Five incredible things to taste and try in Brazil

Anna Brech

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Aah, Brazil.

Land of sun, samba and some of the skimpiest swimwear known to mankind.

From the moment you touch down in this intoxicating country, you can’t fail to be moved by its infectious joie de vivre.

From the hidden beaches of Bahia to the Amazonian wilderness and Rio sidewalks packed with beautiful people, this is a place that seduces at every turn.

Oh, and it’s home to one of the warmest and most racially diverse cultures on earth.

Here are five unique experiences to savour in beautiful Brazil…

Party at Rio Scenarium

Nobody parties like the Brazilians, and there’s no better place to soak up this carnival vibe than at Rio Scenarium.

This colonial house in the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s thriving Lapa district spreads across three levels and is totally unique.

Enormous rooms with wooden beams and exposed brick walls are brimming with antique objet d’art. Retro bicyles hang from the ceiling, along ornate chandeliers , stained glass windows and sculptures.

Mahogany cabinets filled with glasswear line painted walls in a vivid kaleidoscope of colours. Vintage card tables are framed by mismatched chairs, and everywhere you look there are elaborate curtain drapes and junk-shop curiosities.

The entire experience is a bit like entering the home of your quirky great-aunt, who’s been hoarding random memorabilia for years. You might well question whether you’ve had one too many caipirinhas, but the effect is nonetheless stunning.

Unlike most clubs, Rio Scenarium is filled with a plethora of quiet drinking dens tucked away from the crowds. Or you can get right in the thick of it and join the crowds who line the three-storey balcony, dancing to the 10-piece Samba band below as they trumpet in the dawn.

Eat fried cheese on the beach

Forget fish ‘n’ chips or gelato. Only in Brazil could you find grilled cheese on a stick as a go-to beach snack.

“Queijo coalho” as its known, is available from any number of vendors who amble glorious stretches of sand meandering from Recife to São Paulo down to Florianópolis.

Served hot and salty, it’s a bit like halloumi and it’s goddamn delicious.

Better still, it’s a delicacy that sums up everything that’s great about Brazil. This is a country that delights in impulse and excess.

Everyone loves cheese, right? And everyone loves a beach. Why not bring the two together, so you can scoff grilled fromage in your bikini with the sun blazing down at 10.30 in the morning. No judgement.

Marvel at the work of Oscar Niemeyer

The National Museum of the Republic in Brasilia

Modernist architect, Oscar Niemeyer, captures his love of curves in the sleek white domed edifice of the National Museum of the Republic in Brasilia in Brazil.

“Curves are the essence of my work because they are the essence of Brazil, pure and simple” – so said the feted don of modernist architecture, Oscar Niemeyer.

In many ways, Niemeyer defines the sensuality and spirit of Brazil and his avant garde, sinuous designs have become synonymous with the country’s colourful social and political evolution.

Brasilia, the futuristic capital which Niemeyer helped to build as a grand new social vision in the late 1950s, is a showcase of his brilliance.

A triumph of architectural daring, this radical metropolis is entirely unlike the rest of Brazil. From the air, it takes the shape of a plane – a nod to the golden era of air travel in which the city began its life.

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On the streets, towering contemporary structures filled with light and sleek design motifs hover at every turn.

Don’t miss the Brasilia Cathedral, a striking circular construction drawing from 16 white concrete pillars that “reach up to heaven”.  Or the graceful, space-age arches of the Palácio da Alvorada (“palace of the dawn”) fusing together marble, glass and water.

Not everyone is a fan of this stark and radical aesthetic, but that’s not the point.

As Niemeyer himself said, “If you go to see Brasilia, the important thing is this: you may or may not like the buildings, but you could never say you had seen something similar before. Those fine columns, the buildings like feathers touching the ground, all create an effect of surprise.

Knock back a Caipirinha at sunset

World Cup 2018

If you think you’ve tried a real Caipirinha before touching down in Brazil, think again.

The full effect of this potent cocktail – made from the fermented sugarcane spirit Cachaça – can only really be felt when you’re sitting on a boat in Paraty, with sunshine, sea and fellow Brazilian cocktail-swiggers all around.

For one thing, Caipirinhas in Brazil come strong. Really strong.

Usually, the bartender is too busy checking out beautiful passersby to worry about how much spirit they’re chucking in your drink. So, go easy; visitors might even be advised to share a Cairpirinha for their first go to avoid face-planting the beach…

Another reason why Cairpirinhas taste amazing in Brazil is its unique tropical climate.

The lime and sugar hit just doesn’t have the same impact in a London club. Drink it in Brazil and you’ll get an immediate rush.

It’s a refreshing and exhilarating all at once, and the perfect complement to those lazy, humid days that Brazil seems to specialise in.

 Oh, and in Brazil you’ll get Caipirnhas in a full array of delicious flavours, from pomegranate to strawberry, mango and cashew fruit. Yes please.

Book a jungle cruise

Brazil is home to three million square kilometres of Amazonian rainforest; around 60% of the entire area of the country.

Even with the continued and devastating effects of deforestation, this magical ecosystem is home to more species of plants and wildlife than any other of its kind in the world.

And one of the best ways to get to grips with this enormous natural wonder is by boat.

There is a multitude of companies to choose from, and you can go with a larger group or hire a trained guide who will take you on an individual tour.

This latter option means you’ll be on a smaller boat, so you’ll be able to cruise further into dense forestland to spy out an elusive roll call of reptiles, birds and animals.

Navigating a labyrinth of waterways around Rio Negro and Amazon River, you’ll have the opportunity to spot howler monkeys, sloths, giant river otters and even Amazon pink river dolphins.

If you’re really lucky, you might even spot a puma or jaguar.

It’s all in a day’s experience when it comes to brilliant and bedazzling Brazil…

Images: Shutterstock

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