Although our blog is thoughtfully titled, “ChicagoFare” I would like to use this post to distribute a photo from our snack in Barcelona. Pimientos De Padrón. More to follow…
Category Archives: Food Travel Log
I had made a pilgrimage out of the country with my family only once before… This trip resulted in lost passports, an angry customs official, swimming with sharks and being bit by a stingray… So when we decided to add our 80+ year old grandmas and a puddle jumper to the mix we weren’t sure what type of shenanigans would ensue.
Our group from Milwaukee made it to O’Hare on time bright and early at 3:30 AM. Even though we had arrived early we were still delayed on AA for an hour and a half while the cargo door was mended. By the time we made it to Miami, we had no lay-over, no wheel-chairs and 5 minutes to get to our next flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. While half the group continued to the terminal, G searched out wheel-chairs, only to be told that the grandmas would have to suck it up and walk. I’m not sure how, but after paging overhead several times we finally saw the grandmas in the distance. Everyone hopped on the plane… but wait… where is George’s mom? Lost. But found right before the plane left.
When we finally landed in San Jose, I felt relieved as the airport here had two men with signs eagerly awaiting our grandma’s arrival. They were whisked away without one word. No one really knew exactly what happened to them until we saw them trying to coax a customs official into letting them stand in line with us. And apparently our baggage had not arrived… was I surprised… no. So we opted for luggage delivery later that evening and continued to our next flight… I wasn’t sure everyone knew what type of flight we had to catch next but I really didn’t want to scare them.
A puddle jumper can be fun, scary or outright terrifying depending on the weather. We opted for the zero-emission carbon neutral plane NatureAir, and were weighed before entering the plane. I glanced towards the cloudy sky and wondered how the plane would hold up in a storm. As I walked past the attendant I said, “looks like rain.” He smiled, and replied “Yeah, Good Luck!” And off we went into quite possibly the most frightening flight I have ever taken.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve flown on smaller planes than this before, but not through storm clouds. Soon after our ascent we were engulfed in a dark foreboding haze. In an instant we fell 2000 feet and the gentleman sitting in front of me broke into a sweat. His son-in-law began to heave into the white paper bag that I had always thought was there for show. Even I got a little queasy… but as I turned to check on the grandmas peering out the window at the clouds, they didn’t seem shaken at all.
Our landing was smooth, and as we walked off the plane we were greeted by the sweltering jungle heat. We were here… finally, and just needed a driver to take us to our casa for the week. We arrived after 12 hours of traveling, without our baggage, sweaty and hungry. Very hungry.
Lucky for us we had Stephane preparing our first meal. Stephane was the chef of the casa and he had prepared probably the best mahi-mahi we have ever tasted, perfectly executed with a delicious mango chutney accompaniment. He had also been working in the kitchen creating some garlic and parsley sautéed shrimps and a vegetable side dish. My youngest brother and shrimp aficionado considered the shrimp the best he had ever tasted.
Considering my sassy grandma has no teeth and often refuses to eat, I was shocked to see her venture up for seconds of the succulent fish. Even my father who swears by the need for ground beef in every meal appeared pleasantly surprised. Later that week, we even saw my dad choose mahi-mahi over steak.
Everyday our French trained chef would get our fish from the local fisherman, something I have never done in Los Estados Unidos. The closest we ever make it to fresh fish in Chicago is our favorite market on Fulton (which will be featured here… soon). We enjoyed that first meal so much we opted for fish at almost every other meal, as its hard to pass up a fresh caught fish in lieu of pork or beef.
The menu was decided daily based on our preferences. Stephane prepared mahi-mahi, red snapper, chicken with a pineapple cashew chutney, crepes and even typical costa rican breakfast (i.e. gallo pinto y plantanos) for our party of ~15 people at our request. He even cooked for our wedding reception of 30 of our friends and family. Our guests were very impressed.
Though this is not our normal restaurant review, we had such a wonderful week of food in Costa Rica that we wanted to share our experience. We felt very fortunate to have someone as talented as Stephane preparing our meals.
As an homage to our trip to San Fran and the Napa Valley we created this meal of BBQ oysters, a halibut ceviche and a tomato/mozzarella salad. In Napa we tried many oyster shooters, only to find that slippery slide of that poor fresh oyster down into my gullet made me feel bad. That poor little slimy creature was going to die a horrible death inside my acidic tummy. So when we saw the first “BBQ OYSTERS” sign we stopped… immediately. We then stopped three more times sampling at least three spots on HWY 1 all with differing BBQ sauces. They’re amazing so when we had the first chance we took them to our grill! 🙂