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10 Can’t-Miss Snacks in Rio de Janeiro

10 Can’t-Miss Snacks in Rio de Janeiro
Posted on Fodor’s, July 11, 2012 at 5:02:08 PM EST

Bar food, street food, snack food, beach food—Rio de Janeiro thrives on snacks. And so will you, if you can find your way around the hundreds of the, at times, baffling options. Some foods will be easily recognizable, like empanadas (in Brazil called empadas) and churros. Others won’t resemble anything familiar, and will be made of things you cannot guess at. But that (and the fact that they’re delicious) is what makes them so much fun to hunt down and eat. Find your favorites and sample them at many, many locations city-wide. Trust us, every street corner has options.

Pão de Queijo

Literally “cheese bread,” these little balls of cheesy goodness are highly addictive. Made from yucca flour and several cheeses, they are best sampled hot from the oven, such as at the cafe Cultivar (locally known as Organico) in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa where they are made in several batches throughout the day so they are always fresh and incredibly delicious. They’re also vegetarian.

Insider’s Tip: Snacks sold in the subway are low quality—expect hard, dry, and flavorless foods. Purchase these only in moments of desperation!

Açai

Ah, yes the super-fruit. Made of a very bitter palm berry, sweetened to dessert-levels, açai has become popular in the US recently in everything from ice cream to moisturizers. In Rio, it comes in a heaping bowl or cup with granola sprinkled on top, either for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Rich in protein, fiber and vitamin E, it’s served thick and cold (and is also gluten-free and vegetarian), to be eaten with a spoon.

Insider’s Tip: Cariocas (natives of Rio) add lots of sugar to their fruits so ask for less if you don’t have a sweet tooth: “pouco açucar” (po-co ass-soo-car) means “just a little sugar.”

Pipoca

Brazilians have made an art out of popcorn. Vendors will usually have two options: salty (salgado) and sweet (doce). The salty can come with the surprisingly delicious additions of cheese or bacon depending on the vendor, so ask for options, or look for the strips of bacon in the popcorn itself. The sweet has caramelized sugar darkening the kernels, and some vendors have condensed milk available to pour on top.

Insider’s Tip: For a portion of both sweet and salty popcorn, ask for “meia meia” (may-ah may-ah), or half and half.

Pastel

A large envelope of pastry enfolds hot fillings like cheese, meat, shrimp, or a combination. Pasteis (the plural of “pastel”) can sometimes also come in smaller sizes, deep fried, with about 6 or 7 to a portion, especially in bars. Locals rave about the large fresh ones available at the weekend markets in the Gloria or Laranjeiras neighborhoods.

Insider’s Tip: Pair your pastel with sugar cane juice (caldo de cana) for a perfect hangover cure.

Coxinhas

Translated as “little drumsticks,” these salgados (savory snacks) feature a thick, tear-shaped crust surrounding shredded, spiced chicken. Done well, these snacks are deeply satisfying and highly habit forming. Eat them as is, or with ketchup or pimenta (hot oil or salsa). Great with cold chope (draft beer) or as an afternoon snack.

Kibe

Of Arabic origins, this savory finger food has a dark and crusty whole wheat outside and spicy ground beef inside. Darker than a coxinha, which is more golden brown, kibes make a nice variation in the afternoon snack rotation, and are much beloved by Cariocas.

Tapioca

Found at street vendors and in cafes, tapiocas are cooked right in front of you on a hot griddle come in sweet or savory flavors. Tapioca are poured onto a hot griddle and form a crust during cooking, that is then filled with such things as chocolate and banana or cheese and tomato. Flip it over into an omelette shape, and you have yourself a substantial snack. Can be vegetarian and gluten-free.

Insider’s Tip: Street food carts are everywhere in Rio but are especially concentrated around Carioca metro station in Centro (downtown).

Biscoitos Globo

These puffed mandioc chips, sold on the beach and at street vendors, are a tasty variation on potato chips. The mandioc, also a starchy tuber like the potato (and yucca), is light as popcorn, puffed into the shape of an innertube, and seasoned to be sweet or savory, as you like. Sold by the package, they don’t look at first like snacks, but you’ll soon recognise the yellow packages with either green or red lettering.

Caldinho de Feijão

It’s as easy as a cup of black bean soup. When you’re out late drinking chope (draft beer) or caipirinhas, or need an afternoon pick me up after sight-seeing, a warming caldinho does the trick. Thick and simple, it’s related to the much more elaborate feijoada, the national dish with a black bean stew at the center. This smaller version is often served at bars and will come in a coffee mug. It’s inexpensive, nutritious, and tasty.

Insider’s Tip: Vegetarians be warned: unless otherwise stated, soups will contain meat, even a simple bean soup.

Kebabs

Served on street corners near bars and at street sambas (impromptu samba gatherings), street kebabs usually consist of skewers of pork, beef, or chunks of sausage or chicken, grilled street-side and rolled in farofa (toasted manioc flour). Pratos, or small plates, will come with one or two skewers, a salad of chopped tomatoes and onions, and a mound of toasted farofa.

Insider’s Tip: Kebabs can become dinner, especially if you order a couple of plates. Order some and share them around with friends, old and new, as is the local custom.

For full photo credits see original article here.

Montreal’s Underground Art Scene

Published on Fodors.com June 8, 2012.

Montreal is home to a famous summer jazz festival, excellent comedy, chewy bagels, and the late-night, high-cal snack food called poutine (french-fries, gravy and cheese curd). But what you may not know, is that it’s also home to a very vibrant underground art scene.

While Montreal has plenty of commercial galleries and respectable museums, its artist-run-centers were established in the 70s and 80s as a way for artists to explore art for art’s sake, and they have been showcasing new ideas ever since.

What’s more, Montreal’s scene is the only place in North America where francophone artists can show in their own language, making it a hub for emerging Quebeckers. Artist-run-centers exist in the Griffintown district south of the city center, as well as downtown, in the cafe-filled Mile-End district, and beyond.

Spend a couple of days exploring the following destinations to get a sense of la belle citée’s lesser known and very lively art scene.

Griffintown District: Darling Foundry/Quartier Ephemere
$5 Tues-Sun 12-5pm; free Thursdays
Situated in an old iron foundry on a quiet street south of downtown, the Darling Foundry/Quartier Ephemere is a gorgeous old brick building comprised on the street level of two main galleries and a restaurant. Upstairs, local and international artists have studio spaces and workshops, open periodically for public viewing. To conserve operating costs, the Foundry hosts only four major shows a year, so research ahead for times and openings.

Insider’s Tip: Go for the art, stay for lunch since the on-site restaurant is excellent. Afterwards, walk down to the river to view Old Montreal stone buildings and churches.

Downtown: Optica
Tues-Sat, 12-5pm. Free.
In the heart of downtown, the 19th century Belgo building on St. Catherine’s street houses many small artistic and alternative businesses (and in itself is worth a visit), of which the Optica gallery is one. With its wide creaky floors and long pale hallways, the building is an evocative home for the gallery, which was established in 1972 to showcase national and international art, curatorial programs, and critical writing. Allow yourself some time to wander the halls, as the building houses commercial galleries as well.

Downtown: Skol
Tues-Sat, 12-5pm. Free.
In business since 1984, Skol focuses on artists at the beginning of their careers, and like Optica, is dedicated to exploratory or experimental work. The gallery, located on the third floor of the Belgo building, offers master classes and participates in international biennials. Visit their interactive learning resources for visitors on their website at Skol.ca/en/apprendre.

Insider’s Tip: Take a short walk down St Catherine’s Street from the Belgo Buidling to Place des Arts and catch live high-end theater and music.

Mile End District: Articule
Tues-Thurs 12-6pm, Fri 12-9pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm. Free.
The only Montreal artist-run-center with a bilingual board, Articule is located in the artist-saturated neighborhood of Mile End (look for the bright green facade at street level). This gallery focuses on interdisciplinary art that has a social aspect to it. For example, a 2012 installation repurposed people’s defunct electronics in new and strange contexts, and included maps of where the objects came from, where they ended up as well as images of how they were transformed.

Insider’s Tip: Pick up a free map of Mile End art (“circuit d’art) while you’re at Articule and make a day touring the cultural spaces in the neighborhood.

Insider’s Tip #2: Walk east from Articule to Le Centre Clark along Fairmount Avenue and have a bagel at the famous Fairmount bagel factory-—it’s a true Montreal experience.

Mile End District: Le Centre Clark
Tues-Sat 12-5pm. Free.
Tucked in a side-street at the eastern border of Mile End, Le Centre Clark emphasizes exhibitions, performances and publications, as well as event exchanges with art organizations internationally. Founded in 1988, the center operates mostly in French, although its artists come from all over.

Insider’s Tip: Walk west along St. Viateur Street to find a host of cafes popular with Mile End residents.

Jean-Talon Market District (Little Italy): Eastern Bloc
7240 Clark, 2nd floor, Tues-Sun, 12-5pm. Free.
The newest artist-run-center, and only one in Montreal run exclusively in English, Eastern Bloc was established in 2007 in a former party space for young creative types. Housed on the 2nd floor of a gigantic warehouse building, Eastern Bloc focuses especially on new media and interdisciplinary art, and makes a point of welcoming artists just out of graduate school or at the very beginning of their careers. Digital and electronic arts, audio, and video installations and multimedia performances comprise much of their programming.