Monday, 25 June 2012

Little Peanut Mummy & Me Classes in Sao Paulo

A fabulous Mummy friend is setting up an English speaking Mummy & Baby group here in Sao Paulo called Little Peanut. She's starting it in September and will be running classes for different age ranges.

There is certainly a culture here of sending children to day care from very early on. It is very common for both parents to work here, so if you don't have family nearby to help you either hire a full time nanny or you send your baby to a berçário / day care. If you meet other children in the park it's likely to be with their nannies.

It probably took me about 6 months to realise that we weren't going to make any friends for Sophie in the playground, so I joined the INC as they have a weekly baby group which is free. Sophie had also just turned 1 and needed more activities and interaction with other children, not just going on walks through Vila Madalena and looking at art and drinking coffee. The INC is a good alternative to sending your child to a day care as you can meet some lovely mothers who hopefully just live down the road from you. Museums, 1 o'clock clubs (god i miss these in the UK!) and clean playgrounds are just not that accessible here. I've listed a few places here that I've found over the past couple of years.

If you are pregnant, or if you have just had a baby here, there is also a great group that has been set up which does coffee mornings once a month and provides a general forum on facebook for any questions you might have. Email me if you would like more details as it's a private group for now.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Restaurante Natural com Artes

I stole this photo from their website of the dining room
looking through to the kitchen.

My mother would let me get away with blaspheming* here if she had come with us to Restaurante Natural com Arte last weekend. We were invited to a little girl's first birthday. They are not Brazilian so they chose one of the prettiest spots I've seen yet to host her birthday lunch. No clowns, no trampolines, no monitors or hotdogs... though of course they had beautiful pink brigadeiros, essential for a birthday here.

This restaurant is located in Embu but not in the main part of town that some of you might know. When you drive there you might think you are lost along this little dirt road, but stop at No. 340 as this is their house - it has no restaurant name on a plaque. They are a family run business - Felipe Senatore is a painter (hence 'artes') and Tatiana Cardoso is the chef, and they grow all their vegetables organically in their big back yard. They have a beautiful set up with an open kitchen (i want one) and a charming little dining room which seats probably up to 30 people.

A man with a guitar singing in the background old Brazilian classics. Champagne to start, with fresh bread from the brick oven built into the outside wall of their house, and delicious little antipastos. Fresh vegetable soup for the children and babies. A sit down lunch consisted of a beautiful fresh salad with a to-die-for spinach quiche, mozzarella and basil ravioli, and then a buttered white fish that had been roasted over hot coals (in a giant pot plant). Their heritage is italian, greek, brazilian.. and it all comes together wonderfully in their home.  I really felt like I had been away for the weekend being pampered in such a beautiful setting.

They have a restaurant in Moema which is open only at lunchtimes. If you want to go and check out their home, they will only open for reservations - don't just turn up! The usual clientele are politicians, actors etc... so save it for a special treat, and I would definitely suggest lunch so you can laze around all afternoon eating. I would go every Saturday afternoon if that was possible... We were lucky enough to be treated to this extravagant lunch, but I don't doubt one bit that it is close in the price range of DOM or a Fasano restaurant in town.

If I was turning 1 again, this is definitely where I would want to have my birthday!

*My english is getting so bad now I have to really root around in my head for a word in english... is blaspheming even a word?

Win Amazon Kindle!

So my other baby (along side my real children and the cupcakes) is JAM Language which I've been working on with Maria, my partner based in Dubai, for over 3 years. We produce flashcards for learning languages online - we have over 30 products under our belt including Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian... and other cute offerings like dirty.jam slang, jam.financials and

We've just released JAM Brazilian Portuguese Flashcards which is available on Kindle (and you can download Kindle to your ipad, ipod, iphone or to an android device).

In celebration of our birthdays the ‘J’ And ‘M’ in JAM are giving away an Amazon Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display.  For chance to win  LIKE the Facebook JAM Language page AND write ‘Happy Birthday’ in your native language!  Good Luck!  Winner will be drawn on July 4th.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mocotó e Lumini

Courtesy of

We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary a few weekends ago. Hard to believe this poor man has been married to me this long ... So he did his best to surprise me, and surprises don't come easily to him. We went to a restaurant I have been DYING to go to, Mocotó. He had to tell me as I would've complained the entire (long) drive there. We haven't made it out there before mainly because of practicalities. It's far away and I hear it's crazy busy on the weekends. I'm not really one for queueing for anything, let alone with 2 hungry children on a street corner. But I say this now, I will queue all morning for that Caldo do Mocotó!

What I love is that it is considered one of the top restaurants here in Sao Paulo and you sit in this restaurant / bar (it use to be his Dad's cachaçaeria) you actually feel like you are in Brazil. On the other hand, a restaurant like D.O.M could be anywhere in the world; though there food is not so bad either : ). It is super casual (thank god I put that "special occasion" dress back in the wardrobe) and you can't make a reservation. We were told to get there before 8pm to make sure we would get in on a Saturday night. We only had to wait 30 minutes which was spent supping my kiwi-caipi and people watching. 

The food is North-Eastern so has lots of flavour and chilli. Yay for my asian tastebuds! There are dishes where you can choose the size you want and share. I'm going to talk about the Caldo again... yes, it was that good. I wish we had ordered the largest bowl possible. I can't remember the name of the other dishes but one was rice based, another was a stew of some sort and we also got a plate of Carne do Sol. Our entire meal came to just under R100 including tip. 

So the plan for the second half of the night was a Love Motel. I've never been to one before but you see them dotted along the marginal. He had been doing alot of research to make sure it was a good, and more importantly a clean one for me. He picked one called Lumini Motel in Barra Funda, which has been rated No. 1 by Playboy. So I didn't quite know what to expect.. coming from a western minded upbringing, you always think of love motels being dirty and seedy. I've been told that most Brazilians lose their virginity in one. The Hong-Kong-in-me was super impressed with the efficiency. We drove up to the counter Mc-Donalds drive-through style, chose our room (Deluxe) on the screen infront of us, and handed in ID*. The gate opened, and so did our garage door as we approached it and we drove straight in to our private garage. The room was above the garage and had a spa and sauna, plus a retractable roof. For R200 we had 4 hours in the room but by hour 2 I was bored of sitting in the spa and just plain old tired, I just wanted to go to my own comfy bed to sleep!**

On the subject of Love Motels, I've heard that for Rio 20 next month they don't have enough hotels so they've had to block book Love Motels for all the UN officials. Where are people going to go when they want an hour of getting down and dirty?? I can just see it now... no one is going to be getting any, the whole city is going to be frustrated and angry, crime is going to go up and there's not even guaranteed sunshine this time of the year. Moral of this blog: don't go to Rio in June.

*remember that you have to have your ID every time you check into a hotel / motel here
** yes, i'm one of those boring married people