Chocaholics rejoice! Easter comes around early this year, but there is more to please the seasonal devotees than gaudily-dressed ovals of chocolate hanging from supermarket ceilings. From specially crafted menus to handmade desserts, Time Out Rio delivers the ultimate food guide to the four-day weekend.
The infamously expensive bacalhau (salt-cod) invades the city's menus once again, giving chef's their annual bash at turning it into something original and enticing. We've picked some of the best Easter menus, which include more than a few tempting alternatives, too.
The Leblon charmer takes two swipes at the classic dish, the Bacalhau à Brás do Santa (R$52) brings slices of the meat with a strong mixture of anchovies, egg, onion and olives, while the chef’s special (R$54) is a grilled cod steak with cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers and quails eggs. Avenida Ataulfo da Paiva 1335, Leblon (2529 2063).
Barra da Tijuca's café celebrates the flavours of Portugal with a special festival that ends with a bang on Easter Sunday. The cover (R$49, serves up to 4 people) is more comprehensive than some entire dinners, taking in smoked pork, bacalhau, cheese from Beira Alta and Portuguese sardines, but the creamy Bacalhau Espiritual (R$39, right) is the star turn. Downtown Shopping, Avenida das Américas 500, 21/126, Barra da Tijuca (3084 5202).
The Thai specialists don’t miss out on the seasonal cheer either, with celebrated chef Marcos Sodré delivering a bacalhau steak with breadcrumb crust and creamed baroa with tapenade (R$72, below). Rua Dias Fereira 571a, Leblon (2511 0057).
True to form, the healthy-minded foodies of Gula Gula have transformed the salty-cod into something altogether lighter for Easter Sunday lunch in the form of a bacalhau crumble tart served with a simple green salad (R$23, not available in Rio Sul or Lagoon outlets). Rua Henrique Dumont 57, Ipanema (2259 3084).
On Good Friday, Leme’s Italian classic adds such seafood delights as slices of squid filled with salmon, octopus and asparagus (R$52) to the traditional baked salt-cod bacalhau (R$99) offering, while Easter Sunday sees wild boar (R$72) and grilled lamb ribs (right, R$120) on the menu. Rua Antônio Vieira 18, Leme (2541 4477).
The house bacalhau at Fratelli is served with homemade saffron pasta and a caper and olive tomato sauce (R$96), but the squid-ink ravioli filled with ricotta, shrimp and lime shavings with seafood ragu (R$75) may just swerve even the sternest of tradionalists. Rua General San Martin 983, Leblon (2259 6699).
'Tis the season to gorge on chocolate, but while the supermarket ceilings are stuffed to the head-tickling brim with cheap and cheerful choices, there are plenty of independent and boutique stores creating grown-up, artisanal gems.
Whilst all around her are creating contemporary art and fashion masterpieces, Marcella Morizot is turning out high-quality chocolates and tarts from her workshop in the Bhering factory. Look no further than the 500g chocolate egg stuffed with creamy brownie (R$30) for the ultimate indulgence. Order through her website (fazendodoce.com.br) or by phone (4141 7859).
Roberta Buarque's Barra chocolate boutique has created a beautiful range of fabric-covered Easter boxes filled with small pots of Belgian brigadeiros (R$52 for 6, below) with a twist. From classic dark chocolate to tangy lemon, the crowd-pleasing little dippers are part of a huge variety of the diminutive doces that can be ordered online (belgaderie.com.br) or by phone (2529 6822).
Deli 43 – Pavelka
Variations on the traditional easter offerings at Pavelka range from heart-shaped bites to eggs covered generously in hundreds and thousands and the three-chocolate torte topped with berry jam, comfortably big enough to last through the weekend (R$89). Rua João Lira 97a Leblon (2294 1745).
Cosa Nostra Deli
Hélio Casagrande’s Ipanema import specialists are the place to find the luxury international brands. Guylian’s trademark swirly seahorses provide the filling for their eggs (R$64.90) while Lindt’s golden bunnies come specially packaged for easter (R$43.90). Not forgetting, either, the dependably delicious Lindor truffles with their rich, smooth filling (R$129). Rua Visconde de Pirajá 303, shop 103, Ipanema (2523 2745).
Alessandra Stein has produced some of the more tempting Easter specials to come out of Tijuca this year, not least the famous tarts including the Torta Brasileirinho with a double brigadeiro filling and milk chocolate and brigadeiro topping. The bombons (below), filled with yet more of the uber-sweet goo, take the prize, though. Rua Conde de Bonfim 944, Tijuca (2238 7074).
The ice cream kings have filled little milk chocolate eggs with their famous frozen flavours including hazelnut, dark chocolate, After-Eight mint and pistachio. White chocolate varieties come stuffed with almond, raspberry and passion fruit ice cream (R$6 each, R$71 box of 15). Garcia D’Avila 134, Ipanema (2247 2148).
Brigadeiros Fabiana D’Angelo
Fabiana D’Angelo, Rio’s very own pioneer of premium handmade brigadeiros (below), has created some custom delights especially for Easter, covered in tiny hundreds and thousands (R$350/100). Other treats include Easter biscuits (R$8 each), alfajores filled with brigadeiros (R$9) and cookies made with cake base sprinkled with chocolate strands (R$6.50). Rio Design Leblon 2nd floor, Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva 270, Leblon (21 3322 4570).