Mar 30, 2009

Daslu megastore in São Paulo and owner Eliana Tranchesi’s legal troubles

Quick post to let you know that the cover story of this week’s Veja – the Time magazine of Brazil – is Eliana Tranchesi’s arrest and legal troubles. In the feature story we find out, among other things:

  • Daslu occupies 20 000 square meters of posh floorspace
  • Daslu sells 333 national and international brands, like Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton
  • The store has a champagne bar and a space leased out for parties
  • Annual sales dropped from 240 million reais (2005) to 160 million reais (2006) after Eliana Tranchesi’s first arrest in '05, but had since been climbing back up.
  • Eliana hosted Valentino and Tom Ford in their recent visits to Brazil.
  • Eliana has been condemned to 94 years in prison but the legal process might take more than 10 years to be resolved and chances are the sentence will be greatly reduced or even eliminated in the meantime.
For the full story, in Portuguese, click here.

Mar 28, 2009

Where to shop in Ipanema according to A Small World

Ever since joining ASW - A Small World, sort of like a more exclusive Facebook - I've been loving their online magazines. Recently, they did a piece on Rio that was spot on. They suggested hitting the beach at Posto 9, in Ipanema, and eating at Fasano Al Mare, Sushi Leblon, Gero and Porcão. I would recommend pretty much the same. And on and on: the right hotels, the right spots to see in Santa Teresa, etc. (for my own tips of where to eat and sleep in Rio, click here) I thought I'd quote below their shopping tips - alas, boutiques and such are not my forte! - so I thought you and I could take note... Here it goes:

"Ipanema is the place to capitalise on Rio's fashion trends. Within a ten-block radius you'll find everything from fabulous leather goods to chic beachwear (yes, there's such a thing). Lenny, a local favourite, has exquisite bikinis. At Mara Mac you can pick up classically beautiful bags and shoes, while Gilson Martins offers funkier purses and wallets. Check out PL BIS for chic-yet-edgy clothes and don't miss the racks of colourful dresses at Tessuti, or Forum's flagship store on Rua
Barão da Torre. For gifts, stop by Papel Craft and pick up one of the hand-painted boxes. And stroll through the Feira Hippie on Sundays in Ipanema to enjoy the arts and crafts. "

Lenny, Rua Garcia d'Avila 149, Ipanema, Tel,: +55 21 2227 5537

Mara Mac, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 365, Ipanema, Tel: +55 21 3202 1038

Gilson Martins, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 462, Ipanema, Tel: +55 21 3816 0552

PL BIS, Rua Garcia d'Avila 147B, Ipanema, Tel: +55 21 3202 2684

Tessuti, Rua Garcia d'Ávila 134, Ipanema, Tel: +55 21 2227 1008

Forum, Rua Barão da Torre 422, Ipanema Tel: +55 21 2521 7415

Papel Craft, Visconde de Pirajá, Ipanema, Tel: +55 21 2239 6347

Feira Hippie, Praça General Osório, Ipanema (intersection of Rua Teixeira de Melo and Rua Visconde de Pirajá) Sundays, 9am to 6pm

Contemporary art show opens at Rio's Museu da República

Great art show opening
this week in Rio: a collective of 23 contemporary artists at the Museu da República. Curated by Daniella Géo, NÓS includes works by Brazilian greats Cildo Meirelles, Carlos Vergara and Nelson Leirner. The museum itself is a palatial gem, and used to be Brazil’s equivalent of the U.S. White House when Rio was the country’s capital. Here’s a list of all artists that are showing works in the show: Adrian Piper (U.S.) | Aimé Ntakiyica (Burundi) | Anna Bella Geiger (Rio de Janeiro) | Caio Reisewitz (São Paulo) | Carlos Vergara (Rio de Janeiro) | Charif Benhelima (Belgium) | Cildo Meireles (Rio de Janeiro) | Edith Dekyndt (Belgium) | Eustáquio Neves (Minas Gerais) | Fabio Morais (São Paulo) | Filip Van Dingenen (Belgium) | Focus Cia. de Dança (Rio de Janeiro) + Susana Guardado (Portugal) | Guga Ferraz (Rio de Janeiro) | Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro) | J.D. Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria) | L.C. Csekö (Bahia) | Lorna Simpson (U.S.) | Malick Sidibé (Mali) | Mario Cravo Neto (Bahia) | Nelson Leirner (São Paulo) | Rosana Paulino (São Paulo) | Vik Muniz (São Paulo) | Walter Firmo (Rio de Janeiro) | Yinka Shonibare, MBE (UK)

On until April 19

Museu da República. Rua do Catete, 153, Catete, tel. (55-21) 3235-2650. Metrô Catete. Tuesdays to Friday, noon to 5 PM; weekends, 2 to 6 PM.

Mar 26, 2009

Who is Eliana Tranchesi, owner of Daslu, in São Paulo

Eliana Tranchesi is a petite, blonde dynamo, recently hailed as a “business icon” in Vanity Fair magazine. The divorcée, now in her mid-fifties and battling cancer, transformed Daslu - the São Paulo clothing boutique her mother Lúcia Piva de Albuquerque founded in 1958 - into one of the world’s largest luxury empires, selling fashions by top brands like Prada, Dior and Gucci, china, flowers, wines and even helicopters.

In the beginning, senhora Albuquerque sold finery from home, to her wealthy friends, as they sipped coffee and chatted. When her mother passed away, Eliana took over and expanded, but kept the intimate interconnecting salons off-limits to husbands. Neighbouring houses were patched onto the original boutique, the walls between them taken down.
The well-dressed, well-heeled salesgirls chat up the clients, who parade around the labyrinth of plushly furnished rooms in their underwear, trying on outfits while maids in black uniforms follow them silently, tidying up the mess. In the 90s, when Brazil’s economy opened up to exports, Eliana jumped at the chance and signed with Maison Chanel. Other prestigious brands followed suit.
The store grew to include a second street block, housing a men’s department which is open to both sexes, as well as several shops-within-a-shop (Daslu Casa, Daslu Teen, etc.). Guarded by an army of security guards, it became so huge that neighbours began protesting its presence in the residential district. This prompted Eliana to move her empire to a custom-built Italian-style palazzo in a commercial neighbourhood, increasing the total floor space from 12,000 to 20,000 m2. The inauguration was celebrated with a series of glitzy fêtes, impeccably hosted by the queen bee herself.

Three questions for Eliana Tranchesi:

What inspires you?
My desire to make my clients even happier and more beautiful.

In what would you like to innovate?
With the inauguration of my new store in May we will be innovating, by having fashion, home furnishings, technology, culture, lifestyle and philanthropy all under the same roof.

Do you feel you are an innovator?
Yes, in the sense that Daslu is unique. It wasn’t based on any other store, and nothing like it exists anywhere in the world.

Owner of luxury store Daslu, Eliana Tranchesi, is arrested in São Paulo

Daslu's owner Eliana Tranchesi was arrested earlier this week for tax fraud. You can read more here, in Portuguese. For those who don't know, Daslu is Brazil's most famous luxury boutique, a sort of Barneys of São Paulo, recently moved to a behemoth in the Vila Olímpia district. As it turns out, she didn't stay long in prison: the court granted her an habeas corpus and she was free to leave today (Friday). This was reported (in Portuguese), on Lilian Pacce's blog, here.

Mar 25, 2009

Kinoshita: São Paulo's top Japanese restaurant

Kinoshita, in the tony Vila Nova Conceição district of São Paulo, is simply the number one Japanese restaurant in town. Tsuyoshi Murakami, a.k.a. Mura, is an incredibly talented sushiman, and, quite unexpectedly, also very outgoing, with an outsize personality. He speaks many languages, was born in Japan and grew up in Rio state. After running the show at a small and non-descript restaurant in Chinatown, he closed the place down and relocated to this new address. Thanks to a deep-pocketed partner, the new Kinoshita is much swankier: blond woods, open sushi bar and grill, impeccable landscaping, beautiful china, Spiegelau wine glasses, etc.

You can go there and order sushi and sashimi, but that would be a bit of a pity. Mura is a tasting menu kind of guy. Tell him to cook for you and he'll embrace the chance to dazzle. Currently, the tasting menu costs 180 reais - a bargain if compared to equivalent menus in, say, New York. I tried it recently, and here's what it was like:

1 Roe of tainha fish marinated in sake, served on a lime "bowl".

2 Tairagai, a shellfish imported from Japan, cut in three and seasoned with a dash of yuzu. Crisp texture, refreshing.

3 More tainha roe, but here, compressed until it became hard/chewy like bottarga. Mura used it as the stuffing of a very delicate roll of Japanese radish and sprouts. Incredibly crunchy on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. Very pleasant mouthfeel.

4 Pieces of perfectly blanched octopus, served cold and tossed with shark fin, bean sprouts, ponzu sauce and olive oil. Again, the same incredible constrast in textures. And a sense of freshness. It actually made a cracking sound as I chewed!

5 Chu-Toro (the not-as-noble sibling of O-toro, the prize part of the tuna). Freshly grated wasabi. Enough said.

6 Fish broth (Dobin Mushi) poured out of a teapot. Nothing more but a splash of yuzu. Absolutely amazing. Delicious, complex flavours, which showed themselves subtly. At the end, a gentle kick of spice.

7 Sushi. Perfect. Sole, pargo (with a shisso leaf), yellowtail (my favourite), very fatty salmon, and more of that amazing chu toro, with a tiny sprinkle of fleur de sel. With this came the house soy sauce, which is so good you might actually be tempted to drink it.

8. Monkfish liver with hot pepper and finely sliced cucumber. A bit of an anti-climax...

9. Marinated and grilled cod with aspargus. Impeccable.

10. Kobe beef marinated in miso paste, then sliced very finely and flash-grilled. Too good for words!

11. Rice with eel and quail's egg. Tasty, but a bit much at that point. Sensory overload...

12. Lichee ice cream. A simple, clean finish (not that I would have minded something a bit more elaborate...)

This is a delicious little green tea bonbom that they brought to me as a special treat, made by Mura's wife Suzana. Sadly, not on the regular dessert menu.

I went back a few nights later and... got a different dessert! This one was much better.
Green tea ice cream with a ball of a silky and gooey rice flour paste with a filling of chocolate ganache (in lieu of the more typical bean paste). Heavenly. Too bad I only got one ball, as I could have easily had four or five!

For those who may find the tasting menu too expensive, Kinoshita does offer a prix fixe lunch...

The pictures tell the story: this is as good as it gets.

Kinoshita: Rua Jacques Félix, 405, Vila Nova Conceição, tel. 11 3849-6940.

For more on Kinoshita click here

More on São Paulo Japanese restaurants on this blog:

Mar 22, 2009

Tauana, in Corumbau, Bahia: a hotel marrying haute design and unspoiled beach

That Southern Bahia is the de rigueur destination in Brazil for any hipster worth his or her Marc Jacobs shades, we all know. But few are aware that the frontier of cool has reached as far South as Corumbau, a sleepy seaside village of a few hundred fishermen. Down a bumpy dirt road and far from anything else is the Tauana, a luxury mini-hotel that seems right out of Wallpaper magazine. It was thought up and built by Portuguese architect Ana Catarina, who moved to this sunny paradise a few years ago.

The Tauana is one of a trio of luxury hotels - the others being Vila Naiá and Fazenda São Francisco - that have put the village of Corumbau on the world map. All three, thankfully, take great care not to let all the trappings of luxury get in the way of the exuberant flora and fauna.

São Paulo's Fashion World Rocked by Marc Jacobs

Photo credit: Wish Online

Marc Jacobs is in São Paulo and getting the full rock-star treatment. Last Friday there was a party honouring him - a full report, in Portuguese, has been posted here by Wish Report magazine. The party took place in São Paulo's downtown (Centro), and had every single Brazilian fashion editor in attendance. Jacobs never left the side of his hottie boyfriend Lorenzo Martone (pictured above).

The designer is in town for the official launch of his boutique, which is a partnership with NK Store, the multi-brand emporium owned by Natalie Klein.

You can see photos of the party of the year here.

And of the lunch hosted by Cris Bicalho yesterday at her home, here.

Mar 19, 2009

Liza Minelli sings tonight at Via Funchal, in São Paulo

Twitter-style post, just to say that Liza Minelli is in São Paulo, and will sing shortly at Via Funchal.
She's staying at the Grand Hyatt. which is near the venue but very far from everything else that really matters. Lame. Guess she won't be seen strolling down Oscar Freire street.

10 top restaurants in Salvador according to Joyce Pascowitch

Incredibly enough, it’s hard to find reliable restaurant recommendations for Salvador on the web. There are listings galore, but... who to trust? Hard to say. So I was very glad when I received at home the latest edition of Joyce Pascowitch’s lifestyle magazine, which came with a cute little pocket guide of Salvador. Per-fect! At last, tips I could trust. Since the guide is not available online, I thought I’d share Joyce’s restaurant recommendations here… (And for those who don't know Joyce, she's the queen of Brazil`s online media: her Glamurama portal is one of the most accessed in the country.)

Chef Edinho Engel has long been known in Camburi, a beach/village near São Paulo where he opened his very famous Manacá restaurant. After many years of cooking at this sleepy beach Engel decided to try his hand at a city restaurant. Instant hit! J.P. Viaja says it’s hard to score a table on the leafy deck at the back during summer.
Av. Contorno, 660, Cidade Baixa, Tel. (55-71)3322-3520

Baby Beef
J.P. Viaja says Saturdays are the best days at this steakhouse: that’s when feijoada is served and there’s live music (chorinho).
Avenida Antonio Carlos Magalhães, 3363, Pituba, tel. (71) 3270-3000

Chez Bernard
This old classic reopened in 2007 with a view of Baía de Todos os Santos. J.P. Viaja says redesign was done by celeb architect David Bastos, and chef is Caudê Durazzo, from São Paulo (a disciple of French chef Erick Jacquin). Expect French classics like steak béarnaise or au poivre.
Rua Gamboa de Cima, 11, Aflitos, Tel. (55-71) 3328-1566

This restaurant is right over the water, with vast wooden decks. J.P. Viaja says “with a menu by chef Carla Pernambuco, Lafayette is currently one of the most charming restaurants in Salvador. Location is first-rate, among the boats of the Bahia Marina”.
Avenida Contorno ,1010 - Bahia Marina, tel (55-71) 3321-0800

Marc le Dantec
Year in, year out this restaurant is voted best in town for contemporary food. Chef-owner Marc le Dantec is from Bretagne, France.
Avenida Oceânica, 3001 Térreo, Flat Pier Sul, Ondina, Tel. (55-71) 3331-3854

This place feels a bit like a French bistro, thanks to the dim lighting and framed photos of Paris. J.P. Viaja says the specialty is the soufflée, which now comes in two new flavours, foie gras and lobster. There are also sweet versions, for desssert: guava, chocolate, etc.
Avenida Contorno, 1010 Bahia Marina, Comércio, Tel. (55-71) 3321-4765

This Japanese is where the celebs like to go. Its charmingly located in an old townhouse in the more traditional neighbourhood of Graça, J.P. Viaja says.
Rua Flórida, 41, Graça, tel. (71) 3337-3732

This Japanese restaurant with Brazilian influences has been around for 10 years but continues to pack them in.
Avenida Lafayette Coutinho, 1010, Bahia Marina, tel. (55-71) 3322-4554

Trapiche Adelaide
This is probably the most famous restaurant in Salvador, and for good reason. First of all, it’s beautiful and has great views. Secondly, it managed to stay at the top since it opened 10 years ago: no easy feat! The breezy room has been recently redone, and J.P. Viaja says “it gained splashes of navy and brown leather couches, which made it cozier”.
Avenida do Contorno, 2, Comércio, tel. (55-71) 3326-2211

Although it’s located within the private Yacht Clube (right on a pier, actually) it’s open to the public. Very old-fashioned cuisine.
Avenida Sete de Setembro, 3252, tel. (55-71) 2105-9131

Tordesilhas restaurant: the best Brazilian food in São Paulo

Brazilian food is very much in vogue these days, and new restaurants specializing in it are popping up all over São Paulo. But none of them can beat Tordesilhas, which I consider the city's best in that specialty. It's not as hip as competitor Brasil a Gosto. And it doesn't have a pretty and young chef, like Capim Santo does (Morena Leite is a media darling). But it does have very serious food.

The restaurant is located in a cute little house on Bela Cintra street, past Avenida Paulista. The tables in the glassed-in courtyard at the back are absolutely charming, and to get to them you'll pass by a gorgeous tableau of Brazilian fruits in a lavish display.

Mara Salles, the chef-owner, studies gastronomy and teaches it, too. She knows more than anyone I know about Brazilian cuisines (yes, in the plural!). She posts on the wall her 10 commandments, which is fun, and I especially agree with this one:

"You shall not covet another's cuisine, demanding from Brazilian dishes that they bear the complexity of the French cuisine, the minimalism of the Asian cuisines or the sophistication of the New York restaurants".


I'll quote you another one of her commandments, this one a bit radical:

"You shall not speak the holy name of Brazilian dishes in vain: a moqueca is a moqueca and should always be served in a ceramic crock, a feijoada that doesn't come in a ceramic bowl is not a feijoada, and so on".

I went with friends and we ordered a few of the alguidares - side dishes, served in small bowls. One contained paçoca - ground jerk beef with manioc flour, pumpkin purée, purée of banana da terra (plantain), tutu de feijão (black bean paste, like refried beans). All excellent and as hearty as any main course. The house pimentas (hot peppers) were delicious - a few drops will take you a long way.

We also ordered queijo coalho with melaço, a typical Northeastern beach snack. Essentially, charred cubes of a salty white cheese with a drizzle of sugarcane molasses. Nice, but not any nicer than the original, that can be had for a buck at any beach in Pernambuco state.

Then came the pato no tucupi, a typical dish of the Northern region, and especially of Belém, the capital of Pará state. The duck is cooked in a slightly gooey liquid that contains julienned jambu, a leaf that numbs the mouth and makes the tongle tingle. This dish is eaten with farinha d'água, a variant of farinha de mandioca that is very popular in the North. Very white and very grainy and definitely an acquired taste.

I love this dish, but... it's not for everyone and could be easily described as ultra-exotic specialty for brave palates. I liked it more, in fact, that the other main course ordered: filhote fish with a velvety banana purée.

The desserts were nice but all a bit too sweet. There's one with a cryptic name: Manezinho Araújo. This is it, below - flan and babanas under a dome of meringue. A better bet is the trio of ice creams, which are bought from a famous ice cream shop in Belém do Pará, Sorvetes Cairu.

Tordesilhas: rua Bela Cintra, 465, São Paulo, tel. (55-11) 3107-7444

Mar 17, 2009

La Casserole restaurant in São Paulo fêtes 50th anniversary

La Casserole is a classic French bistro in the Old Downtown. Owner Marie-France Henry “wanted to celebrate by recreating the casual and convivial atmosphere of a boteco". A boteco is a simple bar, frequented at all hours, always serving draft beer and finger foods. In homage of the Brazilian botecos, she created a special anniversary menu. The Boteco Chique menu costs R$ 95 per person (plus drinks and tips) and is available from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Here's what the menu includes: Crudités with tapenade, grissinis, Vietnamese rolls stuffed with pulled duck and bean sprouts, to share. Main courses are placed in the center of the table, meant to be shared, family style:
  • Scallops on bed of coconut and almond cream
  • Moules à la crème
  • Agnolotti ”del plin” stuffed with brie and pear,
  • vanilla oil
  • Crisp breast of quail with com pequi sauce (pequi is a fruit from Brazil's Centro-Oeste region)
  • Carré of pork, carpaccio of caramelized apple (pictured above)

La Casserole
Largo do Arouche, 346 – Centro (Downtown)
Tel: (55-11) 3331.6283

Mar 15, 2009

All restaurants in Itaim, São Paulo, in alphabetical order

My favourites are highlighted in BLUE.

Al Mirto
Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1135 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-0228

A Tal da Pizza
Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz, 351 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-3599

Rua Bandeira Paulista, 520 Itaim
Tel: 55-11 3167-2147

Baby Beef Rubaiyat

Avenida Brig. Faria Lima, 2954
Tel: 55-11 3165-8888
(steakhouse, with daily buffets, just renovated)


Rua Dr. Renato Paes de Barros, 65
Tel: 55-113168-5522
(steakhouse, rodízio style)

Bar des Arts

Rua Pedro Humberto, 9 Itaim
Tel: 55-113074-6363
(gorgeous setting, large outdoor seating area, plants, birds, etc)

Rua Jorge Coelho, 162 Itaim
Tel: 55-113071-4600

Brasserie Victoria
Avenida Pres. Juscelino Kubitschek, 545 Itaim
Tel: 55-113845-8897

Rua Manuel Guedes, 474 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-3445

Colher de Pau
Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz, 563 Itaim
Tel: 55-113168-8068

Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1127 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-0003

Delhi Palace
Avenida Juscelino Kubitschek, 1132 Itaim
Tel: 55-113073-1209

Di Bistrot
Rua Jacurici, 27 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-9098

Dolce VillaRua Pedroso Alvarenga, 554 Itaim
Tel: 55-113167-0007

Rua Amauri, 337 Itaim
Tel: 55-113167-5347

Due Cuochi Cucina
Rua Manuel Guedes, 93 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-8092
Casual, boisterous Italian helmed by Paulo de Barros.
Amazing raviolo with egg and truffle oil.

Rua Amauri, 244 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-2299

Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz, 213 Itaim
Tel: 55-113816-4333
Modern Spanish, owned by Spanish twins.

Espírito Santo
Avenida Horácio Láfer, 634 Itaim
Tel: 55-11 3078-7748
Incredibly popular bar with delicious food

Forneria San Paolo
Rua Amauri, 319 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-0099

Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1170 Itaim
Tel: 55-113167-0977

From the Galley
Rua Leopoldo Couto de Magalhães JRua, 7Link61 Itaim
Tel: 55-113073-0928

General Prime Burguer
Rua Joaquim Floriano, 541 Itaim
Tel: 55-113168-0833
Beautiful upscale burguer place with top-rate meats

Rua Viradouro, 139 Itaim
Tel: 55-113167-7272
My absolute favourite, top-notch sushi, beautiful spot

La Cocagne
Rua Campos Bicudo, 129 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-5177

Le Coq Hardy by Pascal Valero
Rua Jerônimo da Veiga, 461 Itaim
Tel: 55-11 3079-3344

La Tambouille
Avenida 9 de Julho, 5925 Jd. Europa
Tel: 55-113079-6276

La Vecchia Cucina
Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1088 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-7115

Rua Amauri, 234 Itaim
Tel: 55-113073-0234

Tiny restaurant owned by an expansive and eccentric Italian.
Food is as straight-forward as it gets: arugula topped with sun-dried
tomatoes and parmesan shavings, freshly-made pasta topped
with a rustic tomato and celery sauce. For desserts, he’s got
gelatos from one of the city’s top ice cream shops, Sottozero.

Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1177, Itaim, (11) 3073-1061

Rua Bandeira Paulista, 369 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-7553
Whenever I go to São Paulo I eat here once a week. Enough said.
It's actually a three-in-one: a darker café on the corner, the original
in the center and a newer outpost right beside it, which I like a bit less.

Nam Thai
Rua Manuel Guedes 444
Tel: 55-113168-0662

Original Shundi
Rua Doutor Mário Ferraz, 490 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-0736

Rua Tabapuã, 1711 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-7402
Rua Dr. Renato Paes de Barros, 534 Itaim
Tel: 55-113168-3123

Rua Amauri, 275 Itaim
Tel: 55-113167-1575
Owned by the Fasano group, this is the Italian family's forray
into French cuisine. The result? Franco-italian deliciousness. Very chic.

Porto Rubaiyat
Rua Leopoldo Couto de Magalhães Jr., 1142 Itaim
Tel: 55-113077-1111
Huge seafood restaurant from the owners of perennial
favourite Rubaiyat, São Paulo's top steakhouse.

Rua Leopoldo Couto de Magalhães JRua, 831 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-3351
Good and reliable buffets at this upscale fast-food chain.

Rua Jerônimo da Veiga, 141 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-2725

Rua DRua Mário Ferraz, 377 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-6301

Rua Salvador Cardoso, 131 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-8686

Rua Amauri, 282 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-5020

Shundi Tomodachi
Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz, 402 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-6852

Sushi Kin
Rua Amauri, 225 Itaim
Tel: 55-113071-2225

Rua Amauri, 328 Itaim
Tel: 55-113079-4819
The better-priced and more casual younger sibling
of Bela Sintra, the city's top Portuguese restaurant.

Via Blu
Rua Lopes Neto, 247 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-8868

Varanda Grill
Rua Gen. Mena Barreto, 793
Tel: 55-113887-8870

Rua Prof. Tamandaré de Toledo, 51 Itaim
Tel: 55-113078-6442

Christian Louboutin opens his first Latin American store in São Paulo

It's no secret that high-end brands looooove Brazilian women. They love to shop, aren't afraid to flaunt what they've got and are super in tune with what`s in vogue all over the world. That's why in recent years many big-name brands like Tiffany&Co. and Diesel have decided to open stores in São Paulo.

The chosen address is usually either the Shopping Iguatemi or the Jardins district (rua Oscar Freire being the most desireable street to be on). But in recent years other ultra-high end addresses have popped on the map, like the Shopping Cidade Jardim (more on that later) and the new Daslu megastore.

The latest arrival to the São Paulo shopping scene is Christian Louboutin, he of the coveted red-soled pumps. His store just opened in - surprise! - the Shopping Iguatemi.

This is his first store in Latin America, and already has in stock mr. Louboutin`s summer 09 collection. He'll be in town in April for a party to be thrown in his honour and to officially cut the ribbon. Fashionistas, take note!
Christian Louboutin São Paulo: Shopping Center Iguatemi, Faria Lima floor, tel. (55-11) 3032-0233

Mar 13, 2009

Restaurants serving Brazilian food in São Paulo

Brazil is in vogue in Brazil. Ever since Europeans and Americans fell in love with all things Brazilian, from caipirinhas and bossa nova to Gisele and her Havaianas flip flops, Brazilians began to see their country with new eyes. With all the new restaurants in São Paulo proudly serving banana, black bean or coconut dishes, it’s hard to believe that up until recently, native products, like cachaça (sugarcane spirit), goiabada (guava sweet) and rapadura (hardened sugarcane molasses) were shunned by top chefs. Brazilians always enjoyed their local food at home or at their favourite pub, but fine dining had to be French or Italian-based. The more imported ingredients like saffron, funghi and aspargus, the better.
The first to challenge this view were French chefs who moved to Rio in the 80’s. Laurent Suaudeau and Claude Troisgros, amazed by the exotic fruits and vegetables, introduced them into their classical French cuisine. Now, a new generation of chefs in São Paulo is following their lead, and finding sophisticated ways of cooking with Brazilian ingredients that were once considered too pedestrian.

Shortly after opening D.O.M., in 2000, Alex Atala began pairing black beans with foie gras, and giving fresh fishes from the Amazon a place of honour on his menu.

Since then the trend picked up, with the recent opening of restaurants where local takes preference over imports. At the charming Maní (pictured above), model-turned-chef Helena Rizzo and her partner Daniel Redondo (ex-Celler de Can Roca) give the humble manioc royal treatment, with a drizzle of truffle oil. A sparkly cachaça jelly and Brazil nut shavings crown her foie gras terrine.

More food expert than chef, Ana Luiza Trajano opened early in 2006 Brasil a Gosto (pictured below, its bar area) – a high-design place on a leafy, secluded street - after a long exploratory voyage throughout the country to research regional recipes and customs.

She serves lighter, up-to-date renderings of traditional dishes such as fish stew (moqueca) with rice and also her own combinations of native ingredients, such as tucunaré, an Amazonian fish, served with manioc. And a starter of queijo coalho, a white cheese that is charred on the outside, commonly eaten as a snack at the beaches of the Northeast Region (Nordeste).

At Capim Santo, in the same Jardins district, young chef Morena Leite, from Bahia state, is turning fruits like jabuticaba and pitanga into sauces, and baking ritzier versions of the coconut and guava sweets of her childhood.

Now there are even newer restaurants specializing in Brazilian food. Dalva e Dito, for one, which I described in detail here. And soon-to-open Chafariz.

Brasil a Gosto: Rua Professor Azevedo do Amaral, 70, tel. 55-11-3086-3565, Capim Santo: Al. Ministro Rocha Azevedo, 471, tel. 55-11-3068-8486 D.O.M.: Rua Barão de Capanema, 549, tel. 55-11-3088-0761 Maní: Rua Joaquim Antunes, 210, tel. 55-11-3085-4148

Single-plantation coffee at Nespresso boutiques in São Paulo and Rio

Single-plantation and controlled origin are are also becomming buzz words at today’s coffee shops. At Nestlé’s Nespresso Boutique Bars (with branches in São Paulo and Rio), espresso “pods” and machines are beautifully displayed just like shoes and purses at Gucci or Prada. “In spring and fall, we offer connoisseurs two rare Grand Crus, selected for their unique aroma and precious tasting profile, and available for only a limited time,” says Olivier Quillet, the brand’s International Marketing Director. The latest one is the Goroka, a “jewel” from “high up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea”. Once picked, the red cherries are immediately pulped to remove the bean as quickly as possible. Beans are fermented for three days with daily rinsing, followed by a day of total immersion in fresh water to bring out their taste. Even if you want a simple espresso, the Nespresso boutiques are the place to go. And now they serve small snacks, too.
Nespresso São Paulo (pictured above): Rua Padre João Manuel, 1164, Jardins (and also at Shopping Cidade Jardim)
Nespresso Rio: Rua Garcia D'Ávila, 117, Ipanema

Saquerinha is the official summer drink in São Paulo

For decades, the caipirinha was one of Brazil’s best-kept secret. That was until the country’s potent national cocktail - sugarcane spirit (cachaça) on ice with muddled lime and sugar - started popping up on ritzy bar menus from Paris to New York and everywhere in between. Brazilians have now moved on to a newer – and some say improved – version called the saquerinha. As the name implies, it’s made with sake instead of cachaça, which is generously poured over muddled fruit (usually strawberries or kiwi) and crushed ice. It’s what upper-crust revellers are seen sipping at São Paulo’s new summer hot spots, like Bar Secreto.

Photo: Courtesy of Destemperados

Mar 11, 2009

Forneria San Paolo, in São Paulo's Daslu store: forgettable

Daslu, São Paulo's poshest and biggest luxury store - a sort of turbo-charged Barneys - is simply surreal. The maids in impeccable black and white uniforms, the chic doormen, the sheer size of the neo-classical behemoth.... all of it exudes an aura of big money.

I am telling you all this just so you can put into context my recent lunch at Forneria San Paolo, one of the store's 3 restaurants. Originally specializing in paninis and other sandwiches, the Forneria chain (the flagship in Itaim plus this outpost and another one in Rio) has expanded its offerings since it changed hands.

The original Forneria was created by Rogerio Fasano, the Keith McNally of São Paulo, the man who turns into gold everything he touches. But after going through rough seas with one of his main financial backers, supermarket heir João Paulo Diniz, Rogerio sold him his part in the business.

So now João Paulo is the one running the Fornerias. First, the good
news: the décor is stunning, all creams and browns, slightly 50s and purely elegant. Hats off to architect Marcio Kogan.

The menu seemed to me very familiar, and it's no wonder. João Paulo may have broken off his dealings with Rogerio Fasano, but he wasn't foolish enough to do away with the Fasano classics, some of which have been kept on the menu.

But he can't simply reproduce certain dishes that are hugely successful elsewhere and think they`ll be just as great at his Daslu Forneria. Fasano`s famous breaded veal cutlet with saffron risotto, for example, was pitiful if compared to the original. The risotto was good, actually, creamy and well seasoned, but the meat tasted of nothing other than the oil it was fried in. I could not bring myself to have more than two small bites.

Even before the veal arrived, one starter gave me an idea of what was to come. A lukewarm and limp bruschetta topped with melted brie and an unpleasant version of Mostarda de Cremona, all chopped up.

The classic carpaccio - slices cut by hand, mustard-based creamy dressing - fared much better.

Then came the main course, which the menu described as “the great American contribution to the world of the sandwich”. Lukewarm, the meat very rare. And fries that tasted frozen, as if they were from McDonald's.

Desserts were even worse. A cheesecake missing the graham cracker crust, the filling much lower than the original`s, and a berry sauce that tasted like it had been made from frozen fruit.

Did you know that there could be such a thing as a "diet" chocolate and hazelnut pie? Tasteless, the chopped hazelnuts on the outside turned rancid, not the best.

Long story short? Don't waste your time eating here. If you must shop at Daslu, just make sure you leave in time for lunch across Juscelino Kubitschek Avenue, at any of the great Itaim restaurants that are a short drive away.

Forneria San Paolo: Avenida Chedid Jafet , 131 , Villa Daslu , Vila Olímpia , Tel. 3841-9680