A Special Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Event – The Caribbean Flavors of Costa Rica

I remember it like it was just yesterday…

The intense Caribbean sun searing my sand encrusted skin like rare ahi tuna while ambitious rastafarians trek up and down the shore extracting fresh coconut juice with their machetes for parched beach goers. I can still hear the gentle surf crashing and echoes of “pura vida!” from Ticos (locals) and tourists alike.

Oh wait, it really was just yesterday.

Merely hours after adjusting to the brisk 34 degree weather that greeted us at La Guardia Airport, I’ve already rekindled my 16-day hiatus from our trustee iMac to meet a very important deadline. Honored to participate in the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event where 24 featured publishers all blog about their culinary adventures within a 24-hour period, I have a short time constraint from airport runway to our tiny kitchen in the Big Apple so that I can share with all of you our last few meals in Costa Rica.

Surrounded in a tornado disaster zone as a result of excavating our non-strategically packed luggage in search of the bottle of Costa Rican rum for some liquid inspiration, I’m feeling the nostalgia of the warm Caribbean sun.

Yesterday, we began our day with a very intense and successful scuba diving session to complete our open water PADI certification (woo hoo!!!). In honor of our accomplishment, we joined our diving instructors from Crocodive for a victory meal at Mojo’s in Puerto Viejo.

Although most of you would probably expect to read about more exotic foods rather than the hamburgers we devoured over lunch, I think I would be doing a disservice to the “Caribbean” cuisine by neglecting to acknowledge its strong North American influences. In fact, all throughout Costa Rica, there are vivid signs of intense cultural saturation from the numerous Burger King locations, Denny’s, Tony Roma’s, Papa John’s and TGI Fridays.

On the Caribbean side, there are far less American food chains but the quaint little eateries are still boasting hamburgers, philly cheesesteak sandwiches and pizza. And after 15 days of eating rice, beans and plantains, we found it easy to open our palates to a good ol’ hamburguesa con queso.

Though a far cry from NYC’s Shake Shack experience or California’s famed In-N-Out, how could you possibly not enjoy a meal with this view?

After lunch we all took a stroll to Caribeans, a tiny wooden shack that serves the most amazing ice cream in homemade waffle cones.

Exotic fruity flavors from maracuya, mango and coconut to the more basic chocolate, coffee and vanilla are all entirely made inside the little bungalow.

This organic treat is handed to you in a warm waffle cone with a cookie-like texture that’s irresistibly crumbly. It was a bittersweet feeling, with the warm sun on my skin as it melted the ice cream into sticky little droplets down the side of my cone and trudging along the palm tree-lined beach, that this perfect day was our last one in Costa Rica.

Later that evening, he and I were back in Cahuita (18km from Puerto Viejo), our base camp for the past 7 days. We had our last hoorah at Roberto’s, a thatched-roof al fresco restaurant with sand-covered floors. This was our third time back and we only saw it fitting to celebrate the end of an amazing adventure at a place that became our favorite spot in Cahuita.


Though we never had the opportunity to cross paths with Roberto due to his fishing regimen from 4pm-2am, we had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the rest of the staff.

For our final dinner, they graciously invited me inside their kitchen while I observed the preparation of our special seafood platter brimming with freshly caught red snapper, shrimp, octopus and squid.

Accompanying this spread were sauteed vegetables in a Caribbean sauce made of coconut milk, tomatoes, pineapple juice and spices.

Typically served along with the rice were mashed plantains that are first deep fried then mashed in a metal contraption and sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Until the very last bite of seafood, our dinner was impeccable.

But I can’t forget to mention the most exquisite piña colada ever! After proving our devotion to obtaining the cocktail recipe, the bartender willfully relinquished his formula with the blessing to share it with all of you! Pura vida!

Ingredients:

3 ounces light rum
4 Tbsp coconut cream
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup fresh pineapple (crushed)
3/4 cup frozen fresh pineapple (crushed)
1 cup crushed ice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with fresh pineapple wedges. Serves 2.

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