Lencois and the Chapada Diamantina (Gourmet Chick in Brazil)

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Nothing looks like it has changed in Unesco listed Lencois for at least 100 years. Tiny pastel coloured houses line the cobble stoned streets of this former diamond mining town. Nowadays Lencois is the gateway to Brazil’s Chapada Diamantina national park, an area of towering rock formations and cascading waterfalls in the North East of Brazil.
 
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View from the top of Morro do Pai Inácio
 
Bodega
Since most people use Lencois as a base for hiking the food on offer at the restaurants is hearty with a focus on fuel rather than flavour. Of the myriad of with pizza and pasta joints in town Bodega was a step above the rest. Thick, glossy beef stew teamed with a layered pasta dish was the restaurant’s entry in the local culinary competition ($R20). It erred on the side of blandness but was decent enough. Chicken in gorgonzola sauce ($R20) was cloying but hearty and filling enough to power another day hiking in the Chapada Diamantina.
 
Essentials
Details: Rua das Pedras 120, Lencois, Brazil
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
4/10
 
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Chicken in Gorgonzola sauce at Bodega
Fazendinha
Fazendinha was confusingly popular as it was clearly the worst place we ate at in Lencois. Admittedly Fazendinha is more a bar than a restaurant but they did offer food so we opted for the chicken parmigana (a dish I have not seen since I was last in Australia) only to be told after half an hour that there was none, the same problem occurred after ordering gnocchi, after a long wait I was again told that there was none. Our limited Portugese did not assist matters but the waitress was completely overwhelmed by serving even a couple of tables of people and kept on forgetting really basic things like a beer that had been ordered one minute ago. When our meals finally arrived (two hours after the initial order) the pizza ($R17) was not too bad. It had a thin, crisp base but lacked any smoky char. Penne with pesto (R$14) was barely edible gloop that I only ate a few bites of because I was so famished. If you are in Lencois don’t be fooled by the crowds here, there are much better places in town to eat.
 
Essentials
Details: Rua das Pedras 125, Lencois, Brazil
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
2/10
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My picture of our pizza at Fazendinah is pretty boring so here is a more exciting one of a pig we spotted just outside Lencois snoozing on the back of a motorbike
 
Cozinha Aberta was a complete antidote to the other restaurants in Lencois. Sure there was pasta on the menu but this was home made pasta made by hand during the day as part of Cozinha Aberta’s slow food ethos. The restaurant overlooks the river and has an outdoor candlelit dining area. The short menu is supplemented by daily specials written on a blackboard. To begin, thinly sliced rolls of aubergine stuffed with cashew nut sauce and served with a mango puree ($R11) were incredibly moreish. A chicken curry with a rich, smooth coconut sauce featured plenty of fresh vegetables and fluffy rice ($R31). Rich beef stew was cooked in yoghurt and flavoured with hints of saffron, cinnamon and cardamon ($R33).
 
Essentials
Details: Rua Barbosa 42, Lencois, Brazil (Ph 075 3334 1066)
Damage: Reasonable
7/10
 
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Aubergine rolls at Cozinha Aberta
 
Gourmet Travel Tips
  • We stayed at Vila Serrano ($R210 a night for bed and breakfast), a pousada set in lush tropical gardens just on the edge of town. The pousada operates under strict environmental principles, it is built from mud bricks, uses solar power and has a recycling system. The rooms are fairly basic but some creature comforts are still on hand with crisp clean sheets (beds are made each day but sheets are only changed on request), a mini bar and a lovely verandah looking out over the town with a hammock strung across it. Pousadas in Lencios are famed for their breakfast spreads and Vila Serrano’s featured a table groaning with muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruit, quiches, meats, cheeses and cakes each morning.
 
  • Flights to and from Lencois only leave once a week, on Saturdays so we had to catch a bus there from Salvador and then flew back. The bus was operated by Real Express and took six hours from Salvador and cost $R50. Take warm clothes as they crank the air conditioning. We flew back with Tam which cost around £40 for a one way flight.
  • The most popular trip to do in Lencios is a one day tour that takes in the Morro do Pai Inácio and caves and waterfalls for $R125 a person including lunch and entrance fees. The view from the top of Morro do Pai Inácio is spectacular and it is worth travelling to Lencios just to see it.
  • We also did a 14km hike to the Cachoeira do Sossego waterfall stopping at natural waterslides on the way back for $R70 a person. There are lots of outdoor agencies in Lencios that can organise similar activities or longer hikes where you camp overnight for up to a week.
 
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Our room at Vila Serrano
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my post on Salvador or La Suite in Rio, Brazil.

11 comments

  1. Daydreaming about Brazil after reading this post. The AUbergine rolls looks fab! x LondonZest

  2. The pigs owner probably went to Fazendinha for a feed and the pig decided its better to starve than to eat there!

  3. Brazil is going straight to the top of the South America list after your amazing posts. Looks amazing.

  4. Fazendinha sounds like one of those things you’ll laugh about for years to come. But annoying at the time when you’re hungry.

    You’re right that the photo of the big is pretty excellent.

    Thinking of a long bus ride puts me off. Was it OK?

  5. lol I love the snoozing pig photo! You make me want to travel to Brazil. Pronto!

  6. Can I come next time? 😛 And I saw your lovely comment on Catty’s blog. Let me know if you ever come to Sydney! 😉

  7. Love the pig! And I also love Brazil – have been to Minas Gerais a couple times and food there is divine; your last few posts has got me thinking that the north is next on the travelling list… Looks like you’re having an amazing time!

  8. Emily – the aubergine was the highlight

    Three Cookies – I like your theory

    Tori – I highly recommend it

    American in London – The seats actually recline in the bus so not too bad but I was very happy to fly back I must admit.

    Helen – I know – so hilarious!

    Lorraine – I will, maybe the end of this year?

    Hanna – I have heard the Minas Gerais food is excellent. It is such a big country that it is impossible to see everything!

  9. Shame you missed out on THE best breakfast in Brazil at Alcino’s though. We still talk about it now!
    http://www.myhiddengems.co.uk/2013/02/brazil-best-breakfast-alcinos-pousada-lencois/

    1. Maxine – Looks like I ned a return trip!

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