Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bolo for Breakfast: Brazilians like their cake


Ice cream by weight in Paraty, Brazil (mine's the one with way too many flavours for one bowl).
This summer I'm travelling through South America and Mexico starting in Rio and ending on the Yucatan Península. There are so many exciting things to see and do but of course, one of the things that I'm enjoying the most is seeing how each country does all things sweet.

Favela colour in Rio, Brazil
After travelling through Brazil for just a couple of weeks from Rio to Ilha Grande, Paraty and the Iguazu falls, it was pretty clear that Brazilians like their bolo (cake). You can see plenty of influence from Portugal but also Italy and Germany.

As well as the usual ham, cheese and bread, Brazillians will also usually serve cake for breakfast. Sometimes banana flavour, vanilla, coconut and even chocolate. Sometimes still warm from the oven  but always in an easy to slice German style bundt shape.

There bakeries to be found everywhere from low key favela shops to up market (and touristy) cafes like colonial style Confeitaria Colombo. All of them have incredibly sweet offerings featuring lots of doce de leite (that´s the Portuguese spelling) and custard made ´without the finesse of French patisserie´as a French friend that we met in Rio pointed out but still delicious for the sweet toothed.

My favourite was a favela bakery that we visited as part of a guided walking tour. They served up Amazon sweets - dense, cricket ball like spheres of coconut and caramel or chocolate in little paper cases, sweet bread and refreshing frozen acai drinks.

Sweet breads and coconut /caramel sweets at a favela bakery
Frozen acai, everywhere in Rio

There were also plenty of sweet street foods to try too from doce de leite injected churros doughnuts in Paraty, a little colonial town near Rio, to the cake cart man near the beach at Ilha Grande with his banana custard pie sold by the slice.

As well as beer vendors, Ipanema beach has cake vendors charming you into buying what another friend described as 'full on' tarts - thick sweet pastry, almost like a cheesecake base and equally thick passion fruit and chocolate custard fillings. Too much even for my English sweet tooth.

The cake cart at Ilha Grande, Brazil
Banana pie with meringue and custard layers (the missing slice was mine - it was super sweet!), Ilha Grande
Caipirinha cocktails could be found everywhere - a sweet mix of cachaça (similar to rum), sugar and fresh lime. The lime and sugar combination found their way into one of my Portuguese style custard tarts at a Rio bakery too.

Beach side Caipirinha cocktails (lime, sugar and cachaca), Ilha Grande

Portuguese style custard tart with a Caipirinha style (lime, sugar and cachaca) topping at Confeitaria Colombo, Rio

Brazil has lots of ´kilo restaurants´where you can buy food by weight but much more fun to buy ice cream by weight. The photo at the top is of ice cream from ´Pistachio´in Paraty who sell corn, acai and sweet milk flavours as well as more familiar ones like banana, coconut and, of course, pistachio. 

Argentina next, where I´m hoping for more dulce de leche (the Spanish spelling this time) to balance out all of that steak...

 

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