Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Washout. Eat out.

As you've no doubt noticed, I've significantly reduced the number of blog entries I'm writing. From a high of almost one a week, I'm now providing you with barely one a month, it would seem. There are two reasons for this - well, three if you include inherent laziness - and the first of them is that after weeks of false starts, I finally got going on the famous novel I promised to write for James. I then came to another grinding halt when I tumbled down a plot hole the size of a small moon (it's a sci-fi novel) but at least I managed to churn out several thousand words before I did and now it just needs a fairly comprehensive rewrite of a couple of chapters or so and I'll be back on my feet and heading off to Mars.

Sadly, it would appear I'm not exactly a master of multi-tasking and when I'm writing the novel I can't think of anything to write in the blog and suddenly I find another week has gone by and once again I've told you nothing about life out in São Paulo. Well, while the novel is wallowing in low orbit I thought I'd take the opportunity to give the blog another go.

But the novel is only one of the reasons the blog has suffered. The other is that São Paulo is doing its best to be rather dull at the moment. Today, for example, I was woken up by the rain hammering down on the driveway just outside the window. It settled into a miserable drizzle but was still so heavy that we decided to abandon our usual trek out to Emporio Santa Maria for Saturday breakfast and just sat around the house instead. It's now three o'clock in the afternoon and it's still raining heavily. Once or twice it eased slightly, but once or twice it also turned into a downpour. There is no wind and the clouds are black - this is going to continue for a long time yet. Helen has abandoned the day and gone back to bed with an iPad, a pot of tea and a pile of Ruth Rendells. James and David are so bored they've even got bored with annoying each other and are now being reasonably pleasant to one another for a change.

Actually, as I listen, James is currently watching an old episode of Hornblower and attempting to explain the plot to Angela, who comes in once a week to clean the office. She speaks no English and James' portuguese, although a good deal better than mine, is being sorely tested with explanations of the intricacies of Napoleonic naval warfare. They're chatting away though so he's obviously making a pretty good job of it. David, meanwhile, is building a galaxy out of Lego.

This week has been half term and although not every day has been as much of a wash-out as today, the weather has certainly been no help. It's been too cold to go swimming, to wet to play in the park, most of the boys' friends have either been away on holiday or busy doing their own thing and apart from one afternoon play date for James, we've been on our own for the whole week. I think at this point we're all quite desperate for school to start again.

The rest of the weekend is a little more promising, however, and I think I'll stop here for the moment and come back tomorrow once we've done something a bit more interesting than stare out at the rain...

Now imagine this for 36 hours

...Well, it's now Sunday night and I've done a fair bit of staring out at the rain today as well, but mostly from inside someone else's apartment, right at the top of a very tall building with fabulous views of a fair bit of the city (whenever the rain was light enough to see further than the next street). And finally, now that the weekend has come to and end, so has the rain. Typical.

Anyway, half term has suddenly picked up. Today was nominally a play date for David, but we were all invited and we enjoyed a pleasant late morning/afternoon of chat with another ex-pat couple and were treated to both brunch and lunch - and invited back for a barbecue when the sun comes back. Now that's my kind of a play date!

And yesterday evening Helen and I abandoned the kids and went out to dinner (for only about the third time ever) to a somewhat more upmarket food joint than we're used to frequenting. For those of you who know São Paulo, it was a Figueira. For those who don't it was one of São Paulo's better known restaurants and is situated on the wonderfully named Rua Haddock Lobo - which has to be worth a visit just for the name alone. Anyway, Figueira Rubayiat, to give it its full name, is a large restaurant which has been built around a massive, 130-year old fig tree which dominates the entire space. Sadly I forgot to bring my camera so you'll have to make do with a stock photo I've filched from Google, but it gives you a good idea of what the place is like.

And the food, apparently, is superb. I say apparently, not because mine wasn't, but because I am absolutely no judge of these things. Good food is wasted on me. If they'd brought me a Marmite sandwich instead of my seafood paella I probably would have been just as happy. However, they did bring me a seafood paella, and boy, did they bring me a lot of it. They set up one of those mobile trolleys beside the table and I watched as the chef filled my plate with various things with shells and exoskeletons. Then he piled up a load of rice and stuff in the middle until it began to resemble an emerging volcano, then he dumped a load more crustaceans on top and handed the whole thing across to me with a merry bom apetite.

Fortunately, I do have a bom apetite, but I have to confess to being defeated by my dinner on this occasion - although in my defence I'll say that I was conscious of having to keep some space for dessert. Working your way through a long and detailed dessert menu is one of life's great pleasures - even when it's in portuguese and you're as fussy as I am. Once I've eliminated all the delicate sorbets and fresh fruit whatevers I'm usually still left with a good three or four choices which include the word chocolate at least once and weighing up all these possibilities is a big part of enjoying the end result.

But on this occasion I got no further than the very first item on the menu: Chocolate Nemesis. Apparently this is a well-established recipe from River Cafe but to the best of my knowledge I've never had it. Clearly it was a challenge. In the past I have been singularly unaffected by a collection of Chocaholic Delights, have survived countless Deaths by Chocolate and put away numerous Ultimate Chocolate-Lovers This-and-Thats and clearly the time had come for my chocolate hubris to meet its chocolate nemesis.

I survived. Even though they brought me two slices, with ice cream, and even after my cauldron of paella I managed to clear the plate and was just putting the last mouthful to bed as Helen said, "oh, that looks nice, can I try a bit?" Oops. So, hubris intact and belly distended, I waddled off home determined to spend  a bit more time at the club and a bit less time in the kitchen for a while. But it's funny how things always look different after a good night's sleep.

Some things, perhaps, but not the rain. That still looks the same as ever.

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