Posts Tagged With: food

Life in Costa Rica

Do you want to know more about Costa Rica? Do you have questions? Are you thinking of moving here? Maybe just a vacation? Join this group and find out everything you need to know from people who live here! What is the best places to stay. Where are the best places to eat. How does the healthcare system work? You name it we have the answer for you!

 

https://www.mylifebook.me/index.php?do=/expatscostarica/

 

Pura Vida!

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Win an amazon gift card today!

9/5/14: Update Contests begins!

Lets start a contest!!! It will start today 9/5/14 and end on Thursday 9/26/14 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard time. The contributor who raises the most money via referrals will get a $5 amazon gift card for every $2k raised by the end of the contest. There will only be 1 winner. Every Friday until the contest ends I will post who is in the lead and how much they have raised so everyone knows. See the Gallery for the current graph. So lets get to sharing!!!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-life-book/x/8546605#home

Pura Vida!

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Best of Costa Rica on Mylifebook.me

All new posts will now be on the blog section of My Life Book. You can find it at http://www.mylifebook.me

You can find us in the Coffee House section at Best of Costa Rica

There you can find my blogs, there is a live chat, videos, we can have discussions. You name it. Its a more interactive blog! So come join me there!

Here is what a current My Life Book member sent to his friends and us.

Here is a message from head of Marketing for My Life Book, LLC

 

Also My Life Book is running a crowdfunding project to raise money to place games on their site. Their games will have no advertising, no need to beg friends for help,they will be fully functional and not crippled and no privacy issues! So check out their funding site My Life Book Games.

If you own a business or sell products on ebay you want to check out these features of My Life Book!


Check out this other cool video telling you what My Life Book has to offer for members!



Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Finance, Food Chick, News, Photo, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorry to say, but happy to say at the same time

My new project My Life Book has taken over my life. In a week we have already gained almost 5K members! That is great. So much of my time is now spent there I can no longer keep this up over here as well.

So Best of Costa Rica now has a presence on MLB. All blogs and other items will be posted there. This site will stay here for achive purposes, but anything new will be posted on Best of Costa Rica’s coffee house page. Please follow me over on MLB.  You will get everything you get here, but there. If you sign up before Monday you get a free lifetime membership. After Monday there is a yearly subscription fee depending on what you wish to do.

Here are two video’s for MLB. Hope you enjoy them and will join us over there. Look us up.

Hopefully I will see you there!

Pura Vida!

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HOME FRIES AND FAUX POTATOES

HOME FRIES
This can be a lifesaver for a meat and potatoes man (or woman). 
Recipe from Nourished; a Cookbook for Health, Weight Loss, and Metabolic Balance.

4 slices bacon (3¼ ounce or 93 grams)
2½ cups (15½ ounces) Rutabaga Faux Potatoes (See following recipe.)
½ cup (2½ ounces) peeled and chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Chop and reserve. Pour off the fat from the pan. Measure 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and return to pan. Sauté  the cooked rutabaga, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add onion to the skillet with rutabaga and sauté until the onion is soft. Add the reserved bacon and the salt and pepper and cook until heated through.

“I appreciate the potato only as protection against famine, except for that, I know of nothing more eminently tasteless.”– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825

Makes 5 servings of ½ cup.
Per serving—Net carbohydrate: 7.8 g; Protein: 3.7 g; Fiber: 2 g; Fat: 2.9 g; Calories: 77
Total weight: 14 ounces or 398 grams
Weight per serving: 2¾ ounces or 78 grams
Preparation time: 5 minutes active; 20 total

Notes: RUTABAGA
Some sources list the carbohydrate count for rutabaga as being higher than that for turnips; some list them as being about the same. I prefer rutabaga as a potato substitute because it is a bit milder and the texture is more like potatoes, but rutabagas and turnips can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Buy the smallest, freshest rutabagas you can find. Fresh ones will be heavy for their size and they will feel firm to the touch. Avoid ones that have been waxed to give them a longer shelf life; they may feel hard but the older they are, the stronger they will taste.

~~

RUTABAGA FAUX POTATOES (Basic Recipe)
Try this when you are missing those hash browns and home fries. They may not pass for russets, but they are very much like Yukon gold potatoes. Unless you tell them, your guests may be convinced that they are eating potatoes.

3 small rutabagas (about 1¼ pounds total)
2 walnuts in the shell
1 slice of lemon with peel, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Sweetener, if needed

Peel the rutabaga and dice into ½- to 1-inch cubes. Simmer for 10 minutes in a generous amount of water to which you have added salt and pepper and the 2 whole walnuts. Change the water if desired, add the lemon, if using, and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes more or until fork tender. Drain well. Discard walnuts and lemon. Return the rutabaga to the pan on low heat and stir a minute or two longer to dry. Taste the rutabaga and if it is bitter, sprinkle with a small amount of sugar substitute. Use like potatoes in soups or chowders or to make faux potato salad or Home Fries. (See previous recipe.)

Notes: Adding walnuts in the shell to the cooking liquid will neutralize the odor of cooking cabbage; I have discovered that it also helps counteract the turnip or cabbage flavor of similar vegetables, like cauliflower and rutabaga. Lemon also helps to neutralize strong flavors. Changing the water once while boiling makes them even milder.

If the recipe you will be using calls for cream, rinse the rutabaga well after draining to remove any trace of the lemon so the cream won’t curdle.

“There is nothing so tragic on earth as the sight of a fat man eating a potato.”
– Vance Thompson, Eat and Grow Thin, 1914

Makes 5 servings of ½ cup each.
Per serving—Net carbohydrate: 6.5 g; Protein: 1.4 g; Fiber: 2.9 g; Fat: 0.2 g; Calories: 41
Total weight: 15½ ounces or 440 grams
Weight per serving: 3 ounces or 88 grams
Preparation time: 15 minutes active; 35 minutes total

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

Booking a vacation? Use our link below! 


Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: La Divina Comida

La Divina Comida

We have had dinner here 3x now and it has been very consistent with is quality, price and presentation. Now it is not a cheap place to eat so you are not going to go here everyday. It is what I call Fu-Fu food. In other words very high end stuff. As far as high end food goes the price for what you get is pretty good.

Let us begin with the food. We were here on the day we went to Cartago. We stopped in for dinner. There were 4 of us so the bill was up there.

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This was our free starter. It was a little over grilled for me, but tasty none the less. The butter was an herb butter and it was very, very good! The bread was soft and warm. Again free! So even better!

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Ceviche Limeno. The lemon was a little over powering, but it had a nice flavor to it. Warning there is octopus in there so if you don’t like that kind of thing you may want to avoid this dish. Presentation was nice, but a bit over sauced really. This cost 5,609.76 colones or $10.36. It was a good portion and I think worth the price. It can most definitely be shared by two!

 

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Believe it or not this is a salad. Ensalad Arugula. A wonderfully tasty salad. One of the BEST SALADS I have had in Costa Rica! Yes the Salad Nazi said it is one of the BEST SALADS in Cost Rica! It had flavor and needed no dressing at all. The avacodo on top was wonderful! Nuts and leafy greens and all sorts of stuff put into that stack! I love how they stacked it! 7,235.77 colones or $13.36 and again enough that two could share it and make an nice salad appetizer.

 

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Lomito Funghi was very good. The sauce was very nice! The grilled veggies had a good seasoning on them. Now that steak was cooked to perfection Medium rare as I like mine. Sometimes I like it more on the rare side, but this was as I asked for it. The meat this trip was just a little tougher than I am use to having from it, but still nothing that horrible. Just needs to be mentioned. This cost 14,552.85 colones or $26.88. Now that is a bit on the high side. If the meat was a little more tender I would say sure. I would have been comfortable paying maybe $18.00 for this. So no I wouldn’t order this one again. While the presentation and it was cooked to perfection the tenderness and amount puts this more at $18 and not $27.

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Lomito Saltado and I have no clue what that means, but it is steak medallions. I was told it had a good flavor. The steak was again a little tough to eat. I’m surprised as the other times we have been here the steak has been tender. Not sure of the issue today. This was priced at 9,674.80 colones or $17.87 a little better price with the exception of you get a lot less steak on this plate. Plus you add that it has fries and rice and I’m sorry not at this price. I would not have paid more than $12 for this really, maybe not even that.

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Risotto Lomito Saltado and I was told this was very, very good. The best he has had. He loved the Risotto. Again steak was just a little on the tough side, but he said nothing to really complain about. Again just noting it. This dish was 10,487.80 colones or $19.37. I again would not pay this much for this plate again. Personally if this was priced at $15.00 I would not hesitate to order it again!

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Salmon Cointreau was very good. This was my wife’s dinner. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the veggies were nicely grilled and the butter sauce always makes a big hit with us! The cost of this dish was 9,674.80 so that would be $17.87. Now this I would pay for this dish.

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Mouse Tres Chocolates was scrumptious I was told. Nicely done, looks great and its cost was 3,170.73 r $5.86 an well worth this price. Taste and size makes it worth a try!

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This Suspiro Limento dessert needs to be savored and eaten slowly. It is very rich and very creamy and has just a lovely taste to it. The lime is not over powering and the sweetness is just a great match. We had two of these and the cost was 6,341.46 colones or $11.71  or $5.85 for one. Well worth the price no doubt!!!!!

Now we also had 4 bottle of San Pellegrino 750ml size which came to 9,430.84 colones or $17.42 an we had 1 coke zero which was 1,422.76 colones or $2.63. Now I was surprised to see that if we had all had soda it would of cost more.  Plus side is that Pellegrino is better for you than Coke zero so if you like sparkling water it is a better option here than a coke!

The balance of the meal was 2 Cafe Americano’s which cost 1,951.22 or $3.60 for the two. They were small cups and the typical bad restaurant coffee. We also had 1 herbal mint tea for 813.01 colones or $1.50 which isn’t bad for a cup of tea I guess. Not much of a tea drinker myself. Its as bag so it was what it was nothing special.

Our total price with tax and tip came to 98,850.00 colones on the nose or $182.57 for 4 people so that comes to $45.65 per person. That really doesn’t sound that bad when you break it down like that.

So lets wrap this bad boy up and tie a bow around it shall we. Very nice restaurant inside and out. The place is wonderful. The staff was very, very attentive and took care of our every need. The food had great presentation. The steaks were tough so I had to take a point off for that. The prices for the amount of food was a little high. So again a point off for that as well. The bathroom were very nice, clean, maintained and had what was needed. So would I go back? Sure! Would I get the steak? No. I would go for the seafood next time.

So I give them 3 Rating seashellout of 5. Took off as I stated for the toughness of the steak and the prices. As I stated I would go back no doubt.
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

Booking a vacation? Use our link below! 


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Food Chick Tip

Today’s Chick Tip…..We all have different lifestyles. Weight loss is different for everyone. The key to finding what works for you is experimentation. The two common factors are diet and exercise. Find what works for you and enjoy the ride!

I have been using my Nutri-Bullet for four weeks, once a day five days a week. I have discovered my favorite concoction; organic spinach and blueberries, cantaloupe, banana, almond milk and either chia meal or hemp hearts (sometimes both).
I have noticed a reduction in my fluid retention as well as increased energy levels. In addition I have opted to make my mid afternoon meal the largest meal of the day on most days.

For exercise my goal is five hours of cardio a week with three days of weight training. I mix up my workouts with walking, rowing, hula hooping, circuit and core work. This week I will begin Body Flow classes at my gym.

To date I have lost eight pounds and am six pounds away from my first target weight. I will set my next goal after that.
The key for me is to keep it changing, no monotony.

I am not a nutritionist or personal trainer. This is what works for me. Find what works for you. If you want me to help you I can do that. Contact me for more information through my website, www.thefoodchick.biz

Click here to get you magic bullet from Amazon! Magic Bullet

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Use this link to see all thing Costa Rica on Amazon! Make your purchase today! All things Costa Rica

Remember if you get an account with the Unblock-US vpn you can than Live stream your movie and tv shows at our link! 

Booking a vacation? Use our link below! 


Categories: Food Chick | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Update on Budget report June Recap

Well I have to admit I have learned a lot from doing this blog. I have learned where to shop and where not to shop no doubt. Pricesmart was way over priced, but I kind of knew that, just didn’t want to admit it to my self. I am now shopping more at that local Coope. Here are the last few days of the budget.

day 24 thur 30

As you can see we did do a little exploring and really all it cost was lunch one day. The other day because I drove both days they treated us for lunch on the 2nd day. Which was very nice. I still haven’t had to fill my gas tank yet. I love my car!!!!! You can see I am $757.73 over budget, but I think you can do it for less.  You really can live for under $2k a month and even under $1k a month and it all depends on how you wish to live. Size of the house, employees, etc. So lets look at how we can trim this thing down and what I have leaned from all of this.

final summary

If we look at the final summary and see what I have removed. You would have $604.14 left on the $2k budget. Now if we add back an amount for additional food because of the eating home more and not out. I also added back 4 of the cheaper meals so you can eat out once a month. Really you could eat our more on that if you know where to go. As you can see I also added Rent of $700 and I still only failed the challenge by $211.12. Really if I would have shopped more local and not at the expensive places I would have come out of this under budget!

So what are the tings I have really learned? I eat out way to much. The place I eat are way expensive and I will now avoid them, as the food and service isn’t any better than the cheaper places. Some of the cheaper places like Dingo’s the food was amazing! Yes I know I owe you all a ton of restaurant reviews! I promise I will get to them. I have all my receipts right here to be sure I remember which ones I need to do. :-)  Dingo’s review is in our trip overview for Zarcero. You can find that blog here: Zarcero when I finalize the Cartago trip there will be two reviews in it since we ate out 2x. Now the dinner I did not include in my budget as it was hella expensive and I knew I would take it out and not include it at all in any of my calculations. I have learned I need to be smarter about how I shop and not just look for what I am familiar with. I’m not going to do and full blown budget like this one, but at the end of July I will give you an update on how well I did in July. See where we end up shall we. Did I really learn anything and could I put what I have learned into action and change my habits? Only time will tell. Oh wait I can’t do it for July we are going back to the states so that won’t be fair. Ok so August.

I think my Goal is going to be in July to find the cheapest and best places to eat in Costa Rica. Yep that is going to be my goal!

Well that wraps it up. I hope you have enjoyed it and have learned a few things. Keep following our blog and we will keep you updated on where we go and the things we do and the bargains we can find in Costa Rica. Have fun today and thanks for reading!!!!
Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. They do mail to Costa Rica fairly cheap. I did a test of a mouse pad and got it in 12 days delivered to my house! Amazing!!!!



Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!


Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Best of Costa Rica’s Readers Top Restaurants

My top 10 list created such a stir with many of my readers as well as on some of the Expat Facebook groups I opened it up to everyone to send me what they had. So here is the list in no particular order and they are not ranked. This is just a comprehensive list to show you where our readers eat and to help give you an idea of where you may like to eat in the various areas. So I hope you enjoy it!  If you don’t see yours, I might not have received your list. Please feel free to comment on this post and tell us about your favorite place to eat in Costa Rica! Not all of these can you get a meal for 2 for under $60.

Here is a link to my top 10 list where you can get a meal for 2 for under $60, no including booze! The following are readers picks sent to me in email.

La Carreta – Atenas Centro – great Tico Food. Try the Aztec soup.

La Triilla, Atenas – Tico food. Favorite is grilled pechuga or fish with garlic

Hamburguesia – Escazu Plaza Tempo in the Holiday Inn Mall. Burgers, toppings and sauces make this a great place for lunch

 Sushi Kai – Santa Ana Via Lindora. Artistic Fresh sushi

Saga – Avenida Escazu . Fresh international food prepared to perfection.

 C-Vichito y Mas – Alajuela near Price Mart. Chef owned. Very creative and eclectic. He loves to add chocolate flavoring. Tell him what you want as your main and let him create your meal!

Tintos y Blancos – Multiplaza Escazu. Great Tapas and wonderful wine list.

Baccus – Santa Ana. Five Star food and service. Mediteranian food and hand made pizza. Great wine list.

Citron – Playas del Coco. Depending on what you order, you can get in under $60, but drinks are between $5 and $8 and wine by the glass is $5. Atmosphere and service is top notch. The best thing I like about this restaurant is that it has some imagination when it comes to food and the presentation and preparation have been consistently great.

Valero – Playa Hermosa near entrada two. Best value is on the nights they have their Parrilla set up. Then they offer a variety of specials that are between $10 and $18 including salad and side dishes. Atmosphere is right on the beach, so you’ll get great sunsets depending on when you go.

Toro Negro – Liberia (just across from the main church). They specialize in steaks, but have a wide variety of other things. The Hamburger Toro Negro was 4800 colones but was perfectly prepared and very tasty. Most steaks are around 8900 colones which includes salad and two sides.

Le Coc – Main street Playa del Coco. They have a small kiosk in front of the casino on the main street in Coco. There are no tables, so you pretty much sit at the counter or take it out to the beach. They feature basic menu of middle eastern wraps at vaery reasonable prices, and the food is amble and good.

El gusto de la vida – Playas del Coco. It is off the beaten path in a mall shopping center near the little luperon. Don’t confuse this one with La Dulce Vida – another Italian restaurant. Food is excellent and very reasonable – 4500 colones on the average. It is very small, only about 8 tables, but the service is good. They also bake their own bread.

La Esquina de Buenos Aires – San Jose

Hands down this is one of the best meals I’ve eaten in this country. The meat is amble and tender, presentation is perfect and service is excellent. Depending on drinks and wine it might go over the 60$ limit, but the food is terrific.

 Jalapeños Central, in downtown Alajuela – The food is tasty and quickly prepared to order and is moderately priced.  In addition to the Tex-Mex fare, there is some killer buffalo chicken on the menu plus some wonderful desserts.

 El Colibri in Puerto Carrillo – Argentinian barbeque everything is as fresh as can be

Mantras in Barrio Escalante 200 meters east of Farolito and 25 south – People who have never eaten vegetarian food before have commented that they never thought vegetarian food could taste so good, and this is what keeps people coming back again and again.

Jolly Roger near Dominical has excellent wings.

Galeria Steakhouse heir tuna steak is as good as it gets anywhere.

Restaurante  La Farola the gazpacho is out of this world, the Russian salad is unique and very tasty (sort of a potato salad with tuna)

Restaurante de Lucía –  Known for their succulent steaks you can choose your own cut and they will cook it to order.

Pecora Negra Puerto Viejo  – fantastic nightly specials

Graffiti in Jaco – we have eaten there three times and have had perfect meals each time. I had this dessert once that was amazing, it was Elvis something. It was on my husband’s bday, as I normally don’t get dessert, and it was to DIE for.

So you now have a few more selections, but that is all I got. So send me more or just comment on here and tell us the name, a link is always good, where it is, and what is best to eat there. So shoot us a comment to add to this list.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Chick tip of the day

Today’s Chick Tip…..an easy recipe for Greek style salad. Served here with Porterhouse steak and a gorgeous Bordeaux Rose! Also delicious with salmon and grilled chicken!

Greek Salad Recipe

1 can hearts of palm – cut into rounds
1 can artichoke hearts in water – quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes – halved lengthwise
1 English cucumber – cut into rounds and then quartered
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon of truffle salt
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon garden herb seasoning
5 large basil leaves chiffonade cut
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Crumbled Feta cheese – sprinkle on top, as much or as little as you like!

Combine all ingredients except feta cheese and refrigerate.
Upon serving sprinkle with cheese!

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

Categories: Food, Food Chick | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zarcero, boy did you have a surprise for us!

Today we decided to take a trip to Zarcero and boy and I glad we did! I went with the wife and 2 friends. It was a really good trip. Good company beautiful town and just a wonderful feel. Boy if I knew about this place it could have been in the running for where we may live instead of Atenas, but I really do lover our town of Atenas.

Our morning started at 10:45 as we drove off out on our adventure. We stopped to pick up one friend, the other drove to our house. We went to the gas station to fill up. Not that it was that far, but I have learned that in Costa Rica you should always fill up before you go on any adventure to anywhere you have never been before. You just don’t know what will happen.

It was a pretty uneventful drive. We had good company so the drive went pretty quickly. The roads can be a little twisty and windy from Atenas, but during the day and when it isn’t raining its pretty easy.

We got there right at 12:00 on the dot! It was time for lunch and we really wasn’t sure where to go. As we drove into town one of our friends saw a little shop area that had 2 restaurants listed. One had fast food in its name so we figured we would check out the other. So we go in and can’t find the one that was listed that wasn’t fast food. I went upstairs and saw what could have been it, but it wasn’t open. So we decided to take a chance. Here are some photo’s of the little center.

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Oh my are we glad we took the chance. The food was amazing and the prices were just as amazing! Dingo’s fast food  is where we ate. Don’t let the words Fast Food fool you. It was nothing like fast food!

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Patacones were ok. So at this point we were not 100% sure this was a right decision, but than we tasted the salsa! It was delicious! So we had hope. The only problem with this was there was way too much breading and too little plantains. This was 1,450 colones.

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My friends call me the Salad Nazi and with good reason. I am very picky over my salads. Now this doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value to it, but let me tell you it was good. The chicken was a pleasant surprise. This was the Ensalada Dingo. I don’t think that was dingo on our plate! The croutons were toasted bread and not too soft but not too hard either. The dressing was a ranch and just ok, but he chicken was the hero here. The added ham and cheese was nice as well.  This was 2,950 colones and actually it was enough to be a nice lunch in and of its self. \WP_20140625_12_44_22_Pro

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Next up our friend got the Super Hamburgesa. This is a direct quote from our friend who ordered it, “This is the best hamburger I have ever had in Costa Rica.” This is high praise coming from her. It had 2 kinds of cheese, pickles and just a small piece of bacon, but it was about 1/2 lb of burger! It came with a side of fries. This cost 2,950 colones as well and well worth the price!

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There is that wonderful salsa again! This was a Burrito and again direct quote, “One of the best I have had!” So again another winner and it comes in at 2,800 colones.

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Ok so Alitas Buffalo and there are 7 of them here. I took some flack for putting Hooters on my top 10 restaurants list and this place knocks them off! I would have liked a little more heat, but there was enough to make me happy and not too much that some who doesn’t like a lot of heat wouldn’t want to eat them. They were crispy and the breading was very different, but wonderful. They were very generously sauced as you can see. 7 of them cost 1,900 colones. Amazing price!

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This was the Costilla BBQ which is BBQ ribs. They cut them into pieces which made it easier to eat. Left the bone so you have to watch when you bit them. Pretty good. Wasn’t a wonderful BBQ sauce, but it was good. Now these potatoes were amazing! I don’t know what they did to them, but they were very tasty and flavorful! This dish was 4,000 colones.

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Ok so I was a little skeptical about getting the Churrasco. I am glad I did. Again served with those wonderful potatoes! The side salad was the same minus the chicken as our main salad. So the steak I am going to let this video speak for me.

Yes it was that tender. It needed a little salt, but other than that it was really good! So very surprised and wasn’t not expected this from a little shop that had Fast Food in its name! It was a good 6oz cooked so a good size. It cost 3,450 colones. I was shocked!

We also got 2 Cafe Negro, 1 Te frio and 4 Coke lights. The cold drinks were 1,000 colones each and the coffee was only 600 colones. We also got a dessert that we shared. I didn’t get a picture of it. There was a cinnamon roll and a fruit roll and I swear it was made from angle food cake batter. We couldn’t believe it. Very nice and it was only 500 colones for each one. Very good deal.

So total for our lunch for 4 with all that food and drink was only 29,450 colones or $53.69 for those who don’t know the conversion. I was amazed! It is one of those great accidental finds that you just never know will happen. We are so glad we decided to take a chance and not go anywhere else.

Now we get to the reason we were in Zarcero. We went for the garden and the church. Both were amazing! Love the beauty of the gardens and the church. So here are the pictures I took at the garden.  Click on the images below to see larger views.

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The other reason we went was to visit the church. It is one beautiful place, no doubt. The art and paintings are amazing. So here are the photo’s I took while at the church. Again click on the images below to see larger views.

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Over all it was a very nice day. Good friends, Good food, beautiful town and a wonderful drive. If you get a chance you should go visit this wonderful place and eat at that wonderful restaurant. Here is the blog of one of the friends that went with us. Check it out. Keeping you in Stitches

The only downside was the drive home. The rain held out until we were ready to leave, but I had to drive those twisty windy roads in the rain. We made it home safe and sound and that is all that matter.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Cost of Living Update days 17 – 23rd.

Sorry for the lapse in updates, but really not a  lot to show. A few things and I was waiting on hearing from my Insurance guy on how much I pay for Ins. both house and car to post that for a monthly item. As it is in Costa Rica it took him forever to send it to me. So here is the update. Pretty boring!

day 17 thru 23

 

I can post pictures, but to be honest it really was a boring week. We had great lunch for the Expat’s group. Oh wait I have pictures of that I should post those. Hold on let me get them!

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I had the special This was yummy! and at 4,500 colones along with a piece of cake and all the ice tea I could drink a bargain as well!!!!!! He so should put this in as a regular special! Anywhere that gives you free refills is a place to go!

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Pretty good event. They handled all 20+ people very well. Food was good! Service was excellent. I think we could do it here again. If you are in Atenas you should stop by and see them and have a bite to eat!

So as you can see over budget by $700, but we still have month end to get to. We will evaluate the budget and see where we can trim without too much of a sacrifice and see where we land.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Sale and Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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This weeks speical at Kay’s Gringo Postres

This Week’s Daily Specials – Jun. 24 – Jun. 29 (all specials now come with coffee or tea (free refills), and Free baker’s choice of dessert)  

Tues. – Herb-roasted chicken with steamed rice and a side salad – ₵3,500

Wed. – Green salad with tomato, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, carrot, red cabbage and avocado, with choice of house homemade Ranch or Vidalia Onion vinaigrette – ₵3,500

Thur.– Kay’s famous chunky Gazpacho with a grilled cheese sandwich – ₵3,500

Fri.  –   Beer-battered shrimp with hand-cut Steak Fries and a side salad – ₵3,500

Sat.  –  Chili dog and French fries – ₵3,500

Sun. –  Breakfast buffet featuring omelet station along with frresh fruit, bacon, smoked pork  chops,  gallo pinto, scrambled eggs, home fries, biscuits with sausage gravy, and Lisa’s Home-Made Cinnamon Rolls  – ₵6,000.  Fresh orange juice ₵600 extra  Watch for new items on the menu, including Mexican Breakfast Tacos with Pico de Gallo, as well as Fresh Fruit Yogurt with Granola, for breakfast offerings.

You can find them at Kay’s Gringo Postres Facebook Page!

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

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Eat Costa Rica Today!

I have decided to every now and again, unless you all want this more often, to post a days worth of meals starting with Breakfast and working our way though dinner. all Costa Rican Style meals and how to prepare them. So hope you enjoy it!

Breakfast or Desayuno

Costa Rican Rice and Beans With Fried Eggs

Not the actual dish there was no picture to go along with this dish. Sorry.

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup long-grain white rice
kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons Lizano sauce, more to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Step 1
Put the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 cups of water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside with the lid on.

Step 2
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 3
Add the tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and 1 cup of water and simmer until the liquid reduces to the level of the beans, about 4 minutes.

Step 4
Add the rice to the beans and mix well. Stir in the Salsa Lizano and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Step 5
Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan to coat evenly. Gently crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the yolks’ edges have just begun to set, 2 to 3 minutes. (The eggs should cook gently, so lower the heat if needed.) Separate the eggs with the edge of a spatula.

Step 6
To serve, put a heaping spoonful of the rice and beans on a plate and slide 2 eggs on top. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Time Prep 10 min. Cook 20 min. Serves 4

Lunch or Almuerzo

Hearts of Palm Parmesan Salad.

Ingredients: 

1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained & rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped (use white & green parts)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper (Use fresh cracked pepper)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

If you want this to be a meal add the following:

2 medium sized Cucumbers chopped, 1 Shredded carrot, 2 oz each shredded cabbage (Purple and green), 1 while onion chopped or sliced, optional but very nice to have is some sliced mushrooms.

Directions:

Chop and mix in a a large bow. Let sit in fridge for about 1/2 hour to marinade.

Serves 2 to 4 depending on your cutting abilities about 10 min. prep.

Dinner or Cena

Appetizer or Aperitivo

Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed, mashed with a fork
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/4 cup spinach, cleaned and dry
1/4 cup shredded Monterrey jack pepper cheese
1/4 cup salsa

Directions:

Step 1
Spread black beans on half of the tortilla.

Step 2
Spread the spinach on top of the black beans.

Step 3
Spread the cheese on top of the spinach.

Step 4
Fold tortilla in half.

Step 5
When time to heat up, cover tortilla with a napkin and heat in the microwave until heated through 1 – 1.5 minutes.

Step 6
Top with salsa and enjoy

Serves 2 Prep to cook time about 5 min.

Entree

Corvina a La Chorillana (Peruvian Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce). Photo by vvoci

Corvina a La Chorillana (Peruvian Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon annatto oil, divided (see note)
2/3 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, divided
2/3 fresh hot chili peppers, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch strips, divided (red or green)
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1/3 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
1 lb sea bass (cut into 1/2-inch steaks)

Directions:

Step 1
Heat 1 tablespoon annatto oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over moderate heat, tipping pot to spread oil across the bottom.

Step 2
Spread half the onion slices, tomatoes, and chili strips in the hot oil.

Step 3
Sprinkle with half the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Step 4
Lay fish steaks on top of vegetable mixture.

Step 5
Cover with remaining vegetables and seasonings.

Step 6
Drizzle remaining annatto oil over top.

Step 7
Cover and simmer over low heat until fish is opaque and firm, 20-30 minutes. Do not overcook.

Step 8
NOTE: to make annatto oil, heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in 1/4 cup annatto (achiote) seeds. Stir for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. This will keep several months if tightly covered and refrigerated, but it will lose flavor as it ages.

Dessert or Postre

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains. Photo by Sue Lau

Oven Baked Sweet Plantains

Ingredients: 

2 very ripe plantains (when the skin is yellow with spots of black they’re perfect)

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Step 3
Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel.

Step 4
Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.

Step 5
Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray.

Step 6
Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

Serves about 2 Prep and cook time about 17 min.

So there you have it! A complete day of meals Costa Rican Style! I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you try and how it turned out. Either comment here or send us an email. If you want us to show your creation email us what you did and the pictures and we will post on our blog. Thanks!

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

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Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants

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Update: Who knew this would be so controversial. :-)Let me clarify a few things about this list. 1. It mainly covers the Central Valley area. While we do travel out of the area we do not eat out of the area enough at any one place to be able to evaluate it property. 2. You must be able to get a meal for 2 for under $60. and 3. Consistency is key. Please visit my blog I wrote on this subject to understand more of my guidelines that I used to select the following places. Yes there are 3 US chain restaurants. That is just the way it is. There are none that I have found that can replace them for the items I suggested you eat at each one. They meet all my requirements for being on this list.

Best of Costa Rica’s Top 10 Restaurants you must visit when you are here in Costa Rica. We will start with 10 and count down!

10. SOLO Camaron - It is reasonably priced and the food has good flavor. Don’t go in there with a large crowd. It is a small space, but comfortable. Clean and the service is very good. Everything and I mean everything has shrimp. So if allergic you may want to avoid it!

9. Hooters - Is pretty much the same as they are in the states. You only go in there for 2 thing. One is the wings and the other well it is what it is. :-) We have tried a few other items on the menu and were not impressed. They do have a limited selection of wings sauces, unlike in the states. If you are in the mood for wings this is your place to go no doubt!

8. Tony Roma’s - It is a little on the pricey side, but not as bad as some places. If you are looking for a good Italian meal this is your place to go. Don’t get the beef products as tey are on the tough side, but pasta is delicious!

 7. Chilis – After being here for over a year we finally went and we were pleasantly surprised. It was really good. It had the best pizza I have had in Costa Rica. I know sounds strange, but it is true. So for no other reason you should go here for the pizza! The prices are reasonable. Our friend who was with us said they had the best ribs he has ever eaten in Costa Rica as well. Give it a try.

6. Sisso - Another new find and we loved it. If you are a vegetarian this is one of the best places to go no doubt. They don’t have a salad bar, but they do have a make your own salad. So always a plus in my book. Food was good, prices were very good for what you got and the place was nice. Service was very good.

5. Los Antojitos – This is one of our favorite places to have lunch. I’m sure dinner would be just as excellent. We have been to two different ones and the food and services was great at both of them. So if you see on in your travels stop in and have a bite. You won’t regret it. I love their grilled salad!

4. Alida Ristorante – If you like a true Italian pizza this is your place. It has that thin crust you are hoping for and they are tasty. They have a great salad and the other food is good as well. It is a little pricey, but worth it. Nice place and great service.

3. Grego’s Bar and Grill - We do go here often. The prices are a little high for a bar, but not really that bad. The food is good! The only problem with it is the consistency of the food. One week its good, next its ok, than it is good again. I love their chicken soup! It is served with an egg that is cooked by the heat of the broth. Our favorite is the Chicken and the Corvina and I do like their churrascos as well but it is hit and miss as to its toughness.

2. Kay’s Gringo Postres – Is one of our favorite places to go in Atenas. The food is good, reason prices, and the desserts are a little bit of heaven. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, but worth a stop on in no doubt. It is the Cheer’s of Costa Rica just no booze. The staff is friendly and helpful and you will always find helpful people.

1. La Trocha - If you want a good steak this is the place to go! We love their steaks! Their ceviche is very good as well. Service is wonderful and the owners are just great people. If  you get their pasta dishes they do sauce it very generously! They have a signature sauce that is great! I love their jalapeno sauce!  If you want just a bit of heat or full tears and red lips you can get it. Just tell them how hot you want it! They will cook your steak medium rare! The only way to have a steak!

So that pretty much covers it. If you are here for 7 days or 10 days this list pretty much has you covered. Check these places out and let me know about your experience.

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

 

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Gallo Pinto Empanadas

Gallo Pinto Empanadas

Recipe makes 18 empanadas

Empanada Dough Directions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl mix 3 cups of All-Purpose flour and 1 tablespoon of salt.
  2. Cut 1/2 cup room temperature solid vegetable shortening into pieces and place in bowl with flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until you have a cornmeal texture. If needed break up large pieces with your hands.
  3. Slowly incorporate 3/4 cup of luke-warm water, adding a little at at time until a dough ball forms. The dough should not be sticky and should be kneaded about 10 times.
    If needed, add more flour or water to reach the appropriate consistency.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour. If you’re making the dough in advance, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. However, bring dough to room temperature before assembling empanadas.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Dried black beans
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 medium Yellow onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Brown or White rice
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Green onion
  • 1/8 Cup Fresh choppded cilantro
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter

Filling Directions

  1. Soak beans in a bowl of water overnight and then drain.
  2. Finely chop the onion. In a slow-cooker, place black beans and three cups of water, the bay leaf, half of the chopped onion and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  3. Strain off excess juices and remove bay leaf.
  4. Bring two cups of water to a rapid boil and pour in rice. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and let cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until rice is fully cooked.
  5. In a large fry pan, melt butter and saute remaining onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, add green onion, then pour in rice and beans and mix until incorporated.
  6. In a separate pan, scramble egg with milk until fully cooked. Add egg to rice and bean mixture.
  7. Finally, chop cilantro and add to the mixture. Allow to cool.

Empanada Assembly

  1. Thoroughly clean the work surface and give yourself plenty of room.
    You’ll need flour, a rolling pin, a circular cutter (6-8”), spoon, water, cookie sheet and your filling. Sprinkle flour on the work surface and pull a piece of dough off that’s about the size of a lime.
  2. Begin to flatten the dough ball in all directions until the dough is roughly 2 millimeters thick. The dough shouldn’t stretch much further than the diameter of your cutter, or you might have used too much dough.
  3. Press the cutter through the dough completely. Remove excess dough and incorporate it into the next dough ball. It’s important to note that once the dough has been rolled and stretched, it is much harder to do it a second time, so using the least amount of dough per cut is ideal.
  4. Once you’ve rolled out the dough and cut out the circle, it shouldn’t shrink any. Moisten the edges by dipping your fingers into egg wash and gently spreading a thin layer around the edges.
  5. Spoon out 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the upper half of the circle. Fold the bottom half of the dough up over the filling and press the edges together repositioning the filling inside if needed. It’s important to have the right amount of filling so it won’t break open or leave it hollow after cooking. You should fill it just enough to still get the empanada to close.
  6. There are many ways to close and shape empanadas but I prefer the pinch and twisting closure. Starting with one edge pinch the edge between your finger and then fold the corner up over itself by 2 cm and pinch the new fold to seal it. Repeat the motion all the way around the empanada by pinching and twisting the dough to create a rope-like edge. When you reach the other edge simply tuck the corner under and pinch closed to seal it off.
  7. To cook them, heat up some vegetable oil, coconut oil, palm oil or peanut oil in a medium-sized pot to a medium-high temperature. Be sure to test your oil before dropping in the empanadas, if you drop in a little piece of extra dough, it should boil easily but not crackle, pop or boil too rapidly. If this happens, reduce the heat of the oil before submerging the empanada. When the oil is ready, submerge two or three empanadas in the oil and allow them to cook for 4-6 minutes until golden brown. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

 

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Cost of living up date days 11 – 16

So here we are at day 16 and budget is almost gone! :-( Lets see how we end up at the end of the month and see what we have learned from my mistakes while living in Costa Rica.

Most of the days were pretty easy and simple. Hang out at the house. Life is pretty simple and easy here in Costa Rica. I caught up on the current season of Orange is the New Black #OITNB. Started watching Breaking Bad. Pretty good show. You have to love a psychopathic chemistry teacher with nothing to lose. He can cook up some trouble no doubt!

Day 9 Paid all the monthly bills finally! Did a lot of running around.

Day 10 had lunch At Kay’s Gringo Postres. As you can tell we like to eat there a lot. The food is good, prices reasonable, but the company is usually amazing. Its like Cheers in Atenas, just no booze! Its where everyone knows you name!!! Well the new owners are working on it, but Kay let me tell you she is one sharp lady! We call her mom!

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This was the special that day. Yummy!!! You get all this plus the dessert for 3,500 colones or $6.31

 

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Again very yummy home made cheese cake! Still a little on the small side for my taste, but hell its FREE!!!!!!!!

 

Denise got a garden salad with an order of bacon! We love the bacon here!!!!

Day 11 Didn’t really do much just hung out. I did finally have to put diesel in the car! I think even with all the trips we make to either Santa Ana or Escazu I only fill up once a month maybe 2x. Love my Toyota Furtuner.

Day 12 It was time to go to church! Well not that kind of church. Greggo’s Bar has a deal on Thursdays certain things you drink if you drink a min of 5 next week when you come in you get that number for FREE so its like a delayed BOGO deal on beer and some liquors! It is only Thursday and you have to redeem the next week or it is lost. Here was our meal at Greggo’s.

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Oh and we had Ceviche, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry! Consider my hand smacked! Steak was tasty. It was a little tough this night, but still not bad at all.

Day 13 Yep you guess it had lunch at Kay’s again. Normal stuff this time. Just salads and drinks. Again good lunch! We did go to a new place for dinner El Tronco and here is what we go for dinner. Everyone should eat here! Good food. Review will be coming. I know I owe you guys a lot of reviews! I will get them out I promise.

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Day 14 was a do nothing day. I get a lot of those. Well I didn’t do nothing. Did lots of stuff around the house. Played with the dogs, went swimming, worked out. I cooked. We did eat after all. :-) If you want to see the food I cook you need to let me know. I’m not going to take the time to post it if you don’t want to see it. So drop me a comment on this post and tell me you want to see my cooking. :)

Day 15 I got to have Fathers day dinner at one of my favorite places! La Trocha!!! I will review them the next time we go. I love their food and the owners are wonderful. I am proud of myself we almost had a conversation in Spanish with them. The owner/chef doesn’t speak English and with our limited Spanish we actually had a conversation!!!!! Yea us! Every day we get better! Denise more than me, but we did it! Here is what we had:

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Its hard to tell but that is a hell of a lot of food. If you go here and you eat there is no way you will go home hungry! We love all their pasta’s and steaks.

Day 16 We decided to try a different place for lunch today. Again I will review it in another post, but here is the food we had for the price listed on our budget.

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Since we were out and we were in the area I did stop at PriceSmart. I got very little there. I mainly went in for dog good. This is what I come out with. You can never just go in and get the one thing you need. You always have to find more! Well I do anyway.

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I got the 50lb bag of Kirkland dog food. So now I am set for dog food for a while. I had just ran out of this one. Remember I use it and the Super Perro just in case I can’t find one or the other. So I mix them. We did go in for treats as I’m running low, but guess what. NONE!!! No dog treats at all. No biscuits, not cookies nothing! This is why I buy so much when I do buy. You never know when it is going to be there or not. So you buy a few. I still have some left, but I’m going to start cutting them in 1/2 or else I may run out before Monday when I go back again or they may not have them yet again. So we will see.

Here is what the budget looks like. Yep day 16 and I have gone over my $2K budget. We can learn from this and we will keep going and see where I end up at the end of the month. Thank we can analyze it and see where I can do better. Thanks for reading and drop me a comment or two!

Don’t forget to check out our Amazon Page, and our Cafe Press page. Almost all our profits after expenses have been paid go to local Charties here in Costa Rica. So buy some stuff would ya!!!!! Also don’t forget to vote on which charity will get the money we raise. We have only raised like $12 so far. So that $24 with my matching donation. We need more people to buy more stuff! Come on help us out! Lets buy the stuff we want or need and at the same time help charity! The poll is at the top of the page. Vote and buy today!!!!!

Day 11 thru 16

 

Pura Vida!

 

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Photo’s of the day

 

 

580296_10200733566926789_903383603_nYes many photo’s today! I have decided that today is food day! I guess I’m just hungry! So lets start of with some starters shall we! All food was purchased and consumed here in Costa Rica!!!! Enjoy!

 

 

 

995102_10200304104430495_511487306_n 1014389_10200249658869390_1265788252_n 1526688_10202353040092606_8963656597249624445_n

 

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Now how about some Salads!

10363369_10202353032732422_3354611962999825591_n ok salad

 

good salad 2 good salad

 

 

Now on to some Entree’s!

934909_10200243691320205_839945112_n 941430_10200243694720290_1041541018_n 1001461_10200243688360131_749372504_n 10373748_10202353003411689_4446017627787642786_n 10408651_10202353011051880_3135877137668671835_n 10414585_10202353011211884_809757453786349602_n 10426331_10202353045652745_7854614976890594102_n tico eggs benedict

 

No meal is ever complete without a dessert!!!!!!

10462775_10202353005331737_3633428938629610844_n tico french toast

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Whoever says all you get in Costa Rica is beans and rice has never really eaten in Costa Rica! You should come to visit for the food alone!!!!

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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Cost of living Day 7, 8, 9 and 10!

Sorry for the long update, but 7th and 8th were pretty boring days. Just sat at home, watched some TV. Started to watch the Orange is the new black, and trying to catch up on American Horror story. We are starting season 3 The Coven. Hopefully it is as  good as the others were. We did some shopping and stuff on the 9th so lets get to that.

Day 9 was a busy day as Monday’s usually are. The housekeeper and Gardener was here. So that is when we do a lot of our running for the week as they will keep and eye on the dogs for us. We did happen to have a little mishap while we were gone. The gardener accidentally hit the pipe coming from the solar hot water on our rancho roof to the pool. :-( He ran down to the gate and had them call our pool guy who came right out and patched it. He fixed it today on the 10th. So won’t see that bill until next month. He only sends a bill once a month. Otherwise the house ran smoothly while we were gone.

We went to see the dietitian as we do on Mondays. Had a good week my wife and I both lost weight. So cheers! Even though I am no longer on the diet she till wanted to weigh me and measure me. She is interested in how I am doing. She follows me on facebook and looks at my fitbit auto post to my timeline that shows what my exercise is and what I am eating. Its a great tool for weight loss.

After we were done there we heading to Escazu to go to Pricesmart to pick up dog food. Well we decided to have lunch at the Avaneda. We scoped out a place we have never been before. You will see it on the budget. It is our 1st time there and I doubt we will be back. I will be writing a review in the next couple of days so look out for that as well.

Lunch ran pretty long about 2 hours so by the time we were done I was kind of done so I wanted to head home. Then I realized we really need dog food and really need to pay the electric bill. So we head off to the bank to take out some cash. We head to the local grocery store which is really nice and in expensive. I also realized once we were there I needed to pick up a few other things as well so we walked the entire store. We also pay our Electric and Cable/internet bills there. I did make a mistake on my internet bill and have corrected it on the budget sheet. It was $90 a month but $57 for my 5Mbps download and 500Kbps upload service. Here is what I got at the market.

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29,205 colones or $52.67

This is a 66lb bag. I will last a good while. I would say almost a month along with the 50lb bag I buy at pricesmart of the Kirkland brand. I buy both so I can mix them as there are times when for whatever reason I can’t find one or the other. So mixing them allows me to be out of on or the other without upsetting tummies. I will need a bag of Kirkland soon so hopefully in he next day or two I will go pick one up.

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739 Colones or $1.33

It takes about 3 of these to equal the amount I got at Pricesmart. So that puts this at $7.98 and I paid $11.93 at pricesmart. ok I’m convinced I will get my Broccoli from Coop from now on!!!!!

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1034 colones or $1.86

The onions I bought at maxipali same amount and actually these are a little bigger cost me 788 colones or $1.42 not worth an extra trip to save a few pennies. So Coop wins again! These actually looked better.

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1,800 colones or $3.25

Again looks like the coop wins! This is 10 for $3.25 and they are bigger than the ones I got at Pricesmart where I paid $2.12 for 5.

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336 colones or $0.61

We have a very clear winner on this one. Coop! These were bigger then what I got at Pricesmart and I paid $1.03 for 3 smaller ones. I’m starting to see the light how about you?

The next expense on our budget is the vet bill. When we came home out housekeeper showed us a spot where one of our dogs made a mess. The reason she left it for us to see is that it had some blood in it. So we had to run our poor little gizzy to the vet to be checked out. Here is Gizzy!

Gizmo

Gizmo

We still as of yet don’t know what is wrong, but Dr. Solano thinks it is some sort of intestinal something or other.  He did put him on medication just in case. He wasn’t acting sick or looking sick. The bill was for the following:

Consult 9000 colones

Complete Hemograma 9500 colones

lopelisan shot 2300 colones

jeringa shot 1700 colones

poop sample 1150 colones

So the total bill was 23650 or $42.65

Most people say that Dr. Solano is one of the more expensive vets in town. That could be true, but he is well worth it! He is one great vet and is a pleasure to deal with and is very knowledgeable! We love, love, love him! That price is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay back it the states!

That pretty much covers I think everything. Here is the budget so far.

day 7 thru 10

As you can see we had lunch at Kay’s again! We do love the place. We were there from 11:30 until about 3:30 today. Ate and had some good conversation with friends. So its a little more this time. I only got 2 salads and my wife got her 2 egg veggie omelets, but we got a lot of Coke Zero and Gin Light. Again the food was good as always! The salads have gotten much better!

Oh and Friday I will have a cost for repair of our weed whacker that I dropped off today. The gardener has not been taken care of it the way he should and he refused to use it until I got it fixed. Which is why he cut our pipe with the machete. As the repair guy told me nothing really wrong with it, but he replace the part that had a piece that broke off and he did some maintenance that needed to be done as its not being handled well. You are suppose to mix oil and gas together and than put it in the machine??? I had no clue and apparently neither did the gardener. So I am taking him with me Friday so they can show him what he needs to do from now on!

Still have 20 days left and I know I am not going to make it for under $2k. Well we will see. Once I am done we will do a recap of the month and see where things could have been eliminated and or saved money and such and see where that lands our final budget. Have a great day!

Oh and drop me a comment if you want to see more pictures and instructions on the food I cook here at the house.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Cost of living day 7

Well today was a relax in the pool and chill day. Nope I did not make it to the Coop to pay the electric bill or to pick up dog food. So I guess that waits until Monday. Pura Vida right? Dogs still have food so we are good and it should last until Monday. :-) So what did I do today?

I went out and worked out on the bowflex. I did about 1/2 hour on it. I had to figure out how it works, but that time isn’t included in the workout time. Ran on the treadmill for about an hour or so. Got in the pool for about 2 hours and swam around and just hung out. I cooked all day so the highlight of this day will be the lunch and dinner I cooked.

My breakfast was just two eggs over easy and 3 plum tomatoes cut and cooked with a little salt and pepper. It sounds very plain but it was very nice. You take the eggs and place them over the tomatoes so when you cut into the egg the yummy yellow center mixes with the tomatoes and and their juiciness. :-) Really yummy you should try it.

lunch was an Asian stir fry. Very simple only need a couple of ingredients but full of flavor! As well as fills you up! I did however forget to get out the mushrooms! :-) It was still yummy here are the pictures and what I did.

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Here is you need. Red cabbage (about 3 oz), orange bell peppers (1/2 regular size) (can be any pepper you want), cucumbers (1/2 regular size), broccoli (2.5 oz), and tomatoes (2 plum). Do whatever quantity you want. Cut everything up into small pieces as you see above.

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This is what makes it an Asian dish. A dish’s ethnicity is created by the spices you use in the dish. Some ingredients will also lend to what region you dish can be assigned to, but he spices are what makes any dish! I only use 1/4 of a teaspoon of each of these in a cast iron pan that is hot!!!!! very hot!!!! We will also be adding 1 tablespoon of soy sauce later so don’t salt the dish until end.

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These items will take the longest to cook so you want to get them in 1st and get the oil moving around and coating them. Here you can start to pepper your dish, but DON”T salt it yet!

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Now we have added the peppers. You only wait about a min or two before you add the next ingredient. Flavor not only comes from what you put in your pan, but also from how you put it in. Layering you food is very important as well.

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Now you add the cucumbers! At this point you will want to taste the dish after about a min or two of cooking to see if you have enough pepper in the dish. If not now is when you want to add it.

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Finally you add the tomatoes and the soy sauce. You let that cook and allow the soy to reduce down along with the juices from the cucumbers and tomatoes. This should take about 3 min. Remember to keep moving that food around. Now taste it. If you think the soy has added enough salt to the dish you are done. If you need to add salt do so and let it cook as you do until you get it to where you want it. Remember salt a little at a time let it mix and heat for about 30 seconds than taste it again and keep doing this until you get it as you like it. Also if you think it needs a little more kick to it either add a little more hot oil or you can add some crushed red peppers!

That was my lunch! So give it a try and let me know how yours turned out as mine was very yummy and just the right amount of kick to it!

Dinner was Chicken and broccoli. It is a pretty simple dish. I just cooked the chicken I bought earlier in the week in a pan with a little evoo salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I than steamed the broccoli in a microwave steamer. Once it was done I added some “I can’t believe its not butter” to it with some salt and pepper and this is what you get!

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Day 7

So day 7 nothing! Whoot! Have a great day! Onto day 8. Which is going to look a lot like day 7.

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Restaurant Review: Hard Rock Cafe

On June 2 2014 my wife and I decided to head to the Hard Rock Cafe to have some lunch. Our original plan was to eat at a mall in the area, but the only thing they had was a food court and that just wasn’t what we wanted. We are both on a diet plan and food court food just isn’t what we wanted to do. So we figured why not the Hard Rock Cafe. They should have some pretty health options and it is close to where we were. Off we go to the Cafe!

Very nice place! Cafe is clean and neat and the service was pretty damn good. WE love the gift shop. We bought a few things for our selves and family members back home. Lets get into why you are reading this. You want to know how the food was! We didn’t get many items, but here is what we did get.

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These were really tasty and really hot! Which I loved! By the time I ate all 10 of them my lips were on fire. They had even turned red and gotten a little swollen. No breading was nice and the skin was crispy. There was a lot of sauce on them. The cost for them was 6,097.56 colones and that is about $11.00 so that is about $1.10 a wing. A bit pricey. We used to sell wings in my pizza shop for .75 per wing regular price and would put them on special for .50 and even sometimes .25. They were very good. These were the Heavy Metal sauce just FYI.

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OK, my wife and I got two of these. It was a pretty good salad. Taste was spot on and they both looked the same so the consistency was there. Very little dressing on it, but you knew it was there. The two salads cost us 13821.14 colones so that is about $24.93 again a bit pricey, but it was a good salad.

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We ended our meal with 2 coffee’s. Got the Americano black of course. Said this was Costa Rican coffee that they used, but I have my doubts. Didn’t like it much. I had to put 3 sweeteners in it to make it drinkable. Now if you like a strong bitter coffee this is the coffee for you no doubt. We paid 2113.82 colones which is about $3.81 so not bad for two cups of coffee. You will pay way more in a starbucks! So really the only reasonable price was the coffee and only if you like this kind of coffee. We also had 1 Pepsi light at 1544.72 colones and an unsweetened ice tea for 1544.72 colones. Their individual prices is about $2.79 and that is expensive. Not as expensive as Te Con Te the other day, but up there. Most times the drinks like this cost about 1000 colones, maybe 1200. Our total bill with tax and tip came to 30,900.00 colones or $55.74. That really is a big pricey for 2 salads, 10 wings, 2 drinks and 2 coffees. Hey Its a chain so you expect to pay more.

All that sound wonderful doesn’t it! Well with the exception of the price. I though so as well. I thought, OK the wings were a stretch on the healthy eating side, but how bad could they be?  They were not breaded! Got the salad and it have very little dressing on it so thought we were doing pretty good. WRONG!!!!!! This meal was almost 3K calories. I went home and looked up the items so I could put them in my fitbit log and have an idea of how many calories I had eaten today. I was shocked and almost fell on the floor when I saw it. When it comes to healthy food this place is not the place for you! It is horrible!!!!! So if you are tying to eat healthy avoid this place like the plague!!!!!!!! Do not and I reapeat do not go here. The following is a food chart from their own website. They only give the calories and sodium. I have looked and looked on the internet to find more information and I can’t. Very strange if you ask me.

Hard Rock Cafe – Print Menu If I would have known I would have picked a salad with less calories and I would have never gotten the wings.

So here are some random photo’s I took just to try and forget what we just experienced. Read over the menu, you will be shocked!

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So, lets get to the final on this one. The food was good as far as taste goes, the service was excellent, the place was clean (it is brand new so it should be), the bathrooms were nice and clean. The price is a bit high. I should be able to give them 3 seashell1out of 5, but I just can’t. I have to give them 2. I have to take off for the price to value and the very, very, very bad nutrition of the food. I just can’t bring myself to give them more. I tried to calculate how they could come up with those number on the calories. I just couldn’t do it. I have no clue what they put in there to do that, but it is insane! Well another one down the drain. Lesson here is don’t go to Chain restaurants in Costa Rica! Stick with the local places. You will get a good meal for a fair price.

Pura Vida!

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Cost of Living day 4 and Day 5

The one thing you can count on while living in Costa Rica is your day will never go as planned. I think I have said that already. So, yesterday was going to be a stay at home day and thank I hear my wife’s knitting group is going to eat lunch at a local pizza place that I have been dying to try, but because of the diet I couldn’t. So I jump on that! Not a knitter myself, but figured I could catch up on some writing while they all talk knitting and I can sample some pizza. So we get there and guess what. Not open! They are suppose to be open, but they aren’t. Ok so plan B. We go to the next pizza joint. Again a place that opened while on the diet and have not tried them so cool. Guess what? Not open again! Ok on to plan C. We go to Antono’s. A place we have had a meal or two before. Good food and good prices. After lunch we headed to the Maxi Pali. A very controversial store that just opened in Atenas. Long story short Expats are upset as its a Walmart owned store. Read my blog titled Unhappy Gringo’s it kind of gives my feelings on Gringo’s telling people what they can and can’t do. Again still did not complete all of my shopping. I did pick up a few more items, but I still need dog food. Glad I don’t wait till the last minute or the dogs we be starving by now. :-)

Lets start with lunch Here is what we had. I was starving and I have no clue why.

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1100 colones or $1.98

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3700 colones or $6.67

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2600 colones or $4.69

 

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1800 colones or $3.25 I got it without the bun.

We also had a total of 5 Coke Lights @1000 colones each. So our total bill with tax and tip came to 17620 colones $31.79. Not a bad price really. It is a little more expensive but the food was really good. My salad was entree size. So with the burger and my wife’s meal we actually got 3 entrees.

Here are the groceries I bought on this day.

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Gin light 1,800 colones $3.25 and the Coke Zero 1,460 colones or $2.63. Which is pretty good prices.

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1,275 colones or $2.30

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788 colones or $1.42

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559 Colones or $1.01

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1,000 colones or $1.80 These were really, really good!

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4,517.50 colones or $8.50 this is 1/2 kilo or 1lb of sea bass.

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8,100 colones or $14.61 this again is 1/2 kilo or 1lb.

 Here is what we spend on day 4 $151.57 spent and a total left on the budget of $739.41.  Paid $59.73 for community fees which covers water, security and trash removal. Still have to pay electric once we get the bill.

Day 5 was a pretty much stay at home day. So nothing really spent. At this rate I may have to have more stay at home day. Lets see how it goes. I still need to go get dog food! When I go to Coop to do that on day 7 I will also pay the electric bill.

Here is some of the food I prepared on day 5 while I was home hope you enjoy it!

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So this is the start of Breakfast. 3 eggs, a couple slices of onion, 1/4 of a red pepper, and some mushrooms that were marinated in minced garlic. Yummy! I call it the Maryland Scramble.

 

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You put the onions and peppers in with just a 1/2 teaspoon of evoo. Let them cook until they are nice and tender.

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Than you add the mushrooms! Let it cook make sure you keep moving thing around so nothing burns.

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Here is what makes it Maryland. You put just a pinch of Old Bay. Yea right a pinch! You cover that shit with old bay!

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Scrabble your eggs and poor it in! Again keep that food moving so nothing stick or burns. Cook it to the point that you like your eggs. If you like them a little wet or completely dry. I like mine in the middle.

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Here is the final dish. It was very filling. You can use what ever veggies you want its all good.

Here are some of the pictures from dinner.

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That is onion, broccoli, tomatoes, red bell pepper and of course the garlic marinated mushrooms. Have I mentioned how much I love garlic and mushrooms?

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Place 1/2 teaspoon of evoo with the onions and broccoli. They take the longest to cook. Just cook until they are soft. Keep moving it around don’t burn it.

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Add the peppers! Add salt and pepper at this point.

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Now add the tomatoes and keep it moving.

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Now the mushrooms!

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The final product! It is very tasty! Sorry picture is a little blurry. So that is it for day 4 and 5.

Pura Vida.

 



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Food Chick Tip of the Day

Go to The Food Chick Facebook page and give her a like!

Today’s Chick Tip….this is a fantastic mix that can take on many different forms; side dish, sandwich topping or salad topping! The best part, it is oh so easy to put together and no recipe needed!

Today’s mix combines cucumbers, mini bell peppers, tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar (or your favorite), salt and pepper to taste and the juice of one lemon. All seasonings are to taste., so taste away!

As a salad, toss with your favorite greens – no additional dressing needed!

In a sandwich, combine with shredded chicken and pack in a pita!

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Cost of Living day 3

So you know that one thing you can count on in Costa Rica is that your day will never go as you planned, but it will go as it should be. I actually went out to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and thank finish my grocery shopping and look for some gym equipment. Well I got most of that accomplished in 5 hours. :-)

So lets start with lunch shall we. Got to Kay’s at about 12. Had a very nice lunch see pictures below. It was a much better price than we had the other day at Hard Rock Cafe and there was more food! it didn’t cost me 2 additional trips to the Treadmill to work it off either, so it was a win all the way around by eating local and not at a chain. The price of 10,500 colones in addition to what you are about to see 2 coke lights as well.

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This was the Mama’s Meatloaf special. It was very tasty. The meatloaf was seasoned well and it was not dry! Always a plus! The string beans were very good and the potato was a nice touch and there was bacon!!!!! The side salad was good as well.

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This was 2 veggie omelets that had a good taste, lots of veggies and very filling.

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That is the chocolate cake that came with my meatloaf special. It was good as usual, but a little on the small size. I know it was free with the meal, but a little bigger would be nice.  It was smaller than what is usually served. I’m sure Kay was looking after my diet for me! :-) Over all still a good price for 2 coke zero’s, and unlimited ice tea (came with my special) and a full size piece of chocolate cake my wife ate, that I forgot to show which was about 3x bigger or more than this one. Cost was 10,500 colones.  Much better deal than yesterday!

So, after lunch we went off to find the gym equipment store that a couple people told me about. Guess what! Its not there any more! Go figure! It always seems to work that way. When you want something it just all of a sudden goes away. So that wasted time. Ok so lets go to the mall and visit the GNC. I did not include those purchases as it is very special items for our diet. That really shouldn’t count in the budget. We did get everything we wanted to get there. Some protein powder and protein bars and such. Mainly for snacking. You will notice no fruit in my shopping. So finally we are off to the grocery store.

This trip I decided to shop at Pricesmart for the few items. I say a few items as I forgot to make a list and didn’t get everything. So I will be going out later today to get what I forgot yesterday. What I would like to do is pick up the same items in the same quantities at other places each week so you can see the difference. I should have bought less but its Pricesmart so everything is in bulk!  Here is what I bought and the cost. This will last me about 2 weeks. I still need to get me some eggplant, onions, fish, and dog food. Hopefully that will  happen today. May check out the dreaded Maxi Pali that just opened up yesterday. If its not too crowded.

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6500 Colones $11.73

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950 colones or $1.71

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1350 colones or $2.44

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2125 colones or $3.84

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5195 Colones or $9.38 I get these to handle my sugar drops. They are the best calories for the carbs.

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1175 colones or $2.12

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7173 colones or $12.95 this will make about 4 meals for us or more.

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5198 colones or $9.38 There are 60 eggs total. Yes I had 3 for breakfast today.

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3695 colones or $6.67 I buy this as I use mushroom in everything. i like fresh but a small tray of fresh is almost this price. They are good if you marinate them before you use them. I put them in a bowl in the fridge with garlic since I put them and garlic in almost everything I make.

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7295 colones or $13.17 in the states this would be under $10 a bit more, but really what else can you use? Never looked if there is a local brand?

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8995 colones or $16.23 Dog treats. This might last a week. Remember I have 10 dogs. :-) I’ve tasted them they are pretty good. :-) I wouldn’t eat a whole one, but I understand why my dogs love them!

 

So there are the groceries for the day. Yes you can get them cheaper other places and I will try to do that next time. I like the broccoli at pricesmart as it is precut and always looks good. Sometimes the local Ferria or Grocery stores have dark areas all though out so I don’t like getting it there. Ok now for the budget update.

day 3

Doesn’t look good for me. Still have electric, pool service, and community fees to pay. We are eating out again today for lunch. Again local place so cross your fingers.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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Food Chick tip of the day Part 3

Today’s Chick Tip…..day three of this nearly meatless meal. The sandwich is a Portabella mushroom slider!

  1. Marinate the mushrooms in the vinaigrette we made on day one. When I marinate mushrooms I like to fill the cap first and let it sit for about thirty minutes and then flip it over and add a tad bit more marinade to the top for about 10 minutes (you can marinate for up to 3 hours without the shroom shriveling).

 

  1. Over medium high heat cook the tops first for about 3-5 minutes, being sure to turn for grill marks), flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.


3. Serve on your favorite slider style bread or roll (I used the gluten free Rosemary Focaccia bread from last week’s Chick Tips).

4. Top with sliced avocado and lettuce!

To put this meal together simply toss the BACON and bean salad with watercress and baby spinach. (I like the bacon and bean warm and tossed with the greens)

This is a great summertime meal, I hope you all enjoy it SOON!

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Food Chick tip of the day Part 2

Day two of a three part recipe…Black Bean and BACON salad!
1. Cut up raw bacon into 1/4 inch bite size pieces and pan fry.


2. Drain fat and remove bacon to a paper towel.
3. Using the same pan add 1 pint of halved cherry or grape tomatoes and cook for two to three minutes at medium heat.


4. Add one 16 ounce bag of frozen sweet corn and stir together for two minutes.


5. Meanwhile, drain and rinse one can of black beans. Add to pan, stir to incorporate and heat through for about 3 minutes.

6. Add bacon. Add fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

7. Can be served hot, room temperature or cold.

This is a great mix for a salad. Pictured here served hot over baby spinach and watercress!

Pura Vida! Check her out on FACEBOOK!

 

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Cost of living day 2

Well didn’t get as much done today as I would have liked to. We didn’t really go grocery shopping at all. I got distracted by a mall our nutritionist send us to for food. Well that was a bust. It was just a food court and I didn’t see anything I wanted to eat. So we decided to go somewhere else. We finally ended at the Hard Rock Cafe. Boy was that a mistake on many levels. I will be writing a review and you really need to read it! You will be shocked by the information I have found out about their food!!!!!!!! You won’t believe it! Back to the budget.

So did go and get diet food and paid some monthly expenses. So here is the chart.

Day 2

Oh my as you can see I have went though 1/2 my budget by day two. Now if you take out the diet food my balance would be $1239 left. As you can also see I pay a good bit for Internet. Most people only pay a fraction of this. If you read this please post what you pay for internet in the comments section. Say what your location is, how much bandwith, which company please.

Looking at this I may not make it. I still have Electric and Community fees to pay as well as pool service as my monthly expenses. So cross your fingers! What is the lesson we learned? Don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe as it will Cost you big time! Granted not as expensive as some places but still up there for a meal for two. Again see my review it will detail everything.

Pura Vida.

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Restaurant Review: Sisso Taste of Jerusalem

 

I want to 1st say really good meal at a very good price!!! This is a great find. It is in a strip center called Plaza Florencia in Escazu. My wife and I were looking for a place to eat before we went to the movies that had a nice veggie selection. Yes we got our wish here. Very clean place with lots of parking and an attendant. Lots of other places in this center as well to eat and we may have to go try them out. So let us get to the reason we are all reading this specific blog entry THE FOOD!!!!!

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So they started us off with this. On our diet we can’t really have it, but I was already to come off the diet. So as of today I am going to be off. I am however still going to try to use the tools the diet has given me to continue to lose some weight along with exercise. Back to the food. This is a crispy pita bread and I could taste the sunflower seeds in it! It was very tasty by itself. You add that tomato sauce to it and you have a nice flavor. The tomato sauce is a tomato reduction with chili dulce and herbs and spices. Of course she wouldn’t tell me what herbs and spices. :-) It was very good! I did eat all the tomato reduction, but only about 1/2 of the chips. :-)

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This was their version of a Greek Salad and they did a nice one. That was a big plate! The tomatoes and cucumbers were thick cut. They are hidden under the tomatoes you can see them peeking out. :-) Feta cheese and olives. I would have liked my items cut up, but this was worth the work of cutting things up. Had a very good taste and worth going back for.

 

 

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This was called Berenjena Baladi don’t ask me I don’t know. I don’t even know if I spelled it correctly. The hummus was very tasty!!!! The black things that have a sauce on them are eggplant. Again very nicely done. They roast them and than grill it some how. I think that is what she said I’m not 100% sure. Now the salad and the black glob on the left of the plate was a make your own type of thing. She has you come up to the counter and pick the items you want on your side salad. They had a nice selection! I think it was one of the best salad bars I have seen. The black glob is more egg plant. It was an eggplant dinner no doubt! This was my main meal. it was filling!

 

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This is their veggie platter and what my wife got as part of her meal. This is a meal. Again there is eggplant and we have huge tomato a piece of corn which I have to tell you was the best corn I have had in Costa Rica! It was tender and it was sweet! I would go back just for this corn!!!!!! Ant he other items is a potato. Grilled and some onions grilled. All of it had a nice flavor.

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This was the wife’s main meal. She ad to remove the potato and the corn, but she could eat the rest. Again very nice meal. She felt the chicken was under seasoned, but I felt it was nicely done.

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This I’m not sure which one of our meals it came with, but it was just torture having it sitting there. Very nice tasting pita. I had to try and and it was even better when you put it in the hummus!

So there is the food now for the prices:

We had 3 coke lights at 3000 colones, the Baladi plate I had was 3951.22 colones, The chicken plate my wife had was 4849.59 colones, The Greek salad was 4252.03 colones, and the veggie platter was 2252.03 colones. With tax and tip it came to 22,515.00 colones.  Now at today’s exchange rate that is $40.71 for our meal. That was pretty damn good for the amount of food we got and it being in Escazu. You walk away hungry and it is your own fault!!

So lets review: Good good at a fair price, parking is good, wait staff was nice, attentive and spoke some English. The place was clean and the bathroom was nice as well. So I give this place 5 seashell1out of 5. I don’t usually give this kind of rating as I can always find something wrong and take off one seashell, but really I couldn’t find anything! They do a great job and a fair price, who can ask for anything more than that! I will go back as it has now become one of my favorite places to eat!

Pura Vida!

 

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Cost of Living Day 1

Hello all. Day one of my 3 day Cost of living was pretty uneventful. We really didn’t go anywhere kind of stayed at home and watched TV and had some pool time. It was a really beautiful day out today. So nothing really spent today as we ate what we had in the house. Manly diet food and veggies. My breakfast was a diet drink, 2nd breakfast was diet pancake mix, Denise was diet drink, our lunch was grilled veggies and a diet drink. Her dinner was steamed broccoli and 8oz of chicken cooked with a little EVOO , salt and pepper. Mine was 2 cups of veggies sauteed in I can’t believe its not butter and garlic and I had a chocolate protein drink.

Today we maybe spent on Breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Veggies $3

Diet food (very expensive) $45

Misc food consumed about another (chicken and protein drink) $2

So total without diet food $5 for the day. AS we mostly drink water. So no cost here. $45 for the diet food. So total for today is $50.

Well see you tomorrow. Tomorrow we go out for our weigh in and grocery shopping and such. So I will update you on how that goes at the end of the day.

Pura Vida!

 

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Spanish names for Cuts of Meat!

This will come in handy! I know I will be using it next time. Although my butcher speaks English, so but you never know. Always good to have!

This was posted byt Ninfa DePalma on a facebook group. 

Spanish meat cuts

Pura Vida!

 

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Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part II Groceries

 

So this is Part II and in this one I will talk about the cost of Groceries and what they cost. So sit back have a cup of your favorite coffee and I really hope you are drinking Costa Rica Coffee and not Nesacafe instant! and enjoy today’s offering.

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Groceries

Like most things in Costa Rica it is really all about location and what you are willing to accept and not accept. As an example I was walking though Pricesmart and there were a couple items I was looking for. One was way to pricey even for me and the other item was way to pricey even for me, but I bought it anyway. So why did I buy one, but not the other. I know the 1st one I could get somewhere else cheaper and I would be going there as my next stop and the other I know I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else. Now I could have just done without it as it wasn’t a necessity to have, but I bought it any way. Its all a matter of your outlook and your pocketbook. There are so many options for your grocery needs in Costa Rica. Sometimes I think more than even in the states. I have complied below a list of a couple of those options with prices at each for the same or very similar items. You will notice that I only gave prices for 1 place for meats. I find all the other places to be inferior quality meat and thus would not suggest buying it at any of the places listed on the chart. As you can see his prices are so much better and so is the quality!

So lets 1st talk about Pricesmart. There are a couple of them here in Costa Rica. They are the equivalent to Costco in the states. They do have kirkland brands and a majority of your US brands you are looking for. Some items are cheaper while others are not. The difference between the bulk stores in the US and the ones in Costa Rica, is that bulk doesn’t mean cheaper here. You can go to a local market and buy 6 let say Paper towel rolls and it be the same price as a pack of 6 in Pricesmart. The meat products here are in larger quantities and they just don’t look good to me. Many people get their meat here, but there are better options!

Auto Mercado is the equivalent to Giant in the states. Its design and layout is very much the same. Again many US, Canadan, and German products can be found here. Their chicken and seafood is very good. The meats are hit and miss. They are way more expensive than Uncle Earls. You can find North American style cuts here as well as the local stuff.

Coope is the local Co-operative market here in Atenas. Now the prices I gave for them in the chart is the regular everyday prices. All items have two price stickers on the shelves. One is higher than the other. On Wednesdays the Coop day you get the lower price. Some items it is worth going in when they are busy for while others not so much. You do have options for lower prices if you shop on a Wednesday.

Feria is the local farmers market. Prices are cheaper here. Mostly fruits and veggies. There are many other things you can get at the Feria and many people buy their meat here. Me personally can’t bring myself to do it. Just don’t like the looks of things and again beef you can forget about it!!!!!!! Don’t even bother. If you missed it here is the video of my trip to the Feria with Eunice from Remax.

Uncle Earls is a butcher. A very good one at that. I will only buy my North American style beef products from him. See my blog post where I talk about the meat here in Costa Rica. Moo…Mooo…Slaughter…Grill…Eat!

Last but not least is Walmart! Yes they have Walmart here in Costa Rica. All of them have groceries. They are very much like the Walmarts in the states. I really can’t see a difference. Not even in the prices really. So, it should go without saying but I am going to say it they have US brands here. Walk into a Costa Rica Walmart and you feel like you have just went back to the states.

Now in addition to these you also have the Mega Super’s, The Pali’s, the, Mas x Menos, and the list could go on. There is a war raging right now for your $’s. So I would suggest taking a list and checking out the prices at all of these places and decide which is cheaper and most convenient for you to shop at. Once you know plan out your day and set a driving route that maximizes your drive and you get the best products at the best prices.  It will take a little work on your part, but your pocketbook will thank you!

So below is a price comparison chart for groceries at each one of these places. I used Giant from the US to show US prices. I have used a currency converter to get the most recent exchange rates. I converted everything from KG to Lbs, and gallons to liters or liters to gallons. I tried to match the quantities at each location as best I could. This is pretty much comparing apples to apples. If I couldn’t find a US brand at one of the Costa Rica stores I used a local brand that was comparable to it. So take a look at the chart and than lets talk! :-)

grocery prices

Ok so as you can see Costa Rica is the winner! Most of the items I priced were cheaper here in Costa Rica than in the states. Yes some were more expensive, but over all grocery shopping is less expensive here than in the US. Now this next chart really bring it home.

groceries compared

Now with this chart I made sure that each store I added up the same items. If the items didn’t exist in the big chart at the top in all the stores than I did not include the item in the total. So this is apples to apples again. What you should notice is that for your produce it is cheaper to go to the Feria. As it should be! Again the US loses! Your other items its kind of  a close run. The US did win when it comes to the other non food items, but not by much if you look at Pricesmart. Again because it is mainly a US brand store its pretty close to Giant prices in the US.  It would pale in comparison to a Costco in the states. This isn’t a bad thing, because as you can see the other items are more expensive at the other stores.

Here are a few other things you need to know about shopping in Costa Rica. Let me stress this one point by telling you a little story. I promise to make it short. :-) Well as short as I can tell a story. Oh god its already gone on too long and I haven’t even begun the story yet.

So when we 1st got to Costa Rica and got our pricesmart card we were so happy. We shopped there all the time. There was this one item that my wife loved. It was Pineapple jelly! We bought it every time we went shopping. All of a sudden it isn’t there? Strange? Did they move it? Nope. Ok they are just out. So we go back the next time. Yes its there. We buy a jar. Next time nope not there. Next time nope not there. It has been over 8 months and the Pineapple jelly has not returned to pricesmart. I thought to myself, self ok they discontinued it or can’t get it any more. I started to see this trend in Auto Mercado and Walmart and Coope. Ok there is something to this, so I asked around. What I was told by a couple of people was this. If an items begins to sell like hot cakes, they will discontinue the item. It is more work to keep restocking the shelves so they just don’t carry it any more. This falls under the Pura Vida category. So the moral of this short yet now so short story is do not fall in love with any item. One day it is here and the next it is gone. Make sure you have options and alternatives.

  1. Buy it while you can and every time you can. You never know when it will go away or for how long it will go away. So stock up. I have 7 jars of minced garlic in my pantry right now as it went away for 2 months once.
  2. Price shop. This is common anywhere. Check your prices. Check them closely. Sometimes the local brands are cheaper and just as good, but sometimes they are not. I have been shocked that an imported items was way cheaper than a local product. Don’t just grab the item you know. It will raise the cost of your grocery shopping!
  3. Sometimes once you factor in costs driving around to other places it doesn’t save you money to save on certain items by going to more than one place to shop.

We go shopping once a week. We make a day of it. We go to our dietitian in the morning. We have lunch some where. I than hit the Pricesmart (right near where we usually have lunch) than we hit the Auto Mercado, on the way home, and than Coope if we need. I very seldom every shop at Walmart. Kind of out of the way and their prices are too much like those in the states. So we leave in the am and are home about 4pm. Its an all day event. Now I have to admit that I do not shop at the Feria much. As I get my veggies at either Pricesmart or Auto Mercado or Coope. Its a matter of convenience I am there and the prices are just a little more expensive and the Feria isn’t on the day I do my shopping. I could change the day, but again its a matter of preference really. I have developed my route that I’m only going maybe 10 min. out of my way driving time to visit all 3 places in one day.

There really isn’t anything you can’t either find here in Costa Rica or substitute. Its a matter of changing your mind set. You are in a new land and new ways of doing things and new foods in some cases. Shop local and shop fresh! Change the way you eat and shop and you can spend very little on groceries.

Part III will be on transportation costs. Own a car or take public transportation?

So let me go ahead and wrap this one up. I give Costa Rica 4 seashell1 out of 5 for Groceries! The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 out of 5 is the now you see it now you don’t aspect of what may or may not be available.

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

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Restaurant Review: Hidalgo’s Steak House

Hidalgo's logo

Yes Hidalgo’s steak house is up on the chopping block today for review. Can I say I really like this place a lot. So lets start with showing you some pictures of the property. This place is huge! You should go during the day so you can walk around and look and explore. He has what I like to call a little museum. I keep going at night so I don’t get to look around much, but I do plan to go during the day one day this week. So here are some pictures of the property.

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So let us get to the bigger point and the reason we are all here reading this blog. THE FOOD!!!! Well I can actually say I have been here many times before. I have never, ever been disappointed by my meal. Here is what we got the night we were there. We started off with these two dishes.

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Yep you guess it Ceviche! Mine is on the top and my wife’s is on the bottom. Mine was just corvina and hers was a mix of corvina and shrimp. It was very, very tasty. Now I will have to say the shrimp in my wife’s dish did taste like it was steamed not cooked in the juice of the Ceviche. I think he may have been out and didn’t want to disappoint my wife.

Just a quick tip I learned a long time ago in the Restaurant business. It is much better to say you are out and apologize and try to sell something else than to try to throw something together and have it not be as good as what you could have served. As an example in my restaurant we served pizza. Well someone didn’t order enough cheese, not me, and we had this huge rush over the weekend and Sunday (we are closed on Mondays) we run out at like 1pm. We are open until 10pm. I have my guys go out and buy cheese from one of the other pizza shops in the area. (Yes we would help each other out like that from time to time. I sold bread and other items to other shop owners) I got nothing but complaints! They hated the cheese! I explained it to them and offered them a discount on the next order. Now the consensus from the people who complained, as I did ask what they would have liked us to do was that I should tell them we are out and offer them another choice with a discount. That is what I did the next time it happened and I got Zero complaints!

So back to the food. This was very tasty! It was presented well and had a good flavor to it.

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OH the great salad war of 2014 comes to mind with this one. If you have not read that blog post please click on the link and read it before you go any further. This was an ok salad. It had Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, peppers, and onions. Now if he would just added maybe some Zucchini and broccoli this would be a very good salad. I would also suggest cutting the veggies up a bit. I hate having it on my plate and trying to cut everything and the food falling off the plate as it was full. Plate being full is a great thing, but not when you have to cut up the veggies. The dressing was a mustard and was very tasty!

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Crap didn’t notice not a good picture,but this is the T-Bone! Nice! It was cooked just the way we ordered it. It had a very good flavor, even without a salsa on it. We got double veggies so he gave us grilled broccoli and its under the steak and it was a good amount! Very tender! It did have a bit of gristle on the one side, but that is to be expected on T-Bones. My suggestion would be to check it before it is cooked and trim that off before you put it on the grill. Very nice meal!

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This was the rib eye! Nice! Tender! Juicy!  Cooked just the way I ordered it medium rare! This is in a jalapeno sauce! Not to hot, but has a nice kick to it. I do like my sauce to make me cry and sweat, but this was still a very nice sauce for the normal person! I enjoyed it very much. My wife tasted it and said she is going to get it next time! Again the same broccoli as my wife’s dish. The presentation is very good! This was a great steak dinner!

Now he does have limited hours so be sure to check is Facebook page. The link to his page is at the top of this article if you haven’t already checked it out you should and once you have gone and had a great meal at his place give him a like!!!!!!

So lets wrap this one up shall we. The place was very clean and neat and very nice. The grounds are huge and beautiful even at night. I will tell you at night you need to bring some bug spray. It doesn’t interfere with your dining experience so don’t let that stop you from coming at night. Its Costa Rica after all and all the restaurant are open air. The food was excellent! The service was amazing! The presentation was as you can see very nice! The proprietors are so nice and so accommodating and so, well just wonderful! The husband waits on everyone and the wife cooks. The prices are reasonable. Not the cheapest, but fair. So we had the 2 ceviche, 2 large salads, 2 steak dinners, 4 coke zero, a coffee (local not instant) he grinds the beans for each serving and a tea and it was about $60. Not bad for that!

I give them 4 seashell1out of 5. Now if the salad just had two more items, the steak had no gristle and the shrimp were not steamed I would have given them 5 out of 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You must go see them! Facebook message them or call ahead to check that they are open. Sometimes they close for private parties. Love this place!

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

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Costa Rica Expensive? What? Part I 1/2 (Video)

So while I was out gathering up prices for my Part 2 I took some video. We went to he Friday Faria in the center of Atenas. It is always nice to get out and support the local community. You can shop, eat, meet people and just have a nice time. So I hope you will enjoy this offering until my Part II is completed. I want to be sure to bring you all the correct pricing and information that I can. So grab your favorite drink, be it coffee, tea, or something with a little kick, watch and enjoy the video is about 12 minutes long, but worth the watch. I want to thank Eunice for coming a long and helping me with this video. She was a dream and a pleasure and showed me many things! Enjoy!

Pura Vida!

 

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Food Chick Tip of the Day 4/25/14

locarbWith the spring and summer months upon us many folks are looking for some quick fixes for the ex- tra pounds that reached our waist lines over the winter, I know I definitely am! This month we are going to concentrate on low carb snacks and light meals and reiterate the “little” things we can do to help burn some extra calories.

I am going to revert back to my former “life” in Baltimore where I had a small catering company called Dinner at Your Door. We specialized in the South Beach Diet and actually had several clients whom we made three squares and two snacks and a dessert for seven days a week. We helped one couple lose a combined total of 80 pounds in six months. Of course, they were also on a regimented exercise plan. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to exercise and eat right for both your physical and emotional health!

Don’t be afraid that low carb means low flavor, trust me, it does not. This month’s recipes will show you how flavorful and easy it is to live a low carb life- style. I am not saying don’t eat carbs, I love my breads and starches but I am say- ing that too much might be just that, too much! At the restaurant we use a lot of whole wheat flour for many of our rec- ipes including our wonderful Cream of Crab Soup. Again, just a little twist on a traditional comfort food! Low carb living! For this month let’s do a day’s worth of eating South Beach Style! Beginning with your morning we will have a full day’s worth of food including breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks and dessert. Yes, you can even have dessert!

BREAKFAST Swiss Cheese and Vegetable Frittata – be sure to have your ingredients ready as omelets cook quickly and if avail- able use a non-stick pan so your eggs slide off easily. • 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) • ½ small onion, thinly sliced • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced • 1 small plum tomato, diced • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried basil (I prefer 1 teaspoon fresh basil cut into thin strips) • 3 eggs, slightly beaten • ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato and seasoning, cook for three minutes. Meanwhile, season eggs with salt and pepper and whisk. Pour directly over vegetable mixture and swirl pan so eggs completely surround vege- tables until eggs are almost set, about 5 minutes. Finish off under broiler until eggs are fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. This recipe serves 2.

MID-MORNING SNACK Peppery Cheese Popcorn – this would be a great dessert to sneak into the movie
theatre after dinner! • 6 cups freshly air popped popcorn (1/3 cup uncooked kernels) • Butter flavored cooking spray • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl and coat lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese, pepper and salt to taste. This recipe serves 2-3.

LUNCH Bulgur, Cucumber and Mint Salad – this is also a great side dish for grilled fish. • 1 ½ cups water • ¾ cup bulgur wheat • 2 plum tomatoes, diced or 8 grape tomatoes cut in half length wise • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded, • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint • 2 tablespoons EVOO • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice • Salt and pepper to taste • Bring water and bulgur to a boil in a medium sauce pan, reduce heat to low and cover until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Spread bul- gur on a large plate. Toss in ½ the mint and place in refrigerator to cool for 5 minutes. Trans- fer to a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork, adding remaining dry ingredients. Whisk together the lemon juice and EVOO and toss the mixture. Garnish with remaining mint. Serve room temperature or chilled. This recipe serves two.

AFTERNOON SNACK Celery with Herbed Cream Cheese and Walnuts • 1/3 cup walnuts • 1 8 ounce packet reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives • 16 large celery stalks, trimmed • Salt and pepper to taste Heat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts on baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant and then roughly chop. Combine walnuts with cream cheese and chives in a mixing bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Using a rubber spatula fill each stalk with mix. This recipe makes 8 servings. (this is a great make ahead snack that will hold for 3-4 days)

DINNER Lamb Chops with Chimichurri Sauce with Feta, Cucumber and Radish Sal- ad – this Mediterranean style dinner is perfect for dinner on the patio! • 8 3 ounce lamb chops • ¼ cup EVOO • 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves • 2 peeled garlic cloves • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice • ½ teaspoon dried oregano • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Heat grill to high. Rub lamb chops with EVOO and salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Re- move meat from heat and allow to rest for minutes. Meanwhile combine re- maining ingredients in a food proces- sor and combine until just pureed. Sea- son with salt and pepper and serve with lamb. This recipe serves four. Feta, Cucumber and Radish Salad • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced radishes • ½ cup fresh mint leaves • 2 tablespoons minced red onion • 2 tablespoons

EVOO • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar • 5 ounces reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste • Combine all ingredients (except feta and salt and pepper) and toss in a mixing bowl. Gently toss in feta and salt and pepper to taste. This recipe serves four.

Don’t forget to stop by her facebook page and give her a like and drop her a comment about what you think of this post.

https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalFoodChick

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Food Chick, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Bella Italia Restaurant in Atenas

Menu 1

So this place just opened up here in Atenas it is right across from I.C.E. in the town center. Here is a picture from the tables.

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So it is very nice place. There were a few little hiccups, but the Owner fixed them right away so it was all good. Lets get right to the food shall we. While we were waiting they send this out for us for free.

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This was very nice treat. It was toasted well. The salsa we pretty good. I can’t have the bread on my current diet but I did take a taste so I could give a view of it. I did take a taste of all the food that was presented. So the next item up is.

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Ensalada Mixta : Nice looking salad. The salad is where I had an issue. There was a little bit of label left on the peppers that were cut. Good thing is you could see it was cleaned well. They took it away and replaced with a new salad. Perfect and as it should be. Now the other issue which is an issue with restaurant in general in Costa Rica is that the menu made no mention of oranges. Nice treat, but I can’t have them! So I gave them to my friend who also got this salad. So bonus to her she got extra oranges. Now it was suppose to have lettcus, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and hard boiled egg. When it came out the 1st time it did not, but the new one did have eggs but still missing the onions.It doesn’t say red peppers but it had red peppers. Again thanks to my friend who pointed it out. She also got a new salad because hers didn’t have egg on it. Now this was a good salad. If it had maybe two more types of veggies in it and remove the oranges, I would put this one in my top 5 salads in Atenas. So to make this to my top 5 it needs to be lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, hard boiled egg, chili dulce and another veggie of some sort. Now the price is a little high for what you get. It was $6.

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Margarita pizza: The dreaded pizza debate! The crust wasn’t cracker crust so a plus! See my blog called Pizza! Pizza! on what I think makes a good pizza. A good amount of cheese. It was a little over done. I did try a little piece so I could speak to its taste. It was ok. Not a great pizza but it was an ok pizza. The crust was bland, the sauce was ok, and the cheese was good. It would be #3 on my pizza picks for Atenas. Might even move up as the prices are reasonable! The small one is $7. More than enough for 1 or even two people to eat. So it get bumped up on the value. I think their highest price pizza is $13.66.

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Lomito de Res: This was a good meal. The veggies were done well. I forget to ask for no mash and extra veggies, but that is ok. The veggies were cooked in butter, but oh well. They tasted yummy! I am not suppose to have real butter. The mash potatoes I put a little on my fork to taste it. They were ok nothing impressive and they needed salt. Now lets talk about the steak. I was not asked how I wanted my steak and it came out medium rare! Perfect!!!!! So those who don’t like it that way you may want to be sure to ask how it will be cooked. It wasn’t the most tender steak I have had, but it wasn’t the worst either. I could cut it wth the butter knife I had with a little effort, but not much so it was tender. It needed some spice of some sort. Maybe a little more salt and pepper would have given it a very nice flavor. This meal was $12. Not a bad price. I have had less for more. So it is a good value for a steak meal.

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Vegitariano Mixta: This was to have Squash, eggplant and tomato and it did! It was very good. Seem the owner who was the cook has a light hand with the salt. Which is ok taste the food 1st and be ready to add salt. In a town of a lot of expat retired people that might be a good thing. This one cost $6 as well. I think it would be better priced at $4 but better value for the value than the $6 salad which also if it was $4 would be better priced.

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Filet de Corvena: The fish was grilled well. The veggies were the same as what was on my plate. The potatoes again were the same, but she got double the amount that was put on my plate. This was priced at $8. I think a very good price for the amount of food and again it needed salt but it was good.

This was the only big problem I had with this place!

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Yes cringe now!!!!!! They only serve pepsi!!!! The only bad part!! Really……

Here are some other pictures of the place. It was clean, neat and very nice. The bathroom is for the entire strip center but I did not use them, but I’m told they were clean. Since they are public I can’t use them for a review of the restaurant.

menu 2 menu 3 Menu 4 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

So lets us wrap this one up shall we. We had two appetizers, 2 dinners (Steak and Fish), and 4 drinks for a little over $36. Not bad at all really!  The food needs to be seasoned a little more. but over all was done well. The price is very reasonable. The owner/cook came out and talk to us. He was very friendly. Only spanish, but I got most of what he was saying. I will go back many times. Especially once I can eat pasta and such! So good job guys.

So I give them 4 seashell1out of 5!

Pura Vida!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014

So it seems an innocent post on Facebook has erupted like Mount Saint Hellens! Here is the post I made in the Facebook group.

So anyone know if the under new management Bar Rill is actually doing a salad bar like I have been told and have yet to see?”

Who knew what this one little comment would grow into. It was fierce and it was bloody. People blocked people and just was not pretty. Now the issue is Bar Rill a nice enough restaurant has been taken over by new management. One day while sitting at Greggos a bar we go to for dinner once a week, a friend says, “So hey you know Bar Rill is got a new owner and he is going to be doing a salad bar?” He knows we are on a diet and need to eat lots of veggies so this would be great! I love a good salad bar and have not found on here in Costa Rica that is good. Pizza hut had one but it was small, you got one trip  and it cost like $10! STOP THE INSANITY! I digress. So I say cool when do they start? He tells me on Wednesday. So my wife and another couple go to check this out. Well the one couple that joined us the wife is a vegetarian, so she too is excited about his Salad bar. The best part is all you can eat for $6. Amazing. I’m so juiced and so ready for this. We get there and we notice no salad bar. OK lets check it out we are here and see what its all about. So we talk to the owner and he wasn’t ready. Tells us they will have it next week. It just so happens we go on a cruise next week so hopefully it will be up and running and ready to go by the time we come back from our cruise.

We get in on a Saturday from a long flight and airline food. So we are hungry and ready for a great salad bar in Atenas. We go to the restaurant and Nope no salad bar! Really? I had my heart set on a nice, personally made, full of goodness salad bar. So we turn around and head out. The owner comes up and asks us to come back in. I explain we were looking for the salad bar and would be back when it is up and running. His reason was the cook was out sick today. Not sure that is a good reason. Salad bars are the easiest thing to do when you cook is out sick. I still today have not heard of a salad bar being set up. Which is why I asked the question I did in the Facebook group. So now you are all caught up on what prompted me to start the Great Costa Rica Salad War of 2014.

Now the war itself was pretty funny really, but people take their food and salad very seriously. Another shop owner who does a wonderful Sunday Brunch with all kinds of food on it says,”as a matter or fact I may try to add to Sunday brunch” and this is when it started to get stupid and crazy. Here are some of the comments that were said after this message. 

There are a lot of bad food choices at salad bars”

Wow really bad choices? Like what carrots? Broccoli? Nice green veggies? Yes I will agree dressing does make your health salad unhealthy. Use a nice vinaigrette or just some oil and vinegar. Or just a splash of lemon or and or lime juice. bad food choices? Really? 

A “salad bar” in the tropics ….??? Poor restaurant owners … they will lose colones big time.”

Really? With the proper equipment and the proper management of the items its not that hard! A nice cooling table with lids and you are going to be just fine. Which is the equipment that Bar Rill happens to have! Becasue no tropical place has a salad bar! 

So at this point the owner who does the Sunday brunch, keep in mind the above are just highlight of what was said. There were many, many more messages. These were just the ones I found to be the most outrageous. So back to it. He asks if there is an interest in adding (not replacing), but adding a salad items to the bar. Here is what happen and you will just chuckle yourself to death on this one.

 I vote no. It’s not feasible from a restaurant owner’s view I think. And, when I go for Sunday brunch, the last thing I would want to order is salad because I am there for eggs, bacon, hash browns, a bit of fruit, toast. I want breakfast. How much can one person eat at one meal? Salad is for later”

Ok so has this person ever been to Brunch in their life? Really? “Br(reakfast((l)unch) combined. What do a lot of people have for lunch? Oh by the Gods Salad! Say it isn’t so! Who is anyone to say what is feasible or not for a restaurant owner. That is really up to them not us to say. He is only adding it to the bar. Not replacing items or making it some big production. They already do a huge veggie omelet when they have the omelet station so no big deal. This is the part I really love when we started talking about items. This was said.

this is Costa Rica, I want to eat Costa Rican foods”

Ok so no items that anyone listed on the “Brunch” Bar are Costa Rican Fair! Not even the eggs Benedict when they have it! You want to see some Costa Rica items for Breakfast here are some you will love and I think should be added to a “Brunch” Bar. :-)

tico french toast

Tico French Toast Stuffed with all kinds of fruit!

tico eggs benedict

Tico Eggs Benedict

Now that is come Costa Rican “Brunch items” Love love love to have me some of these! I digress again. Food gets me so distracted.

So this thread goes on for day and over 120 comments being posted. It did finally end and there was much blood shed. Here is the real reason I am writing this blog. A salad is a special thing. You can’t just slap some lettuce down on a plate and put a little cucumbers and some tomatoes on it and call it a salad. This is an example of what is not a salad!!!!

Salad

This is what is served at most Restaurants here in Costa Rica as both a side salad (maybe you can get away with it as a side salad), but not as your dinner salad and defiantly not as your entree salad!

You should have some good items in to make it a salad. If it is your starter than just a nice verde (green) salad is good. You can put just about any veggie in it and the more the merrier!!!!!! I’m not talking quantity. I’m speaking of variety is what makes a good salad. 1, 2 or 3 items does not a salad make. An ok salad have 4 or 5 different items and a great salad will have 10 or more!!!!!! Again not in large quantities of each item, but enough that you see you have a good variety. Now if it is your main entree you add some protein to it. Again one or two ounces does not an entree make. You should add a min of 4 to 8 oz of protein to any salad served as an entree. Here are some examples of ok and good salads I have had in Costa Rica.

good salad 2 good salad ok salad

Now there is one place in Costa Rica that I have found a great salad. It isn’t your most traditional of salads as it isn’t a cold salad. It is a grilled veggies salad. It is called Ensalada Mixta de Vegetales al Carbón and has the following in it:
Combinación de berenjena, cebolla, chile dulce, zuchini, hongos frescos cocidos a la plancha con aceite de oliva, sal, especies y aderezo light sobre una cama de lechuga.

Now in Gringo speak those items are:

Combination of eggplant, onion, sweet pepper, zucchini, mushrooms cooked grilled with olive oil, salt, spices and light seasoning on a bed of lettuce.

Now even though it doesn’t have 10 or more items it has a very nice flavor and I get it every time we go! Where do I get this you might ask? I get it here!

http://www.restaurantelosantojitos.com/home.htm

It is well worth a visit! No doubt!!!!!

Here is what the salad looks like:

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Now that is a good salad.

So that is my story of the Great Costa Rican Salad war of 2014. I hope you have enjoyed it and you have learned a little something about salads today. I just want to say to all my wonder Costa Rican Restaurants out there please I am begging you please make a good salad!

Pura Vida!

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Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Rants, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pizza! Pizza!

Home made pizza by me!

Home made pizza by me!

Doesn’t this pizza look so good! Its round and gooey and cheezy and has a little tickness to the crust. This is a picture of a pizza I made myself. I use to own my own Pizza and Sub shop. We had the best pizza in the area. Its not just me saying it I was told that by customers and even other pizza shop owners. This one I made here in Costa Rica. The cheezy goodness and the sauce and the pepperoni was just a blend and a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth. The crust was so nice and hand tossed with just the right thickness and herbs added in. The smell while it was cooking was amazing.

So is your mouth watering and do you wan to put a piece of pie in your pie hole yet? I’m know you do. You want to run out right now and go get a pizza like this one. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT GOING  TO FIND ONE LIKE THIS IN COSTA RICA!!!!! Nope you won’t. What you will find is what my wife and I like to call cheese and cracker type of pizza. No don’t get me wrong in the right mood I can eat a true Italian style crust pizza, but that is a very rare mood and it better have some good cheese, sauce and toppings.

Now there are 3 important things that make a really good pizza. The 1st is the crust. It has to be light an airy and have a little substance to it. It can’t be too dense or too airy. Doesn’t have to be 3 inches thick either. Again some people like that and that is ok and I prefer a thicker crust over a thin one. The crust should have some flavor to it and not be just dough. There should be some herbs and spices mixed in with the crust. It should be hand tossed and slapped out like a pizza was meant to be. This helps with the rising of the crust in the oven. It allows some air to get into the dough.  When you cook the crust you don’t want to over cook it. A nice brown crunchy bottom and sides with a soft, but not raw texture inside.

The 2nd items is the sauce. It has to be a very good red sauce! Don’t give me none of that white pizza crap or the oil and garlic sauce crust! Yea ok it can taste good, but that isn’t a really good pizza sauce for a really good pizza. You can’t put too much on the pizza. if you over sauce it the dough won’t cook properly and if  you under sauce it what is the damn point of putting sauce on it? You have to put a light coating of sauce on the pizza but not too light. Nice even coating. You want to think about a night breeze that is just cold enough for you to put on a light covering and not a huge winter jacket!!!!!!!!!!  If you put the sauce on too heavy you crust won’t cook and can even be raw. Raw dough is not good at all! The sauce is where most of your flavor comes from.

The 3rd item is the cheese. You have to have good cheese. It should be a mozzarella and provolone blend. Don’t go buying that crap in the market ok. Go to a good store and buy some good cheese. Not shredded you want the kind that are in the shape of a ball. The shredded sits on top of the pizza like bamboo shoots  a crossed its surface. It just doesn’t give it a good texture. The ball shape cheese melts very nicely and evenly over the entire pizza.

Now toppings are unimportant to a good pizza. They are just toppings people. Those 3 things are really all you need to make a good pizza. Now toppings do lend to make up for a fault in one of the three things above, but if any two of the three are bad you might as well be french kissing your dog! Its going to be about the same experience. People they are called toppings for a reason! They go on top of the pizza! Not burried on the bottom of the cheese or even worse the sauce!!! So put those things where they belong!!!!

Here are some example of what you will find and get here in costa Rica.

Riu palace pizza Bella Vita 995045_10200243694280279_1829861480_n

As you can tell from these pictures cheese and cracker. That is all you are going to get. Not that much cheese either and if you look the one even has the TOPPINGS under the cheese. Not good people not good! Now for what it is worth if  you want a pizza these will do in a pinch. There is only one place I recomend here in Atenas for this type of pizza an that is Alida’s.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d1775006-Reviews-Ristorante_Pizzeria_el_Paraiso_de_Alida-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

They have a good pizza, but it is a little expensive, but when you want a good pizza mind you cheese and cracker, Oh I mean traditional Italian pizza this is the best place to go. My wife likes to get their 4 cheese pizza as it has a little kick to it. Me I don’t get it at all really and only because their other food is so good! So she gets pizza and I get good Italian food! Works out well.

I give Alida’s pizza 3 seashell1out of 5 as their sauce is pretty good! They are a bit pricey I think their pizza is like $18. It is worth it if you are craving a pizza and are ok with the cracker crust. I gave them 3 because of their other food options are so good! If I had reviewed them as a hole they would have gotten 4 out of 5. Oh wait I just did! :-)

Now mind you that isn’t the most expensive pizza either. There are some places that charge upwards of $25 for a 14 inch cheese pizza. Insanity!!!! I won’t go to those places to have pizza.

Now a really good pizza in Atenas is at Pizza Rica! Their crust is thicker than any crust I have seen in Atenas. Now you have your pizza hut and your papa johns pizza here, but I really don’t like those chains. Their crust is the traditional hand toss with a good thickness to it, but I just don’t like their sauce or their cheeses and their crust while thick has no flavor other than flour. Pizza Rica on the other hand has a very good pizza. No doubt and it is reasonable priced.  Her is a link to them.

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g1177889-d2615210-Reviews-Pizza_Rica-Atenas_Province_of_Alajuela.html

As you can see from the reviews very good! I would not doubt suggest you go visit them and have a taste of their pizza as you won’t regret it.

I will give Pizaa Rica 4 seashell1out of 5! No doubt the best in town. Still not perfect but it will do what you need when you crave a pizza.

 

Now sad to say though I only give Costa Rica 1 seashell1out of 5 as I have tried so, so many places and only these two stand out! I’m sorry Costa Rica, but you need to get people to make a better pizza!

Pura Vida!

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Inka Grill Santa Ana

So yesterday as we were going to do some shopping for a party we are having tonight we needed to have a little bit of lunch. So we drove by Inka and figured lets go in there as we have never been to one yet. So we had lunch today. The service was excellent and the place was pretty no doubt. Looks like a wonderful place to eat! Lets look at what we had for lunch.

Ceviche Gran Inka

Ceviche Gran Inka

This was their version of Ceviche. Not really what I call Ceviche, but ok. Yes those little circles under the orange sauce were octapus tentacles. It was OK. The sauce was the highlight of the dish. The rest of it had no real flavor and I could not tell that the shrimp was soaked in anything.

Ensalada Inka

Ensalada Inka

Nothing at all impressive about this salad at all. Mainly lettuce and a little cucumbers, hearts of Palm, small amount of tomato, and just a few slivers of onions. The dressing had a good taste to it.

Corvina Nova Andina

Corvina Nova Andina

This really had no flavor at all. The sauce in the spoon I thought was repulsive. It was a nice potion size, but we will talk about the prices later. The veggies had no flavor really either, so they were just steamed with nothing.

Lomito Portobello

Lomito Portobello

This was just ok. I had asked for the meat to be medium rare and the waiter did understand, but it came out medium. There was no red at all anywhere on the steak. Now it was suppose to come with mash potatoes, but I asked for grilled veggies. The veggies actually were very nice.  They were better than what my wife had gotten with her Corvina. The Portobello sauce is in the cup I was not impressed at all, but it was the only flavor on this plate other than the veggies. The steak had no flavor at all. It was however tender.

Terrin de chocolate

Terrin de chocolate

This was the best part of the meal. It had the most flavor and was just excellent. The strawberries were a bit tart tasting, but the rest of it was very nice.

Cafe Americano

Cafe Americano

Come on guys we live in the land of amazing coffee. Why do you continue to serve Nescafe? I really did not like this coffee at all. I had to add 3 packets of a splenda and 1/2 a packet of non dairy creamer to make it drinkable. Hint to all restaurants in Costa Rica serve your countries best coffee!!!!!! Not this American crap please!!!!

So you have seen and I have told you my opinion about the food now be ready for the sticker shock!

Ceviche Gran Inka 7,955,75 or $14.48

Ensalad Inka 6,185,84 or $11.26

Corvina  10,610.,62 or $19.31

Lomito 11,495,58 or $20.92

3 Cokes 6,073.17 or $11.05 (3 16oz bottles)

Terrin Chocolate 3,243,90 or $5.90

2 Cafe 2,747,97 or $5.00

Now you have to add 13% for tax 6,280,67 or $11.43

Now you also add 10% for tip 4,831,28 or $8.79

Grand total for Lunch (hold on to your socks!) 59,424,78 or $108.15

Yes I am not kidding $108.15 for a lunch! Really a dinner, but we had it for lunch! No way!

So I think it is time to wrap this one up. The service was top notch! The restaurant its self was very pretty. The food was just ok. They need to taste the food on their menu and fix it before they send it out. If they would have put a little spice even just some salt and pepper on the steak and the fish it would have moved it up. There was nothing on the actual products. It was a very bland meal. The best part of the meal was the dessert as it was tasty and reasonably priced. We won’t be going back unless it is just for dessert.The prices were insane! Really insane.

So I give Inka Grill 3 seashell1 out of 5. 1 for service and 1 for the restaurant itself and 1 for presentation. I can’t give it anything for the food or the prices.

Pura Vida!

 

 

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Food Chick Tip of the Day 4/16/14

Today’s Chick Tip….Today’s tip is a blast from the past for The Food Chick…..Wendy Wells-Tockey from Fort Worth Texas has asked for my Mediterranean Tuna Salad recipe. I started making this tuna salad over 10 years ago and it is simply delicious. It knocks it out of the park in terms of flavor but is great for your waistline!

Combine 1 – 4 ounce can of your favorite tuna, packed in water(drained), 1/4 cup each diced red onion, diced sundried tomato, diced Kalamata olives and 1/4 cup diced artichoke in water (drained). By hand combine these ingredients. Remember to keep your tuna as flaky as possible, do not over work it and turn it into mush

For the dressing combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp each lemon pepper and dried or fresh parsley and a pinch or so of season all. Add just a dash or two of extra virgin olive oil. Whisk together well and pour over tuna mixture. By hand, lightly mix together being sure to keep the integrity of the tuna in place.

Now, for the zing factor! To taste add fresh basil leaves, either torn or cut chiffonade style and feta cheese (remember the feta is salty so be sure to add small amounts at a time and to taste test often). I also love to add Garbanzo or Chick Peas that have been drained and rinsed.

Serve this over your favorite lettuce mixture or packed in a pita with some baby spinach!

BONUS TIP – Remember that taste buds are subjective. If you are unsure of an amount just add a little bit at a time. You can make the entire recipe with lesser amounts and add more based on your taste buds!

Thanks Wendy, I know what I am having for lunch today!

https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalFoodChick please stop in and like her page! Let her know you came from us!

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Top 5 things I have learned

Ok so a couple things I have learned to help me adjust to Costa Rica and hopefully they will help you also.

10431230-pura-vida-costa-rica1. Pura vida is taken very seriously by the locals and is really a way of life and a philosophy. Most expats don’t see it this way. They see it as a way to show up when you want, do what you want and just be lazy. This is not true. It is how they express the slow living. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but it is their way and we are not and should not try to change it. Even if you have residency or even have citizenship, but you were born somewhere else you are still a visitor to this country. Embrace their way of life and keep it simple. This one is what I think is the most important of all the tips I can give. It will help you in every aspect of living here in Costa Rica. Enjoy it and take it to heart and don’t let your life in your home country spoil the experience you will have here.

buy_it_now.jpg2. Going..Going…Gone If you see it, you like it, you better buy it! It won’t be there when you get back. This equates to many things and in different ways. 1st example furniture. If you go into a store like Ashley’s and see a sofa you like. Get it now! Don’t walk away from it! Some might buy it out from under you. They don’t have a stock room! What you see is what you get. 2nd example is food products. I buy a number of things and minced garlic is a necessity in my house! I buy it at Pricesmart. Now they usually have it and I buy maybe one jar. Well they were out of it for 3 months at one point. So when it came in I bought 5 jars and anytime I go I buy 1 jar and try to keep a min of 6 in my pantry. That will get me though any drought. :-) Than there is the times when it just won’t be sold anymore. My wife loves the pineapple jelly at Pricesmart. We would buy it every time we went there. One day we go and its gone. That was over 6 months ago. :-( So I asked a couple people and what I was told was if an items sells really well they will stop selling it. Its more trouble to keep restocking it , so its better to not carry it. So keep this in mind when you are shopping. If you have space buy the bulk quantity or follow the buy it now policy! Good luck!

  1. Consistency? The lack of this can drive an expat insane here. As an example you can go into a restaurant and order the same food over and over again prepared by the same cook and get a different dish every time. Now this doesn’t happen everywhere and all the time, but it does happen a lot. 1st example is a restaurant where I get consume de pollo (Gringo speak chicken soup) sometimes they use real chicken broth and it is a wonderful soup with a poached egg and chicken meat. There are other times it is made with the powder stuff they have here which I really do not like. 2nd example is salads. This happens a lot. You order one and it comes with certain items lets take for instance a chef salad. You get your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and avocado  all standard in a salad. Now what makes it a chef is it is topped with meat like bacon, ham, cheese, and sometimes chicken or steak. You my order it one time and it has all these things. Next time it has none of the meat items except maybe bacon. The next time bacon, ham, chicken. You get the idea. Again all this is from the same place and the same cook who prepares it every day. I just look at it like every time I eat out it is an adventure and what I get I get and no matter what it is going to be tasty! Well most times. :-) Go with it people its an adventure!

hours of operation4. Posted hours of operation We learned very quickly that yes most places have their hours that they are open posted, but we have also learned that is subject to change and be altered without notice. Also keep in mind most are closed for lunch. Yes even a restaurant will close for lunch! Now that can range from 1 hour to 3 hours in the middle of the day. So we head out for dinner and  we know that we should not have our heart set on any one place to eat. We go to the 1st place that should be open and it isn’t so we drive until we find a place that is and we eat there.  There was one time when we drove to 4 places before we found one that was opened. Next day I asked around to see if there was some holiday or event I didn’t know about? Nope there wasn’t. Now why is this? See #1 above as one of the answers to this question. The next answer did shock me a little when I was told this by a couple owners. If they make enough money they will close and take the day off. Again see #1. There are also family emergencies that happen. You have to remember most of these places are family owned and run so if something happens they are closed. There is also the no show of the employees. Again this could be for many reasons but see #1. They don’t have a lot of employees that if one or two or Gods forbid all of them get sick that they can just call someone else to fill in for them. So they close. All of this is understandable. So you have to be a little relaxed and understanding and know that you may head to one place, but end up somewhere totally different!

4416_1155105753829_776392_n5. Ouch my ears! Costa Rica can be a noisy country. The locals love their music and they love it loud! Not all areas are this way, but most will have some sort of noise you may not be use to. Parties start at 9 pm or later and can go all night long. Can’t tell you how many times a neighbors house has had a party and they did loud Karaoke until 2 or 3 am. Now mind you I have had my party or two, but lets face it us old expats go to bed pretty early here so my party started at 5 pm and ended at 10 and the music and loud horrible Karaoke stooped at 9 pm. :-) They do love their fireworks here! You never know when you are going to hear the bangs and see the light show.  Than there is the wild life and depending on the areas you live in there could be Howler monkeys, you will mostly have birds, there can be roosters, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs! There are all manner of sounds. The animals of Costa Rica do not know what time it is. So i f you think you are only going to hear a rooster 1st thing in the morning you are so wrong. They make noise all hours of the day and night! Dog you can hear barking all the time. Most locals don’t keep their dogs in the house so they are outside all day and all night  or even roaming the streets. So be prepared for dogs barking! So you can either complain about all the noise or adjust your habits. I recommend a good set of headphones to sleep with at night. Me I can sleep though almost anything. My wife on the other hand puts in ear buds and listens to something I have no clue what she is listening to while she is sleeping. It is an adjustment no doubt. Again it may be noisy but the beauty that comes with it is well worth the noise. the birds and the monkey’s and the wild life is so great here.

Well those are my top 5 tips to help you visit and live in Costa Rica. I hope you find it informative and helpful and just remember we are here and this country is what it is and they have a way of life that is different from our own. We are not here to change them or make them more like us, if that is what you want to do while you are here you are going to be very, very unhappy. Embrace the difference. Live in the moment and enjoy the wonders that Costa Rica has to offer you while you are here.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Pets, Rants, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Food Chick Tip of the day 4/12/14

Today’s tip comes from one of your questions. Sharon Breslin, of Frankford, Delaware asked for a recipe for a dipping sauce that would go well with fried clam strips. This is what I came up with, a twist on traditional tartar sauce.

Take some mayo, horseradish, relish and some semi-fine chopped Kalamata olive and a little chopped pimento for color. You can adjust the horseradish depending on how much heat you want.

When making dipping sauces it is important to add a little at a time depending on how much you need. Start small and “build” your sauce. This sauce will be good for up to two weeks in your refrigerator.

https://www.facebook.com/TheOriginalFoodChick

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Worst Cruise EVER! Norwegian Getaway Caribbean

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo we had to do another visa run for our 90 days and I decided we need to do something a little fun and make it a really good trip. I’m tired of these stupid border runs that are long days and where you just feel so exhausted and drained when it is done and its just stupid in my opinion. Our paperwork is in and yet when we got back the border official only gave us 60 days and the only reason she gave us that was because we are leaving again in May. I have a feeling she would have given us less time. Which is really stupid as she looked over our residency paperwork so she knew we put in our papers almost a year ago! Not my fault it hasn’t been completed yet! Hello? I digress from the real reason of this post.

OK, the title kind of says it all. If it wasn’t for the company of my wonder wife and two female friends this trip would have been called, “The Cruise from HELL”. So because of the company I kept it is just the worst cruise ever. Let me tell you it was. So lets take this point by point shall we.

Arrival at the dock we got here very early. Everything went pretty well the person who took our luggage was very nice, funny, and just started us off on the right foot. So I thought, “OK cool this is going to be a good trip.” So we get inside and we get checked in. Again bright, cheerful, funny and happy people. I’m feeling good about this trip. Then we get to the waiting area.

They have a lot of drink for you some water and what I think was orange juice and coffee. OH the coffee was horrible! We drink some water while we wait, and wait, and wait. Yes we did get there early and so did so many others. Its time and they start to call group numbers. When you come in they give you a plastic card with a number. We were number 13! Hey I am cool with that. I have no superstitions about 13. We watch as the 1st group is called and the people hand the nice gentleman their cards and pass on though. Now the guy calling the group numbers off either didn’t have a command of the English language or just was very confused as a couple of times he either forgot number or called off the wrong ones. Since they were going in order not sure how that could happen. Here is my biggest issue. People would go up to the man collecting the numbers and hand him theirs. Theirs were not yet called. He only turned on couple away. Its not like the people he let in had disabilities or were older or anything like that. I would not have cared if someone who was disabled or who was much older got in ahead of me. He allowed people with group numbers higher than our to enter both at the time a number was called and in between numbers being called. That did not make me happy as I sit in the hard chairs waiting like a good person for my number to be called.

We arrive and it was not clear as to where to go. So we headed to our cabin. Nope that was not what we were suppose to do. Again was not clearly stated nor was there any guidance once you got on the ship as to where to go.

So we hit the cafe while we wait to be told we can go to our rooms which we had already done and dropped off our carry on luggage. So the cafe was ok. My only issue with the Cafe was it didn’t really change. Breakfast and lunch was always the exact same food. No variation to it at all. No special events or themes. Just same stuff over and over and over. So I age the same stuff every morning and for every lunch. We would meet our friends there for Breakfast and our conversations would take us well into lunch time. So we would eat lunch there as well. The food was ok. Nothing great and nothing amazing about it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo as you can see not the best looking food an it really had no flavor to it at all. We never saw the lobster or shrimp back at all on the cruise. So it was just for the 1st lunch. We ate lunch every day in the Cafe.

So lets talk a little about the rooms. We had a family mini suite. I am so glad I got that! It was small enough and I couldn’t image if we had 1 or two kids with us, as I would have killed them both by the end of the cruise had we been in that confined space. Overall the room was nice. We got it as it had a balcony and boy was that tiny as well. You had two chairs and you had to sit facing each other as the chairs really would not have fit side by side. Here are some pictures of the room and as you can see it is a nice room other than size no complaints and for two people the size was fine. I also didn’t know that there was drawers under the bed and under the sofa to store you clothing. So we lived out of our suite cases the entire time. Someone should have mentioned that to us. :-)

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Now our room steward was a pleasure to have! He was friendly and nice and greeted us and wished us well and left us little notes on our towel animals. I loved that he tore up paper and made eyes on them for us. Gave them such a nice touch. I can’t rave about him more. Now our traveling companions had a horrible steward. They had to ask for things, he never smiled and never really did anything and tried to stay out of sight. Not really good in my opinion. Now look at these lovely little creatures our wonderful steward made for us! I liked the sexy bunny and the dog the best! You know why I liked the dog. ;-)

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The design of the ship was ok. We were lucky and our rooms were right near the elevator. Here is my problem with the design of the the ship. There was no center elevator! There were only two one aft and one forward so if you had to get anywhere you had to go to one end or the other end of the ship. So there was lots of walking going on. God forbid you confused your aft and forward it was double the walk. I did mix them up as in thought something was after and it was really forward so walked from forward to aft, got on elevator got off and had to walk all the way forward again. I know I need the exercise, but really? We couldn’t put something in the center of the ship?  There was a stairway from deck 6 to 7 I believe but that was it. I did use them a couple of times, but some of the companions I was traveling with could not take the steps. Here are just a few random shots of the ship and nothing to get excited about.

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Lets get to the meat and potatoes of why we all cruise. THE FOOD!!!!!!! If you love food on a cruise you may want to take another cruise as this one is not for you! We not only ate at the Cafe, but many but not all of the specialty restaurants. I was not impressed by any of them at all. One or two were good, but not for the additional fee you had to pay which ranged from $10 to $20 a person to eat in them. I already paid a hefty price to be on this ship and now you are going to charge me more to eat in a restaurant with sub standard food and sub standard service? Yep not a good experience. If you know me you know I like taking pictures of the food I eat. I have very few food pictures to show you. :-( It just was not that impressive and it was not that good. So here is what I took.

Escargot and not impressed. No shell? Really? It was just butter and garlic with cheese really.

Escargot and not impressed. No shell? Really? It was just butter and garlic with cheese really.

French onion soup. it was ok nothing to write home about.

French onion soup. it was ok nothing to write home about.

This was just a sad scallop appetizer. Small and had no taste.

This was just a sad scallop appetizer. Small and had no taste.

Yep other than the ones a the top of this post that is all the food pictures I too. Sorry my foodie friends it just wasn’t impressive. Its not like I forgot my camera or something as it was tied to my wrist the entire trip. Most trips I have min 300 pictures of the places and food this trip I did like 100. So lets talk about the specialty restaurants we went to.

Cagney’s: Steak house Price $30 per person adults and $15 per child. 

Here is a link to the PDF for the restaurant: Cagneys_Getaway_04032014

Our table had the following:

Wagyu Beef Sliders* CARAMELIZED RED ONIONS | APPLE & CELERY SLAW was my appetizer and it was not wagyu that I could tell. I have had some amazing $60 an ounce stuff. This may have been the lowest of the low quality, but did not have much taste and it was not as tender as it should have been.

Shrimp Cocktail JACK DANIEL’STM COCKTAIL SAUCE was the appetizer of my companions and they said it was nothing to really write home about.

Arugula Salad SHAVED PEAR | RED BELL PEPPER | RED ONIONS | SPRING ONIONS | RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE it was a salad. Nothing special really.

New York Strip* – 14oz Cajun Seasoned (spicy) was my dinner. It was cooked the way I liked it medium rare. I had a line of gristle down one side that I couldn’t cut with a steak knife. I had to trim it away myself.  You would have thought the chef would have done that before serving it. The seasoning was not spicy at all! I like things very hot, but this had no real heat at all. I’m not 100% sure it was a 14oz steak either. It was rather small if you ask me.

Filet Mignon* – 8oz Simply Grilled is what my wife had and it was good she said.

Double Cut Lamb Chops* EGGPLANT & ZUCCHINI LAYERS | BAKED GARLIC | LAMB JUS our friend really did rave much about this said it was OK.

I think this is what our other friend had, but not sure. Grilled Garlic Shrimp ORZO PILAF | GARLIC & BLACK PEPPER BUTTER | LEMON ZEST Again I’m not sure as she didn’t really say anything about her dish.

My wife did get with hers a head of roasted garlic and it was pretty good so I ordered two of those. :-) Yes I ate two heads of roasted garlic! I love Garlic. That was nice of them to bring that out for me.

The service in this restaurant was good. Our waitress was attentive and she was nice. I’m sorry you think about the price of the cruise and you add $30 per person and its not worth eating at.

Illusionarium: Price was $40 per person (I not sure it may have been $45) for adults and not sure what the kids price was. 

This has a set menu so there were no choices to be had. It started with a plate of prosciutto and tomatoes with mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. It was than followed up by a filet with shrimp and a dessert with a mix of items on it. I ate the shrimp and I picked at the steak as it was over cooked because she didn’t bother to ask me how I wanted it. She just brought out the food. There were not asking of question or of what I would like to have. Nothing was impressive at all about the food. Service was ok seemed a bit of a performance as well so it was timed. Could have filled my glass of soda more, but it was OK.

Now the show on the other hand if you like magic this is the place to go. I loved the show. It wasn’t just 5 magicians performing, but a story they were telling from beginning to end and the wrote in the magician acts. You will be amazed and excited. You will love the show. Go for that, but not the food! Would I do it again? Yes for the show, but again the price not so sure about. Oh and no one wanted to see the show so I went alone. :-) Seated me at a table for 8 all by myself!

La Cucina: Cuisine: Italian Price per Guest: $15 Adults | $7.5 Children

Here is the link for the PDF of the menu LaCucina_Getaway_04032014

So that table had the following as a meal:

Fried Calamari — Garlic Aioli, Crisp Italian Parsley was nice and had a good taste to it and it wasn’t rubbery! Always a plus!

Beef Carpaccio* — Arugula, Mustard Vinaigrette was very nice had a good flavor

Insalata Fresca — F risèe, Spinach, Arugula, Shaved Pear, Red Bell Pepper, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mustard and Lime Vinaigrette was actually a salad to write home about.

Meatballs — Rigatoni, Housemade Meatballs, Tomato and Basil Sauce this was a meal, but I wanted to taste the meatballs so they brought me a small bowl of this. It was really good. The meatballs were tasty, the sauce was nice and the pasta was cooked to perfection.

Ossobuco Gremolata — Veal Shank, Creamy Polenta was had by my wife and our friend. Again it was just OK nothing to write home about.

Ribeye Steak* 14oz — Polenta Al Formaggio, Garlic Butter is what I think our other friend had, but again don’t remember as she really didn’t say much about it.

Tiramisù — Lady Fingers, Espresso, Mascarpone Cream was what our friends ordered and they said it was OK and they didn’t eat much of it.

Affogato — Vanilla, Chocolate or Macadamia Nut Ice Cream, topped with Espresso yes I got this and I was not impressed at all and if you do get it don’t put the Espresso on it. The coffee and espresso on this ship is horrible.

We had OK service in this restaurant and we were placed at a table way in the back in a corner. Didn’t really like that, but we had a view of the ocean so it was OK. I’m not sure why we got that table as we ate early about 6pm and there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. Would I go back? Yes and I think the food was of a quality that it was worth the additional price. I hate paying additional when I am on a cruise but it seems they all are doing this now.

Cuisine: French Price per Guest: $20 Adults | $10 Children

Cuisine: French Price per Guest: $20 Adults | $10 Children

La Bistro: Cuisine: French Price per Guest: $20 Adults | $10 Children

Not even going to try and explain what we had here. The food was horrible. The service was terrible an so bad we had to talk to the manager. It took 1/2 hour before someone come over to take our drink orders, than another 1/2 hour for our food order and than 45 min to get our 1st dish. He never came by and filled our drinks unless we pulled him over. Again it was not busy. We ate dinners at 6 pm. Seemed like a lot of people on the ship were eating a lot later. Not worth the price, not worth the trouble just really don’t go to this one at all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Teppanyaki: Cuisine: Teppanyaki Price per Guest: $25 Adults | $12.5 Children

So this was your typical hibachi type place. Pretty standard food. You had your shrimp, steak, fish, rice, veggies, soup, etc. Nothing amazing about this place so I would not spend the extra money to eat here if you have already been to a hibachi type place. This is very loud place. Each table has two chef’s that work it at the same time! Not my favorite setup. The food was good. Here is a video of what our Chef did.

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O’Sheehans Bar and Grill: Cuisine: Irish Cost: Complimentary 

This was the place we ate dinner at the 1st night on the ship. It was ok. We came because they advertised Prime Rib. So we had to go. No we didn’t. They do it pretty much every night. Its their thing. Wasn’t good. The service was ok not great so really don’t even bother. We did have lunch here one day and it was not worth it either. Salad was lousy and their wings they say is spicy, but it wasn’t. Really not worth going to even if it is included in the price of the cruise.

That is pretty much were we ate. After eating at these places we didn’t want to spend more money on food and service we were not going to like. So we never even bothered to try the other places on the ship. Just wasn’t worth the price of admission and especially not worth the up charge you will have to pay!

So I am not going to list and go into all the various clubs and bars on the ship. None of them are really worth going to. You really do not want to go to the Bliss bar! Stay away especially if you are prone to seizures! It is horrible.

The ice bar may have been something cool and interesting to do once. See what I did there I made a funny. OK so I think I made a funny. Whatever! :-) It cost $20 to go in and you only get 2 drinks and since none of us were really drinkers we didn’t go in. Not sure how I would have looked in the poncho they put you in. :-)

Entertainment was horrible on the ship as well. We went to a number of the trivia games and they were a joke, the bingo was a joke.
The shows were a joke with the exception of the Illusionarium and the Comedy show was pretty good. I did enjoy the comedy from the professionals! The crew on the other hand and mainly the cruise director was horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!! Joey was Ok, but the rest was just bad!!!!!!

So they did do a fireworks show one night. It was short and sweet, but it was enjoyable. Do not expect some huge show. You are on a cruise ship people. The finally was not that spectacular, but it was a nice touch and we enjoyed it. Here is some video I took of that.

So lets wrap this one up. The steward we had was amazing, only 1 of the 29 restaurants did I really enjoy, service was crappy, crew was very unhappy and just an overall bad experience for the price of admission and all the up charges.

So I give you 1 seashell1out of 5! Sorry! Wish I could give you more but I think I am being generous with the 1.

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Cooking with Love

Cooking with Love
By Brooke Hagerty Lurie
The Food Chick
April 2014 – The Incredible, Edible Egg!
With Easter coming in April this year I thought it only après paux that this month’s article be devoted to the incredible, edible egg. Did you know that 61 million eggs are sold during the Easter season? That is 732,000,000 individual eggs…that is an awful lot of eggs and it represents a whopping 45% increase over the rest of the year.
The egg is said to have over 100 different ways to be prepared. One of the most popular ways is the boiled egg, hard boiled to be exact. And as you might have guessed the hard-boiled egg is definitely the most popular during the Easter season. Here are some helpful hints regarding hard boiled eggs;
1. When hard boiling eggs it is best to use eggs that are 5 days old or older. So if you are raising your own chickens be sure to save eggs before you boil them.
2. If you store hard boiled eggs in the shell be sure to put them in a covered container to reduce the odor and keep refrigerated.
3. If you store hard boiled eggs out of the shell do so in cold water with lemon wedges to retain the white color and keep refrigerated.
4. To make the perfect hard boiled egg; place your eggs in cold water with a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight lid and remove from heat for 8 minutes. Rinse in cold water for 3 minutes to stop the cooking process.
Another popular way to prepare eggs is to scramble them. There are a few different schools of thought on how to properly scramble an egg and they differ depending on how you like your eggs; loose or firm, fluffy or flat. I prefer mine fluffy and firm so for me the best way to prepare is the following:
1. Whisk three eggs with salt, pepper and approximately 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, half and half or milk (heavy cream will make them the fluffiest).
2. Prepare your sauté pan by heating with a medium flame or medium setting on an electric or flat top stove for approximately one minute. Add two teaspoons of unsalted butter and wish around to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
3. Whisk your eggs again and pour into the center of the pan so that they will spread out on their own, cook for one minute.
4. With a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula gently push eggs toward the center of the pan and then back out to allow for even cooking. If you like toss in some of your favorite fresh herbs and a little cheese until the eggs have lost all of their liquid.
5. If you are making a scrambled egg sandwich do not add any liquid so that the eggs will remain firm and not fall out of the bread.
6. If you would like to make a warm wrap, remove eggs from pan and place your wrap in it for 30-45 seconds per side. Place eggs in the center and fold the bottom side up, then the two sides in and roll to the top for an easy on the go breakfast!
7. If you prefer your eggs looser and flatter substitute water for your dairy liquid.
Baked eggs are another one of my favorites and are so easy; you can even make a large batch and heat them up another day thus saving time during those hectic weekday mornings. This recipe, which makes 12, is perfect if you are hosting a brunch as it incorporates your meat (in this case Canadian Bacon) and basically cooks itself in the oven with little to no supervision.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grab your muffin pan (spray with cooking spray)
2. Dice one small Vidalia onion and one small red pepper into small bites and season with salt and pepper (add a little hot sauce if you like a little spice.
3. Take Canadian Bacon and “line” your muffin tin.
4. Place one tablespoon of your mixture in the bacon “liner”.
5. Crack one egg and cover the mixture.
6. Repeat until your muffin tin is filled.
7. Cook for about 10 minutes or to desired firmness. (the more you make this recipe you will find how you like your eggs best, I love mine to run right out when I put my fork in them)
8. To remove from muffin tin, scoop out with a soup spoon and serve.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast, they can be eaten anytime of the day and one of my favorite ways to eat them is in Egg Drop Soup. Egg Drop Soup is one of the simplest soups to make and requires only three basic ingredients; stock, eggs and cornstarch. You can add your favorite spices and herbs to kick it up a notch as you see fit. Some great additions are scallions, lemon grass, ginger and soy sauce
1. Heat 4 cups of your stock over medium heat. As you are heating gather your “extra” ingredients (lemon grass and peeled and sliced ginger) and place in a cheese cloth bag, then add to broth.
2. Bring to a light boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove “extras” and add salt or soy sauce to taste.
3. Scoop out ¼ cup of broth and whisk together with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Pour into soup to thicken by whisking (if you like it thicker repeat this step to desired consistency.
4. Whisk together 3 medium to large eggs in a measuring cup.
5. Slowly pour eggs into soup mix. You want to pour over the tines of a fork so the eggs will string out in the soup.
6. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.
7. Hints- do not be afraid to be creative with your extras. If you want to store this soup do not add the eggs until you are ready to serve. The stock mixture will hold for 3-5 days. You can use any stock, beef, vegetable, chicken or seafood but chicken is the most popular.
There you have it folks, some great recipes for one of our favorite foods; the incredible, edible egg!

As always, if you have an idea for an article or have any questions do not hesitate to contact me anytime at brooke@gunnersgrille.com. From all of us at Gunner’s Grille at Taneytown we thank you for your support over the past three years, we will miss you all. You can reach me on Facebook under The Food Chick. And be on the lookout for our new website coming soon to a computer near you!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Restaurant Review: Restaurante La Finca

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a little restaurant in the town of Sarchi called Restaurante La Finca. Here are the directions:

 I could not find a web page for them but did find a four square page so that is the link I used. We decided to finally make it to Sarchi after being here almost a year and check out some of the furniture shops. Well we go a bit hungry and decided to stop in this place. We are so glad we did. The food was excellent. The place was clean and nice and it had a great view. The prices were reasonable and some were down right cheap for the amount of food you got. All of it tasted very good! A picture is worth a thousand words so lets see that food porn shall we!

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Now doesn’t all that look good! I know it tasted good! Granted that wasn’t all my food, but my friends said it was all really good. Now I will have to say as you can see the salad wasn’t anything to rave over. It was OK just lettuce, tomatoes and palmetto.

So to wrap this one up, food was good, prices were fair if not cheap on some items, place was clean and had really nice bathrooms. So all in all I give them 4 seashell1out of 5. I took off some points as the salad wan’t that great.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Food, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A new writer for the Blog

ImageSo a friend of mine is starting up a business. She is called The Food Chick. She makes some wonderful food! She has been a partner in one restaurant and owned another in MD. She just recently got married and her husband is a chef as well, with his own restaurant. So she closed her restaurant to help him out in his so they can spend more time together. She wants to start up a cooking show, but 1st we want to get her to come in and blog some wonder meal ideas. I’ve convinced her to blog a meal prep to plate and it should be 20 min. or less. She will include pictures and reviews from those who sample the meal. So give her some love and like her Facebook page and cheer her on as she starts a new chapter in her life. Please encourage her to do some YouTube video’s! Here is the link to her Facebook page. 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Food-Chick/109929182384033

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Moo…Moo…Slaughter…Grill….Eat!

food5So today’s blog is going to be about meat in Costa Rica. So if you are vegetarian or by the Gods a Vegan! Do no read this blog post. Really don’t read it. See now there you go reading this blog and I told you not to. Don’t yell at me, I did warn you!

When we came to Costa Rica in 2012 one of my major disappointments was the Steak here.  It was tough, it was dry, and they refused to cook it medium raw. There is nothing like a nice juicy piece of medium raw (yes raw not rare) piece of steak. The taste of the flavor and the blood. Sometimes, but not always I just want you to cut the meat from the bone, show it to the grill and slap it on my plate! If it can still moo when I stab my knife into it than that is a good steak. :-) Steak Tartare is one of the best ways to eat steak! You don’t even have to show it to the grill in this case. :-) Rare steak meat and I really love it when they place a raw egg on top of it. Yummy!

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So now you know how I like my steaks and lets go over my issue with the steaks here in Costa Rica. One of the major issues is that they do not age their beef. They cut it from the cow and slap it in the cooler and sell it. You have to age the meat in order for it to have that tender texture us hard core meat lovers want. A steak at minimum has to age for 14 days. Longer is better, but 24 days “wet aged” is the best, the juiciest and the most tender of meats!

Now you are saying what is “wet aged”? Wet aging is the process of placing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag so that it retains its moisture. The moisture accumulates and the amount depends on the length of aging, there seems to be little to no weight loss unlike dry aging which can have other issues like mold on the meat and more waste.

The next major issue is the butcher the meat. When I say butcher I am not talking about the art of cutting the meat from the carcass. They “BUTCHER” it. They just cut it any old way they happen to fell at the moment. When it is sitting in the display case it looks horrible. It is so thin. They really don’t have any thickness to it at all. Depending on what you are doing with the steak it need to have some depth to it. Not a lot. If you are going to grill or pan fry it then it needs to be a minimum of  1/2 inch thick. Now if you are going to sear it and finish it in the oven than you need min of 1 1/2 inches to have a nice steak.

How it is cut from the cow and the various parts are very important as each one has a different flavor and texture and needs to be treated differently. Now there are some parts of the cow I just won’t eat. Like the cheek, tongue and tail. I have tried it, and just don’t like it.

This brings us to our 3rd issue of how they cook it. They seem to think it must be cooked so that there isn’t a single drop of blood left in the meat or any juice for that matter. They cook it until it is black and chard. That is the best way to ruin a good piece of steak, but since most of them don’t use good pieces of steak, I guess it doesn’t matter.

So I of course at this point said to myself, “Well self I guess you won’t be eating red meat when you come to live in Costa Rica. On the bright side the chicken and fish here is amazing!”. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now that I live here I have found a number of restaurants that have good tender meat and will cook it the way you want it. You should never, ever, ever ask for a steak to be cooked more then medium and even that is pushing it. I have had a number of steaks here cooked the way I wanted it. Here are just a few examples:

steak steak2

 

Now with all that said it can be expensive to get this quality of steak eating out. A good steak meal as I have described and cost you from $15 to $100 a person depending on where you go. That is just for the entree. Than add to your bill drinks, and appetizers and doing this all the time or a couple times a week adds up in price. So how do you get good steak at home? I am so glad you asked me that question. :-)

Uncle EarlsI found a place called Uncle Earls fine meats! This was a god send! I don’t have to go out every time I want a really tender and juicy steak any more. Sure I can if I want to, but I can have them right in my freezer ready for me to pop one in the oven or slap it on the grill. I can get one at a reasonable price!!! That is the most important part.

So a little about Uncle Earl’s. They are located at the Centro Comercial Trejos Montealegre (across from Walmart), next to Scotiabank in Escazú, Costa Rica. I know to those of you who don’t live here in Costa Rica that means nothing and you will never find it on your own. Those that do live here will know right where it is.

cutsofsteakAll their products are offering high quality meats, all grass fed, hormone free, no blood or saltwater injections. The only preservative they use is Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest of salts. They also wet age their meat a minimum of 14 days!! In 2010 Uncle Earl had a place in Coco that was also a restaurant. He than decided to focus on the meats and moved to a spot in the Mulitplaza in 2012. He needed a bigger shop and that is how he made his way to where he is now.

Now also keep in mind they do more then just steaks. :-) They do pork, bacon, sausage, bratwurst and all manner of other pork items. They also have lamb, and sometimes turkey and corn beef. You name it and if they don’t have I can bet you he may be able to get it for you. You never know until you ask. :-)  This is won of the better finds in Costa Rica! I love, love, love this place. You need to go if you want some really good meat and really good prices. You may never eat meat out again! :-)

So lets wrap this one up shall we. Costa Rica has some really bad meat and the way they handle meat, but you can find some places that will serve it the way you want and it is tender, but that is the exception to the rule. So for that I give Costa Rica 2 seashell1 out of 5 and I only gave them 2 because the chicken and fish is so wonderful here, just about everywhere we have gone. You can never go wrong ordering those two items.

Now Uncle Earl’s I give 5 seashell1out of 5. They get this for their quality and price. I love that place! Check out their facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/UncleEarlsFineMeatsAndSpecialtieProducts

Pura Vida!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Arroz con Mango

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200 metros al Este del Puente Manolos, camino a Zooave, 2022-4050 La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica

 

So we heard so many good things about this restaurant that we just had to go. My wife and I and our friends headed out to have some lunch. The place has a good bit of parking and from what I could see it needs it. We were the 1st few there for lunch, but by the time we left the place was filling up. So does a busy place mean it is a good place to eat? Well I guess we will see.

Here are pictures from their Facebook page of their menu. Lets start with those so you can see what they have to offer and what the prices are and then I will get into what we had and was it worth what we paid.

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The restaurant its self is very nice. It is large and the seat were comfy, the tables are nice and the place is clean. There are a number of people there who speak English. However our waiter spoke very little. As I stated in another post my wife and I are on a strict diet. My restaurant Spanish is actually pretty good. So I can go in and know what the menu says and order the food the way I like it. Now with the strict diet it does make it a little hard. Most restaurants can figure it out and are very helpful. Here it was a little difficult.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe food we got was good. Well the main entree was. We were given an option of 2 sides. This picture shows what I ate. I chose as my two side ensalada verde (green salad for my grino friends). I am required to eat a minimum of 2 cups of veggies, and lettuce doesn’t count. This salad had very little nutritional value to it and was no where near even 1 cup of veggies. Now the chicken was very good! It wasn’t dry and the sauce was ok. I have a feeling, but I could be wrong it was sauce from a jar. I do not think it was homemade. Now the salad dressing was very good. It was a lemon juice based sauce. Very tasty and went a long way to making the salad better. Was this meal worth $11 sorry to say no. It wasn’t just he poor salad that was the issue. The quantity of meat and the taste of the sauce wasn’t matching the price.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my wife’s meal. It is the filet mignon. I did taste it and it had a very good taste to it. She is on the diet so she too got the double salad as her veggie choice. Now unlike me she did not like the dressing at all. The steak was in a wine sauce which is technically a no no on our diet. It was a tender piece of steak. It was cooked the way she requested it as medium rare. Was this meal worth $15? I would say yes it was, even though the salad was again lacking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis meal belonged to one of our friends. She enjoyed it very much. She and her husband like this place a lot. While we were there I found out this was their 3rd visit in the last 5 days or so. I would say they like the place. Her meal was the chicken cesar salad. She also got a side of fried with it. She said it was very good. Is this meal with $6? I would say yes it was.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This was our other friends meal. It was a burger and fries. He said it was very good and the burger was stuffed with cheese. Which is always a nice touch. Back in the states a restaurant we used to go to had stuffed burgers and they were amazing. Our friend said the burger was good and the onions were exceptionally good as well. They were fried and very sweet. Now was this meal worth $9? $9 for a burger and fries is a little steep. So I am going to say a maybe on this one. Since I didn’t taste it I don’t want to say no.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the brownie. I forgot to take a picture of it before it was eaten. It was very good. They usually serve it warm with ice cream. I got it because we were a little late getting lunch and my blood sugar was very, very low. Now after this meal and once I got home my sugar level was normal without insulin. Which was a good thing. Now if this was warm and with ice cream worth $4? I would say oh yea!

It is a family oriented restaurant, no doubt. There are a couple of play areas for the kids. I also understand they do live music as well. So all these add to the value of this restaurant.

So lets wrap this one up. Food was good, place was clean, staff was friendly and service was very good. Some items were over priced while others were worth it. I would say I give them 3 1/2 seashell1out of 5. If the prices were a little better, the sauce didn’t taste like it came from a jar, and the salad actually had some good stuff it in I would have given it a 4.  I know some of my friends who have been there are going to give me some flack for this one, but this was my experience. I will give them another try later on, but I won’t go out of my way to go back. Defiantly when I am off the diet we will go back and I will review it again.

Pura Vida!

 

Categories: Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Outback Steak house why you made me so sad

If you have not yet figured it out I am a big foodie. I love food. I love going out to eat and taking pictures of everything I eat. I have to say that I did not take any pictures of the food from this restaurant. None of the food was picture worthy. So sorry to disappoint on this blog, there will be no actual food pictures. I will however post pictures from their facebook page and explain the difference between what they advertise and what we actually got. I am not going to show all the items we had but the top 3 worst items.

So lets start off with one of the most popular items on their menu in my opinion. The Blooming Onion on their facebook page looks like this.

bloomin onionWow this looks really tasty doesn’t it. Well what we got was nothing like this. It was much smaller than this looks and it was so over done we didn’t finish it and there were 4 adults and one teen who will eat anything and eat more then any human should ever eat. He is a teenager so its ok. That should tell you how bad this really was.

victorias filetThis looks like one amazing steak. Now back in the USA it would be. Here at this restaurant it was not. This picture makes it look so pretty and juicy. It was anything but. It was dry and over done. We asked for medium rare as any good steak should be cooked. It came out almost burnt. Now I could say, Ok over cooked this one, but my wife got a steak as well and asked for it medium rare and it came out almost burnt as well. Needless to say it was dry and not tasty at all. We couldn’t even eat either of our steaks because they were so tough.

outback wingsThese look really tasty. Don’t be fooled they were not. Now get this the steaks were over cooked and the wings were under cooked. one was even raw near the gone. They had no real flavor or heat to them at all. We asked for blue cheese and they gave us ranch. Ranch just doesn’t work for me when you are talking buffalo wings.

Lets talk about prices. It was one expensive meal. The prices do not reflect the quality or quantity of food that we got. Than factor into it that we couldn’t eat most of it because it was so bad. So not worth the price of admission that is for sure. Service was so slow and they were not attentive at all. We had to keep flagging down the staff to get refills and they were not busy. When the restaurant is swamped and full I totally understand having to wait sometimes, but this was not.

So lets wrap this up. Bad food, slow service, over priced food and drinks gives this place 0 seashellout of 5. I will never go back there again.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Kay’s Gringo Postres

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There is a place in Costa Rica where everybody knows your name. No it isn’t named Cheer’s although there is a Cheers bar in Heredia, but I’m not here to talk about that just yet. :-) Kay’s Gringo Postres is a nice little restaurant here in Atenas. The owner Kay Costello is one of the best people you can find in Costa Rica. She greets you with a smile and remembers your name when you come back months later. We came in November of 2012 and than when we returned in February of 2013 she remembered our names and even what we liked to drink and our special diet! She is one amazing person.

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So the lady in the center is Kay, on the right is Katia, and on the left is Mercedes.

These are the wonderful staff that will take care of almost all your needs. Katia mainly works in the Kitchen and cooks, Mercedes helps out and does most of the baking and let me tell you her cakes are to die for! Kay of course is the owner and she hangs out and helps people where she needs to. This is a great combination for some good food and a good place to hang.

cake

A cake she made for my wife’s birthday. Amazing taste as well as look!

Kay is an expat originally from Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Kay moved her over 10 years ago with her husband Tom. She started out very small and simple by selling dessert. She now has a full restaurant that sells very good american comfort food. She also has some Tico dishes as well. Here are just some examples of the food we got when we were here in Nov. of 2012. They have a really good Chef salad that I love!

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Specially made Salad to accommodate our special diet.

burger and fries

Very tasty Burger and Fries. Always a classic!

desserts

So many desserts and so delicious!

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This is the Sunday all you can eat Buffet.

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Tomato Soup and a grill cheese sandwich was yummy!

Atenas has a Chili cook off each year which was started by Kay. It was a great success this year. They raised more then $30K for a local orphanage. The great part is that Katia and Mercedes won 1st place this year! The chili is served at Kay’s so if you go you really need to try the chili. 

1st place chilli winners

Kay’s menu has a good number of items on it and at reasonable prices. She has specials every day of the week which range from local fresh fish to meat loaf. You can get a a really good lunch for under $7 usually. She is closed on Mondays, but open the rest of the week from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, but the cooks go home at about 2 pm so the kitchen is closed. You can still get some wonderful Costa Rica Coffee and Desserts.

So to wrap it up this is a great place to eat! Friendly people, good food, and reasonable prices. This gets 5 seashell out of 5 from me. If you are ever in Atenas you must stop in and say Hi to everyone and have a bite to eat. You won’t regret it.

You can find them on facebook: Kay’s Gringo Postres

Pura Vida!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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