If there’s such a thing as love at first bite, then I fell in love with pão de queijo. What appeared to be no more than a bite-sized donut hole in a drab little breadbasket was really one of Rio’s finest snacks. Baked into salty strands of dough is a rich cheese flavor – you can’t see the cheese, but you can taste it. That’s because this chewy little challenge is made with sour manioc starch and meia cura cheese – ingredients easy to find in the Southern Hemisphere. Pão de queijo is as addictive as it is lovable – consider yourself warned.
Not long ago, açaí berries made a big splash on the world health food scene as a super, superfood that cured everything from cataracts to cancer. But Brazilians have been consuming açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) for centuries. Açaí palm trees grow in the Amazon basin and produce purple berries with large seeds and earthy, not-so-sweet flesh. Every juice bar and kiosk will sell you a glass filled with açaí juice, said to be richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries!
Nothing puts the stunning city of Rio de Janeiro into perspective better than the view from the top of Corcovado Mountain. Join the towering, 100-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World – for a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain, and two of Rio’s most famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana. At 2,300 feet high, Corcovado Mountain puts some of Rio’s best attractions in sight. More than 3,500 people a day make their way to the top of Corcovado (which means “humpback” in Portuguese) so make an early start of it for the best unencumbered views.