Thursday, May 10, 2012

On The Road - Belém (Pt. 8) - Tropical Ice Cream Paradise

In the hot, muggy, often stifling climate of Belém, simply being able to refresh oneself from time to time with a cone or cup of ice cream is a potential lifesaver. And if that ice cream comes from Belém's most well-known and loved chain of ice cream store, Cairu, it's also a potential lifechanger. For if you visit one of Cairu's 10 locations around the city, whether in the tourist/entertainment center Estação das Docas  or in a residential neighborhood you'll taste ice cream as good as the best that Italy or Argentina has to offer, with the added bonus of a range of flavors that exists nowhere else in the world.

Cairu sells all the standard ice cream flavors, of course, and their quality is probably high. We say probably, because when faced with the list of flavors posted on the wall choosing vanilla or strawberry over one of the local fruits of the jungle wasn't even an option for us. During our recent visit to Belém we made repeated trips to Cairu and not once did we order a flavor of ice cream we had ever had before in our lives, nor did we order a flavor we'd already tried at Cairu, tempted though we were.

Cairu's speciality is the confection of superb ice cream flavored by the tremendous cornucopia of fruits that flourish in the tropical rain forest. Fruits like bacuri, cupuaçu, ixu, murici, açaí, taperebá - all with flavors as exotic as their names. Some, like cupuaçu, which is related to chocolate, are creamy and smooth and others, like taperebá and murici have the sharp acidic tang of plenty of vitamin C. Cairu also has an interesting selection of local flavors that are not fruit-based, such as castanha-do-Pará (brazil nut) and tapioca. All of Cairu's ice creams are made in house, using only natural flavors, sugar and dairy. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives. Considering the quality of the product, we found Cairu's prices to be surprisingly reasonable. A single cone or cup (a very large scoop) was R$4.00, just over USD $2.00 and a double R$7.00, about USD $3.50.

It's 9:40 in the morning as we write this post, and it's already 31 degrees (88F) here in Fortaleza.  We'd kill for a scoop of Cairu's taperebá ice cream right about now. In the tropical heat, it's definitely good for what ails you. Too bad it's 800 miles away!

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