Salvador (Gourmet Chick in Brazil)

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Ola from Brazil. Yes it is sunny and hot here, but if you are not too jealous read on to find out about some of the Bahia region’s great food and drink. First stop in our holiday to Brazil was Salvador in Brazil’s North. Tuesday night in Salvador is the equivalent of Saturday night in most cities. If you can, time your visit to Brazil’s former colonial capital to include a Tuesday as it is known as Blessing Tuesday in the cobble stone Pelourhino district. Groups of drummers and bands play in the Terriero de Jesus square and the square is ringed with food stalls manned by women wearing traditional voluminous white broderie anglaise dresses.
 
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The roof pool terrace at Zank boutique hotel – overlooking one of Salvador’s many beaches
 
Terriero de Jesus square on Blessing Tuesday
Food and drink stalls start to open up from around 7pm on Terriero de Jesus square and there are some standard offerings. The most popular are acarajé (R$4/£1.50), round fritters made from beans and shrimps, deep fried until golden brown and doused in a combination of hot sauce and salsa. There are also various churrasco stalls selling skewers of grilled meat. Men carrying small charcoal fired grills wander from table to table calling “queijo” and for R$2 you can eat a skewer of cheese covered in oregano and grilled until it has some crunch on the exterior and is melting and gooey inside.
 
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Street food – Acarajé
Paraiso Tropical
You have to know about Paraiso Tropical to find it as it is tucked away in one of Salvador’s residential suburbs and is only accessible by a R$20 taxi ride from central Salvador. Luckily I had been told about Paraiso Tropical by our hotel and also through research on Chowhound and other sites. The restaurant has open walls looking out over tropical trees and serves food inspired by Brazil’s exotic fruit. The fruit juices (R$15) were sensational and included juices made from fruits such as the tangy but refreshing seriguela which I had never come across before. We began with miroro, tiny fish fried whole almost like whitebait and served with a spicy sauce and lime salsa. The fish were a little dry and needed lots of the salsa to add moisture.
 
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Moqueca at Paraiso Tropical
 
The restaurant’s signature dish is the moqueca a traditional Brazilian seafood stew made using coconut milk and dende oil. The octopus and prawn moqueca ($R119 to share for two) had a slight murmur of chilli heat, softened by the coconut milk and packed with fresh seafood. It was served with fluffy rice. The portion sizes were huge and the moqueca for two could easily have fed three. Every meal at Paraiso Tropical finishes with a huge platter of fresh fruit so enormous in size that it comes with doggy bags tucked into the platter to take the leftover fruit home. Beside the standard watermelon, pineapple and papaya there were a whole host of fruits that I had never come across before and MTV boyfriend and I enjoyed testing out a few.
Details: Paraiso Tropical, Rua Edgar Loureiro, 98-B, Resgate, Cabula, Salvador, Brazil (Ph: (71) 3384 7464)
Damage: Pricey
8/10
 
A Cubana ice-cream
A Cubana is known as the best ice-cream shop in town but this may be a case of quantity over quality. Ice-creams at A Cubana are super sized and requesting two scoops ($R4.50) results in four scoops of ice-cream in your waffle cone. There are 28 flavours available including all the traditional favourites such as rum and raisin, raspberry ripple and a refreshing peppermint and choc chip.
Details: Rua Alfredo de Brito 12, Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil (Ph (071) 3321 6162
Damage: Reasonable
5/10
 
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Ice-cream at A Cubana
Gourmet Travel Tips
 
Zank Boutique Hotel
If you have the cash to splash I recommend staying at the sleek and sophisticated Zank Boutique hotel. The hotel is in an old colonial mansion which was renovated four years ago to include an ultra modern wing with its own luxurious roof top lap pool for lounging by. The fit out is seriously slick with all white rooms looking out over beach views. There is every luxury you would expect including flat screen TVs in the rooms, air conditioning, free wifi and even his and hers white Havianas to pad around the hotel in.
 
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Our room, number 20, at Zank Boutique Hotel
 
Breakfast was included in the room price and featured a table groaning under the weight of the toasted muesli, yoghurt, pastries and Brazillian specialties such as cuscuz de tapoica. However the best thing about the hotel were the friendly reception staff who all spoke English and had plenty of suggestions for restaurants, walks and activities while in Salvador. The hotel’s location is out of the centre of Salvador which necessitates catching taxis everywhere but the benefit of this is a little peace and quiet from the non stop partying in the rest of the city.
 
Details: Zank Boutique Hotel, Rua Almirante Barroso, 161 Rio Vermelho, Salvador, Cep 41950 350, Brazil (Ph +55 71 3083-4000) zankhotel@zankhotel.com.br
Damage: Budget breaking. Around $R650 a night for a standard room.
8/10
 
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Breakfast at Zank Boutique Hotel
 
Bahiacafe Hotel
If you are on a tighter budget Bahiacafe hotel is right in the centre of the Pelourhino and has modern clean rooms for a bargain price. We splashed out on one night at Zank and then moved to the Bahiacafe to save some money and force ourselves to leave Zank’s communal pool area. The room rate includes breakfast and free wifi and there is a nice communal area with sofas and a pool table overlooking the square to hang out in. The only down sides are the lack of air-conditioning and the central location means the hotel is quite noisy at night time, particularly on Blessing Tuesday.
Details: Bahiacafe Hotel, Praça da Sé, 22, Salvador, BA, 40020-210, Brazil (Ph +55 71 3322 1266)
Damage: Reasonable. Around R$165 a night.
6/10
 
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Our room at BahiaCafe Hotel
 
Travel
We flew to Salvador from Rio with Tam for around £100 one way. It is a two hour flight.
 
Tips
  • In Salvador it is worth wandering around the Pelourhino area and visiting the ornate Church of São Francisco.
  • We walked along the coastal road which part of Carnaval runs to the Farol de Barra fort which is an excellent place to watch the sun set seemingly over the ocean.
  • On Tuesday nights the amazing Olodum perform (they were featured in Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us video), the performance starts at 8pm and tickets are $R80.
 
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in Brazillian food in London at Favela Chic or my post on travelling in Cuba in Central America.

8 comments

  1. Really enjoyed reading about your hotels and food, what a trip!

  2. The acaraje and the moqueca look amazing! Are you still in Brazil then?

  3. Oh I am so very envious. Especially at the £100 flight ticket! The fritter looks amazing and I know I’d be following the calls of queijo all day!

  4. Gorgeous! Can’t wait to spend some time in Brazil this year!!

  5. Sign me up for Acarajé, then. I’ve never read such a comprehensive post on eating in Brazil – this will be a great resource for anyone planning a trip there (which hopefully will be me next). ; )

  6. That moqueca looks fantastic, and so does the acaraje’! I loved Salvador when Dr G and I visited in 1995, oh my 16 years ago, you made me want to go back! So pleased that you are enjoying Brazil!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  7. Kavey – Thanks very much – yes it was!

    Su-Lin – I was when I wrote this post – back today sadly.

    Helen – Trust me I was following that call…

    Krista – So jealous you get to go for work – will have to ensure you have time to explore as well.

    American in London – Thanks – I think you would love Brazil!

    Luiz – Thanks for all your helpful tips for my trip I had a brilliant time.

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