Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
On holiday in Brazil and found lots of GLUTEN FREE Options in this amazingly diverse and interesting country. A huge country with several flights transferring across the key cities and destinations, in a country which is the size of Europe, geared up for visitors after hosting the World Cup and ready for the Olympics next year, and offers surprisingly good options for Coeliacs.
This is my experience, some of my meals and my culinary experiences on my recent trip:
RIO DE JANEIRO:
PESTANA RIO ATLANTICA Hotel (Copacabana Beach).
Yes, we did look for “lola” whilst staying on “the Copa, Copacabana…” And it’s a lovely hotel which offers good GLUTEN FREE options for breakfasts. I had advised them, in advance, and on our first Breakfast, a hotel (Customer) Representative came over to our table and explained what I could have. This was useful: although I should have asked for some translations as I found on a blog (whilst searching) this useful listing which was confusing at first!
“SEM GLUTEN” translates as Without Gluten and “CONTEM GLUTEN” translates as With Gluten and “NAO CONTEM GLUTEN” translates as Does not contain Gluten.
So they offered the hot “cheese breads” Pao de Queijo which are like doughy rolls primarily made of tapioca flour and depending on how long they’ve sat in the oven /heater, have a hard exterior and a soft middle. This was my bread option alongside cold meats, (eggs and sausages which i didn’t have), cheeses, and lots of fruit. Of course, they had yogurts and once I had mastered the translations, this was super. (Some of the yogurts had a grains with them: so choose carefully). There were enough GLUTEN FREE options to enjoy a hearty breakfast (even if you repeat it every day).
A popular lunchtime option, you see around the cities, is a buffet which lays out lots of options to choose from. Whilst they do not offer allergen information, on our tour, the guide did talk me through what was GLUTEN FREE and what wasn’t. I guess it depends how adventurous you are as you can try different foods, and if you’re paying for it, they weigh it out and you pay for what’s on the plate. And the meat is cooking on spits, served by the staff.
And as you can see, I wasnt that adventurous but on a tour, this was a good GLUTEN FREE lunch.
BRASILEIRINHO Restaurant (Copacabana Beach):
Walking along the promenade, there are numerous options for eating and this place had a good menu (and with my translations) I was able to opt for a Paulista Na Pedra (prawns with rice dish). The Menu had English translations so it was easy to choose from the wide range of seafood and other dishes. A great large portion and really tasty. No room for a dessert as I struggled to finish my plates!
At this beautiful Hotel, also along the Beach, this amazing restaurant had several outstanding reviews on Trip Advisor (and at the time of visiting, was in the Top 5 for Rio de Janeiro). Of course, it was luxuriously beautiful although the service was quite slow (I think they would say relaxed, with the waiters taking their time with every course: drinks order, then water, then the drinks arrive, then the waiter takes the order, then the strange Degustation (GF but I didnt try it)….
My main course was a beautiful Belly Pork which was covered in a GF crust which was delicious. It was well presented and looked like a work of art on my plate: and tasted heavenly. The service was a little off putting but as usual, I didn’t clear my plate as I was full! An indulgent GLUTEN FREE Dinner.
CONFEITARIA COLOMBO (Rio):
A famous coffee shop, located in downtown Rio since the early 1900s and it still looks like it’s part of history with beautiful decor and even more beautiful cakes. On the Menu was so pleased that options that were GLUTEN FREE were highlighted. It makes life so much easier so I opted for a large portion of Mini Bolinhos de Bacalhau (cod roe bites) and this was huge! (Of course I didnt finish them off but they were delicious for my GLUTEN FREE lunch. They even had GLUTEN FREE desserts!)
Full of tourists (taking photos) and locals enjoying the inspiring surroundings, in the middle of Rio city.
Yes, the home of Coffee (although it is not a natural crop of the country and was imported onto plantations, many years ago) has Starbucks. But they had a great offer for just 8 REALS (7.90), a Pao de Queijo (which is served warm and really soft inside) alongside an Espresso. (Note they place a chocolate on the side of the coffee which I didnt try (and can not confirm is GLUTEN FREE). But the bread was and walking around Rio, this was a welcomed mid-morning GLUTEN FREE snack.
Leaving Rio, we flew up on TAM to Manaus
Arriving at the Airport, we had to wait for our transfer and grabbed some Lunch before we transferred to our lodge (a three-hour drive into the Rain forest). There weren’t many options as this regional airport is quite small (although a handful of International flights and development work completed ahead of the World Cup has opened up a food hall on the top floor).
So I had a burger without the bun. Of course, without any of the language, you can point and with a little support from a fellow passenger, I got mine without the bun. I had checked online and found that without the bread (the beef burgers are GLUTEN FREE) but of course, the staff found my request a little odd!
The cheese (as you can see) is a squeezy “American” style sauce rather than a slice, but having the real fried onions helped make it a meal. The fries are just fries but of course, it didnt look that attractive (served in a plastic box without the bun) but was a quick convenient GLUTEN FREE lunch.
This uber luxury resort, located on the Anavilhanas Archipelago and National Park is beautiful. Much of the accommodation in the Rain-forest is eco-lodges but that wouldn’t suit me so this was an excellent choice with air conditioning and set-up like a Safari. The activities were spaced out so that there was time to relax by the pool and take in the amazing surroundings with Nature Walks, Piranha Fishing, Sunrise Boat trip, Nighttime Boat safari etc. But back to the GLUTEN FREE Food:
All meals are taken in the restaurant, located in the middle of the Lodge and set-up as a buffet, which is continually filled up (so if you want to eat later than the suggested time, there is no worries about them running out).
Dinner: Chicken & Chips! (although rice was on offer)
The choices were always pretty good, with a selection of salads /cold meats, often a soup dish, several hot dishes (including a meat, a fish and a vegetarian dish) with accompanying vegetables and suitable supports, and then a dessert table with three or four options. Juice / cold iced water was offered, with waiting staff able to provide drinks from the bar. A bit like Safaris, the small party of guests (as there is only a handful of individual rooms for guests), would meet in the Bar area before walking over for Dinner. I found the staff helpful, although with limited English language they found it hard to give me confidence when asking about “GLUTEN”. Therefore, most of my desserts were fruit dishes rather than the cakes (which looked lovely) even if they advised they were “SIN GLUTEN”. I didn’t want to be on a boat and have an incident so it was better to be safe than sorry.
And thankful that I had taken my GLUTEN FREE Crackers with me (as breakfasts were a dull affair with my allergies). I could have bacon and cheese on my crackers, and then a course of fruit! And lots of coffee. I always travel with crackers!
After three days of meal, I would say, I was looking forward to eating somewhere else although you have to remember, we are in the middle of the Rain-Forest. After the luxury of a Seaplane transfer back to Manaus, we flew down to Brasilia.
Arriving mid-evening into Brasilia left a limited choice for searching for Dinner, so staying at a lovely “original” hotel, we opted to eat at the restaurant at the hotel. St Paul Plaza,
The waiter was very well-informed and adapted my Mozzarella Chicken dish so it was GLUTEN FREE. It was excessively covered in melted Mozzarella (which was probably too much) but then they gave me two very large Chicken breasts as well as chips and broccoli. Of course, I didn’t finish this plate but it was a good GLUTEN FREE dinner.
The buffet breakfast (in the same restaurant) was good although the GLUTEN FREE Bread was again the “Pao de Queijo” which I had missed since leaving the Big cities (in the Rain-Forest). Again, I enjoyed them with cheese and ham, and of course lots of fresh fruit and a couple of yogurts.
After a lovely tour of the city, fascinating to see how they have built this Capital (largely out of concrete) it was time for lunch. The guide had recommended several shopping centres which had good restaurants so ended up in a Steak house:
The waiter assured me that the sauces were GF and it looked such a good advert (displayed outside and around the shopping centre) so i went for it and it was delicious. The mustard sauce with my medium-well done steak was well-flavoured and the large chunky chips were good. Strange as we had to wait for a table (and they provided a beeper to advise when they were ready for us, and as lunchtime came to a close, the restaurant cleared out! A very popular choice for office staff.
A strange fast-food option was located at the Airport, before we flew onto Iguazu. A huge airport, which accommodates for lots of transfer passengers, amazingly busy with an array of regular eateries but this is one I’ve never seen before. It’s funny also to see the name as I’ve never thought that Baked potatoes are a British invention!?
A really simple dish: a baked potato, offered with a variety of toppings. I selected cheese and bacon and I have to say, it was a great hearty meal. Such a simple pleasure in the midst of a busy airport. The crunchy bacon (more lardons than rashes) helped melt the cheese. A great GLUTEN FREE option (if only they had more of them!).
After Brasilia, we flew across to Iguazu.
Located within the National Park, with a view of the Falls from the front of the Hotel, this is a purely luxurious resort and location is everything. In the style of a Colonial mansion, even late at night, a comforting cup of tea refreshed the weary travelers before the excitement of the Iguazu Falls. But back to the GLUTEN FREE food…
A great selection of options in the buffet-style International restaurant, located just by the pool. Lots of staff and lots of signage: which was so helpful.
Such a reassurance to someone like me. And the staff were really well-informed, which again helps. Even enjoyed “Corn Pie” and “Rosti Potato” which were both really tasty. Of course, they had GLUTEN FREE bread which was a delight. A shame this wasn’t toasted but to have a regular loaf, which was actually soft and tasty, was a delight.
Because of its location, there are limited options but they offer a good value buffet (eat as much as you like!) which had a huge selection. Again, they had labels on every dish with allergen information and so it was a delight to enjoy. They also had a great BBQ which they served a huge selection of meats.
Unfortunately, I think they had forgotten to label the desserts: as none of them had any signage but the staff were able to walk me through the aisle of desserts and suggest which ones I could enjoy. It was a pleasant change to have several plates of food as well as a selection of dainty sweet treats. Even Chocolate truffles (which were GLUTEN FREE).
And a GLUTEN FREE Lunch, sat by the pool, under the covers as it was raining! (strange having been in the rain forest, and it didn’t rain there!)
Again, the staff were very well-informed and I choose the Brazilian Shepherds Pie which had a lovely cheese topping. I was feeling hungry after lots of walking and ordered a side of fries (which in the end, was probably unnecessary). It was filling with a rich topping and a delicious filling which was really meaty. A great choice.
An amazing hotel which really supports their unique position in Brazil’s premier National Park. The food on offer was extensively GLUTEN FREE and of course, beautiful.
Then it was flying onto Sao Paulo:
What a strange final stop on this whirlwind visit to Brazil. This hotel looks like an upside down Melon and upon arrival: Champagne and Chocolates. (They were very insistent!) It was another luxurious hotel and wonderful to see, even with the cheeky snacks and mini-bar, they had GLUTEN FREE options (alongside the evil regular ones) but having a choice was refreshing:
Their main restaurant is located on the roof, next to the pool overlooking the skyline of Sao Paulo. It was rather busy (and noisy) with trendy beautiful people so for a quite change we ordered Room Service. It suited me to have a Salad Nicoise which was simple and tasty and GLUTEN FREE.
Back on the roof for breakfast, it starts with a lovely spread of fresh fruit, sliced meats, cheeses and yogurts before you are requested to make a selection. I choose a Egg White Omlette (which was a lovely change) and of course GLUTEN FREE toast.
The GLUTEN FREE Bread was amazing: so good that I had to check once before I ate into it, and then again, after I had had a bite. It was a lovely hard loaf, enjoyed with butter and of course, my omelette. So good I would stay there again, if only for the GLUTEN FREE Bread.
So an excellent holiday with lots of GLUTEN FREE meals or NAO CONTEM GLUTEN!
Gluten Free Airline Meals covered on this blog include (click on the picture to open up the reviews):
SIGN UP so you do not miss out on GF Chocolate Bars listing, as well as new Restaurant Reviews, Product Reviews and (occasional) Recipes. Also check out my posts on GLUTEN FREE Ice Cream, GLUTEN FREE Advent Calendars, GLUTEN FREE Mince Pies, GLUTEN FREE Easter Eggs and GLUTEN FREE Valentines Treats.