INSIDER INSIGHTS by Tim Heining
The following is an interview in the INSIDER INSIGHTS: Trough Local Eyes series.
RG: Tim Heining is a British expatriate who first came to Recife in 1974 as a trainee with a British bank after completing university in the UK . He was married here in 1975 and has spent a total of twenty years in Brazil in three different periods. The latest has been the longest, since 1997, when he was posted to São Paulo by the bank. In 2003, he returned to Recife and is still here, now working as a free-lance consultant. His wife is from Pernambuco, and they have two children, a daughter and son. Tim and his wife live in Boa Viagem, the beach area of Recife. Tim also runs the Recife International Society, a social and networking group for expats.
RG: What are your links with the region?
TH: My wife is from Recife and my daughter was born in Maceió – strong links with the northeast of Brasil!
RG: What do you think is special about the region?
TH: The local culture, which is Latin, is different from other parts of Brazil because of its history as a pioneering sugar cane-based economy. It was the most important region of Brazil in Colonial times because of the success of sugar cane and many local habits and customs come from that time. Local dance and music, including frevo, maracatú. ciranda and quadrilha, do not exist anywhere else in the country. The most authentic and exciting Carnival in Brazil, also the one that lasts the longest, is here. The people are a mixture of descendants of immigrants: mainly Portuguese, but again they are different from the rest of Brazil, and the Dutch from the time in the 17th century when they ruled part of the northeast. A strong element in the racial mix is that of descendants of black slaves (Brazil was the last country in the world to outlaw slavery, in 1888). Of course, other important features are sunshine for a good part of the year; the best beaches in Brazil are on the doorstep, in the coastal stretch between Recife and Maceió; and the excellent variety of restaurants (Recife is considered the third most important gastronomical city in Brazil, after São Paulo and Rio).
RG: What keeps you in Recife?
TH: My family ties, and the fact that Recife is a convenient and very affordable city in which to live.
RG: What are your favorite beaches?
TH: Porto de Galinhas (away from the center), Tamandaré, Praia dos Carneiros, Enseada dos Corais, Serrambí
RG: What are your favorite areas of the city?
TH: Boa Viagem, Olinda, Recife Antigo, Graças/Espinheiro, Apipucos/Dois Irmãos.
RG: What are your favorite places to visit?
TH: I really like the workshop of Francisco Brennand. The famous artist and sculptor has his work on display here, and some are for sale. Also, the museum of his cousin Ricardo Brennand: a mock castle with the world’s largest collection of medieval “white” weapons (swords, spears and the like) as well as fine paintings of Colonial Recife. Places that I like to go include nearby Gravatá (a chalet-style hideaway in a cooler climate in the hills about 80km from Recife), and Caruarú (a center of local craftsmanship and culture about 150kms from Recife).
RG: Which are your favorite restaurants?
TH: The restaurants I like and would recommend are:
Traditional: Leite (possibly oldest restaurant in Brasil)
International: Wiella Bistro, Portoferreiro
Contemporary: É, Mingus, Bistrôt du Vin, Ponte
Italian: Pomodoro Café, Paesano
French: La Cuisine, La Douane
Japanese: Kojima, Soho
Japanese Modern: Quina do Futuro
Seafood: Bargaço, Amadeu, Guayamum Gigante
Pizza: Gio, Tomaselli La Gondola
Portuguese: Recanto Lusitano, Tasca
Spanish: Costa Brava
Regional: Tio Pepe (excellent value), Entre Amigos, Bar 10
Regional Buffet: Parraxaxá, Papa Capim, Chica Pitanga
Shopping Recife: Café Ferreiro, Spettus, Tio Armênio
Rodízio: Boi Preto, Spettus
Dinner/Dancing: Audrey Dining Club
Regional Contemporary: Oficina do Sabor
French:Maison du Bomfim
In Porto de Galinhas
Seafood: Munganga, Peixe na Telha
RG: Can you recommend bars that you like?
TH: I live in Boa Viagem and the bars I recommend in this area are:
Bar da Praia (Boa Viagem)
Barraco Bar e Restaurante (Pina)
Companhia (Boa Viagem)
Dona Carolina (Boa Viagem, with music)
Padaria (Boa Viagem)
RG: If someone was visiting the region for the first time what would you say they “must do”?
TH: I would say they must visit Olinda, Recife Antigo and Porto de Galinhas. They should also enjoy the regional buffet at Parraxaxá.