26 March 2011

Costa Rica! The Food!

I didn't take nearly as many photos as I would have liked. I grabbed the wrong memory card when I left the house the morning of my trip. Still bumming about that. Anyway, if I had taken more pictures, you would have gotten a complete photo essay of all the amazing food we had. Words will have to do because the food was down right memorable.

Right off the bat from a freshness, flavor and availability standpoint, the avocado, bananas, pineapple and mango were to die for. If bringing produce back to the States were an option, I would have carried back an entire suitcase!

Our on-site work day snack was always fresh fruit. About 10:00 a.m. or so the giant plastic container full of fresh fruit chunks would surface. Each day it was a little different - staples though were pineapple and watermelon. So good! Grab a fork and dig in!

Crew buddies C and C taking a pineapple break.

The camera would have come in handy to document our work day lunches. We had the unbelievable fortune of having a local woman named Emma cook lunch for us every day. She put out quite the home made spread every day. Beans and rice in a few different forms/flavors. Veggies. Spaghetti with option of veggie sauce (not just tomato sauce, it had chunky veggies in it) or meat sauce with veggies. There was a shepherds pie of sorts one day made with yuca (aka cassava). I think this was my favorite - the meateaters got a version with meat obviously, but the vegetarian version was basically fluffly mashed yuca (similar to mashed potatoes) and cheese. With cheese being sort of scarce until that point in the trip, this was heaven on a plate!

One day Emma taught us how to make bean and cheese empanadas. That was fun and delicious! Every single day she also had a fresh green salad with a chimichurri sauce and a fresh fruit juice. Saved the best for last, she made the most amazing corn bread and a yuca bread that were both beyond moist and so delicious. I couldn't stop eating it. We got the recipe and I can't wait to try it! Viva, Emma!

On the way back to El Sueno Dorado after a day of work, we usually stopped at one of the little bodegas nearby for cerveza (Coke Lite in my case) and snacks. My after work snack of choice with my bottle of Coke Lite: plantain chips. So tasty! One day the store we were in didn't have them, so I tried some lime and salt peanuts. Someone on the crew had gotten them and shared the day before and they seemed a worthy snack choice. Turns out a little goes a LONG way. The package I bought was SO salty, I had a few handfuls and never finished them.

El Sueno Dorado had its own restaurant called Benedictus Steak House. The chef was an entertaining character, to say the least. Putting in our orders became a crew joke of sorts for the week after the first night. "Should we put in our orders now?" Apparently the paper with all of our orders got wet in the kitchen the first night and there were some order mix ups. Some meals took longer than others, but I didn't mind at all. It was all part of the experience and gave us ample time to chat about our day on the work site and get to know each other better.

Dinner out at ANOTHER steak house one night! They're literally everywhere in LaFortuna.

Before hitting the work site, we'd gather at Benedictus at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast. Most mornings it was a buffet with many choices. The best Gallo Pinto ever with fresh cilantro and flavorful spices. I don't think I'd ever get tired of that. Scrambled eggs. Fried eggs made to order. Fresh fruit. Yogurt and granola, and a few kinds of mini boxed cereal. Toast. Pancakes came later in the week. Hello pancake, my old friend! That was a nice surprise. Juice and coffee were staples at every breakfast.

A familiar face in the grocery store.

For dinner, there were lots of meat choices for the carnivores. Go figure. For a steak house, though they did a good job keeping this vegetarian happy all week. I had some of the best spaghetti I've ever had. They made a great mixed salad every night and some sort of a dessert, the ice cream was so creamy and good. Makes me want ice cream right now just thinking about it.

On our final night in La Fortuna, Benedictu made us his famous flaming crepes suzette. They were famous only because we'd seen him parade by our table several times with a flaming pan prior to our last night, so we were naturally curious. With all the fanfare, I wanted to love them, but the taste of the liquor was a bit overpowering and made me not love it.

For someone who packed Cliff Builder Bars in her backpack, thinking it might be a difficult trip in terms of getting enough protein or access to vegetarian food, I was overjoyed that the food was certainly veg-friendly, but also plentiful. I ate WAY more than I normally do at home because someone else was always cooking these amazing morsels to try. A week of eating that way caught up with me though and I began to feel a little yucky on our last day. My final meal in San Jose was a bottle of ginger ale and a pack of soda crackers with a side of pepto bismal!

Oh, I almost forgot about this...on my first night in San Jose I had dinner with a few members of the crew who were also in country a day early. One thing we noticed right away were the fun Spanish to English menu items that were lost in translation. The clear favorite which we continued to see on several other menus was the "Gordon Blue" chicken.

Gordon Blue, I'll never forget you and you'll always make me chuckle.

So much goodness! A week later (and I'm pretty sure until I return to Costa Rica for another visit) I'm still thinking about the bananas, pineapple and avocado.

1 comment:

k said...

Gordon Blue?! Ahaahaha!

I LOVE going to grocery stores in different countries. Tony is almost always there.