consumingcostarica

Cooking and eating through a new culture

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Ooo La La

Some of the best days are the days that just evolve…and it all started with a dress.

It is always a risk to put a little polish on at this time of the year, where days can morph from sunny to soggy in a matter of minutes. My weekly wear consists of your basic jeans and a T-shirt but lets face it, I was sick of practicality. I wanted posh. So while we discussed the plan for the day, I picked a little number I hadn’t worn in ages and some nice sandals.

Rafa looks up from the couch, “You look lovely. Let me take you out for breakfast.”

We make our way to the other side of town and the whole way, I drooled over what I wanted. Our destination: Chez Christophe.  At one point we had a decent Tico breakfast place, but it has since be transformed into a crappy cowboy-esque sports bar, complete with its own mechanical bull. Bleech. But lets face it, nobody does breakfast better than the French. Chez Christophe has to be one of our greatest finds so far; a tiny little eatery, with a luscious menu and nice staff. The menu may not be extensive but it does hold a perfect balance of what you need. And what I NEEDED was this:

WAFFLES! You see, we had been here before for coffee and lunch but waffles can only be bought on weekends and they are divine. Fresh and light as air they soak up the maple syrup perfectly. I was so happy. Since I feel obligated to report full disclosure, I must write that Rafa says I make better omelets and he did find a hair in his meal. I wondered how the woman seated behind Rafa with the Prada messenger bag and Bulgari watch would have handled this discretion. On a whole, the place is cozy and reasonably priced and you just cannot keep me away from these waffles.

There were a few things we needed to do, so after breakfast we ran some errands with the idea of meeting up with friends in a couple of hours, but as that time neared they had to cancel. So without missing a beat, we picked up the chilled bottle of sparkling wine we had in the fridge, our plastic champagne flutes, and bought some prosciutto and cheese at Auto Mercado and headed to our favorite little park, Plaza de Francia. It is a tiny, diamond-shaped park nestled in a quiet neighborhood that Rafa and I like to dream about buying a house in. The park usually has a handful of people lounging and playing around. The enormous bay trees hold numerous critters including this little guy:

A few months ago, doing the same things as we usually do (drinking mimosas in the middle of the afternoon), I leaned back on the park bench to look up at the tree and there exactly above us was this little guy wondering WTF we were doing and why we were making so much racket (notice the one peeper stare, as if to say, “You people again?”) He has been there consistently through many bottles of sparkling wine.  Needless to say, he has heard us solve all the worlds problems.

As the afternoon darkened, we were still loath to head home. With one final errand to run, we ended up next to another favorite destination to wind down a perfect day: Tierra de Vinos. Located in Curribat just west of the EPA, tucked into of all places a plaza, is a small wine store. On one stressful day a few weeks ago, Rafa and I wandered in to decompress and discovered to our delight, they offered Beaujolais! As much as we sampled the wines of South America, we have found, to our dismay, that well…they have been giving us heartburn. It may have to do more with the fact that we usually buy the cheap stuff, but still…it has caused much consternation. But Beaujolais has a wonderful lightness yet it is still complex and lucky for us, inexpensive. A bottle, corked and served there, runs about $15 USD.

Sitting outside on the patio sipping our wine, we also ordered a gooey chocolate brownie because nothing says hedonism like wine and chocolate with someone you love.

For a day that really had no set plan, that could vomited down rain at any moment, we were French.  And it all began with a little dress.

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Sunday Pupusas

Okay. It’s been awhile. For that I apologize. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. On the contrary…maybe too much…I just haven’t been able to launch myself into one specific topic. I find it funny, the moment you step back, don’t make yourself available for whatever reason, people are asking, “Is everything alright?”, which translates into “tell me about your gory drama” tinged with a touch of I-knew-you-would circle-the-drain-eventually. So let me just say, sorry to disappoint: things are still pretty damn awesome.

So it’s October, the wettest month in the Central Valley. Prior to my move down here, I had invested heavily in rubber, specifically great knee-high solid rubber boots. I highly recommend them. That, and a good rain coat. I have several of each, and even though the Ticas will still plow through the rain on insane high heels or flip-flops, I have gotten some nice compliments and jealous looks. I am not a fan of the ubiquitous skinny jean trend but they do look good with the boots, furthering my Tica transformation.  And one of the best places to style it up and brave the rain, is the Sunday market. October brings piles of papayas, towers of tomatoes, oversized onions, only to name a few. I bought two basketball sized heads of broccoli for less than an US dollar. Fortune may have smiled on us recently, but I am still a frugal mofo.

Having an extra pocket full of colons has made it easy to slip into what has been quickly becoming a Sunday morning tradition for us: pupusas for breakfast.

Sheer Sunday morning awesomeness

The pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish that has been modified and adapted into many delicious varieties. Usually you will see it as a thick handmade fried corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, refried beans and ground pork topped with some shredded cabbage slaw (also called a curtido) and chopped tomatoes. Now I could regurgitate the whole Wikipedia definition of these delectable noshes because like most traditional foods, there is a rich history and many people are quite particular about how a real pupusa should be made. I have had my fair share, so I am going to tell you that, Comidas J en J, the little eatery along the bullring at the Zapote Sunday market is my go-to favorite.

Rafa tucking in to a perfect pupusa

These pupusas are not as thick as the traditional recipe and are cut open at one end and filled with chopped chicharrón and the curtido. Rafa laments that there isn’t enough beans in the mix but we both agree they add some very tasty chicharrón which puts it well past the more common ground pork pupusa for us. We are regulars now. Orders are not even taken. We just saddle up to the little counter to escape the rain and within minutes there are fresh papusas in front of us, with extra chicharrón too. I am not normally a breakfast person, but I find a pupusa is a perfect start to a Sunday adventure. Not to mention it soaks up the mimosas we have later, beautifully.

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