Down South

By Rob Packer

It is a peculiarity of Brazilian Portuguese that capital and interior are opposites, which is—as far as I know—not the case in any other language. This is a surprisingly pervasive difference and seems to imply that all capitals are cosmopolitan metropolises, while the interior is a rural backwater or maybe jungle. Read more of this post

Brazilian Hand Rolls

By Rob Packer

It almost goes without saying that sushi will be available wherever you go. Standards might vary (wildly), the preferred variety might be different (in Colombia, it seems to be mostly futomaki, for example), you might not want to eat it; but there it will be. With its large Japanese population (see this blog), Brazil is no exception, even though I think this probably has more to do with global trends in places like Florianópolis. And there are two things about sushi-eating here that seem particularly Brazilian: the rodízio and the temakeria.

The rodízio de sushi, or all-you-can-eat, is something I doubt I’ll be doing again. It conflicted with a certain bias of mine towards the paramount importance of the freshness of the ingredients—as I’ve mentioned before, seeing the staff pack the nigiri in the fridge is something that no-one should see. Added to that, different prices depending on whether you eat maki, nigiri or sashimi just seems plain wrong.

On the other hand, the temakeria is a lot more to my liking: these places serve mainly or entirely hand rolls, or temaki. In Hong Kong or the UK (I’ve never been to Japan), for example, temaki always seemed hard-to-come-by and relatively expensive: in Brazil, it’s a key part of the menu and is normally decent value for money. People have told me that in pre-temakeria days, sushi was too expensive for most people; a Brazilian temaki is just about meal-sized (so is far bigger than any I’ve ever seen in other countries) and available for about the price of a burger.

It’s not all that authentic, it’s certainly not gourmet and borders on fast food, but it’s definitely tasty.


The everything temaki.

The tuna one.

Well, yes, it is a bit like fast food.

Temax Temakeria, Germano Wendhausen #190, Florianópolis

Food: We had two temaki. The Max Temax was a bit overloaded with too many types of sashimi, as it included pieces of salmon, tuna, prawn, kani and octopus; the Atum especial, on the other hand, was pieces of tuna with cream cheese and a touch of tabasco. Neither included much rice at all, so were low on authenticity, but the food is good overall and I’ve been told that other places aren’t nearly as good.

Price: Where the temakeria wins is on price: each temaki cost R$14 (US$8, £5).

Restinga Recanto: Lunch in Sambaqui

By Rob Packer 

I’ve written about Sambaqui before, but we decided to head back there to make the most of today’s public holiday without spending hours in the traffic jam heading to the east of the island.

We had lunch at Restinga Recanto, a restaurant decorated with traditional papier-mâché models used in the boi-de-mamão dance (a more humane version of bull-fighting, video here) and with one of the most spectacular views in Florianópolis.

Not a bad view for lunch.

The other side of the lunchtime view.

We started the meal with a pastel de siri (a fried crab empanada) and then had anchova à portuguesa with pirão de camarão and rice. If you take away the à portuguesapart (it meant ‘with a mustard sauce’ this time), this is one of the traditional lunches of Florianópolis.


More boi-de-mamão

Restinga Recanto, Rod. Rafael Rocha Pires, #2759, Sambaqui, Florianópolis

Food: Your views on anchovy are very dependent on what you think of oily fish (I like it, my lunch companion is fast going off it). On the other hand, the mustard sauce was just strange: it’s not that it was unpleasant; I just doubt I’ll order it again. The pirão, a mixture of mandioc paste and fish stock that’s much than it sounds, was good.

Service: Service is never great in Florianópolis, the place was very busy and we were in a corner, so waiters’ indifference to my arm-waving is at least partly excused.

Price: That view doesn’t come for free: R$39 (US$22, £14) for the anchovy with sides and it came to R$67 (US$38, £24) between two for the whole meal, which is pretty much the going rate.

Anchova à portuguesa: a traditional dish, but what's with the mustard sauce?

Pirão de camarão: a mixture of mandioc flour and fish stock, with some prawns thrown in.

Pastel de siri: a fried crab empanada.

Inside the pastel.

Some fried yucca to start.


By Rob Packer

Autumnal Sambaqui, a village strung along three bays on the northwest coast of Santa Catarina Island, feels a world away from the subdued bustle of Florianópolis’ centre or the summertime activity of the city’s beach resorts. It and Santo Antônio de Lisboa, another village close by, were some of the earliest areas of the island to be settled by Portuguese from the Azores, and apart from restaurants taking advantage of sunset views, small-scale fishing and oyster farming are the most visible parts of the local economy.

Sambaqui back to the centre of Florianópolis

Sunset, Ponta de Sambaqui.

Bird. Rock. Boat.

Sunset, Santo Antônio de Lisboa.

I’ve been to Sambaqui a couple of times—it’s a stunningly beautiful place—but that is nothing on what I went to yesterday night, which still seems like one of those dream-like, eternally memorable, never repeatable moments. Read more of this post


By Rob Packer

No, not me careering at terrifying speeds across the Lagoa da Conceição unfortunately, but if you’re not in the water—unlike in Puerto Velero near Barranquilla, Colombia where I last saw it—it’s a decent spectator sport. It’s probably time to give it a try, or get my wakeboarding going again.

The shallow water of Florianópolis' Lagoa da Conceição with yesterday's wind made this a little more interesting than the book I was reading.

Two kitesurfers in Lagoa.

Yet more kitesurfing.

Floripa Sunset

By Rob Packer

In one of its tourist slogans, Florianópolis (Floripa for short) is La Ilha da Magia (The Island of Magic). After what feels like a whole week of rain and chilly nights, the magic has been wearing thin. Today, though, the sun came out and ended the day with a great sunset on the Beira-Mar, before heading home to battle exploding aubergines and rock-hard chickpeas to make baba ghanoush and hummus.

The best sunsets are supposed to be the ones where you can see the sun dipping behind the horizon. Even so, this was a good one as the sun ducks into a cloud over the Santa Catarina mainland.

Looking towards the mainland.

The view east to Agronômica.

The dunes

By Rob Packer

The island city of Florianópolis—a Ilha da Magia in local tourist brochures—is known throughout the Southern Cone for having over 40 sandy beaches along its Phuket-sized coastline. One of the most beautiful parts of the island, though, are the kilometres of dunes between Joaquina, one of the island’s surfing beaches, and the Lagoa da Conceição, a lagoon on the east side of the island.

The first proper view of the dunes coming from Lagoa.

A small pond hidden by the dunes.

Yesterday we spent a couple of hours walking across the dunes and traipsing through the swampy wetlands where colonies of plants, birds and fish have begun to colonise the sand. It seems you might get lost in the swamp within sight of crowds of people sandboarding the dunes—we almost did—before arriving at Joaquina for a coco verde. Read more of this post

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