Sunday, March 11, 2012

School Trip - Cachaça Farm with a few stops along the way

11 March 2012

School trip today.  The ultimate destination was a cachaça farm belonging to some friends of the school owners, but we made several stops along the way.

First stop: Parque da Cruz, a city park consisting of an overlook point above Santa Cruz from which there is a view of the entire town.  The cross is a local landmark and is lit up at night so it can be seen from a distance.

(Click images to zoom in.)

Next stop: the nearby town of Rio Pardo, where we were planning ot eat at the floating restaurant, but there was the "Fish Festival" going on and the restaurant had such a long line that we ended up eating from a booth in the festival.  It was a buffet serving more or less the same food as the restaurant, and in my opinion it was just as good.
How British beat the heat... I'm sure parasols will be back in fashion in no time.   This was taken on the oldest cobbled street in the city.
The cachaça farm.

Upon our arrival and being greeted by an astonishing number of barking dogs, the owners quickly set up a table in the shade of the citrus trees for our cachaça tasting. Cachaça is a type of distilled liquor made from sugar cane.
 Due to the high taxation on alcohol and competition with larger operations, this artisanal farm closed their doors last year, so we were very privileged to taste their product.
A new teacher inspecting her first caipirinha.
I have camera envy!!!

 Time for a tour of the distillery.  We are standing in front of the sugarcane press.

Huge wooden storage vat.
The entire tour was in Portuguese, so my explanation will be very brief as I'm not sure how much of it (if any) I understood.  The first step is to ferment the cane juice in these vats.

 This one was being used for storage of empty containers. 
The boiler, which was originally wood burning but later converted to gas for a more even temperature. The room was uncomfortably hot even in March; I can't imagine what it must have been like with the boiler operating.

 The liquor steam passes through the pipes, and in the large lower tank, the pipe is submerged in cool water which cools the liquor and causes it to condense.
 It passes out the spigot and is collected in bottles where you see them on the floor.
The room containing the casks of aging cachaça.
  You can see by the flags the the distilling process produces a grimy residue on everything.
Like many families in this area, items of European heritage are proudly displayed.
After the tour, it was back to the shade for more cachaça and a lovely feast of sweet and savory snacks.

 Finally, we went out to admire the horses being boarded on the property - four mares, each with a foal.  They were interested enough in us to come within photography range but not to touch.
Aren't they beautiful?
 Time to say goodbye to the farm.
One more surprise stop - a trail which led off to this rickety hanging bridge spanning the river.  It was probably 100 meters but felt like 500 crossing it!
The gang's all here!

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