Lunch by the Lagoon, Floripa
Ilha da Santa Catarina, Brazil. Clearly I just can’t get enough of this island. There is just so much to see and do on Floripa. One day my cousin, the Swede and I set off in search of a dinghy to rent and sail around the lagoon. Since October is still considered the low season, none of the rental companies had started up their operations yet. We managed to contact one rental company who suggested an exorbitant price of 300 reais for one hour. We decided to cut our losses and settle on a ride aboard the local commuter ferry/school aqua-bus. We boarded a little wooden ferry packed with school children and a handful of Brazilian holiday-makers and settled in for an hour long cruise up the length of the lagoon.
The captain made several stops along the way, though “stops” would suggest pulling alongside a dock, tying off the lines, and allowing the disembarking passengers a steady landing. Our captain, however, seemed to be in a bit of rush so his preferred method of docking was to slow down ever so slightly, brush the side of the dock while passengers made a flying leap from the boat to dry land, all the while steering the bow back onto its proper course. Even the old Brazilian ladies and overweight men were sprightly enough to make the leap! Luckily for us, our stop was the last one before the ferry turned for its return trip so we disembarked in relative peace.
Once on land, the excitement quietly dissipated as we took in the sleepy little village. There were a handful of family run restaurants with terraces that extended over the water on stilts. Some were covered with canopies of vines and bright purple flowers that fluttered in the breeze. We walked a few restaurants away from the dock, figuring the prices would drop the farther from “civilization” we went. We talked to the restauranteurs along the way and allowed them to make pitches about their specials. No one really seemed enthusiastic enough until we got to Sabor da Costa. The owner left us alone at first, simply sticking a fun-size vat of homemade cachaça and three shot glasses on a table for us to sample while we perused the menu. When it was apparent that we were getting hooked, the owner, who introduced himself as Jajá, sealed the deal by describing in loving detail all the delicious things his wife Mana could whip up for us.
With watering mouths, we picked a table closest to the water so we could watch the schools of tiny fish swarming beneath our feet. We ordered the fried choco or cuttlefish with a chili aioli sauce and slices of fresh lime to start. As a main, we shared a pot of moqueca de caranha, or stew made from coconut milk, onions, garlic, tomato, and white fish that Jajá had caught that morning. We poured the creamy concoction over rice and topped it with pirão, a fish sauce thickened with manioc flour. Everything tasted amazingly fresh and light, even the battered and fried choco and the buttery broth of the moqueca (the flavor I learned was a result of copious amounts of palm oil). I’m not really sure how that’s possible, but Mana managed to thoroughly fill us up and not weigh us down. Good woman!
Practical Info: To get to Sabor da Costa, take the commuter ferry at the main dock near Praça Pio XII, just before the bridge that crosses over the Lagoa da Conceição. Take it all the way to the last stop. Get off and turn right, and walk to the last restaurant before you reach the church. It’s that simple! If you go to the restaurant website, you may be confused by the photos. I think the patio/dock must be under construction because there were no bright yellow tire fenders or yellow umbrellas around. Where we dined was much more charming! Lunch for two with caipirinhas 75 reais or 45 USD. Telephone: +55 (48) 3335-3070. Address: Centrinho da Costa da Lagoa, Florianopolis.