Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Açái

Something I had almost everyday while I was in Brazil: Açái! I am completely addicted. Açaí is basically a type of palm tree that grows wild in the Amazonian jungles of Brazil. I took this photo of the Açaí palm during my hike through the Amazon jungle with hubby.
This Palm contains a dark colored berry called the Açái berry known for its powerful health benefits. Even Oprah lists açaí as one of the top 10 superfoods for age-defying beauty. Yummy and good for your health!
During my visit to Paraty, Brazil the Boutique do Açaí was a little cafe hubby and I went to everyday for our dose of Açaí! The "Açaí bowl" is like a slightly bitter and rich berry smoothie with a sweet crunch from the granola, honey, and banana.

I just can't get enough of it!!! The Açaí bowl is perfectly refreshing and so filling that it can serve as the perfect breakfast.
They sell frozen bags of Açaí pulp at the markets since it's really a consuming process to make the juice from scratch by yourself. Auntie bought a bag of this stuff and we made Açaí smoothies for a mid afternoon snack.
Hubby and I have been craving Açaí like crazy since we've been back and the Açaí smoothies they have at Robeks, and Jamba Juice just aren't as good... so we went to the local Brazilian grocery store in LA to buy some frozen Açaí pulp to make our own! Here is the recipe we used.

Açaí Energy Bowl Recipe
Ingredients
2 Packets Frozen Açaí
1 Banana
2 Tbsp plain Yogurt
2 Tbsp of Guarana soda or Apple Juice
2 or 3 Splash of Soy Milk
1 Tbsp Honey
Extra 1/2 a Banana, sliced
3 Tbsp Granola

Directions:
1. Blend the frozen Açaí, banana, guarana/apple juice and yogurt in a blender.
2. To serve, top with slices of bananas and granola with a drizzle of honey on top!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Typical Brazilian Meal

Uncle and Auntie took us out to their favorite lunch spot in Manaus for a meal of Bife na Pedra, beef steaks cooked on hot stone. A huge hot sizzling stone plate was brought to our table overflowing with meat, green peppers, onions, and cheese.

A typical Brazilian meal consists of meat, rice and beans. Wherever you are in Brazil there is a good chance you will find a plate of seasoned rice and beans on the table.
There was so much cheese on the plate and I gobbled it all up! I thought the cheese in Brazil was very interesting.It looks like tofu and has a spongy texture. This cheese called " Queijo Coalho" is salty and firm that is lightweight and almost "squeaks" when you bite into it. I know it sounds kind of gross, but it's really yummy!Auntie pours this yellow mixture onto a plate of pretty much anything. This powder is called Farofa and is toasted manioc flour. It is a staple food in the northeast and northern regions of Brazil. I compare it to Tabasco or Tapatio sauce for me because I use those sauces on pretty much any dish but Farofa has a mild bland flavor. Farofa never grew on me, and I never learned to like it... neither did uncle who had been living in Brazil for over 3 years now. I think it's an acquired taste.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Amazon River Fish

Most Amazonian dishes are based on the fresh fish caught right from the Amazon river. Some of the popular fish eaten include: peixe nobre (noble fish), the pirarucu, the tambaqui, and piranha! The fried pirarucu (the largest world freshwater fish) steaks were my favorite!!It looks like a prehistoric monster but it tastes sooo~ good!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Encontro das Águas

Uncle and his family live right along the Amazon river and he took us on a little boat cruise to check it out. In Manaus, the Amazon river famously splits in two rivers, the colors of the two rivers side by side are clearly visible. You can see the two colors merge together in this photo I took. The whitewater side of the river flows from Peru, and the dark waters of Rio Negro (Black River) journey from Venezuela. This amazing and dramatic intersection where the rivers come together is known as the Meeting of the Waters ("Encontro das Águas"). Uncle explained to us that the river looks like this because of the difference in temperature, density, velocity of the two bodies of water.
I had read about a rare species of dolphins called the pink Amazon River dolphin and had hoped to see it... These dolphins are one of only four species of dolphins that only lives in fresh water, and are supposedly the smartest species of dolphins. I heard that they are often spotted at the "Encontro das Águas" so we went up and down the area for a while but no such luck. Oh well, maybe next time!I was amazed to see that some people live ON the Amazon river in floating homes.

The Amazon river was beautiful with lush vegetation all around it. The water was surprisingly clean and I even got to see gigantic lily pads that were bigger than me!At the entrance of the docks, there are many booths selling fresh fish from the Amazon river. Some of this fish I've never seen before so it was really fun to see all the different varieties of fish caught in the river.

Manaus, Brazil

Hubby's grandfather, aunt, uncle, and cousin lives in Manaus so we stayed with them for a while during our trip to Brazil. They are such wonderful people and it was so sweet of them to show us around the Amazon and cook for us everyday!

Almost everyone in Manaus has some sort of BBQ grill in their yard, and BBQing goes on all year round.Auntie served up some delicious Churrasco (Brazilian BBQ) meat for us one night. We had a blast preparing for our feast and chowing on authentic Brazilian beef grilled to perfection.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sprinkles Passover Cupcakes

It's a little late to be blogging about my birthday which was in April, but I'm going to do it anyways. I decided that I wanted cupcake instead of cake for my birthday so hubby and I went over to Sprinkles. My birthday just so happened to fall on the week of Passover, so Sprinkles had a Passover edition flourless cupcake for sale. This cupcake was sooooooooo yummy! I literally swallowed it whole. It was a flourless Belgian dark chocolate cupcake topped with a Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean glaze. The cupcake was so rich and moist! It's a pity that it's only available during passover. I know what I want for my next birthday...

SPRINKLES
9635 S Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 274-8765

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brazilian Tapioca

During our visit to Brazil we stopped by a little island of the coast of Salvador called Morro de São Paulo. The waters were calm and the ocean was amazing. To preserve the natural beauty of the island, cars are forbidden on Morro de São Paulo. The only method of motorized transportation on the island is by tractor, and the only way to transport your luggage is by "taxi". I cracked up when I realized that their “taxis” are actually wheel barrels! These "taxi drivers" are barefoot, strong, and amazingly speedy! I could barely keep up with them going up and down the hills and winding streets. One of the interesting eats I had while in Morro de São Paulo was the tapioca pancake. When I think "tapioca", I think "tapioca pudding" or "tapioca boba drinks." But in Brazil, the word tapioca refers to a kind of pancake made from manioc starch and water.I had a tapioca pancake for breakfast at our inn and it tasted like a chewy mochi tortilla with ham and cheese. It was quite delicious, and I later found out that my Brazilian aunt who lives in Manaus eats this practically every morning for breakfast!

I've never seen this served or sold anywhere in the US, but I would definitely want to eat this again!

Disney Run

Some of you might remember that my goal last year was to run a full marathon. For someone who can't even run one mile... it was an ambitious goal. Needless to say, I never ran the marathon. Still, I am determined to run a full marathon so I decided to start with a 1/2 marathon in September. And what better place to run a marathon than the "happiest place on earth"? I already signed up and paid the fee so I am committed to making this happen. I'm counting down 112 days and have already started training. I have yet to run a mile straight without stopping... but I'm going to do it! Disneyland here I come!

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