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.

Paulista Ladies

March 17, 2010

Today I felt very much like a lady of Sao Paulo, a Paulista.  I woke up in Karen’s gorgeous apartment and was reading the New York Times on my computer when Marta, the woman who’s worked for her since Mark and Gi were small asked me if I wanted breakfast.  She opened the door to the kitchen (which had been closed) and there was hot coffee with hot milk and a basket of breads, cheese, jam, Nutella, it was blissful (By the way, breakfasts like this are the same at Paulo and Edite’s, just as wonderful and luxurious).  Soon after, Karen came home and we picked up Elen and went to Jardins, poking in and out of small boutiques.  I fell in love with a dress that was dusky purple silk, demure and high-necked from the front with a wide open back and exquisite details.  With five or six weddings coming up, I now feel constantly on the lookout for new dresses. Listening to Seu Jorge in the car we went to go see a new Chagall exhibit at MASP, and then returned to Karen’s for lunch.

In the afternoon Karen and I went to go look at wooden furniture in Vila Madelena, some like the rustic pieces we had ogled in Tiradentes, and some more refined and polished, beautiful, warm woods formed into modern shapes and designs.  I can’t wait to have a house to decorate with all of these Brazilian things.  When I’m a real grown up I’ll definitely come back here and pick out all of the pieces.  After we met up with Karen’s chef friend Simone, her mother Frida, another friend and Edite for coffee.  We talked about Simone’s daughter, who’s applying to colleges in the US, and Frida’s life in Minneapolis, where she spends half the year.  It’s all been excellent practice for my Portuguese, and I’m getting better at understanding rapid-fire conversation, not so slowed down for the gringo.  IT’s all a learning experience, with the perfect kind of teachers who will stop and explain, if necessary.  I should be doing more work–more writing, more for Cidades Sem Fome, but it’s too wonderful to spend this kind of time with the family, who have so generously opened their home to me (you know the saying after three days fish and house guests start to stink?  well I think I must be getting a little smelly) and taken off from work to keep me company, show me around.  No matter how much I insist that I can take care of myself, and entertain myself, it’s no use.  These Brazilian ladies are stubborn.  But I love it.

Insper

March 10, 2010

Claire is here with a group of students from Darden, UVA’s business school, for their spring break.  The trip is highly scheduled and they have classes each morning at Insper, a very good business school here in Sao Paulo.  This morning I was lucky enough to crash one of their classes.  The professor (a Brazilian who teaches business and marketing at Insper), gave a great lecture on marketing in general and the different segments of Brazilian society. He went through a case study on Magazine Luiza, a chain of stores in Brazil that calls themselves ‘virtual.’ They don’t have products in the stores, just computers and staff to help customers order electronics and appliances online.  It was interesting to hear about so many things–wealth distribution, buying on credit, etc.–that I had seen first hand here in a more formal way.  It was great to get the serious business education side of it.  It also made me really excited to go to school in the fall.  I just wish schools would start getting back to me.

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.

Close to Home

January 17, 2010

I feel guilty that I haven’t posted more, that there haven’t been more adventures in the world of Brooke and Scott.  The truth is that we’ve spent most of the past week somewhere between our little flat and the courtyard downstairs.  It’s been peppered in with a few trips to Pao de Acucar for groceries, dinner at Paulo and Edite’s on Friday, and a nice dinner at a tapas restaurant last night, and, of course, running.  I’ve been working on economics and writing this, gulp, book, and Scott’s been consuming securities law at a rapid clip.

Oh, and I also went on a quick shopping jaunt yesterday to Shopping Iguatemi, since everything is on sale right now.  I find shopping here really intimidating.  In the US, you can go into a store, pull things off the rack in your size, try them on, and either buy them or not.  It’s a different process here.  The salespeople are a much more active part of your shopping experience.  They greet you when you come in, and if you want to try anything on, you show them the item and they go grab it in your size.  They’re involved.  Also, while Brazilian clothes are amazing and the women here look wonderful–hip, breezy, stylish (see the Sartorialist)–they’re often drape-y and difficult to tell what they would look like on.  They also need each piece–the right shoes, the right belt, the right jewelry, something I’m not that good at.  So, needless to say, shopping was not successful.  I need someone to come with me, to put me together, to show me how to do it and talk to the salesgirls who are usually so beautiful and modelesque I become shy.  Any volunteers?

The Far Side of Faria Lima

January 8, 2010

I discovered a new area today.  After spending the morning at Octavio, drinking their very strong, delicious coffee and working, I went for a walk on the other side of Faria Lima.  Now, I know that this area is not new to everyone (and Ping Pong sits on the edge of it), but the streets were really beautiful and leafy, with a lot of small restaurants and a few cute shops.  There were immense, luxury apartment buildings, and I’m thinking this could be a next new good place to run.

Ex-pats

January 6, 2010

I had a coffee date this morning with a lovely woman who lives across the street and found me through my blog.  She’s also an ex-pat, Argentinean, and it was great to trade tips on local restaurants and travel stories.  It makes me hopeful that we will get connected to an ex-pat group here.  If only the country didn’t slow down so dramatically between Christmas and Carnival.

Recognition

January 4, 2010

Sao Paulo flipped today.  We went from being temporary to slightly more permanent.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been here a month already.  We paid our bills–I can’t remember if I wrote about this while we were in Rio, but the Brazilian system is brilliant.  Your bills come in the mail–lights, internet, cell phone, whatever, and you can bring them to any bank–Itau, Bradesco, Unibanco, any of them–and just pay there.  Same goes for our rent.  I also just got recognized in the elevator for the first time, by another guest who’s living at the hotel.  He was a Brazilian who was in the paper business and worked in Wisconsin for a number of years.  He pegged me as foreign and said he recognized me from the gym.  That was followed directly by the woman at Starbucks asking if I lived in the hotel as well, and where I worked here in Sao Paulo.  New Year, new things, new places to settle, I guess.

Recap

December 20, 2009

Scott’s sister Emily arrived on Friday and we’ve been taking to the town, which hasn’t lent itself to blog writing.  In a quick recap, we had a wonderful Shabbat dinner at Paulo and Edite’s on Friday night.  We went out, first to Consolação, to Bar Leblon for caiparinhas, and then to Astronette.  Astronette was a small hipster bar, that feels like a bar on 11th Street that we used to go, or any hipster bar in Williamsburg. It was a kind of oldies night, and the red-lit back room was packed people rocking out to the Beach Boys. There was a tattooed girl with a strapless leopard dress and jellies swinging with her Converse-wearing boyfriend, and groups of friends doing the twist.  It was extremely entertaining.  From there we went to Sub Astor, on the edge of Vila Madalena.

We spent yesterday at Karen and Andre’s house in Atibaia, an hour north of Sao Paulo, breathing in fresh air, lounging by the pool, eating a delicious lunch.  It was really spectacular.

Today was a roam around the Centro–the Mercado Municipal, followed by the Praca de Luz and both Pinacoteca museums.  We strolled around the park and then went over to the Praca de Se and spent a few minutes in Liberdade.

Hanukah and Consolação

December 12, 2009

Last night, after our packed day of seeing urban agriculture in action, Scott and I went to a lovely shabbat/Hanukah dinner at Paulo and Edite’s, and then out.  Dinner with everyone was great, warm, easy conversation.  As we finished off the donuts, we felt pretty lucky, again that we have this support system here.

We went out in Consolação, first to Bar Leblon, where there was a map of our old neighborhood covering a long wall of the space.  It gave us saudades for our old stomping ground, and we sipped our drinks slowly, looking at the twenty-something crowd picking at petiscoes and drinking fruity capairinhas.

From there we went to a bar called Sonique.

It was a little clubby for us, but not that crowded when we went at midnight, and it was filled with high heels and short skirts, tight jean and white sneakers.  The music thumped, and I very much liked the industrial chic look, with smooth cement floors and cinder block walls with classy white framing.  It was a fun scene to watch and be a part of, and very different than anything we had access to in Rio.

We started yesterday at a great Cartier-Bresson exhibit at SESC (sort of like the Pinheiros Y).  Since I’m in this traveling, noticing, consuming frame of mind, seeing his perfect moments of capture are even more impressive than I had thought when I first encountered his pictures in college.  His eye for composition is unreal.  Seeing the prints through Scott’s photographic eye was also super cool, since I don’t have any photography training.

From Pinheiros we took the subway up to the centro and headed to the Mercado Municipal.  Emerging from the Sao Bento subway station, the streets were completely packed, in every direction.  After trying to find a parallel to something we knew, we realized it was more like an over-jammed Canal Street than anything else we could think of.  The Mercado is housed in a huge, beautiful old building in the middle of a lot of ugliness and crazy energy.  Inside, there were were rows of stalls, mostly clustered by what they were selling.  Fruit stalls had mangoes, citrus, melons, juicy things I had never seen before.  They had mangosteens, which I haven’t had since I was in Vietnam.  The small purple fruits were just as delicious as I remembered. Italian stalls sold cheeses and salamis, prociutto and parma ham, olives and dried fruits and nuts.  There were sweets, and whole sections of seafood and fish stalls.  Opposite the fish, vendor after vendor sold every cut of meat imaginable, from whole pigs and lambs hanging on meat hooks to steaks to unidentifiable offal.  Scott thought it felt like what we imagine the Essex Street Market or the Fulton Street market must have felt like in the early twentieth century.

We walked back up to Sao Bento through throngs of people. Tarps and tables lined the streets, where people sold everything from cell phone holders to scarves to tupperware to cheap shoes, towels, jewelry.  Up the hill we reached the Bovespa–Brazil’s Stock Exchange.  Cobbled pedestrian lanes led to big, old buildings, and the tables from outdoor cafes spread out on the sidewalk.

Walking around Buenos Aires, Scott and I wondered why Sao Paulo didn’t have the same beautiful old buildings.  It turns out that they’re here, of course, but they haven’t been preserved or restored in the same way.  Many of them have been assaulted by graffiti–both the cool, mural kind, and the more aggressive, less artistic variety.  We walked though Anhangabau, the Praca de Se and the Praca Republica, looking at the Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo and the Biblioteca.

We wound our way through the pedestrian streets with their Wall Street-ish feel and wound up in Liberdade in time for dinner, where we had Chinese food, and wandered through the Asian markets of their little Japan.

This city is incredibly complex, dense and varied.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it, but each of these explorations on foot helps with the orientation, the understanding.

Flat Out

December 6, 2009

We found a flat and it took a little while to get our internet up and running, but I’m back in business now.  On Friday we moved into our new place, a little room in the Staybridge Suites in Itaim Bibi.  It’s a studio, with a small divider of closets and a TV on a swivel between the area with a desk, sofa, and kitchenette, and the bedroom part.  It’s cute, and small.  We live above an outdoor mall with restaurants and a movie theater that feels like the Grove in Los Angeles.  It’s sort of funny, but really convenient, and we’re still trying to get a read on the area.  It’s close to where Scott will likely work, and it seems that there are a ton of restaurants and bars around.  We happen to be in the hamburger capital of Sao Paulo, which is also sort of amusing.

This is the view from our little balcony.  Scott took the picture and emailed it to me, expecting me to post it here, and I realized I didn’t right away because it gives me anxiety.  The skyline here is unreal and feels more like a giant Asian city than anything we have in the United States.  I’m trying to get over the anxiousness.

Fiat Doblo

December 3, 2009

We spent today looking at flats and driving around Sao Paulo, trying to get our bearings.  It should be mentioned that the car Scott came back with from the rental place yesterday was a Fiat Doblo. It’s a fairly ridiculous looking car–boxy and awkward, like the kind that should be energy efficient but aren’t.  After our car rental disaster in July, I’m just happy that it got us to Sao Paulo.

I forgot to mention in my post yesterday that the drive between Rio and Sao Paulo was stunning.  The road, the Dutra, was super easy to drive on and most of the way there were just rolling green hills and stands selling bunches of bananas and young green coconuts.  Every once in a while we would see pockets of houses, but in general, it was a quiet drive, with big sky and crazy weather patters.  Sunlight and rain at the same time.

It’s funny to drive around the city, though, among all of the sleek, small city cars.  It feels as cumbersome as being able to understand 60% of conversations, and as awkward as getting tongue-tied when trying to answer the phone in Portuguese.  It’s all a whole new thing in the big city.

Also, I thought New York would pull through. I’m disappointed in our Senate.

Arrived!

December 2, 2009

We left Rio, and the six hour drive to Sao Paulo was beautiful.  We’ve now arrived and Scott’s cousins have been unbelievably welcoming and not surprisingly totally, utterly wonderful.   We had a lovely dinner, followed by a flurry of phone calls to friends and colleagues asking if anyone had an extra flat, or a lead on an apartment for the gringo cousins who are visiting.  Andre may have gotten Scott a job, too, all within a couple of minutes.  I feel like the next two weeks of our lives got compressed into a couple of hours.

Sao Paulo Bound

December 2, 2009

We’re heading to Sao Paulo soon–just after we settle up everything with the apartment and pack the car.  I’m nervous for the drive, given our Brazil driving track record, but cautiously optimistic.  Somehow we have collected quite a lot of stuff–all of the clothes that we came with, books, some linens, a George Forman Grill and a printer.  I guess that’s always the way, though, you always end up with more than you think.  So here we go, onto another place.

Tchau Rio! Ate logo!

Saudades

November 20, 2009

Brazilians have a term in Portuguese–Saudades.  It doesn’t really have an English translation, but it’s somewhere between longing and missing and fondness for something.  I’m excited to move to Sao Paulo, to be near the family, throw myself into my roof gardens project, and make a lot of friends.  That said, I’m going to have serious saudades for Rio.  On days like today, that are clear and hot, it’s amazing to walk to get an açaí and feel the breeze coming off the ocean.  I never thought I would be one of these people that would like living in places like Miami, but there’s something to be said for being able to wear flip flops everywhere.

Puzzling

November 9, 2009

It’s still close to 90 degrees here in the shade, with little circulation in our apartment.  We’ve moved into our guest room, since the air conditioner in our regular bedroom puffs out hot air.  We’re puzzling through what to do, whether to stay in Rio, or move to Sao Paulo.  Trying to keep cool and figure out what’s next.

 

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.

IMG_0195

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.

Sao Paulo by the Books

September 25, 2009

Wheels have been turning over here on Rua Dias Ferreira.  We love our Time Out guide for Rio, so we thought we’d go in search of one for Sao Paulo (even though we have access to the best tour guides around, family).  We went into four of Rio’s big, gorgeous book stores and perused the extensive guide book sections.  It turns out that no one in Rio carries guide books for Sao Paulo.  We asked at Travessa and the man working there said “Acho que nao,” I don’t think we have a Sao Paulo guide book.  “Por que?” Scott asked.  “Ninguem vai.”   No one goes. As you can tell from my previous blog posts, I love Sao Paulo.  It was just sort of amusing to not find a SINGLE guide book for a city of twenty million people anywhere in a city that’s forty minutes away by plane.