If you had told me ten years ago that I would be spending Christmas in Costa Rica I probably would have said you were crazy, but here we are, so I guess that makes us crazy. I must admit I am enjoying it though especially since the weather in Toronto is pretty cold and snowy. One of the things I love to do every day is check the weather back home and it is usually a lot worse than here. I know that must make me somewhat sadistic but its a favorite topic of conversation in the pool while having a cocktail and hearing about the storms in the mid west.
Now that the new terminal at the airport in Liberia is finished when you arrive, you get to hang around in air conditioned luxury, while you check through customs and pick up your bags. The old terminal was just one large shed with a huge fan. Once you leave the building you are immediately hit by the heat and you start to swelter. After a couple of days new comers start to relax, soak up the sun and laugh about how wonderful it is here and how bad it is at home. Today for example the weather in Parry Sound is -6° C and here in Coco a balmy 30° , but I am not doing this to torture everyone back home but to describe how hot it is here at Christmas (okay a little torture).
Santa comes to Playa del Coco as well but in more appropriate clothing. Check out that jazzy Christmas shirt. Everyone got a cracker from Santa to open at dinner. Domenic’s family had never seen crackers until he had Christmas dinner with some crazy Canucks.
I think Santa and Charlotte got together to pick a present for Nicole, a hot wheels car with a track that went through the mouth of a dinosaur. It was a big hit.
Most of the supermarkets here cater to North Americans and offer a lot of the traditional foods that we eat at home. It was interesting to see the meat sections packed with turkey (Pavo) but because they are imported they are not cheap and cost anywhere from $2.00+ per pound and are usually frozen. Gordon had an interesting experience when he thought he ordered an 18 pound turkey from the Auto Mercado, asked them to thaw it and he would pick it up the day before Christmas. It seems the the order missed something in translation when he picked up the turkey only to find it was still frozen. I know that would increase the stress level for any chef at this time of year but Gordon managed it beautifully. I didn’t get the details but I think he thawed it in a cooler covered with bottled water overnight.
As with most community meals everyone brought a dish: Pat and Joe brought bruschetta and mashed potatoes, John and I brought some of our favourites, chicken liver pate, cranberry chutney and steamed broccoli. As I mentioned, we can get a lot of our favorite foods while others are hard to come by. We were able to get the chicken livers (higados de pollo) easily but we weren’t able to get either fresh or frozen cranberries and had to make due with canned so the flavour was there but the colour and texture weren’t the same as at home.
It seems unusual to see folks cooking roasts in ovens for a number of hours and also having the air conditioning cranked to the max. It’s the only way to do it without melting. Can you imagine cooking an 18 lb turkey at 325° for about 8 hours in 30° weather ? Gordon seems to have found a way to cook the turkey in slightly less time by deconstructing it. He removes a large portion of the dark pieces, the legs,wings etc and roasts them separately from the white meat which results in a shorter cooking time as well as nice juicy dark meat. With the bones he has removed he makes stock which he uses to baste the turkey and make gravy. How resourceful.
It seems in most of our meal pictures there is a box of Clos wine . They come in white, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere and are light, easy drinking wines that are imported from Chile but is “cheap as chips” as Jamie Oliver would say.
Even in Costa Rica the family can sit around in those paper hats that make everyone look dorky.
Once again the food and company was so good we didn’t get pictures of the wonderful desserts, chocolate cake and peach cobbler, that Domenic brought but I can tell you they were yummy.
As with Christmas all over the world we all ate and drank too much and I can’t wait till New Years.