Friday, 12 April 2013

Zaza Bistro Tropical, Rio de Janeiro

This place is eclectic and funky, just the venue to be in the Ipanema district.  It sits on a corner with cushioned benches outside the gate at street level.  Up the steps are wonderful seats on the wrap around porch for waiting or enjoying a drink with friends.  There are wonderful coloured twinkle lights hanging from the house's white trim and its azure blue facade is most inviting.  

Once inside, you can enjoy your meal at the charming bistro tables downstairs or you can sit on the cushions on the floor at the tables upstairs.  No matter where you choose, the walls are decorated with painted phrases of writers and philosophers and shadow boxes of every shape and size, containing items from all the world's religions.

This diversity is clearly reflected in the myriad of ingredients and cuisine styles.  I started with whitefish ceviche with fruit and cilantro, using wafer-thin potato crisps as a spoon.  I really appreciate ceviche, the fish (or scallop) is so tender and the flavours - lime, for instance - blend so well.  The flavours chosen are also the ingredients used to cure the fish or scallop.  Heery had Zaza's take on the Caprese salad.  This time, a whole tomato was hollowed out and filled with black olive tapenade.  How I love olives!

The mains were equally interesting.  I had flambeed shrimp with risotto al limone (lemon) - it was deliciously rich.  Heery had a special whitefish with a puree of bananas and...fresh (I'll say it again, fresh) hearts of palm.  This is a Brazilian wonder - no pulling mushy stalks out of the can.  Brazil is its home turf.  It was unbelievable!

We finished with a fabulous dessert.  A petit gateau filled with caramel and green tea ice cream on the side.  Since caramel and ice cream are two of my dear husband's favourite sweets, this was the perfect choice.

This meal was a terrific way to begin our trip as it was a lovely two block walk from our hotel on our very first night in Rio.

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