Tuesday, May 17, 2011

COSTA RICA-1era. Parte.

Finally we feel we are in a civilized country, I may say… Dani invited us some beers: Imperial made in Costa Rica now. Pretty good, although I don’t know the price yet. I do know that 1 Canadian dollar = 500 Colones.

Gallo Pinto.
This is the best Costa Rican typical dish; it is basically a mix of rice with beans and usually fried plantains on top with sour cream. Cooking it is cheap and you can add any spices you want; typically Costa Ricans add cilantro (or culantro is called here), onion, garlic, soy sauce. Beans are easy to boil if you are at a place where there is a real stove, boiling beans in our little stove is not a choice, but there are always cans of beans at any grocery store.
A pot of Gallo Pinto for 7 people costs around 1000 Colones = $2 dollars…

Alaskan buddies’ dinner…
Alaskans in Costa Rica, yes… and I am sure I did not impress them with this simple dish but I am going to publish it more for the enjoyment we had than the actual recipe, the enjoyment of sharing with great people.
This is basically rice cooked with some veggies: broccoli and cauliflower in a rice cooker. A little piece of already marinated chicken made for a good side. The mango salad was the best for me, although too spicy for Megon… sorry!!! The mango salad is really simple: mangoes, cilantro, tomatoes, avocados, onion, spicy peppers, lemon juice, salt to taste and there we go… Let me tell you, Costa Rica has great fruit and lemons… I love them.

A casado… married? Nope… It is a dish…
For 2800 Colones = $5.6 dollars you can get a super meal that can feed 2 people. We had this great meal at Restaurante La Diligencia in Rio Frio Sarapiqui in Costa Rica. This is Seoni’s favourite restaurant in the area. Yes, Seoni… a great friend who is hosting us at her family’s farm down here. I recommend a casado anytime. Ours had chicken for meat but you can pick from a series of main dishes and as you can see in the picture you will get rice, beans, salad and a boiled plantain… and a big jug of juice…

Mireya’s heart of palm…
Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. Costa Rica produces a lot of this delicious item. It is costly because harvesting in the wild kills the tree. Heart of palm is often eaten in a salad, sometimes called the "millionaire's salad." But it is also eaten with eggs or fried in many ways. Mireya made a great Costa Rican dish with palmito; she fried some onion and cilantro, added diced palmito, seasoning (chicken broth) and eggs. A big pot for 7 people costs 2000 Colones = $4 dollars. Great deal even though palmito is expensive.

A la putica… que picoso…
This is Eli’s favourite phrase: “A la putica”, I will let you find out what this means. Eli knows how to grow food, imagine that… a lot of us are ignorant about it but he is not and taught us a lot about the land where he grows his own food with passion and dedication…
He produces these amazing mix of three different peppers with vinegar of Guineo (type of banana); vinegar of Guineo is produced when bananas are pealed and put in bags to ferment, the liquid is then collected and used to marinate the peppers… A medium size bottle of this mix costs around 600 Colones = $1.2 dollars… And Eli will make one for us to take… Love it!!!

Aqu√≠ solo mis chicharrones truenan…
Another dish that only Eli knows how to prepare. Here it is a Costa Rican man who knows how to survive and survive well, one to invite if you are going camping.
Chicharrones in Mexico are pieces of fried skin pork but here it is any piece of the pork well fried and crispy. He just used cilantro, garlic and oil to season this tasty pork… With about 6000 Colones = $12 dollars you can feed 7 people with this typical dish…
A bit greasy therefore no pictures were taken, could not get my camera out… besides I can only lick my fingers and could not stop digging into the pot…

Fresco is any drink in Costa Rica that uses fruit, water and a bit of sugar. You can combine simply lemon juice with water, or blend couple of mangos with water… and some sugar if necessary, place it the fridge and take the jug out when lunch is ready. My favourite so far is “fresco de limon”. One lemon is 30 Colones = $0.06 dollars.

Other discoveries at the farm…
We found yuca, which is known as Cassava, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava. Cassava is the third-largest source of carbohydrates for meals in the world. It is classified as sweet or bitter, depending on the level of toxic cyanogenic glucosides; improper preparation of bitter cassava causes a disease called konzo. Nevertheless, farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves. This can be simply boiled or fried… I really liked it especially since we get it fresh, here at Luis’ and Seoni’s farm…

We also found Guanabana, known as Soursop. Its flavor has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple with sour citrus flavor notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavor reminiscent of coconut or banana. The price of this fruit is 1000 Colones/kilogram… about $2 dollars/kilogram… really tasty.


We basically went through these two countries fast. You may wonder why, easy… Tired of being chased by criminals and finding fake police. However, we had to spend a night in Honduras and a night in Nicaragua and found couple of things we can add to the Road Sandwich.

Beer is always a great meal or a great part of the meal. Honduras produces beer “Imperial”, tasty and refreshing, especially after a long day of riding and BS. The price is $30 Lempiras which is equivalent to about $1.57 Canadian dollars. 1 Canadian dollar = 19-20 Lempiras.

We also had a meal way out of our budget but at that time at night and under the circumstances we were, we had to find a safe place. The good thing is that we had great company… Dani… thanks so much for the days spent with us…
This meal cost us 150 Lempiras and supposed to be a typical meal… we shared one and it was not fantastic but was good.

Nicaragua’s beer was deserved: Victoria. We saved some money from those stops where we were asked to “pay” fees to fake police. There is an easy way to avoid this and it is by not breaking any rules and knowing what should and should not be paid for, if there is not receipt is probably wrong…
30 Cordobas per beer, equivalent to about $1.3 Canadian dollars. 1 Canadian dollar = 22-23 Cordobas.


Again, after an exhaustive day the first thing we found is beer, “Regia” beer. Tastes fine and it is pretty inexpensive. Let me tell you, in El Salvador they use American dollars as currency since 2001. So a six pack costs $3.9 USD.

Second thing we found really delicious and inexpensive was “Pupusas”. Its name comes from the Nahuatl “Pupushahua” which means stuffed tortilla. This is the Salvadorian dish par excellence. These are corn or rice tortillas stuffed with pork, beans, cheese, chicken, etc. They are served with a special pickled cabbage on the side and a tomato-based sauce. They are so popular that you can find them anywhere at any time. You can have a pupusa for $0.40-$0.75 USD. Accompany this with a milk shake of real frozen fruit for $1 USD each shake.

We also found cookies and bread, the sweats… those sweats. It will take me two days riding to get rid of the unnecessary stuff. A bag of cookies can be found for $1-$1.5 USD, but they are so delicious and well made. You can get 6 pieces of delicious bread for $1 USD.

A Mexican torta can be found here for $3 USD… Delicious with pastor meat and hot sauce. Brian’s favourite dish so far.


We are excited about trying what Guatemala produces and as long as they have hot peppers we should be ok. Hot peppers keep us from getting sick.

First thing we found is beer, “Gallo” beer. Tastes more like a low profile American beer but it will do… It is also expensive in comparison to Mexico of course. A “Gallo” beer (small can) goes from 8-9 Quetzales, 7 Quetzales = 1 Canadian dollar or 1 Quetzal = 1.55 Mexican pesos, that sucks!!! I never thought Mexican Money would be worth less than Guatemalan Money. Oh well, it is what it is… And of course at the border you get a lower exchange rate that you could at a proper exchange place.

Second thing we found very peculiar is tortillas. Tortillas are very small and thick and the “Tortiller√≠as” are places where people make tortillas by hand rather than machines. You can buy 5 tortillas for 1 Quetzal.

We made some “molletes” which is basically a bolillo with beans, cheese on top and pico de gallo (in this case without cilantro). Bolillos in Guatemala are called “pirujos” which in Mexico this word means male prostitute. Pirujos go from 0.5-1 Quetzales.

We had a typical Guatemalan breakfast, it was awesome!!! For 24 Quetzales we got: fruit, beans, cheese, eggs and chapin coffee. Chapin coffee is a watered down coffee and if you want to upgrade for a real coffee you have to pay extra, sorry I did not ask how much extra but I did not care because we wanted to try what Guatemalans normally consume. The owner of the restaurant is German and let me tell you, there are lots of Europeans down here, I can see why… Guatemala is very pretty!!!

We cooked some tortas con huevo (tortas with eggs) and used up all the little bits we had.
Boiled eggs
Chiapas cheese
Hot sauce

1) Add the Chiapas cheese to the pirujo and then the eggs in slices.
2) Add some avocado, tomatoe and onion.
3) Add hot sauce of your preference and enjoy.