Jun 30, 2009

Sub Astor: best new bar in São Paulo

It's not news to anyone in the know that speakeasies are a big trend in New York, and some of the city's best little bars are clearly inspired by the original speakeasies where drinks were served in a clandestine way, all very hush-hush. My fave in New York is Apothèke.

Turns out São Paulo now has its first speakeasy bar, called Sub Astor. It's owned by a group of guys that also own some of the city's hottest casual restaurants. Including the excellent Lanchonete da Cidade (Alameda Tietê, 110, tel. 55 11 3086-3399, Jardins), a hip diner where many of São Paulo's chefs flock to after their dinner shift (they make the best burguer in town, a mini-version called bombom, pictured below):

But back to Sub Astor... The bar is in the basement of their ultra-popular Astor restaurant, hidden behind velvet curtains. No sign on the door, obviously. Just go to Astor, ask to speak to the maître d' and say you want to have a drink at Sub Astor. That should get you in, as long as you get there early.

The owners are serious drinkers and huge foodies who go to New York often and have been studying the work of some of the best mixologists out there. The result is that the drinks are top-notch and incorporate market-fresh ingredients. As are the dishes, created with the booze-food pairing in mind. Strong flavours, meant to stand up to the high alcohol content of the drinks.

I've gotten many reports from friends who've gone and they're all unanimous in their raves about the burguer. But Sub Astor does serve a vast array of bar food. Here are some exclusive pics of some of what's on the menu:

Picadinho (beef stew) with farofa (toasted manioc flor) and egg. A bar classic, in a cute bento box ready-to-eat presentation.

Finger sandwiches....

Quail eggs with chorizo and béarnaise sauce...

Marinated shellfish

Gazpacho with vodka jelly

Pannacotta bianca with caviar

Cured salmon "à la speakeasy"

Tartare of scampi with apple

And more on restaurants owned by "the Astor gang":
Quintal do Bráz: best pizza in São Paulo
Official website of the Companhia Tradicional de Comércio

Jun 26, 2009

Florianópolis chosen one of world's nicest islands by Condé Nast Traveller

Well, I don't mean to brag, but readers of the British edition of Condé Nast Traveller were just told a little "secret" that was said long ago on this site: Florianópolis is a gorgeous island, and if you go, Ponta dos Ganchos is THE place to stay. The magazine says: "For a long time, Uruguay's Punta del Este was the St Tropez of South America. Now, the beautiful party people are heading for Florianópolis (or 'Floripa'), the island-based capital of the state of Santa Catarina, south of São Paolo. Apart from the attractions of 42 beaches, the island's cosmopolitan blend of modernity and rusticity gives it a certain charm."

Want to know more?
What's so hot about Florianópolis? Where to eat and party.
New bungalows and amazing multi-course breakfast at the chic Ponta dos Ganchos resort
Florianópolis in Condé Nast Traveller, with slideshow

Jun 15, 2009

François Simon, France's top food critic, raves about the Fasano in São Paulo

It's been sending shock waves on the web and being twittered to-and-fro: the respected and much feared French food writer François Simon, restaurant critic for Le Figaro, wrote an ecstatic rave about his dinner at the Fasano restaurant in São Paulo. The title of his blog post says it all: "Sweet Jesus, this Fasano is the shocker of the year!". He drank wine from the Piedmont and said that "it was pure joy, each second, with each bite, I realized I was in the midst of my best meal of the year".

For those who read French, the link to the post is here.

For those who don't, just take his word for it (and mine, too): the Fasano is not only stunning, but has impeccable service and food, like few places I've seen in my travels. Not to be missed.

Fasano: Rua Vittorio Fasano, 88, Jardins, tel. 55 11 3062-4000

And more about Rogerio Fasano's luxe empire on this blog:
Fasano, Emiliano and Unique: the top 3 hotels in São Paulo
The best hotels in Ipanema, Rio
Hotel Fasano Rio, in Ipanema: the best in town
Baretto, in the Fasano hotel, is the coolest bar in town

Jun 7, 2009

Dia dos Namorados Specials at São Paulo restaurants

June 12 is Valentines’ day in Brazil (Dia dos Namorados) and those who don’t book in advance stand no chance of dining out at a nice place. Be warned: if in town, call today to reserve or settle for eating at home or the hotel room...

I’ve selected a sampling of the myriad Valentines’ menus on offer. Here goes:

Chef Fabiana Caffaro, at restaurant Anita will be offering a R$ 69 per person Valentines' menu which includes a glass of bubbly. Appetizers: Ceviche or tomato and goat cheese Terrine or a creamy mandioquinha soup with fish roe. Main course: fish with lemongrass or roast beef with root vegetable mash and balsamic reduction. Dessert: Chocolate pavlova with crème anglaise and berries.
Anita: Rua Mato Grosso, 154 - Higienópolis – Tel.: (11) 2628-3584

Balneário das Pedras
At fashionable Balneário das Pedras, owned by chef Cássio Machado, there will be two Valentines’s menus. The first has green salad with buffalo mozzarella as an appetizer, almond-crusted beef tenderloin, and capuccino mousse for dessert (R$75 per person). The second menu is a bit fancier: greens with brie and smoked salmon followed by lamb tenderloin with Port sauce and, for dessert, apple pie with vanilla cream and berry sauce. R$ 85 per person.

Balneário das Pedras: Rua Lisboa, 191 – Pinheiros - Tel.: (11) 3082-7904

At the beautiful Cantaloup (pictured above), the Valentines' menu has more choices. 3 apps: terrine of foie gras with Port jelly; fish carpaccio wiht mango, shiso pesto and king crab; octopus salad with young greens. The 3 mains are: beef tenderloin with Carmenère wine sauce and potato gratin; saffron-crusted robalo fish on heart of palm (pictured below); risoni with brie fondue and sautéed mushrooms. Desserts: pistachio milles-feuilles with raspberry coulis; gratin of seasonal fruits with Muscat sabayon; banana mousse with doce de leite and shavings of white chocolate. The price is R$ 140 per person.
Cantaloup: Rua Manuel Guedes, 474 – Itaim - Tel.: (11) 3078-3445

Dalva e Dito (pictured at the top of the post)
Alex Atala’s much talked-about Dalva e Dito also has a Valentines’ menu on offer. Zuchini salad with sprouts and flowers to start, shrimp served in a pumpkin (moranga) as a main course and flambéed strawberries for dessert. R$ 110,00 per person.
Dalva e Dito: Rua Padre João Manuel, 1.115, Jardins - Tel: (11) 3064-6183
Read more about Dalva e Dito here.

Le Poème Bistrô
French restaurant Le Poème Bistrô is offering a Valentines’ menu at R$ 179,00 per couple. Appetizer is foie gras with balsamic reduction and pear mousseline. Main course: grilled fish with purée of mandioquinha and white truffle oil or rack of lamb with thymne and rosemary and couscous. For dessert, banana and cardamon crèpe with cinammon ice cream or gianduia tartlet.
Le Poème Bistrô: Rua Joaquim Antunes, 98, Pinheiros. – Tel: (11) 3083.6016

Lola Bistrot
At Lola Bistrot, lovers will be given complimentary welcome drinks and a gift made by an artist. Chef Daniela França Pinto’s Valentines’ menu has two choices of appetizers: cream of mandioquinha with truffle oil or civet of rabbit. For the main course, lamb ragout or fish with ragout of mushrooms and champagne. For dessert, white chocolate milles-feuilles with berries. R$ 125 per person.

Lola Bistrot
Rua Purpurina, 38, Vila Madalena - Tel: (11) 3812-3009

PJ Clarke's
Even the São Paulo outpost of New York’s PJ Clarke’s will offer a Valentines special. For R$ 38,90 you get four oysters Rockefeller and a mini-bottle of Chandon rosé bubbly.

PJ Clarke’s: R. Dr. Mario Ferraz, 568 – Itaim – Tel: (11) 3078 -2965
Read more about P.J. Clarke's here.

One of the best deals in town is Shimo’s Valentines’ menu, at R$ 80 per person. Appetizers: mixed nikkey ceviche nikkey mixto and flambéed shrimp and white fish roll. Main course: Mini seafood tacu tacu or sushi-sashimi combo with 10 pieces of sashimi, 4 niguiris and rolls. For dessert, mango and ginger sorbet or Três leches of lúcuma and pisco with chocolate ice cream.
Shimo: Rua Jerônimo da Veiga, 74, Itaim Bibi. Tel: (11) 3167-2222

And more about dining in São Paulo:

Alex Atala:
Coffee Shops, Pastry Shops, snacks:

Japanese restaurants:

Gael Greene and Le Figaro's François Simon at São Paulo foodie forum

Great food event called Paladar do Brasil took place in São Paulo this week. Here's the list of participating chefs:

They invited some high-profile food journalists to fly to Brazil and cover the event. Examples? François Simon (Le Figaro), James Oseland (Saveur) and Gael Greene (ex-restaurant critic at New York magazine, who's tweeting about the trip).

Jun 2, 2009

New collection of gorgeous sculpted wood furniture of Julia Krantz, at New York's R20th Century gallery

Happy discovery, today. Just stumbled upon Brazilian furniture designer Julia Krantz, an arquitecture graduate from the University of São Paulo 's Faculty of Arquitecture and Urbanism. She is, in essence, not only a furniture designer per se, but a sculptor. And her raw material is certified eco-friendly wood (she is an associate of the Certified Forestry Products Buyers Group and has a Forest Stewardship Council – FSC seal of certification). She has a commitment to only using materials obtained through sustainable management.

But above all, though I do praise her green efforts, I find the pieces sensually stunning. Especially this one:

Her new collection of limited-edition pieces is on show at the R20th Century gallery in New York, among others. And here's how they describe Julia's work:

"Julia Krantz integrates the past and future of design with elegance and standout virtuosity. Krantz embraces the scale and organic curves of iconic Brazilian designers such as Sergio Rodrigues and Jose Zanine, while evoking the unparalleled master of minutiae, designer Joaquim Tenreiro, in her hand carved detailing. She is part of an emerging generation embracing and redefining the sense of "Brazilianess" that has long shaped their country's art and design.

While she is trained at the University of São Paulo in Architecture and Urbanism, Krantz brings an innate sensitivity to her work, imbuing it with personal narrative and hand working it to a point almost unheard of in contemporary design. To own a piece of Krantz's work is to be truly connected to the designer.

The rich, lush landscape of her native Brazil instills inspiration and responsibility and she is an unwavering advocate for sustainable design. She invests in the future of design by employing only materials sources in a responsible way and she is constantly fine-tuning her process and ways of working to this end. Krantz even goes so far as to diligently re-use her wood scraps, working them into the surface patterns in her carved bowls.

Julia Krantz's passion for the process of design and for the future of object making is an extraordinary addition to the contemporary market."

Not exactly a travel tip, but couldn't resist sharing...