Burgers and surprises

©mylunchanddinner

It was a cool Saturday morning in Portland. My English roomie asked if I had plans for the day. I didn’t, so she invited to what she called an eating adventure. I was totally in, given that she is an absolute foodie just like me. You must be thinking now that all my friends are foodies… I think you are probably right.

We hoped on a bus and started our way downtown. It took us about 30 minutes to get there. Once off the bus, we started walking around. Turns out my friend didn’t have the exact address of the place. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before we got to the Little Big Burger, located at the Pearl District.  The place was packed. So, I thought the food was going to be delicious. I was not wrong.

The menu is not extensive at all… it includes three different types of burgers and fries. I think that is partly why they are so good, they are completely specialized. Now, the restaurant’s name is Little Big Burger… but that doesn’t mean the food is a little to big. In fact, I found the size of the burger a bit disappointing. As most of you may now by now, I like to eat. The taste however made me think not of the size but the flavor.  I think there is some kind of secret ingredient on the meat, because it was really good. Plus, the way in which they are cooked left a tasty char flavor on parts of the meat… yum yum!

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The fries were the best I’ve ever tried. They were crunchy, tasty, salty… just a dream come true! I was even giving it a thought of buying an extra order.  However, my friend said that she had a surprise for me. I was kind of excited about the surprise. After finishing our food, we started walking and walking and walking. I was so tired I was ready to quit on the surprise when we had to cross the highway. My friend laughed at me… it’s just across the street she said.

We kept walking… Look, she said, as she pointed to beautiful and colorful houses. That is the surprise! I was shocked! I had seen them since about a month ago… I think she saw my annoyed faced, so she rapidly stated we were just around the corner.  We got to a little place near 23rd street where you can get the best cupcakes in town!

Saint cupcake bakery is really what a saint’s place ought to be. It was full of sugary treats that were just so nice that made you confused as to what to order.  This place was, of course, packed too. We waited for a few minutes and ordered our cupcakes. I asked for the carrot cupcake while my friend had a chocolate one. They were both so pretty it was almost sad to bite them. The butter cream frosting was high enough to make a mess, so we were careful.

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My cupcake was fluffy, soft, sweet and very carroty. It tasted like heaven. The creamcheese-butter cream topping was also delicious, although I felt like it was too much.  I ate it any way.  My friends was also really good. I couldn’t help but steal a bit of it. The chocolate was sweet, but it still had something that made it different.

All in all, I think it was good we walked so much… I at least burned some of the thousands of calories…

©mylunchanddinner 2012

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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

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