Having arrived in a slightly disappointingly rainy Rio, it seemed that the only thing to do was eat. This actually suited us quite well.
For breakfast we ventured out, rainjackets firmly on, to the local supermarket to check out the produce. In Brazil, the Amazonian influence means everything is bigger and more colourful, from the avocados to the passion fruit to the papaya. Not only that, it also tastes incredible.
I was tempted to buy some of everything to try, but settled for a passion fruit that was a meal in itself.
Staying in one of Rio’s most well off neighbourhoods, Ipanema, it was clear to see that the January health kick is not just a UK thing. Here in Ipanema there are a multitude of health stores and vegan and vegetarian restaurants springing up everywhere. But they’re still doing it in true Brasilian style.
The by kilo restaurant is something I’ve only ever encountered in Brasil and I’m a big fan. Essentially it’s a huge buffet (often with a barbecue or ‘churrasco’ at the back) you take what you want, you weigh the plate and you pay by kilo.
New Natural in the heart of Ipanema is a ‘healthy’ version of the by kilo classic. Only in inverted commas because of the quantities we took. Instead of lots of meat they have a huge selection of beans, soy meat substitutes, salads, pulses and vegetables. They also do have chicken and fish options including sushi (sounds strange but not when you realise Brasil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan).
I piled my plate high and dug in, it was quite simply fantastic. Fresh, varied, unusual, delicious.
And after dinner, we headed to Gavea to join in a Brasilian Street festival. Caipirinhas were flowing generously, and for only £2 each it seemed rude not to.