13 May, 2010

Looking for something [FREE] to do this weekend?

The Festa Literária de Santa Teresa (Santa Teresa Literary Festival) is taking over the barrio on Saturday and Sunday. This festival, modeled after the world-famous one in Paraty, features oral storytelling, discussions with authors, brunches and lunches with literary lectures, and a book swap. Best of all, everything is completely FREE and open to the public! Most events are centered around Parque das Ruinas, though several happenings are scattered throughout Santa Teresa. Featured guest, Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros, pictured below looking very literary, will speak several times.

Check out the FLIST site here for more info.

In addition, enjoy some tunes at the Leblon Jazz Festival on Zona Sul's Rua Dias Ferreira all afternoon Saturday. Some of Brazil's best jazz musicians (Jeferson Goncalves, Frejat) are playing alongside the US's Dixieland Orleans Band. Click here to see the website, with a detailed schedule, maps... and streaming audio link for those who can't make it to the live event.

PLUS, the citywide Restaurant Week runs through the 24th (three-course meals at set prices in swank places all over the city) -- so many fine opportunities... aproveite!

06 May, 2010

Vrolijk Koninginnedag

Can't pronounce the title of this blog post? Don't worry, we can't either -- it's in a foreign language. No no, not Portuguese. Dutch.

At the beginning of March, our pousada greeted a swarm of Dutchmen (and women) as long-term guests. Nine holandesas are here volunteering until August in a variety of different projects around Rio: teaching English to aspiring restaurant staff, making bracelets and masks in after school programs with kids, and providing fresh clothing and warm showers to street children.

Last Friday, April 30, marked the Netherlands' biggest holiday: Queen's Day, commemorating the birthday of the nation's monarch. To celebrate, Casa579's Dutch contingent threw a huge party in Favela do Mare with activities and snacks for children in the afternoon and caipirinhas and dancing for adults later on. In an pleasant mingling of cultures, Cariocas donned orange, played traditional Dutch games, and practiced rolling phrases in the new language around in their mouths. With hundreds of Mare residents in attendance, the party was a complete success, and more than one kid could be seen sporting a Dutch flag painted on one cheek and a Brazilian flag on the other.

Below are some high-quality photos of the event, taken by the favela's photographer.

As well as cotton candy, partygoers got to munch on authentic Dutch pancakes (baked with apple), peanut butter, and carrot and potato pure

01 May, 2010

Gaga for Gaúcho's

Less than half a block away from Casa579 lies one of Santa Teresa's culinary treasures. Cantina do Gaúcho (or simply "Gaúcho's") offers massive meals for ridiculously low prices as well as spectacular views of nearby Prazeres favela as well as greater Rio from its back windows.

Gaúcho's owner, Arnoldo, is an industruous, bear-like man from Rio Grande do Sul (the southern Brazilian influence comes out in some of the dishes, in fact). He began to make food for the neighborhood about six years ago, and through word of mouth alone, his restaurant has expanded to become quite successful.

Cantina do Gaúcho, as seen from the street

The first incarnation of Arnoldo's establishment was open only on Saturdays and Sundays in his garage; there was a car sitting among the tables and patrons used to have to bang on the garage door to be let in. The Gaúcho's of 2004 served only pratos feitos and operated (as you might have guessed) without a license. As more people came to eat, however (including a slew of policemen, interestingly enough), Arnoldo made some changes to develop the place into a more official establishment. He developed a full menu, opened from Monday-Saturday, and, in 2008, moved the Cantina from the garage to his remodeled home.

Old school Gaúcho's: in the garage.

And after the remodel! Arnoldo with his wife.

When asked what his plans for the future are, Arnoldo mentioned that he would like to expand and update the cantina's menu. The English translations may have been done too quickly, he admits (though to be quite honest, the hilarity of some mistranslated menu items only adds to the restaurant's charm -- check out Against-the-Horse Filet, the pork served with two cars, or the "meat with rice crazy, crazy rice"), but in truth it's a well-rounded menu with unbeatable prices (the scan below omits the entire page of pizzas available). Gaúcho's also serves desserts -- including Brazilian quindim and some of the best chocolate mousse you will ever eat.

Arnoldo's favorite? Picanha a Gaúcha.

All this for R$7!

The spectacular view by day...

and by night.

If you're anywhere near Santa Teresa, a stop to Gaúcho's is absolutely essential. Even if you're not, hop on a kombi and check out this restaurant that used to be in a garage and like a true Brazilian Cinderella story blossomed into a fantastic eatery -- you will not regret it!