Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tognato Blankets, a 100 year old Sao Paulo tradition

This is a great segway from the last post, talking about the record cold temperatures this past week in Brazil.
My family has always enjoyed the cold Sao Paulo winters with the super comfy heavy Tognato blankets for several decades now.
And before I say more, this company lives in my heart, for very special reasons, first and foremost, it's one of my family's stronger traditions. We all have had our Tognato's blankets since we were children.
I brought all 3 Tognato's blankets I owe, and they are my strongest and dearest connections to my homeland.
Talk about homeland, the Tognato family has lived and operated their factory in my home town, just ouside Sao Paulo Brazil for over 100 years now.
Our home town is SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Sao Paulo, and if you ever drove to the beach or ever drove in front of Brazil's largest factory, Volkswagen, at Via Anchieta Highway, you have driven past my city.

Tognato's super comfortable and warm heavy blankets

I got my first Tognato blanket (twin) when I was 3 years old. I still have that blanket in Rhode Island and use it as a blanket to watch TV when I am in the sofa at our den.
When I was a teenager, my parents gave me a larger Tognato (Queen size) blanket and when I bought a house with Gil, back in 2003, my brother and his wife gave us a King sized Tognato blanket, and yes, they are all here in Rhode Island with us.

Tognato's piquet light blankets and sheets made with 100% natural fibers

High quality and durable 100% natural fibers cottom sheets

And let me tell you, these blankets will keep you warm in the coldest of New England winters even without a furnace.
Let me explain, we obviously have a furnace, but Gil and I set it at 50 degrees and it rarely ever kicks in, so we usually have an extremely cold house and we love it.
We always wear socks and sweat shirts and sweat pants in the house and always sleep with our heavy Tognato blankets.

Fluffy comfy, durable Tognato's heavy blankets

HERE is the link to Tognato's website, you can see their entire line of products and find the locations where you can buy a Tognato blanket.

Jessica, you can find Tognato's blankets in Santos at a store called:

Enxovais Capricho
Avenida Ana Costa #549
Phone: (13) 3284-4510

Ok, I love Tognato's history so much I decided to translate their story below, followed by the original text in Portuguese extracted from their website:
Originally from Lusia, a Province called Rovigo in the Veneta region of Italy, Valente, Giulia Tognato and their nine young children embarked to the port of Santos, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and from Santos, directly to the coffee plantations at the Sao Paulo state's country side.
Returning to the city of Sao Paulo, they got a job at "Crespi" Cotton's Gin and a few years later moved to Santo Andre, in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, and got jobs at "Ipiranguinha"textile mill.
In 1909, 5 of their sons, Giacinto Pietro, Romano, Attilio, Massimiliano Angelo and 1 of their daughters Amabile, took a modest loan from the Bank of London, and purchased 2 English looms and began to make light cotton blankets in a small production in the back of the family's home.
As their small industry developed, they founded "Tognato Brothers" in 1910, Giacinto started to make yearly trips to Italy where he would find and bring to Brazil the latest fashion trends and new looms techniques to be able to implement them to their new factory.
In 1930, their factory had 65,000 square feet (20,000 square meters), employed 500 people and made 2500 blankets per day.
In 1940, they moved the factory to Sao Bernardo do Campo, to a location 10 times bigger, 650,000 square feet factory.
In 2005 they moved yet again to a gigantic, modern new factory at Via Anchieta, also in Sao Bernardo do Campo, just outside of Sao Paulo.
Today Tognato make products of the highest quality, including blankets, Piquet Blankets, and also makes sheets, bath towels, bath robes, table cloths and cloth napkins. They are also very strong supplying textile products to hotels and restaurants.
Quality and tradition not always go hand in hand, but when it does the result is certain success.
 Tognato made it to 100 years of tradition in 2010, making among other products, heavy blankets, light blankets, sheets e Piquet light blankets made with 100% natural fibers, specially selected to design elegance and extreme durability, which are Tognato's trade mark.
Having a strong presence in Brazil's textile market, Tognato proudly showcases it's products among the main stores around the country, besides having a strong presence in the most important Hospitals and Hotels. 
To evolve, make a difference and have products of the ultimate quality and durability has always been and will always be Tognato's focus, because this is most definitely the reason that we have been in the in business for over 100 years.
Originário da Lusia, Província de Rovigo na região Vêneta, Valente e Giulia Tognato e seus nove filhos menores embaracam em 1895 rumo ao porto de Santos, e, diretamente às lavouras de café do interior de São Paulo.

Voltando a Capital, empregaram-se no Cotonifício Crespi e alguns anos depois mudaram-se para Santo André trabalhando na Tecelagem Ipiranguinha.

Em 1909, os irmãos Giacinto Pietro, Romano, Attilio, Massimiliano Angelo e a irmã Amabile, com um módesto empréstimo de Banco de Londres, compraram 2 teares ingleses e iniciaram no fundo da casa onde morava toda a família, uma pequena produção de colchas de algodão.

Com o desenvolvimento da Irmãos Tognato, Giacinto passou a viajar anualmente para a Itália de onde trazia as últimas novidades européias e técnicos texteis para executá-las.

Na década de trinta, a indústria ocupava 20.000 metros, empregava 500 operários e fabricava 2500 peças dia.

Na década de quarenta, mudaram-se para área de 200.000 metros em São Bernardo do Campo.
Hoje, a indústria está instalada na Via Anchieta produzindo com a mesma qualidade os Cobertores e Colchas Piquet Tognato e incorporando à sua linha de produtos, uma solução completa para enxoval de cama. Está contemplado no seu portfólio também enxoval para eventos para hotéis e buffets e um conjunto de itens para enxoval de mesa.

Tradição e qualidade nem sempre andam juntas e quando isso acontece o resultado é sucesso.

A Tognato chega aos 100 anos em 2010, fabricando entre outros produtos, Cobertores, Mantas, Lençóis e Colchas Piquet em fibra 100% natural, especialmente selecionada para atingir a beleza, elegância e extrema durabilidade, suas principais características.

Presente no mercado de enxovais de cama,com orgulho apresenta seus produtos pelas principais lojas do país, além de estar nos mais importantes hotéis e hospitais.

Evoluir, fazer a diferença e ter produtos de máxima qualidade e durabilidade sempre foi e continuará sendo o foco da empresa, pois esse seguramente é o motivo de continuar por mais 100 anos no mercado.

             Now get off the couch and go get your Tognato heavy blanket, winter is promising to be a chilly one in Brazil this year... ;)

PS: Ok, not you Jennifer, you should be just fine in Buritis, Rondonia... :)


Friday, June 8, 2012

-21C ( Below Freezing) in Santa Catarina, Brazil

Until very recently Brazil was basically known by Carnaval, Soccer and the Amazon, but this is changing now.
Brazil now became "A bola da vez", sort of fashionable, hell even Macy's has a hole section dedicated for "Products from Brazil" with soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, pottery, shoes, and clothes from famous Brazilian designers, among other cool Brazilian products. I still need to do a Macy's run to check it out and will write a post about it.
I met this very nice lady on a plane yesterday, and had a great conversation with her mom. They both live in the Miami area. Margie, Libby's mom, told me she lives in the Miami Beach area known as little Brazil where a lot of wealthy Brazilians live and she is very familiar with everything Brazil.
Libby, (wrote a comment on our blog yesterday), told me she sees a lot of wealthy Brazilians who shop at her store, and she said, "Brazilians spend a lot of money in Miami"! Yes, Libby, it's ridiculous, I know, ridiculous as in cool. It is a much needed boost to Florida's hurting economy.
I explained to Libby and her mom that things are very expensive in Brazil, principally electronics and clothes, because, mainly of high import taxes to try to boost the local industry.
But, before I go into my usual endless side tracking obsession, back to talking about Brazil weather :)
Many uninformed people have wrong assumptions, perceptions about Brazil.
The most common misconception is that Brazil is HOT, all of Brazil is HOT like the Amazon.
And that couldn't be further from the truth.
Yes, off course, that are parts of Brazil that are really HOT.
That are parts of Brazil that have very MILD climate, like my beloved and so missed state of Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo for the most part has very pleasant weather, the city of Sao Paulo if you ask me, has awesome weather. Very pleasant, pleasant as in you never need Air Conditioner pleasant.
You will definitely see Air Conditioners in Malls and large office high rises, you know the glass tower type of buildings. But you really don't actually need an A/C to survive.
In Texas and Florida for example, you DIE without an Air Conditioner, at least I would, and Gil wouldn't survive for 10 minutes without A/C in Miami or Dallas.
Hell, we don't even turn our furnace in Rhode Island, ok, we set our thermostat at 50F degrees, and the furnace rarely ever kicks in...yes, our little Cape is super well insulated, and we are hard core winter survivors from Sao Paulo. We enjoy a chilly house, we love to sleep with lot's of heavy blankets. The best heavy blankets we have ever found are from Sao Paulo. You want a good heavy blanket that will last forever, buy Tognato Brand, MADE IN BRAZIL. They are awesome.
We have 3 Tognato blankets, my 1st one, my parents bought me when I was 3 years old. My 2nd Tognato my parents bought me when I turned 18 and my brother and his wife gave me my 3rd Tognato Blanket when Gil and I moved to New England.
I have to say our awesome heavy Tognato blankets have kept us warm and cozy in the coldest New England winters, yes, even without the help of our furnace. :)

A cold winter day in Santa Catarina, Brazil, where my mother was born
Brazil has areas, mainly south of Sao Paulo that get really cold, as cold as New England for example.
Snow happens, but is not so common in many areas of Brazil principally because our winters are dry. We lack the precipitation for snow, not the cold. It gets really cold and if we had more humid winters, you would see a lot more snow in Brazilian winters, including areas of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, that do get cold enough for snow, but don't actually see the white flakes because our winters are so dry.
The city of Sao Paulo had one registered snow fall in the beginning of the last century.
Frosts are very common in Sao Paulo during the winter months.
Santa Catarina yesterday was so cold that one town registered Minus 21 Centigrades.

Entrance to Gramado in Rio Grande do Sul, after light snow

Snow covered woods in the state of Parana, near Curitiba

Snow covered home house in Santa Catarina, Brazil

You can see the report on how cold it got in Santa Catarina yesterday HERE

Vento causa sensação térmica de -21ºC em SC

Agência Estado Em São Paulo

A região sul do país voltou a registrar temperaturas abaixo de zero na madrugada desta sexta-feira (8), segundo o Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (Inmet) e do Centro de Informações de Recursos Ambientais e de Hidrometeorologia de Santa Catarina (Ciram).
Em Santa Catarina, o ar frio e seco de origem polar no Sul do Brasil causou frio ainda mais intenso, com o registro de geada de intensidade moderada a forte em boa parte do Estado.
Em Bom Jardim da Serra, no Planalto Sul, a temperatura de -9,2ºC, com o vento de intensidade fraca a moderada (20km/h), causou sensação térmica de -21ºC.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I miss the most from Brazil!!

I was just reading THIS AWESOME POST, from RACHEL's Rantings in Rio.

One of my favorite views of Brazil, ever!! Love it, miss it so bad!
And it turns out, my comment was so long, I decided to share on here with you all.
These are the things I miss the most about Brazil, on a daily basis.
I am not counting my family and friends because that is the ultimate and most important thing I miss from Brazil and the reason we are going back.

Love and miss our short weekend trips in Brazil, you always find a hidden gem!!

I really miss the water in Brazil, it tastes so great! Lighter than any water I have ever tasted! Bottle or Tap, love water in Brazil. The hard water here drives me crazy!

Cataratas do Iguacu, one of the fountains of our awesome light delicious tasting water!! :)

I also miss good quality Brazilian Chocolate and candy sweetened with real sugar …
Miss Brazilian cheese, richer in taste, smell and texture.
I miss all the activity, there is always something happening in Brazil, never a dull moment!
I miss having public transportation available all the time, everywhere…
I miss the frequent strong good rain storms…
I miss nice beaches
I miss nice weather, never too hot, never too cold, just perfect
I miss having awesome places for short weekend trips, either up the mountains or down to the coast
I miss good dentists and good doctors that are actually worried about your health and not trying to suck every dime out of you…
I miss Fresh fruits and vegetable that tastes great…
I miss awesome homemade meals
I miss TANGERINA, POKAN, still haven’t found a tangerine that tastes right over here. They all taste off and not fresh…

I often dream with a great Brazilian Tangerine, Pokan are my favorite! :)

I miss the Sao Paulo country side and it’s gorgeous views
I miss interacting with Brazilians
I miss “Almanara”, the best Lebanese food in the planet, in my humble opinion.

Almanara Oscar Freire, one of my favorites. A tradition in Sao Paulo since 1950

I miss Lebanese food (from Sao Paulo)

Lebanese food is just too darn GREAT! Miss it terribly!!

I miss awesome Sao Paulo’s Japanese Sushi, the best in my opinion
I miss the best Pizza in the whole wide world from you guessed it, Sao Paulo

You can read more about Sao Paulo's awesome Pizza HERE

I miss Sao Paulo’s awesome Chinese food
I miss Pastel, Pao de Queijo, Coxinha, Esfiha, Empadinha, Empadao, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, good Sao Paulo style Lasangna

Kibe, Esfihas and other delicious Brazilian snacks with a Lebanese flavor!

I miss Italian food from Sao Paulo, no pepperoni please, our Italians have never heard of Pepperoni either (Tum’s anyone)
I miss Guarana, Antartica is my favorite
I miss Maltzbier, also Antartica is my favorite

My favorite Brazilian beer, a reminder of our strong German roots!! ;)

I miss Sadia’s California line of products

Sadia California line, Light products made with lean Turkey meat

I miss a good quality “Prociutto”
I miss Mortadela

Mortadela on a French Roll! You can find it in any Bakery in Sao Paulo!

I miss a good “Jamon Pata Negra” (from Sao Paulo’s Municipal Market)
I miss tasty olives
I miss reading VEJA
I miss reading “O Estado de Sao Paulo” newspaper and “Folha de Sao Paulo” too…
And most of all, I miss not needing heating or Air Conditioning, ever, ever!!

I know, I know what you are thinking, a HUGE portion of my list is food!!! You guessed it right! :)

Hope you enjoyed my list


Monday, June 4, 2012

Electric Cars in Sao Paulo-Brazil

Brazil enters the Electric Car era tomorrow, June 5th, 2012.
Ok, don't get too excited, not just yet, a Nissan Leaf will be introduced at the price of R$120,000 Reais, (U$60,000) the price of a small apartament in Brazil ( Not in Sao Paulo).
In the spirit of alternative forms of transportation and the entire discussion around Sao Paulo's chaotic traffic after the epic record Friday, when congestion in the city registered 293kms, I decided to share these awesome news.
Nissan joined CET ( Companhia de Engenharia de Trafico - Sao Paulo's Traffic Authority) to start testing and developing the infra-structure for electric cars and charge stations in the city of Sao Paulo.
Brazil already has advanced infra-structure for alternative fuels, mostly likely the most advanced in the world.
There is Ethanol and Gasoline available at 100% of the existing gas station network in the country.
A HUGE percentage of these same gas stations offer Natural Gas for passanger cars and commercial vehicles all over Brazil.
My brother drives a Ford Eco Sport, made in Brazil, by Ford, and it came from factory with Alcohol and Gasoline capability, called FLEX technology, developed in Brazil and also available now in cars in the USA.
My brother also purchased a "Natural Gas" conversion kit and had it installed in his car, cutting his monthly fuel budget from U$320,00 ( Gasoline ) down to U$14,00 ( Natural Gas ), yeap, I know what is probably going thru your head right now. I thought exactly the same thing. Fat chance the BIG OIL and other powerful corporations in the US will ever allow us to enjoy such benefits of cheap Natural Gas to power our cars. I hate them almost as much as I hate the phone companies and the Airlines. ALMOST!!
The Natural Gas conversion kit is made in Sao Paulo by TURY DO BRASIL. It is very safe, reliable and 100% Brazilian technology, developed and manufactured in my home town of Sao Bernardo do Campo, just outside Sao Paulo, in the southern part of metropolitan area.
TURY DO BRASIL has been so successful that the company just recently started operations of a second unit in Rio de Janeiro to help supply the demand for Natural Gas conversion kits in Brazil and it's fast increasing exports to countries all over Latin America, Europe, the United States and Canada.

Natural Gas conversion kit developed and made by TURY do Brasil

You can read more about TURY DO BRASIL, in English HERE.
So, as mentioned in the begining of this post, the Nissan Leaf in Brazil will cost R$120,000 Reais in Sao Paulo, which is an insult and an absurd U$60,000 Dollars. Tax much!!
Each operating Taxi license at the Congonhas Airport location costs R$200,000 Reais, and CET has forecasted that the new Taxis will pay itself and the Taxi license in 6 months, with the fuel savings alone.
So the idea is to pay a large sum for the Nissan Leaf and the Taxi license and recover the cost from the fuel savings. Congonhas Aiport has the largest passanger volume in the country and will help the new pilot to take off with the fast return on the investment.
I say, clean energy is better, in Brazil we make electricity from the abundant amount of water from our many rivers. Clean and reneable energy at it's best.
The first 10 Electric Taxis will operate from the Congonhas Airport, which is the older (smaller) Airport inside the city, think La Guardia, in New York ( Domestic flights).
The Nissan Leaf has a 160Km of autonomy when fully charged. This is a pilot project and if it is successful, the plans will be to expand the fleet of electric Taxis in city and increase the amount of charge stations.

HERE you can read the original report from Noticias Automotivas website in Portuguese.

Brazil enters the Electric Car era! Nissan Leaf Taxis start operations in Sao Paulo June 5th 2012 

São Paulo inicia era do carro elétrico com 10 táxis Nissan Leaf

São Paulo terá sua primeira frota de táxis elétricos a partir de amanhã (05). A Nissan vai entregar à CET 10 exemplares do hatch Leaf. O modelo será utilizado como táxi em pontos de grande movimentação de pessoas, como o Aeroporto de Congonhas, por exemplo.
Neste local, o ponto de táxi custa R$200 mil e deve compensar o custo de aquisição do veículo, em torno de R$120 mil. Somente mediante a negociação com taxistas foi possível a distribuição dos veículos, que terão cinco pontos de recarga na cidade.
O projeto ainda é piloto e visa avaliar as condições de utilização e demanda de carros elétricos. Caso seja positivo, outros veículos deverão ser adquiridos e operados na cidade. O Nissan Leaf tem autonomia de 160 km e está em uma “turnê” de test drive pelo Brasil.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bike Sampa- New Bike rental stations in Sao Paulo-Brazil

I just had a chat with JIM from Qualidade de Vida , on facebook this morning, and Jim was expressing how happy he is that he does not live in Sao Paulo, because we have so much traffic.
Jim was impressed with the new record of traffic in the city last night, a whopping 293Km.

Sao Paulo's record 293Km traffic jam seen from a Helicopter, Friday, June 1st

Just to give you a reference, when Gil and I left Sao Paulo in July of 1998, the record of traffic in the city was 220Km, and it happened in one of our epic floods.
I will never forget that afternoon, because I drove into a parking lot at Paulista Avenue and went into a movie theater at Center 3, right across from Conjunto Nacional, and I watched the English Patient., and I cried more than I had ever cried in any movie ever, until that point. Dam long movie and when I came out, voila, traffic was all gone. I love a good Sao Paulo traffic, the perfect excuse to go watch a movie by myself... ( Gilson hates going to the movies ) ...ok, I know, I know, you thinking, side tracking, side tracking alert, I hear you!!

Marginal Pinheiros, a place you don't ever want to be near rush hour! EVER!!!!
Ok, back to traffic in Sao Paulo, what I was telling Jim, is that we adapt, we people living in the big cities, adapt, my brother for example bought an apartment 2 blocks from his job. His wife got a job at the same company, they walk to work every day, only use their car on weekends when and if they get out of the city.

Praca Roosevelt, over 23 de Maio Avenue, near downtown!! Rush hour any day!

My sister Debora, yes, the same one from the ever so popular blog post My sister Deborah and the Peabody's Ducks , has a Dental Clinic walking distance from her home, she walks to work every day, and walk home for lunch.
My other sister, Daniela, is also a Dentist and she lives in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, where they don't have such a big deal with traffic, and she lives close to a train station, so she has the option of taking a train to her Dental Clinic as well.
My father also has an office, you guessed it, walking distance from his home. They rarely ever drive, unless they are going to the grocery store or leaving the city.
My point with all these examples is to show you that the locals adapt, and fast.
You move closer to work, walking distance is better, or you work close to your home, simple.
Gilson and I were just in Sao Paulo last month ( Post about our trip in the near future ), and we both noticed a HUGE improvement in public transportation, all over the city, new trains in the suburb, newer, better buses with A/C and even TV monitors in many of them. The subway is going further than ever imagined by us, new subway stations are popping up everywhere, they are beautiful, safe and modern, it really is refreshing to see all the progress.
Sao Paulo day by day becomes more pedestrian friendly, even considering the absurd amount of new cars popping up like mushrooms all over Sao Paulo ( and Brazil ), mind you, President Dilma just slashed taxes on new cars, IPI ( Imposto sobre Produtos Industrializados - Tax over Industrialized Products ), which is just gonna impulse many people into buying a new car, some are even 20% cheaper with the new tax cut.
Here is another, new way the locals are adapting to the chaotic traffic jams.
I just learned today about the new Bike Sampa system, these are new bike rental stations, already common in the Boston area and many other American and European cities, Rio also has the system already implemented.
Now it's Sao Paulo's turn, and the plans are ambitious, 300 Bike rental stations in 3 years, with 3000 bicycles available for rent.
6 new bike rental stations were just opened this week at Vila Mariana region, they are 1 kilometer a part from each other.

Follow these easy steps:

1- You have to become a member online, at, for free.
2- Make an online deposit of U$5,00 ( R$10.00), using a credit or debit card.
3- When you decide to rent you must call 4063-3111 and get a code to unlock your bicycle, if you have a smart phone you can download an application to get your "unlock code" automatically thru your cell phone.
4- The bikes can be used for 30 minutes free of charge, you must pay R$5,00 (U$2.50) for every additional 30 minutes.
5- Bikes will be available between 6am and 11pm, every day.

HERE is the original report from UOL in Portuguese.

New Sao Paulo "Bike Sampa" bike rental station-Vila Mariana-Sao Paulo

6 New bike rental stations in Sao Paulo:

Estações ativas do Bike Sampa:


Largo Senador Raul Cardoso, em frente à Cinemateca
Instituto BiológicoRua Morgado de Mateus junto à rua Rodrigues Alves, próximo ao Instituto Biológico
Capitão MacedoRua Capitão Macedo, próximo à rua Botucatu
Humberto IRua Humberto I, próximo à Rua Joaquim Távora
Rio GrandeRua Rio Grande junto à Rua Joaquim Távora
Faculdade Belas ArtesRua Álvaro Alvim, em frente à Faculdade de Belas Artes

I hope this information helps someone use the new system, and if you do, please give us your feedback!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Improving Public Transportation in Brazil

This is a short post about an observation that Gil and I were able to make from our recent trip to Brazil.
Public transportation is improving all over the country and in a great way, the subway in Sao Paulo is reaching areas in the metropolitan region only served by bus until now.
The trains are being modernized and new buses with Air Conditioning and even TV can be found all over the place.
Curitiba probably started the trend many years ago, they have always had a great bus system that has been copied around the world, including Canada, the USA and Colombia among others.
I found this video today on UOL and thought of dear fellow blogger and friend Tom Le Mesurier, from Eat Rio,  because he is a Bus lover/admirer and rides buses in Rio daily. Tom, I hope you get to benefit from these new buses in Rio. ;)