Of all the prepared foods that we don’t buy anymore, one of the things I miss the least is store-bought salad dressing. Making it yourself takes no time at all and it means you can experiment with all different mixtures. Yesterday, I accidentally came across what may be the best home-made salad dressing I’ve ever made. It requires:
fresh sage leaves
1 garlic scape
a tiny bit of liquid smoke
salt and pepper
Don’t know the measurements – like I said, you just have to use intuition, taste, and a little luck. But if you balance it out just right and blend it up, you will have yourself some very serious salad dressing indeed.
In celebration of the new year, as well as Tina’s parent’s anniversary, we’ve spent the last week and a half in and around Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.
While we were there, we stayed at the family-run Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages, which we can’t recommend highly enough. The website above hasn’t been updated since the place went under a change of management, but you more or less get the idea of what it looks like. We spent a fair amount of time hanging out with the proprietors, who clued us into a lot of really beautiful spots and great restaurants around the area.
Actually, Our culinary experience started on Cashew Hill itself, since we were able to eat starfruit and mamon chino from trees around the grounds. The owners are in the process of building a little bar on the grounds, so we left them with a starter bottle of starfruit-infused vodka. We also tried a very sour fruit that I can’t remember the name of. It was yellow and spherical, about the size of a small grapefruit, and the flesh inside looked like mango, but more yellow (rather than orange-ish). Can anybody identify this?
As it turns out, Puerto Viejo is very friendly to vegetarians and vegans – most restaurants have several vegetarian options and there were even a couple that focused exclusively (or predominantly) on veggie fare.
We visited a Bribri chocolate-making operation, where we got a demonstration of traditional cocoa production, including a tasting of 11 different flavors of their chocolate. This is our guide demonstrating the heating of banana leaves to make them more pliable in order to use them for as cooking wraps for food, etc.
We also brought home a small jar of their homemade achiote paste (I think there is actually a different name for this in Bribri, but I don’t remember what it is), made from trees grown on the property. Here are some of the achiote seed pods:
Apart from that, we drank a whole lot of delicious aguas frescas made from pineapple, tamarind, watermelon, mango, passionfruit, guanabana, and papaya. And we ate a ton of delicious plantains in the form of patacones.
One last thing I have to mention is neither local nor DIY or any of that, but is a classic Costa Rican condiment that I now can’t get enough of. Salsa Lizano is delicious and I want to eat it on everything, despite the fact that it is owned by Unilever, which is a gigantic corporation with very spotty business practices. Regardless, I may end up scouring the Caribbean markets on Church Ave for a bottle.
Our Chinese 5 Pepper plant has produced way too many peppers for us to actually eat, so we decided to try making some hot sauce. This sauce is really hot, no joke. I guess it’s the peppers? They’re small, but pack quite a punch heatwise. We followed this easy recipe and just bottled today! This hot sauce will be bottled and given to some of my favorite chili aficionados. It is EXTREMELY HOT.