Strawberry fields… forever

It was an early Saturday morning. We were sitting on the kitchen table having breakfast and enjoying the view. I had not made plans for the weekend, so there was no clue as to what activity to do. Hubby then came to realize that the mountain right across our sight had no clouds over it. “I think today would be the perfect time to visit the Poas,” he said. After Mom and Dad’s visit, we had learned that one of the mountains we could see from our house was in fact Poas Volcano. I had never paid attention or looked at a map to feel oriented at my house. Dad, however, was a different story. He sat for long ours at the kitchen table and observed the mountains. He came to the conclusion one day and told us about it.

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I looked ahead. I could see the volcano for the first time in months. “It might be a good idea,” I said, “let’s get ready.” It wasn’t long before we were heading our way. We had tried to see him for several times. When we got to the toll booth the girl would say the crater was closed by clouds, so we would go back home, not without stopping on a delicious place.  This time was different. There was a lot of sun, and the girl was smiling to everyone while handing the tickets.

We were happy to now that having our resident ID’s we could now get a 90% off price given to Ticos and residents. Then, drove to the top, or at least closed to it. After parking the car, we started walking on a small trail that lead to the volcano’s crater.  It is definitely beautiful with a turquoise lagoon and fuming spot. We took photos and then followed the hiking trail to a lagoon that used to be a secondary crater. The place was absolutely gorgeous. It was also inviting to dive on it. However that is strictly forbidden, I guess the water’s composition is the main reason. The lagoon was surrounded by trees and plants, and one could even see small animals around.

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The walk was exhausting. One had to go up to get to the crater, and given that I had not exercised in a long time, I was really tired. Plus there is the altitude change that makes oxygen’s concentration in the air drop. The sun was heavy too. Ok, maybe this are all excuses to get to the point. After my visit, I was as always starving! We decided to go to a place that we had met earlier, Freddo Fresas, a lovely restaurant whose beverage speciality is a strawberry shake made with fresh strawberries from the fields on the mid slope of the Poas.

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I haven’t seen the strawberry fields which lie on the slope of the Volcano. However, I have seen the huge strawberries, but even better, I am witness of their sweet flavor. It is also very encouraging for me to get them because they last so much longer than the ones I get on the grocery store. Of course, they have just been harvested, and that is the main reason for this.  So, I encourage you to go to farmer’s market any time you can, or even to places where you can harvest your own.

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After getting to the place, I ordered the strawberry shake blended with water, as I was trying not to gain too much weight (which you all know didn’t happen). Hubby requested a pineapple fresco. They were both good, I must say. However, mine was way better. The taste was sublime. I blame it all on the rich fresh strawberries.

We then ordered our food. Grilled chicken breast for me and chicken casado for Hubby. Casado is a traditional lunch plate which combines white rice, beans, lettuce salad, fried plantain and a meat. I apologize for the lack of photo, but I was so hungry I just photographed mine. I can tell you, though, that his food was delicious. I tried everything, except for the plantain. My dish was super good. The salad was crispy and fresh while the vegetables were just cooked, steamy and tasty. The chicken had a special flavor that made it really special.  All in all, I thing Freddo Fresas is a marvelous place to eat, plus it is not that expensive! Don’t forget to try the strawberry shake!!

©mylunchandinner 2012

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A tiny taste of Mexico

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Being Mexican, I am always reluctant to eat Mexican food in any place which is not my beloved country. I’ve been always like this, specially after getting sick, by the look and flavor of the food and physically in some cases. However, about two weeks ago I was craving for something that tasted or at least looked like something made back home.  Hubby was googling places to eat because we had ran out of ideas when he came across a very interesting webpage.

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He turned the laptop to me and said “Look! What do you think?”. I was completely excited by the photos, and asked where the place was. He said it was downtown San José, and we could go there if I wanted to give it a chance.  I wasn’t even hungry, but I suddenly felt a huge whole in my stomach, so I said: Let’s go I’m starving!

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We got to the place really fast. Los Huaraches is decorated with photos and paintings with Mexican motif. The tables are funny to watch given they have recipients where you can see some of the most common ingredients used in our cuisine: chiles, nixtamalized blue and white corn, among other things.

Now, before I move any further I have to tell you the term Mexican food is too general. Given our country is so big and every region has it’s own climate, every state has it’s own dishes. Some are similar, but have different names, and the food is extremely different if you are at the North, South, West or East. However, there are some classic things everyone nows.

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The waitress came to say hello, and asked what we wanted to drink. My husband asked for the watermelon “agua fresca” (natural made drink), it was fresh and sweet. I ordered my favorite, tamarind. It was really good, with the sour touch of tamarind as base, but with the sweetness of sugar that is added to make it drinkable.

We then proceeded to study the menu. It had photos of some foods, which looked really homy. Hubby decided on Enchiladas Suizas, which are chicken breast tacos covered with tomatillo-cream sauce and cheese, a gringa, flour tortilla with cheese and Trompo meat (at the capital is called Pastor). Trompo meat is pork with different spices and colour that makes it look red-orange and when made correctly is super delicious. I wanted to ask for something we call Campechanas which is the term used for a taco that combines any two types of meat, but the waitress looked clueless so I decided for the big taco with Trompo and beef.

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The order didn’t take long before it was on our table. The enchiladas were really tasty, with the tomatillo sauce having a slight lemon flavor.  It didn’t however have any cream, which made the sauce very green. We are used to slight differences, so we didn’t mind… wait Hubby didn’t mind. I tried them and they were extremely good! His gringa was really tasty, though it was also really oily. I was too happy to care, he was kind of upset. For some reason, he is not calorie conscious latelty.

As for my big taco… it looked like a burrito, which opposite to what most of you think is not a Mexican dish. Inside it contained my choice of two meats, fresh cheese, black beans, lettuce and sour cream. It was kind of weird, but the meats tasted so good that I was happy with the result.

Overall, of what we ordered the gringa was the most similar to our food. We do have to go back again to try other stuff that looked really interesting. We were very happy with the look and taste of everything, and that we found the place. The most mexican-like food I’ve ever tried.

Hope you enjoyed reading this!

© mylunchanddinner 2012

Happy ending

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Hubby was planning where to go on Sunday since last week. He decided we were going to see the Ujarras ruins, go have lunch at a place where one catches their own trout and eat dessert at the Coffee Plantation Restaurant. So after breakfast and getting ready, we got into the car and off we went.  He was really happy to see that the construction in the highway were done and traffic was not that bad.  However, when we were getting close to Cartago, a small town we had to drive through, there were a lot of cars “parked” on the streets.  I started looking around and saw a large group of horses, more than a 1000 easily, and so got to the conclusion that there was going to be what the Ticos call Tope, a horse parade where all you see are horses walking.

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Given that Hubby was hungry, the amount of cars and horses got on his nerves, so we decided to give a u-turn and drive back home.  On our way back, he kept asking me where I wanted to go, but I had absolutely no idea. I started giving ideas with the help of a webpage that presents “all” the restaurants in Costa Rica, but he was not happy with the results. He then proposed to go to… McDonald’s. I was not very happy with his suggestion, but decided discussing the idea was going to be a waste of time.

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Getting in McDonald’s was a triumph. There were about 20 cars making a line for the Auto-Mac. The parking lot was completely full, and people were walking all around to get to their cars.  Once inside, I sat on one of the few tables that were free, and waited for Hubby to bring the food. After setting the food on the table, he went to get the beverages and ketchup. I sat looking at the fries and noticed that the big fries are a waste of money given that the amount of fries was exactly the same as the medium ones. The nuggets were good, crispy and hot. Now, this is not our first trip to MD, so I do have to warn you… if you want to eat there, you have to make sure the place is packed and there is a long line to order. In this way, you are sure you are getting fresh food just made, otherwise, they may give you a hamburger that has been sitting there for hours.

After lunch, we crossed the street to see puppies at the pet store, but here were none! I was kind of sad given that since I can’t have a dog at home because of the building’s policy, I like to at least look at them… After this third disappointment, we went to our car. I was still hungry… Hubby made a last suggestion; let’s go with the french guy he said.

I was so excited by the fact that I am sure my eyes glowed.  We got to Chez Christophe in about 4 minutes. We sat on a table at the terrace and enjoyed the good weather while waiting for the waiter. He soon came and asked our beverage orders; we both asked for tea. The waiter brought the tea box so we could choose. I picked a strawberry-mango infusion while Hubby grabbed a digestive tea.

I then proceeded to the counter, where my dreams came true. I couldn’t decide on what to order. I was hoping for a pain au chocolat, but true to be told once I was standing looking at all the desserts I completely forgot about it. I was supposed to go back to my sit and order the pastries, but I couldn’t help it, I had been seduced by the sweet looks of everything that was standing under the lights.  I asked the girl for a lemon pie and an apple tart.

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When Hubby saw my happy face while holding a plate, he decided to do the same.  He came back with a moccha cake, a three chocolate cake and a fruit pie. Now, don’t be shocked, all this delicious treats are made mini-size. It’s not like we ate a huge piece of each. It all looked lovely. I first had a try of Hubby’s choices… they were all really good, specially the moccha cake which had the perfect combination between the sweetness of chocolate and the bitterness of coffee.  The three chocolate cake was a bit too much for me, but Hubby loved it. And the fruit tart was tasty, sweet and just in the right size.

As for my pastries… the lemon pie was really delicious. The filling was soft, the bottom crust crispy. The taste of the lemon was enhanced by the sweetness of the crust. Mmmm, super good! The tart was even better, it was sweet, creamy, buttery and crunchy. It was the best of the best… just sublime! I think that a trip to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have a taste of this lovely sweet pieces of heaven. So don’t forget to visit Chez Christophe if you come visit… it is located just across the west side of Paco commercial center.

© mylunchanddinner 2012