One of the things I love about Brazilians in general is their friendliness and hospitality. So it was not a surprise to me when I found out that the owner of The Boston Bakery was American. Not that all Americans are rude, but what I find is that in America (despite the saying) the customer is not always right and the employees treat you badly. This was exactly my experience at this particular establishment. I had a friend visiting from the US and she happens to have lived in Boston, so when we say this place we thought it sounded perfect. We had dinner and dessert and spent a considerable amount of money, around R$130,00 ($65.00 dollars) and as we were leaving there was two extra charges on our bill. My infant son had gotten ahold of two pieces of candy and then dropped them on the ground. As responsible parents we told him no and put the candy back unharmed. The manager then went behind our backs and charged us for the candy without saying a word to us. When we questioned the charges (R$12.00) each, the manager said that we let our kid run wild and that we were irresponsible parents. We even showed him that the candy was unharmed but still he would not budge. Finally after an argument at the counter he took the charges off begrudgingly. I have never been treated so badly in my life. I mean come on who hasn’t accidently dropped something on the floor, do we expect to then pay for it? And then to not saying anything but just charge us behind our backs, what a jerk!In contrast, we often go to a little video store near our place called Imagens & Letras (http://imagenseletras.com.br/). It is owned and run by a Brazilian mother and daughter. The are the sweetest ladies on the planet! My son does often reek havoc in that place because all of the videos and candy are at his level, and I follow him around putting things back and telling him no. But instead of telling us that we are bad parents the ladies understand that my kid is only one and that he is learning. The Boston Bakery Bully should take some tips from these ladies and try not to be such a jerk, he does live in Brazil after all.
For the past two years my husband and I have managed to celebrate Thanksgiving successfully in Brazil. Two years ago when my husband was living in Rio de Janeiro we went to Thanksgiving dinner at Gringo Cafe which is a cool cafe that serves American style food. Last year we attended Thanksgiving dinner at our church (Calvary International Church) but this year it is not an option because the dinner is for adults only (and we now have a baby).
So this year I find myself struggling to figure out Thanksgiving dinner when for the past two years it has just worked itself out. I’m not saying we don’t have options because we do, but none of them seem the right fit.
One option is The American Society of Sao Paulo’s Thanksgiving service. The problem with this one is that it’s a church we don’t attend (Fellowship church) and it is not a Thanksgiving dinner but instead turkey sandwiches and accompaniments. Not too appealing. The second option also put on by The American Society is at BOS BBQ in Sao Paulo, it is the whole nine yards: turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and desserts but the problem is that it is R$120 or $50 dollars each. In the past we always paid half that. The third option is at the Renaissance Hotel in Sao Paulo, it again has a turkey main course and accompaniments but is still R$100 per person for American Society members which is a little expensive for us.
Finally while doing some research for this post, I came across last years advertisement for PJ Clarks Thanksgiving dinner, it is the traditional dinner and the price is right at R$50.00 per person. I think this is a viable option for us.
The only other choice I have is to do like every other American in the United States and make my own Thanksgiving dinner (which I am considering). The only issue I have with this is that there is only three of us (my son included) and it is a lot of work. If I can wrangle up some extra guests I think this may be my choice for this years Thanksgiving dinner.
I know I am a little obsessed with blogging about food but I can’t help it; it’s one of my favorite subjects. On a recent trip to Curitiba to visit the in-laws, I noticed a sign while we were driving, it said Cold Stone Creamery. Yes, that’s right, Cold Stone is in Brazil. My husband and I visited the store and as soon as I walked in I knew it to be true because it even smelled the same. We talked to one of the employees briefly and she said that Cold Stone would come to Sao Paulo next semester to the Jardins neighborhood.
Also I read a recent article that said that Red Lobster is coming to Brazil, along with Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouses. Here is the link is you don’t believe me;) (http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2013/02/22/darden-to-bring-red-lobster-to-brazil-columbia/#.UXh7OcXciSo) It amazes me that so many American chains are popping up in Brazil. As it is there is already: McDonald’s (of course), Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC, Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, and Starbucks. Wendy’s was once here but has since left Brazil. There may be more but these are the ones that I’ve seen.
My husband and I were having a discussion the other day in the car about which restaurants we would want to come to Brazil. We both think Taco Bell should come and we’ve heard rumors but nothing concrete yet. But I also think that The Cheesecake Factory would be a big hit here.
The food at Cheesecake is pretty well rounded and I think Brazilians would like it, but I know they would love the cheesecakes! Brazilians are really into sweets and I have already seen cheesecake in Brazil so it’s not like they aren’t familiar with the concept. Also The Cheesecake Factory could adapt to Brazil similar to what Starbucks did, they could make signature cheesecakes like a Brigadeiro cheesecake or Dolce de Leite cheesecake. Come on all you entrepreneurs out there, this is a great idea and Brazil is a great market right now, bring The Cheesecake Factory to Brazil!
I know I know long time no blog but in my defense I did just have a baby. Pregnancy part 2 should be out soon, so keep an eye out.
In the mean time, I have some wonderful food news. For those who are craving American fast food, a new chain has come to Brazil. A west coast favorite of mine, Carls Jr.!
My husband was dropping my mother off at Guarulhos International Airport when they spotted the new restaurant. On the way home my husband called me and told me about it. So the following day we made a special trip to have lunch at the airport, an hour drive each way. Let me just say it was totally worth it!
Check out their FB page at http://www.facebook.com/carlsjrbrasil
My husband took me out for a date night on Saturday night and we went to a lovely Italian Cantina called Piolin. You would never find this place if you didn’t know about it because it’s entrance is a hidden staircase in a part of town full of bars and brothels. Cantina e Pizzaria Piolin is a very authentic Italian place with homemade pasta and great ambiance. It is well known to the area by artists, actors, and intellectuals and has recently expanded because it is such a popular place. I highly recommend it!
One of my favorite things to eat in the US is greek yogurt. I like yogurt in general but greek yogurt is my favorite. I don’t really like the yogurt I’ve tried in Brazil mainly because it is really runny and thin to me and I like yogurt thick. Well, the other day I saw an advertisement on TV for greek yogurt in Brazil, so I got really excited and bought two different brands. So the greek yogurt in Brazil is nothing like the greek yogurt in America, but what it is like is regular yogurt in America so I am happy. Out of the two brands here is my favorite!
Did I mention I was pregnant? Well, I am about 5 months now and I guess it is safe to say now that I am pregnant. It was a tough couple of months there, living in a new country and being in my first trimester where smells and certain foods made me sick. But now I am at a good part of my pregnancy where food is really really good! The only problem is that some of the things I crave I can’t find in Brazil. So my solution has been to try to make things from scratch.
Making things from scratch isn’t always possible because you simple can’t find the right ingredients or the ingredients themselves are really expensive. For example, one of my favorite things in the US is coffee creamer, Hazelnut coffee creamer to be exact. And to my surprise there is a recipe for it; it is basically just a combination of milk, cream, sugar and Hazelnut extract. The problem is that Hazelnut extract is expensive and about R$50 for a small bottle. I also really like maccaroni and cheese, but not only is cheese expensive here, I can’t seem to find the right type of cheese and experimenting seems costly. So for now it is milk in my coffee and regular pasta.
On the other hand, cooking from scratch has led me to some of the best recipes I’ve ever tasted! I made chocolate cupcakes the other day with a chocolate butter cream frosting that was so good I couldn’t stop licking the bowl. I also make really good blueberry muffins, waffles, scalloped potatoes, parmesan zucchini, ribs, and the list goes on. Looking for new recipes and new ideas has become a bit of an obsession and even though some recipes don’t work out; I would say about eight out of ten of them do which keeps me really motivated!
We had some friends over the other night and an Argentinean friend who lives in America said, “Cooking in America is so easy.” In so many ways she is right, there are so many prepackaged meals and ingredients at your finger tips it makes it effortless. But one thing I will say about cooking from scratch is that you know what is in your food at all times, there are no preservatives or additives. And living in Brazil you can find some of the best quality meats and produce around so you food tastes incredible!