Tomorrow is the official kick of Carnival! A beautiful celebration in many countries, and nowhere more famous than in Brazil. If you ever consider spending a carnival there with the children (something I’d love to do when ours are a bit older and can appreciate the all-night partying), you might prefer to skip Rio’s, and head to the Northeast of Brazil, to the (slightly) smaller but equally thrilling Carnival of Olinda. Outside of Carnival, the region is equally a delight. I toured the NorthEast of Brazil quite extensively, backpacking, when I finished university, but I never got a chance to go back. I still dream of the colors, the food, the smiles of the people. I’ve said it before on the blog, I must have been a Brazilian in another life so much I love this country (read these posts on Rio here and here). I’m so happy that Cecilia Fernandes from the famous Brazilian children’s clothing line Mercatore is sharing here the Best Of her native region, in and around the city of Recife. Muito obrigada Cecilia!
MEET CECILIA & THE MERCATORE FAMILY
As I don’t have any kids, I’m going to describe the Mercatore family and how it started. My mother Graça (55) founded Mercatore in 1980 in an old building of a sugar mill in the State of Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil. She intended to take the woman from the hard and seasonal work of sugarcane fields into embroiderers and seamstresses with a sensitivity to produce delicate and sophisticated pieces. At that time, she only had Maurício (33), my oldest brother but soon she had Eduardo (31), Maria (28), Me (27) and Luiza (25). We all grew up between lines, needles and cane. The family keeps growing and now he have Tom (10), Raul (7), Francisco (3) and João (18 months). We were all born in Recife, city where I now divide my life with São Paulo.
Pernambuco is a very rich state in crafts. Our slogan is Bordado a mão em um país tropical, which means hand embroidery in a tropical country. At Mercatore, we are also very influenced by the bright colors that you find in our food, façades of colonial houses and obviously the Carnival. We try to use all this background with what happens in the design world, and make fresh, happy and timeless clothes that will pass on from generation to generation.
THE BEST OF PERNAMBUCO
The state of Pernambuco is really amazing because it combines culture, nature and food. And I would say the most authentic Carnival of the country. The best places to go are: Recife, Olinda and Carneiros Beach.
Ps: I’m not even mentioning the paradise island of Fernando de Noronha, which deserves a whole chapter on its own! In case you make it there, don’t miss a dinner at Zé Maria (it happens twice a week, on Saturday’s & Wednesday’s).
PLAY in RECIFE
1) Oficina Francisco Brennand – Is an open-air museum with a great garden. Francisco is one of the greatest brazilian artist alive and he is very often there (and he is just like Santa Claus). After strolling between art and animals stop at the Café Brennand and taste the best cakes ever. Don’t go back home without buying some ceramics that are for sale in the coffee store. Address: Propriedade Santos Cosme e Damião s/n, Várzea Recife – PE 55. 81. 3453-1326
2) Parque da Jaqueira – This is the oldest park of the city. The gardens were designed by the master of landscaping Burle Marx. Really nice to play with other kids and for a picnic in the shadows of the Jackfruit tree.
3) Parque Dona Lindu – Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, this park is located in front of Boa Viagem Beach. Good place for skateboarding.
4) Livraria Cultura – Best bookstore. It’s right next to a cloister that was transformed in a mall (Paço Alfândega), in the old town.
EAT in RECIFE
Beijupirá – Northeastern cuisine for a romantic dinner Avenida Saldanha Marinho s/n, Olinda – Tel: 51190-660 (ao lado da Igreja da Misericórdia) 55. 81 3439-6691
Alphaiate – Bar with great food and family friend Avenida Boa Viagem (2° jardim) – Pina Recife
Wiella – International cuisine Avenida Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira, 1274 – Boa Viagem Recife Tel:51011-050 55 / 81 3463-3108
Chiwake – Peruvian Cuisine Rua da Hora, 820 Recife – PE, 52020-010 55. 81 3423-1529
SLEEP in OLINDA
SHOP in RECIFE
For artisanal and rustic items, go to:
– Mercado de São José for handicraft and straw baskets.
– Casa da Cultura for hammocks and linen tablecloths.
For design, go to:
Ovo: Clothes and costume get mixed. It’s very fun. (kids)
Osklen: One of the iconic brazilian brands.
Galeria Mariana Moura: One of the most recognized contemporary art gallery in the country.
Another great place to go on a family vacation by the beach is Trancoso in Bahia state. I often go there because it is between São Paulo and Recife. The town is very quiet and the beach is amazing. The Uxuá Casa Hotel is a amazing place to stay with the kids, as you have your own house and kitchen. And all the houses face the Quadrado, the heart of the town, where people join to talk, the kids play soccer and there are tiny stores and delicious local restaurants.
Mercatore has their own website, but for now they only deliver in the Brazilian territory. Any international retailers & e-shops reading?!
To visit the stores in Brazil, keep those addresses:
Recife: Rua Souto Filho, 96 – Pina (55.81.33264418)
São Paulo: Rua Oscar Freire, 232 – casa 04 – Jardins (55.11.30623339)
Shopping JK Iguatemi (opening April 2012)