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

Birthday feast, part 1

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Yesterday was my feared 30th birthday. To start the celebration we decided breakfast was the best idea. I wanted to go to a place called the Waffle Place or to a french café called Chez Christophe.  However, I came to realize a few days ago that this being Holy Week in a country in which Catholicism is no only the major religion in the country, but the official religion, Thursday and Friday are Holidays.

I was surprised and shocked to learn that most of the restaurants are closed on these two Holy days. Stores are closed as well, and cinemas open really late.  I find it really strange that people get free time, but then have nothing to do if they stay in town. Plus, if you decide to take a trip to the beach, everything is so packed that it is crazy.

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Given the ways things were turning out, I had to settle for what was open. Thus, going to Denny’s for breakfast was pretty much all we could do. We yesterday decided to get up early. The fact that breakfast dishes are huge at Denny’s and our lunch plans at 1:30 with our Mexican friends made it imperative to have empty stomachs in a short time.  So, by 9 we were on the move and on our way to having breakfast.

We got there at the right time. Just as we got seated a bunch of people showed up. I was really happy we didn’t have to wait for a table. As we were looking at the menus, I received the call that I most expect every year. My grandmother called, sang happy birthday both in Spanish and English and sent me all her blessings and love.  It always touches me how much Grannie loves me, and I treasure every opportunity I have to talk to her.

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After the call, I asked for my first Bday feast… belgian waffles, bacon, eggs over-easy and a side of hash-browns (potatoes are my greatest weakness) and orange juice.  Hubby ordered what he thought was a normal sized breakfast… not! He ordered a Hearty breakfast, which I have to say is not hearty at all! Scrambled eggs with bacon, potatoes, spinach and cheddar cheese with a side of hashbrown, bacon, sausage and two pancakes! All this with orange juice of course!

He didn’t realize the portion size until his food arrived.  It looked really good, but I have to say it was a Monster Breakfast. The smell was so good that I felt like the food was asking to be tasted. And so I did. The eggs had a delicious taste, certainly one couldn’t expect less of such a fatty dish. I didn’t try the pancakes, but Hubby did say the ones I make are better… I have to thank Nigella for that.

My breakfast contrasted with the look of his (as you can see). The eggs looked kind of sad. However, the were cooked just to the point I love.  The yolks were soft, so I could happily pour them on a spoon and eat them with a bit of salt.  Which now that I am writing sounds really gross when it is quite enjoyable.  My waffles were really good, but I think they could have been browned a bit for a more interesting look and a crunchier taste.  I was really disappointed that there was no honey to be served and had to manage with just maple syrup.

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All in all it was good, but too much food, luckily we could as for our left over to go. We left happily satisfied and started getting our tummy ready for our next meal…

© mylunchanddinner 2012