and Marjory. We filled probably three quarters of the space and we were all so excited to see each other that our voices reverberated off the walls.  It was wonderful to talk to our Brazilian family again and to spend time with them.  They were so important for the past year, our closest friends and family and I had missed them.  They’re so charming in fact, that rather than the manager being annoyed at our effervescence, he sent us a bottle of champagne for dessert.

From the tiny-ness of Perbacco we went to Woodbury Commons for the most massive shop-a-thon I have ever seen.  Our cousins were prepared, toting with them rolling suitcases to hold all of their purchases as they perused, tried on and bought things from 10.30am until we left at 6.15pm.  It was impressive–a feat of strength of I have ever seen one.

The role reversal is fun.  It’s great to be able to feel competent again here in the US, to show our visiting family that we are capable of doing things ourselves.  In some circumstances we can even be helpful.

New York, NY

April 13, 2010

I’ve been a bad blogger, and busy, and not near a computer.  I apologize for the excuses, but being back where we have friends and family, time is filled, it’s richer and more fun, less lonely, but also not conducive to blogging.

On Friday I spent the day at NYU, moving through their admitted students day, listening to everything they could offer me.  I was impressed, but I think Columbia is still calling my name.  I just accepted my offer there, so…here I go! Then I walked around Soho and went to meet my friend Emily for drinks.  I walked into Park Bar, one of the few good ones extremely close to Union Square, and there was Marshall’s friend Deb having drinks with another girl I went to high school with.  A few minutes later my brother’s best friend in the world walked into the bar as well.  It was good to see them and reminded me of how random New York is a lot of the time.  I love those moments.

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday, and we spent yesterday doing the day her way.  We went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, followed by a stroll around Brooklyn Heights.  We then moved up to the High Line, which was packed with people basking in the sun, had burgers at Corner Bistro and ice cream from the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck.  It was such scene down in that area, with stylish girls and guys packing the streets, chatting and being visible.  Now I’m back in Philadelphia for the next few days.  I’ll try to get better about blogging again, promise.

Last Post from Brazil

March 29, 2010

This is the last post from Brazil.  I can’t believe that it’s time for me to go.  I felt like we were going to be here for forever, and it was even more reinforced when Scott left two weeks ago and I was still here.  Now it’s really time for me to go, too.  I’m trying to console myself by just saying over and over again that it’s just for now.  It’s time to go back to New York and get more training, to learn, and work hard.  Brazil will always be a part of our lives, I’m sure of it.  Paulo and Edite and Karen, Andre, Mark and Gi, Elen, Ricardo and Alan, Marjory and Eduardo and Rafa and Izabella are close family now, and it’s so important to me to keep the relationship going.

Lindsay and I had a few perfect days in Rio–it was a strong ending. Yesterday we moved hotels to a place over in Ipanema, and then took the bonde up to Santa Teresa.  We had lunch in the cool shade of Aprazivel, and then walked through the Centro a bit.  We took the subway back to the new station at Praca General Osorio, which I can’t believe is actually done and open(!) and hung out for a bit.  We had dinner at Zuka last night, my favorite restaurant probably in all of Brazil and I got to have my favorite things there one last time.  This morning we got up and went for a run, then had an acai and walked through the feira at the western edge of Ipanema.  After a couple of hours on the beach I realized that I had to deal with paying our last phone bill and suspending our accounts with Claro.  Entirely in Portuguese I explained all of this–it was a seamless interaction.  After paying the bills at the bank, Lindsay and I grabbed Koni for lunch, had some Mil Frutas, and then I was on my way to Galeao.

My taxi driver couldn’t believe that one person could have such heavy bags (although I’m happy to report I’m going home in the same two bags that I arrived in, just more books, which made them heavier) and we had a nice conversation (in Portuguese) about how I was living here and this was all my stuff for a year.  She asked how I liked Brazil and we talked about how these days everyone eats and drinks and texts and talks on the phone when they’re driving and that it’s very dangerous.  It was nice to chat with her.

Now I’ve made it through the airport, where the American Airlines people spoke unaccented English, and through immigration, which I’ll write more about from New York (just in case), and sitting at my gate, ridiculously early, just in case anything went wrong and I had to visit the Federal Police.

Brazil, I will miss you, but I’ll be back.

Last Night in Sao Paulo

March 26, 2010

Lindsay and I got back to Sao Paulo this afternoon, and embarked on my last night in Sao Paulo.  We went to Jardims to visit the Havaiana store and stroll down Oscar Freire one last time.  We had a swanky drink at the Unique to take in the view and then went to the one restaurant in Sao Paulo that I really wanted to try that we never went to.  La Mar, a Peruvian ceviche place, was great, with fresh, cool ceviche.  From there we walked around Itaim and to Sao Bento, another one of our favorites, and then to Brascan Plaza, where Scott and I lived here.

Now we’re back at Paulo and Edite’s and I’m trying to prepare myself to say goodbye tomorrow before we go to Rio.  I just can’t believe it’s all ending.  I have serious saudades.

Guest Blog

March 9, 2010

This post is from Lucy, a friend of Brooke and Scott’s. In fact, I introduced them, with the help of my sister Claire. I arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday morning and met them at the Hotel Tryp in Higienopolis.  The day of my arrival, we toured around the city, including Vila Madelena, where my brother used to live, and later had a drink at The Unique, a restaurant atop a building that looked like a watermelon, with astonishing views of the city. Drinks were followed by a fabulous dinner. All a perfect introduction to Brazil, On Saturday, after my sister and her friend Kate arrived we drove, (meaning, Scott drove) to Juquehy a beach town about two hours from Sao Paulo where we stayed for two nights at the La Plage, a new, very clean, and very picturesque hotel. Although Claire and Kate only had one night there, and the weather was iffy for them, we otherwise lucked out with sunny, idyllic days. Juquehy  is beautiful and sublimely restful. On the heels of what has been a somewhat stressful year for me, this trip has been a powerful affirmation of the rejuvenating power of long friendships and people who “get you,” particularly in Juquehy. This trip has also been incredibly special for me as it has allowed me to see two people whom I love who love each other and have a tightly connected relationship. Within the setting of this astonishingly beautiful country, the force of these connections is remarkable.

On Monday we drove back to Sao Paulo and stayed again at the Tryp, went to Figueira for a drink where we again met up with Claire and Kate (Figueira has a huge tree in the middle of it, and the restaurant is apparently built around it, que legal, as they say in Brazil). We had dinner at Balcao after the drink where we all sat at one long winding table with the other diners. At the end of the night, we returned to Claire and Kate’s hotel to have a drink.  Today, Tuesday, I met Scott’s cousins Edite and Paulo and then Scott, Brooke, and I had lunch at DOM, one of the nicest restaurants in the country and considered one of the best restaurants in the world. Amazing, although I was completely underdressed as I have to wear sneakers given my completely sunburned feet. This evening I return to the States, with Brooke and Scott not far behind me. It’s hard to digest a fantastic vacation while still technically on it, but I have enough perspective to know that this has been an experience that has allowed me time for, simultaneously, much self-reflection and new experiences, and I am incredibly grateful to Brooke and Scott for being wonderful hosts who have given me an unforgettable vacation.

Lucy’s Here!

March 5, 2010

Lucy arrived today and Claire comes tomorrow.  It’s unbelievably fun to have visitors here again.  This morning we went to an outdoor market on Sergipe, near the Consolacao cemetery.  From there were took a stroll around Vila Madelena, searching for the furniture store that carries pieces like the ones we saw in Minas.  Unfortunately the store doesn’t ship things to the US either.  Bummer.  We had a very nice lunch at Santa Gula, where the food was good and the space was decorated with kitchy art (avocado green old-school rotary dial phones, mismatched chairs and classes, candles, all in an indoor/outdoor space).  We stopped by the Nike store to see if there was anything we should get so we’re appropriately attired when we cheer on Brazil in the World Cup this summer.  After letting Lucy rest a little bit after flying all night, we’re headed for an evening on the town and a trip to Juquehy tomorrow.

Bichinho

March 2, 2010

We just got back to Tiradentes from Bichinho–a small artist community about seven kilometers down a bumpy, stone-paved road.  We had lunch at Tempero da Angela, a small restaurant that was mentioned in the New York Times article (and is subsequently full of gringoes).  We parked behind a few other rental cars and walked into the cement patio where there were tables with bright table cloths.  Inside the kitchen there was a big wood-burning stove with a platter of pork, chicken stew with okra, rice, beans, a corn pudding type thing, potatoes, couvee, a Brazilian kale-like vegetable, and aipim.  We walked in and grabbed plates off the hutch to the right and silverware from the drawers.  There was a big bowl of crispy pork-rinds (something I NEVER thought I would eat or like, but they were kind of amazing), and a cart with desserts–white Minas cheese and homemade dulce de leche and goiaba paste.  It was all delicious and about $7 per person.  Here’s Scott’s plate.  It turns out that Minas is a place for eating.

Afterwards, we poked in and out of the artist studios and looked at the incredible wooden furniture that’s all over this area.  They’re mostly big, rustic pieces in gorgeous woods, and we’ve been trying to figure out if it’s worth the expense of shipping something home.  It would help if we knew where we were living next and what kind of space we would have.

We went to a  great restaurant for lunch yesterday with Marjory and Eduardo, called A Favorita.  It was delicious and relaxing, with a great atmosphere, delicious wine and food.  It became one of my favorites.  Thank you again to Marjory for the wonderful hospitality.

Last night Scott and I went to the most impossibly perfect restaurant for our final dinner in Jericoacoara.  Worn wooden tables were set up in the sand, and everything–the lanterns and napkin holders, were kitchy (in a good way) and homemade.  They had specials, but the real treat was eating protein straight off the brick grill, with it’s whisper of smoke snaking to the starry sky–a whole fish that walked by us on it’s way to the fire, and perfectly crispy ribs.  We had arroz feijao and vinaigrette and pure mashed pumpkin, bright orange and fluffy.  It was blissful eating such clean foods by candle light with our feet in the cool sand.

We (sadly) left Jericoacoara this morning and after a full day of traveling, we’re back in Salvador.  We were here together in August of 2008, it was the first place I ever went to in Brazil, but it seems so different now, informed by our experience.  This time, on a quiet Sunday night after the craziness of carnaval, it seemed like a strange blend of Disney World and dangerous.  I’m excited to walk around the Pelhourinho tomorrow to get a better feel all over again.  Tomorrow afternoon we head to Morro de Sao Paulo…

The Cool Hunter

January 16, 2010

I haven’t looked at this blog since I worked at Cookie, but I forgot how awesome The Cool Hunter is.  I was Googling a restaurant that Scott suggested for dinner (Kaa) and this came up.

Christmas in Rio

January 1, 2010

From Sao Paulo, Bob, Barbara, Scott, Emily and I flew the short flight back to Rio.  We arrived to an entirely different city than the one that we had left at the beginning of December.  It was packed, people everywhere, and sticky hot.  The people generated more trash, and by the end of each day, the beach was littered with plastic bottles and wrappers and coconut shells and other detritus in a way it hadn’t been before the holiday season.

That said, it was great fun showing Scott’s family our Rio apartment, introducing them to Marcos (he was the doorman who unclogged our kitchen sink with MacGyver-like skill).  We noticed the changes in our pretty Leblon neighborhood–a new pizza place and Lebanese restaurant that we would have loved to have.  The walk gave me saudades and I was super excited to go running up and down the beach just as before.

The first night we were in Rio, we had a memorable evening at Carioca da Gema.  We arrived early enough to get a table in the main room and listened as the music built and the dance floor filled up.  The capairinhas ran sweet and strong (something we would all regret a little later) and we had a great time, progressing from eating to drinking to bopping in our chairs to full foot moving dancing.  At midnight, as it turned to December 24th, we toasted to Emily’s birthday.

The next morning we had brunch and went to the Corcovado.  Later in the day, as we headed back up to our rooms to relax and get ready for Emily’s birthday dinner, we heard the concierge tell other guests that all of the restaurants that were open that night were totally booked.  We smiled smugly, knowing that we had made a reservation at Zaza Bistro six weeks ago.  Ready to go, Emily in her sequined party dress, we walked past carolers and palm trees spun with Christmas lights, we walked to the restaurant.  I had the email confirmation in my hand.  We arrived at the restaurant.  It was closed.

Back at the hotel (the lobby was full of girls in small red dresses singing, too), we stood with the concierge, trying to find any place that would take us.  We called everywhere we could think of.  In the end, we were left with two choices–being squeezed in to the hotel’s dining room and subjected to the pre fixe Christmas menu, or trying our luck at a restaurant called Marius– an all you could eat seafood buffet for an exorbitant price per person.  Deciding that anything outside of the hotel was better than any hotel restaurant, we piled into a cab and went to Marius.

The waiters were dressed as pirates, and the outside looked like the Jeckyll and Hyde restaurant on Sixth Avenue in New York.  It was like a Disney restaurant, with strange, off-putting decorations–ships, steering wheels, shells, sea glass, bottles–coming off of every wall.  We sat down, unsure of how to deal with the situation.  We didn’t know whether to just go with it.  We debated staying, starving, we started picking at the bread basket (which we would be charged for).  Bob ordered wine.  We weighed the pros and cons of leaving, of just ordering room service, of staying and downing some seafood and chalking it up to a crazy experience.

Eventually, we got up and went to the buffet.  It looked inedible, unsanitary.  We looked at the wilted, greasy salads, and fish floating in viscous, mayonaise-y substances.  Still uncertain, a few of the waiters walked by to replenish the chafing dishes in the buffet wearing surgical masks.  That did it, it was time to go.  We went back to the table, downed our wine, asked the waiter for the check, and had to try to explain why we didn’t want to stay.  He offered to move us to another table.  In our unnuanced Portuguese, we just explained that this wasn’t for us.  And it wasn’t.

The Behars are well-accustomed to having adventures on Emily’s birthday–they’ve had a few restaurant mishaps and run-ins with traditional seven fishes menus.  This time, after checking every restaurant that was open between Marius and our hotel (one fully packed pizza place and one second floor Chinese restaurant that Scott couldn’t figure out how to get into), we wound up at the makeshift dining room in the hotel lobby that accommodated overflow.  At 11.30pm we sat down to their pre fixe.  It was delicious, and Emily got another memorable birthday, if not so seamless, birthday.

I asked Emily to write a guest entry.  I’m hoping that by writing this here, she will feel pressured to do so.

Shake Shack

December 16, 2009

Everyone’s growing up.  Way to go Danny Meyer.  I mean, why not open up in Kuwait, Miami, and Soho.  That makes sense. I wonder if I could convince him to open up a Shake Shack in Sao Paulo–we have tons of ‘retro’ or ‘authentic American’ burger places her in Itaim, but Shake Shack is still way better.

New York magazine wrote about it, and so did the New York Times

Ping Pong

December 15, 2009

Scott and I went to a brand new dim sum place for dinner tonight.  It was sleek and the food was delicious.  The whole place was well conceived, with tables for two or for a crowd, a counter where men had stacks of bamboo steamers stacked and plenty of steam to match.  There was a wall completely covered in greenery and another with black and white prints of steam.  The whole experience was modern and totally delicious.

Best of all, we discovered a whole new area we didn’t know about.  I know I’m a sucker for Christmas lights on palm trees, but there were tons of cool restaurants and bars in a city where they’re usually a little more spread.  There was density, and a suave newness.  I’m excited there’s a whole unexplored side of Faria Lima.

Porcão

October 8, 2009

Scott, Robby and I went to Porcão last night for dinner.  Scott and Emily had thought about going last year, since it’s so famous, but when their cab pulled off the highway at the restaurant’s exit and the place was filled with tourists, they left.  In the few months that we’ve been here, we had been assured that it was amazing.  Brazilians vouched for it left and right.  We thought maybe it really was an experience not to be missed.

Nothing tasted bad, but it was awful–Scott and Emily were right the first time.  I never knew that such over the top gluttony could exist anywhere besides the United States.  It was a gigantic restaurant, packed with people with a wedding room and a kids playroom.  There was a huge buffet that looked like any kilo restaurant in town, ostrich meat sizzling by the door for a cooking demonstration, and waiters flying around with skewers of meats and eight inch knives.  The tourists in there were so clueless wandering back and forth to the buffet that it’s incredible more people haven’t gotten impaled.  There’s a fixed price per person, and they started bringing things to our table: rice, farofa, onion rings, french fries, cheese pastries, plus the whole buffet.  We had little cardboard rounds that looked like coasters. When it was flipped to the green side, it meant we wanted to be approached by the skewer guys for meat, flipped to red, we had had enough.  The dessert options were brought over as a tray of plastic models–glass dishes of plastic vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, plastic mousse, plastic strawberries with cream.  As saturated fat clogged our arteries, we couldn’t get away fast enough.  In fact, I was in such a hurry that I ducked right in front of someone (maybe a tour guide?) giving a speech just as someone was taking a picture of him.  Oops.

São Paulo

October 6, 2009

After spending Friday afternoon at Copacabana, toes in the sand, watching the anticipation and then the revelry around us we had a Portuguese lesson, and then went out.  Thanks to Robby we discovered Casa Rosa, a sprawling villa in Larangeras that was a long-time brothel and is now a bar/club hybrid.  The huge patio was packed with college kids who constantly filled small cups with cold beers from the bar tender, like we were at a keg party.  The rooms branching off of the patio played different kinds of music with couples bouncing up and down and trancing out and sucking face (as Brazilian teenagers tend to do).  From there we jetted over to Lapa, which was more packed than we had ever seen it.  It seemed as if the whole city was out, whooping with joy.  After a late night stop at Carioca da Gema for a little samba we were Olympiced out.

Saturday morning we headed to São Paulo.  Scott and I have been bouncing around the idea of moving there (for job opportunities, a more cosmopolitan, culture-packed city) and we were excited to go explore it, walk its streets, and see if we could leave behind Rio’s beauty.  We wandered up Faria Lima and through Pinheiros with a sort of “are you my home?” attitude.  After parts that looked like the area around Penn Station with too many vendors and stores with bins of cheap clothes and sneakers, we found cute restaurants, a few cool galleries, an amazing looking cemetery and more music stores than I have ever seen.  We wandered past a Saturday flea market.  IMG_0191From there we went to Karen’s to say hello to the family.  Andre had gotten us tickets to the Corinthians game (thank you!), so the three of us headed with Andre, Mark, and a friend named Ricardo to Pacaembu stadium.  It was awesome, an amazing game with tons of energy.  The stadium was packed and fans in jerseys streamed toward the venue.  The bleachers were rowdy and catchy percussion chants echoed throughout.

From there we had a delicious picanha dinner with Andre and Karen, where marinated meat was brought with all of the sides to the table, along with a sizzling grill.  We followed dinner with a night out in Consolação.  Just on the other side of Avenida Paulista is a small, sloping neighborhood that’s supposed to be slightly dangerous.  It didn’t feel dangerous at all, and the club was totally outfitted with hipsters wearing skinny jeans and colorful sneakers.  A sea of plaid and retro glasses bobbed to popular music, and Scott and I were thrilled to take a break from samba and just hang out in a regular New York-style bar.  A few blocks away there were prostitutes hanging out on the corner, and a few more bars with throngs of people waiting outside.  It was a cool neighborhood with so much buzz on a Saturday night.

Sunday, Scott and I went for a run in Ibirapuera Park (totally packed) and tried to navigate the trails.  We had lunch at a great bistro in Jardims, and saw this plant covered house.  IMG_0193It’s hard to tell how cool it was in the picture.  The design was awesome, and just one of those things you don’t see everywhere.  We stopped in Livraria Cultura to see if the new Time Out guide for São Paulo was out yet, and then took the subway up to the Praça da Luz.  We stopped at the Memorial da Resistência, a well-designed museum that showed the anti-military movement that took place in Brazil in the 1980s.  We then went to the other Pinacoteca, where there was a Matisse exhibit on display.  There was also this exhibit with shallow pools of water with white bowls of different sizes that clinked together at random to create a sort of wind chime effect. IMG_0194Scott’s cousin Elen went to the very stylish opening of the exhibit and said that a woman fell into one of the pools and broke all of the bowls.  Pretty embarrassing.  We spent the rest of Sunday night in Vila Madelena, hanging out and watching the crowds ebb and flow through the bars on the hilly Silver Lake-like streets.

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Monday morning Scott and I tried to run ten miles around the city (a feat considering the condition my calf was in–it’s feeling great now).  In the bright sunshine we fought the city and it was a draw.  It was too hot, and we had to stop for traffic every few blocks.  Even running the perimeter of Ibirapuera was tricky and involved highways and getting stumped by dead ends.  Scott and I spent the rest of Monday wandering around Itaim Bibi and Vila Olympia, trying to figure out if we could live there.

Monday night we had dinner at D.O.M., which was number twenty-four on the S. Pellegrino list of the world’s 50 best restaurants.  We got the four course tasting menu (blind, we just told them our preferences and allergies, like at Blue Hill), and it was pretty extraordinary.  So interesting, in fact, that I was going to take pictures of each course, and then I forgot and only took two.  There was a palmito skin stretched out on a piece of slate, with scallop ceviche, some french herb, some basil, and slices of pear.  It was an amazing combination of flavors.  The next course was a fried oyster with marinated tapioca and salmon roe (not my favorite).  The third was an Amazonian fish, Pirarucu, with a salsa verde and a root vegetable called tucupi, and tapioca marinated in red wine and açaí.  The fourth was a soup that was presented as a rich veal stock with super crispy wild rice, topped table-side with a cream of mushroom foam.  The fouth/fifth course (which was like a bonus since we had technically had four courses already, but thought it would be odd to end with a soup before cheese and dessert) was crispy duck confit.  It was incredible.   IMG_0201

From there the cheese course was mashed potatoes with queijo minas and guyere that was brought out by a waiter juggling the starchy, cheesy mass stretched and twisted between two spoons.  He dropped a dollop onto each of our plates.  Our dessert was some kind of nut cake with whisky ice cream, chocolate sauce, and the whole thing was sprinkled with coarse sea salt, black pepper, and spicy curry.  It was delicious.  Scott’s nut-free dessert was stunning. It was milk pudding, with citrus gelee and banana ravioli (the middle thing that look like jelly fish) with a kind of candied shimeji mushrooms.  I was enthralled.  To top off our time in the big city before we left this morning we had a drink on the roof of the Unique Hotel (in the shape of a ship, or a concrete slice of watermelon).  It was a great way to end our high roller night.