Sometimes when you’re on a vacation the last thing in the world you want to do is get in a car and schlepp about on a Sunday morning, especially when it’s 90+ outside and there are scurrilous and unfounded rumors about that you were drinking at a samba club until 2am the previous evening.
But there are also in life some things that you simply must do, and in this life if you are in Rio then you must get in the car and drive 45 minutes south to a little seaside village glued to a steep slope over looking a nature preserve. The town’s name is Barra de Guaratiba.
The restaurant is Bira de Guratiba.
My Bride and I first came here in 1998. We were in Rio for basically a long weekend. We flew overnight, got off the plane, were picked up at the airport, dropped our bags at the hotel and drove down to Bira for our welcome lunch. Whether it was the jetlag or the 5 caipirinhas or some mystical combination of both it was one of the finest meals I’d ever had and I knew on this trip we had to go back. I admit I was somewhat nervous that after all these years it would understandably not live up to our memories and Daughter, after hearing us talk about it for so long, would not be amused about being dragged about so.
The drive took longer than anticipated, as there were some accidents plus a lot of Sunday beach traffic but we got there and the view was everything we remembered
you can see the ocean to the left and then as we pan in see the estuary. Much of the seafood here is caught here; it’s amazingly sweet and fresh
it’s also a very civilized place, as you can see by this floating bar
speaking of which
One of the glories of Brazil is the language: Portuguese mixed with indigenous Indian vocabulary and sprinkled with enough English to make you giggle. The above is a perfect example. In English we call it ‘passion fruit.’ The Brazilians call it “maracuja”, and even better they pronounce it “mah-rah-koo-ZHA” which just rolls off your tongue in a delightful fashion.
But even more delightful is the above, a caipirinha made not with lime but with maracuja. Oh my oh my, is that ever tasty.
And it led nicely into the first appetizer, which was a platter of fried prawns with garlic and oil
They were huge.
And soon gone.
and followed by what to me is one of the simplest yet finest dishes I’ve ever had: the Vinagrete Misto
so elegantly simple: fresh shrimp, octopus and mussels in a vinaigrette with chopped onion, tomatoes, lime and some cilantro. So simple yet so completely dependent on the freshness of the seafood, and this was as fresh as it could be, with that sweet slightly salty tang of the ocean still clinging to every morsel.
the orange ones are the females, btw.
But then it was on to the main courses:
a Moqueca de Camarão (shrimp with coconut milk)
Moqueca de Robalo com Camarão (fish and shrimp with coconut milk)
all served with a hearty amount of Pirão (which is a creamy manioc/fish based sauce)
plates don’t get much happier than this
and we just ate and ate and enjoyed the views, the nature. It was and still is fabulous.
After such a wonderful meal we drove languidly back to Rio and stopped on a seaside overlook just south of Leblon for a few pictures
This is a fancy Sheraton resort tucked into the cliffs; I’ve always thought it rather oddly sited
and this is a view the other way, back towards Leblon with Ipanema on the far right
I’m sorry to say that for dinner that night I forgot to take the camera, which is a pity. We ate at CT Boucherie, which is a french steakhouse not far from where we were staying. It was outstanding. It was so good in fact that Daughter annoyed me greatly by eating all of her steak, all of it, and leaving none for me.