In case you missed part one, you can read all about why we picked Costa Rica and where we stayed here.
This week, I’m going to focus on what we ate. Why? Because we love our food. If you’re not into looking at what is probably way too many food photos, look away now. But if you are a foodie like we are, you can thank me for the following food porn now.
I feel the need to preface this post for those of you who have never traveled to Costa Rica by saying that the country is not well known for its food. Beautiful scenery, waterfalls, and adventure? For sure. But food? Not so much. I read this before we traveled there, and it was quickly confirmed after we asked our shuttle driver from the airport what we should be sure to eat during our visit. His response? “Well, for breakfast we usually have rice and beans, for lunch we have casado, which is rice and beans with salad, and for dinner, we usually have rice and beans with chicken or fish.” On a side note, I had just married a man who hates beans. Oops.
Regardless, we ended up trying quite a bit of Costa Rican food and loving most of it. It may have helped that while we may have looked like this in restaurants…
Our view looked like this…
|Photo by Brian Powers|
Pretty amazing, huh? Most of the places we ate had an ocean view, which was incredible! We also tried to make a rule that we could only eat at each restaurant once, so we could try as many different places as possible. The same rule did not apply for drinks 🙂
Our first Costa Rican mean unfortunately didn’t have quite the same view – we ate our first meal at a small airport cafe. Little did we know (with our limited Spanish abilities) that we had each ordered two entrees. The rice and the lasagna below are each an entree that was supposed to come with rice and beans. Of course we would start our honeymoon off looking like greedy Americans…
Even our five hour shuttle ride from the airport to the Caribbean coast proved that there are opportunities to eat everywhere. Our awesome shuttle driver Jorge pulled over to the side of the road twice, once to show us coffee plants and to let us taste the un-roasted beans:
|Photo by Brian Powers|
And again when I asked what the dozens of roadside fruit stands were selling.
Turns out, these were mamon chinos, also called rambutan in Asia. You could get a bagful for about $2 about every mile or so, and they definitely became one of my favorite snacks, as well as one of the things I miss most about CR!
They have a bit of a soft-spiky shell, but once you open that (a bit like opening an orange) the inside is this sweet, tropical happiness surrounding a hard seed. They are a bit of work, but completely worth it.
Our first meal at the lodge was also a bit unusual, as since I mentioned in part one, we were completely without power. But after traveling all day with only one meal, we were also pretty starving so we ate at the lodge restaurant by the light of one little candle. Our food was pretty tasty, but neither one of us really knew what our plates looked like until we took a picture with flash. I had a shrimp linguine pasta, and Brian went all out with the steak.
The next day, we began taking advantage of the dozens of restaurants in Puerto Viejo and filled our stomachs with fresh, local food including kick ass sea bass (the menu’s wording, not mine. Although it was pretty kick ass)!
At least a taco a day…
And some pretty amazing locally raised chicken.
One of our favorite meals was at a small place called the Jungle Love Cafe, which was owned by a couple originally from San Francisco. I, once again, had sea bass (I’m a sucker for fresh seafood) and Brian had a thin crust pizza that rivaled any we’ve had in Chicago (and that is saying something coming from two native Chicagoans)!
We even splurged on dessert that night, though I have to say my key lime souffle beat the pants off Brian’s chocolate shake 🙂
Even the three hotels we stayed in during the trip had great complementary breakfasts. In San Jose, we had sausage, rice and beans (yep, again) fresh fruit, eggs, croissants, coffee, juice and yogurt.
Our Miami hotel on the way home had a buffet of eggs, pancakes, juice, mini smoothies, and bananas. Although we were both a bit sad when we saw that the banana was from Costa Rica- we already wanted to go back!
But the best breakfast had to be the one that was included at our lodge in Puerto Viejo- where we got to choose our own style eggs, with coffee, juice, bread, and the biggest plate of fresh tropical fruit I’d ever seen. I miss all the fruit!
Speaking of tropical fruit, there was plenty of it in what quickly became our favorite drink: passion fruit daiquiris. Not to mention they were served at the restaurant in the first two photos- needless to say we parked our butts in those chairs more than once to enjoy that view while sipping on tropical perfection. Can I go back now?
Another fun thing about the area we were in was the amount of roadside food vendors. In addition to the mamon chino carts every few miles, there were also people like this guy who insisted I get in a photo with him as he cooked our skewers of beef and pork:
|Photo by Brian Powers|
And this guy, who we passed every single day as he sold mamon chinos, pipas, chocolate pods, and every other tropical fruit under the sun. This time, he was cutting the top off of a young coconut for me- stick a straw in and you have instant coconut water. Kinda ruined the bottled stuff they sell in the States for me!
I could easily share dozens more photos of food- even Brian the photographer got sick of how many food photos I was taking. What can I say? This girl likes her food, especially when it is way outside the norm of everyday eating.
Speaking of different foods, we’ve had a lot of people ask us if we had any, erm, negative results of trying so many different foods in a foreign country. We ended up being just fine – we were careful (we only drank bottled water, etc.) but we weren’t overly careful, i.e. we had ice in our beverages and ate pretty much whatever we wanted except for ceviche. Chalk it up to good luck or strong digestive systems, but we got through the trip pretty much unscathed.
Ahh, nothing like a post about food that ends with hearing about our digestive systems. Didn’t expect that coming, did ya?
I’ll be back soon to share the honeymoon post that I’m the most excited about- What We Did. I can’t wait to share with you all of the adventures we packed into one week. Make sure to bring a cup of coffee or tea and a snack for that one- I’m already guaranteeing that it’ll be a long one! Round that out with a quick post on San Jose and Miami, as well as a Filofax-related honeymoon post, and I think all this Costa Rica talk will be over! Until we go back, someday…