Pedra do Sal: Live Samba..That You Can’t Hear

So last night Neil and I, along with my friend Sílvia, went up to Pedra do Sal, to see some live samba music.

“Pedra do Sal” means “Rock of Salt,” and it’s a famous location to go and watch live samba musicians do their thang. I mean Time Out Rio lists it as a must-see destination, so I guess that means it’s important or famous or something.

It’s also apparently famous because it was one of the first places where escaped slaves settled and the neighborhood in which it is located, called Saúde, has been a historically black neighborhood as a result of this. (That’s the short version, if you want to know more go Google it, or look at the Wiki article.)

It’s located just north of downtown Rio (“Centro”) and was about a 30 minute bus ride from Copacabana, which isn’t bad.

Here’s what the place looks like as you enter…

Neil entering Pedra do Sal.

There were lots of food vendors, which is always nice. We had some grilled cheese on a stick, grilled chicken on a stick, grilled pork on a stick, grilled barbecue on a stick, french fries…

Neil and Sílvia enjoying some street food! Grilled cheese on a stick and grilled pork on a stick. Mmmm.

The cheese, called “queijo coalho” is amazing. Definitely a yummy Brazilian snack.

Here’s a recipe for making queijo coalho which the author describes as “easy.” Um, not for me it won’t be. Also, can I just point out the ingredient list?

1. pasteurized cow’s milk
2. liquid animal rennet
3. non-iodized salt.

Sure, ingredients #1 and #3 are normal enough, but wtf is “liquid animal rennet”??? The internet tells me that is it the enzyme that causes milk to coagulate. …Which is how you make milk into cheese of course! Now it all makes sense…

Anyway. Here are a couple of shots of the actual place after we got past the food vendors:

A view of the samba musicians (they’re in the little circle of light, to the left of the palm tree) surrounded by toooons of people.

A view of the moon over Pedra do Sal.

Unfortunately, I think this is probably one of those places that I wouldn’t come back to. It was a Monday night (which is apparently one of the nights that the “roda de samba” — samba circle of live musicians — happens), and it was absolutely packed with people. Like packed. I mean, you can see in the picture above. It’s all outdoor, with no place to sit.

The worst part is that the sound system is so terrible that you can’t hear anything. The sound of the crowd drowns out the live music, and no one even dances samba! And maybe that was because so much of the crowd there was non-Brazilian… I think I actually heard more English and Spanish than Portuguese spoken all night.

So, yeah. All in all, not somewhere I would go back to. I’ll have to keep looking for good samba places I guess.

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