Rio Treasure Hunt
Lawrence Ferber shares some of his favorite finds from his recent visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Call her Lady Rumpelstiltskin. Actually, strike that, Rump was a nasty little thug. But Rio-based jewelry designer Meire Bonadio does indeed spin organic straw to make eco-friendly golden jewelry and accessories. This golden grass, aka capim dourado, grows only in the state of Tocantins’ Jalapão state park, and Bonadio’s MBD (Meire Bonadio Exclusive Biodesign) employs some 50 families to craft said items. Her flagship store, based in Barra da Tijuca, produces a line ranging from cute hippy-dippy hoop necklaces and sassy, swirly earrings to elegant finger rings and Sex and the City-ready clutches.
Next stop on the hunt for unique souvenirs and gifts in Rio de Janeiro is the Lapa Antiques Market, a lively fair held the first Saturday of each month along Rua do Lavradio. Strolling the side stalls, you’ll spot plenty of nifty statues and sculptures, including riffs on the iconic “Christ the Redeemer” and little figures engaged in capoeira, plus clothing, and what appeared to be a Dadaist chair with an elephant trunk attached to the backrest. Sunday’s Ipanema Hippie Market at Praça General Osório offered quieter ambience, yet a similar assortment of goods including interesting hollow incense burners shaped like mischievous elves with the scented smoke flowing out of their mouths.
But aside from shopping, you must eat and drink while in Rio. And drink you will when it comes to cachaça, a religion as much as alcoholic beverage in Brazil, which has its place of worship at restaurant Academia da Cachaça.
Not only is their vast selection of bottles impressive, so is their menu of cachaça-based cocktails which includes numerous, delicious fruit-rich twists on the caipirinha.
And, sorry vegetarians, but I quickly became convinced that the Porcão Churrascaria is God’s gift to meat lovers. As with the Brazilian barbecue restaurant concept that has hit many U.S. cities, you flip over a colored chip – red for “stop,” green for “get over here with some meat!” – to cue an onslaught of waiters bearing skewers with diverse cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. One item I haven’t seen stateside was the skewer of filet mignon covered with cheese. Yes, filet mignon with cheese. A culinary treasure or an abomination? I know which side of this issue I fall on.
For more on Rio, check out National Geographic’s Places of a Lifetime guide to the city. And for more on Rio’s shopping scene, visit our Authentic Shopping Guide.
Photos: Lawrence Ferber
- Nat Geo Expeditions