Sunday, May 3, 2009

Raw in Costa Rica

A couple weeks ago my husband and I headed to Mal Pais, Costa Rica for some fun in the sun. Our good friend and owner of Mary's restaurant, a very popular seafood restaurant in town, asked me if I wanted to come up with a raw food menu for a few nights. I jumped at the opportunity of creating a menu that utilized local ingredients but was still something special that no one else was doing. Though there aren't any exclusively raw food restaurants in the area, there are a lot of vegans, as well as raw options being offering at other eateries. I needed to come up with specials that would reel people in. My menu consisted of an appetizer of vegetable sushimaki made with coconut meat, avocado, carrots and cucumbers that came with bon bon sauce and sweet and spicy mango sauce. I also made hemp tabouli with zante currants and no-bean hummus. For my entrees, I made pistachio pesto pasta and beet ravioli with rosemary cashew cheese. For dessert, I made chocolate ganache with vanilla cream and a mango cheesecake. We put fliers up in the middle of town to lure the raw vegans and were surprised how many showed up to just to try out my offerings. It was so exciting! There's talk now about coming back in January and February and making a nightly menu of raw specials. I'll keep you posted!

When I had requested lemons for my recipes I ended up with these wonderful sour mandarins instead. They're like a lemon and lime in one. It gave my recipes a new dimension of flavor and is the secret ingredient in Mary's fantastic mojitos.

Raw cacao beans

There is a wonderful restaurant in the nearby town of Santa Teresa called Tres Cabezas that offers a small, creative raw menu along with their lovingly cooked selections of vegetarian and pescetarian dishes. My husband and I tried out their fennel watermelon juice as well as their papaya orange cucumber. Refreshing.

For eats we had their raw salad.

We also had their entree of sunflower seed pate with julienned greens, zucchini hummus and seaweed. The atmosphere was wonderful and the service friendly. I was really impressed that someone was making a raw menu in this secluded part of the world. I've been coming to Costa Rica for the past five years and this was the first time I had seen the word raw even mentioned. One of the great things about Costa Rica, though, is that you can stay raw easily. Fruit is plentiful and almost every restaurant offers all fruit smoothies made with water. Salads are plentiful too but not as exciting as what we get in the states. On Saturdays, there's an organic farmer's market hawking every kind of glorious green as well as tropical fruits, raw cacao, honey and vegan muffins. I forgot to bring my camera that day. Aargh! If you would like to see some more photos from my Costa Rica adventure check out my Flickr album. If you're considering going to Costa Rica for vacation and interested in knowing more about Mal Pais email me or check out Costa Rica beach rentals website. Pura vida.


Evan Exempt said...

That natural food looks/sounds delicious, Judita -- though part of me just can't help but wonder if maybe you'd be happier single and drunk in some crumby art-space/loft apartment with a curtain a wall on North side of Chicago with a bunch materialistic, drug addicted tweenagers who don't bath or eat gluten, but still insist on wiping their asses with the glossy pages of next month's Vice Magazine because "Heh! We were going to throw it away anyway. Next month's 'zine is old news!"

Don't you like electro-beatz, shitty weather, urban decay and an endless suppply of people who will worship you for being beautiful and not liking them!?? What giveth?

[And if I am not mistaken, I believe 'Raw in Costa Rica' is the name of an adult film...

Just kidding. (I think.)]

- Your faithful Twitter follower/stalker and (NOW) blog comment thread vandal,

Evan Exempt

Nancy Sun said...

judita - i have been so jealous of your pictures on twitter! let me know if you need a sous chef come winter. i will be in costa rica come december...we should catch up as i still need to pick your brain on living light!

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