Ques­tion­able foods and pricey meals

In­spec­tions in Brazil ahead of the World Cup and Olympics.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFESTYLE TRENDS - By SI­MON ROMERO

RIO DE JANEIRO — Tucked on a leafy street in Le­blon, the sea­side bas­tion of this city’s elite, An­ti­quar­ius ranks among Brazil’s most ex­clu­sive restau­rants. Well­heeled reg­u­lars fre­quent An­ti­quar­ius, which charges $68 for a stew of cod­fish in co­conut-tomato sauce.

But when in­spec­tors raided it in early Au­gust, they found more than 20 kilo­grams of ex­pired food like ham, en­dive and beef tripe in its kitchen, in­clud­ing about 5 kilo­grams of snails with an ex­pi­ra­tion date of July 2012.

The in­spec­tion of An­ti­quar­ius was one of sev­eral raids this year as of­fi­cials seek to im­prove the city’s restau­rant stan­dards as more vis­i­tors flock to Rio ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

“Some restau­rants think they will never be in­spected, just be­cause they are so chic and ex­pen­sive,” said Cid­inha Cam­pos, di­rec­tor of Rio’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion agency, sin­gling out an item on An­ti­quar­ius’s menu, grilled slip­per lob­ster in beurre d’es­car­gots, which costs about $78. The restau­rant’s snail but­ter used in the recipe was also found to have ex­pired, she said.

She added that the restau­rant, which serves dishes largely in­spired by the cui­sine of Por­tu­gal, could face a fine from about $200 all the way up to $3 mil­lion.

Many peo­ple have wel­comed the raids of restau­rants in Rio, where vis­i­tors are of­ten wowed by the nat­u­ral beauty and the cul­tural of­fer­ings, but of­ten lament the soar­ing prices and lack­adaisi­cal or dis­mis­sive ser­vice in the city’s restau­rants.

In an­other raid, in­spec­tors found rot­ting fish and ex­pired beef in the kitchen of the Copaca­bana Palace, the Art Deco gem on Copaca­bana Beach. Ms. Cam­pos said the ho­tel paid a fine of more than $100,000.

An ar­ray of other high-end spots here have also been found to have ex­pired food in their kitchens, in­clud­ing Quadri­foglio, an Ital­ian restau­rant in the Jardim Botânico dis­trict, and Brigete’s, a bistro in Le­blon.

A few high-end restau­rants were found to have no ex­pired food at all, in­clud­ing Gero and Zuka.

Tay­lor Barnes con­trib­uted re­port­ing.

The food in­spec­tors have also fo­cused on cheaper restau­rants, supermarkets and the kitchens found in Rio’s love ho­tels, its famed short-stay es­tab­lish­ments.

Pe­dro Mello, a spokesman for An­ti­quar­ius, said the ex­pired food found by in­spec­tors was “un­jus­ti­fi­able.” He said per­son­nel re­spon­si­ble for the ex­pired food were fac­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

The raid is just one prob­lem for An­ti­quar­ius, which is on the same block in Le­blon where Sér­gio Cabral, Rio’s un­pop­u­lar gover­nor, lives. Mr. Cabral has been be­sieged since June by pro­test­ers fum­ing about po­lice bru­tal­ity and abuses of power by the au­thor­i­ties. An­ti­quar­ius’s cus­tomer traf­fic has fallen steeply in re­cent weeks, said Mr. Mello.

Pro­test­ers were not sym­pa­thetic. “The city is full of th­ese con­trasts,” said Ernesto Brito, 36. “We think there is a dou­ble stan­dard; if some­one came here and said, ‘I got poi­soned by them,’ we’d go to jail for years,” he said. “They don’t,” he said, point­ing to­ward An­ti­quar­ius. In­spec­tors who re­cently raided An­ti­quar­ius — where the cod­fish stew costs $68 — found more than 20 kilo­grams of ex­pired food.


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