São Paulo – Brazil’s New York City

In Brazil, I always find it amazing the clear contrast between the cities, in terms of urban landscape, people, culture, and modes of entertainment. I love Rio, but I always miss the diversity I had at my fingertips each and every day of living in Manhattan. São Paulo is then, the perfect getaway, when I want to take a break from the beach and beer culture and try out some great dining or engage in interesting conversation with peers of similar background.

This weekend, I did just that. Thanks to my wonderful hosts, I got to visit some very interesting places.

The coffee lab in Villa Madalena: One of the coolest coffee shops I have ever been to. The concept is that aside from the normal coffee selection, the menu offers the guests various experiments in coffee, allowing them to appreciate the differences the method of preparation makes on the final taste and aroma. The place also hosts a baristas’ school and so the servers are all very knowledgeable and make part of the experience.

Santinho in Pinheiros: a restaurant by famous chef Morena Leite, located in Instituto Tomie Ohtake, a modern art center. Incredible menu of Brazilian food with local flavors. Apparently, this chef has a thing for lemongrass and many of the menu options feature this ingredient including: a lemongrass pineapple shake, lemongrass couscous and even lemongrass brigadeiro (a typical local dessert made of condensed milk). The servants at the buffet menu are chef apprentices and they make food arrangements while serving to customers. I was challenged by my friends to make a move on one of them, through showing interest in the dessert selection. I didn’t work as expected, but at least I tried..

Finally, I met my one true love, Biloba. He is a Yorkshire puppy my friends recently bought. Me, a permanent dog-avoider,  had an uncontrollable emotional reaction upon seeing Biloba for the first time. I just crossed the room, took him in my arms and exclaimed “I love you!!” in a voice full of soft, mushy nostalgia. We were inseparable for the rest of the weekend.


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