Where to go in Brazil
As the fifth largest nation in the world, Brazil is one of the planet's most diverse destinations. Base yourself first in Rio de Janeiro's bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood, taking a walking tour with Eat Rio Food Tours, before catching a bus a few hours southwest to the colonial beach town of Paraty. Take advantage of good-value domestic air passes to fly north from Rio to Salvador, the colourful music-packed and African-influenced heartland of Bahia state, before continuing further northwest to the giant sand dunes and remote lakes of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. It's an area best explored on multi-day jeep adventures booked in the regional centre of Barreirinhas. Essential Brazilian destinations for travelling wildlife fans include the Amazon, and the other-worldly riverine marshes of the Pantanal in the southern state of Mato Grosso.
What to watch
Food and football dominate what's good to watch about Brazil on Netflix. Innovative chef Alex Atala is profiled in episode two of series two of Chef's Table, especially his focus on foraging for traditional Amazonian ingredients to showcase at his award-winning Sao Paolo restaurant D.O.M. The African influences on the cuisine of the Brazilian city of Salvador feature in episode two of Street Food: Latin America, while the beaches, backstreets and Carnival energy of Rio de Janeiro are the background for the always entertaining Phil Rosenthal in episode one of series four of Somebody Feed Phil. His guide, Rio local Tom Le Mesurier, runs walking tours of the city and the excellent Eat Rio website (
After virtually feasting on coxinha (deep-fried croquettes), churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) and lime-infused caipirinha cocktails, take in the story of Brazil's legendary footballing superstar with Netflix's Pele documentary. Through Google's Arts & Culture project, it's also possible to explore Brazil's Museu de Futebol (Football Museum) online. Search for "Futebol" on artsandculture.google.com.
What to read about Brazil
Classic travel narratives set in Brazil include The Lost City of Z (2009) by David Grann, retracing the steps of the legendary explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett who disappeared deep in the Amazon in 1925, while A Death in Brazil (2005) by UK writer Peter Robb combines commentary on Brazilian food, music and literature on a diverse journey throughout South America's biggest country.
Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil Through Soccer (2014) by David Goldblatt details the passion for the sport in the only country to have won the World Cup five times, while Brazilian Food (2014) by Thiago Castanho and Luciana Bianchi is a brilliant guide to the country's diverse cuisine.
What to eat to experience Brazil
Beyond coxinha and churrasco, other classic Brazilian dishes include feijoada, a hearty stew of black beans and pork or beef, and moqueca, a seafood casserole with fish or shrimp that's often infused with coconut milk. The Brazilian Cafe in the Auckland suburb of Albany (www.centrecourtcafe.co.nz) serves up an excellent moqueca de peixe (fish stew), as well as traditional street snacks like coxinha and pasteles, delicate empanada-style savouries. Back in Auckland's CBD, Kika's Kitchen is hugely popular with Brazilian students (
) and their West Auckland food truck, Kika's Kitchen West, combines coxinha and churrasco. Find them on Instagram @_kikas_kitchen_.
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Another Brazilian combination of food truck and bricks-and-mortar location is Auckland's Te Maki (temakitruck.co.nz). Serving up the Brazil-meets-Japan mash-up of temaki – think sushi and fried chicken served in a hand-rolled cone of rice – they're located at The Eatery food court in Kohimaramara' s Eastridge, and friendly co-owners Rodrigo and Jenny are also out and about over summer in their food truck. See @temakitrucknz on Instagram for locations.
What to drink
Best enjoyed from one of the roving vendors along classic Rio beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana, the caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail. Sugar and fresh limes are muddled together in a glass before a hefty shot of cachaca, a Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane juice is added. Liquorland and, Glengarry Wines both stock Cacacha 51, Brazil's most popular brand, and limes are plentiful and in season in New Zealand from March to June. Get muddling.
Available from Auckland's Brazilian Cafe and Kika's Kitchen, Brazil's other national drink is Guarana Antartica, a zesty soft drink made with the guarana plant from the Amazon rainforest. Guarana is now used in other energy drinks, but Guarana Antartica, made since 1921, is the original. Note the drink contains caffeine, so a bit of moderation is recommended.