Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Win a Dinner Party

Last names have been removed from this post to protect the innocent. Not that anyone there was innocent.
It all started with an event called Shooting with Chefs. It was a fund-raiser for Make-a-wish. Some friends of mine bid on one of the silent auction items and lost, but then the chefs who donated the prize offered another one...dinner for 10 at the winner's house. Luckily, I'm friends with a couple of them and they invited me and my wife to join them. Here's how we rolled:
 Crispy things filled with mushrooms and chicken gravy. Light and tasty. 
 Followed by fois gras with raspberry...my fav!
 Lamb heart panzanella, which were like little gyros. There was a touch of harissa to bring some heat.
Was that the third bottle of champagne? Christina, Scott, Cheryl and me.
 Hey, it's Mike Isabella cookin' up a storm in the kitchen!
 Bryan Voltaggio was there as well, explaining one of his dishes. The other half of our hosts for the evening, Mike, is on the right.
 Smoked beets with yellowfin tuna, cured egg yolks, and tonnato. This was good. The smoked beets were accented beautifully by the tonnato.
 We were still civilized at this point, but permagrins were beginning to appear. Chrissy and Marc pictured.
 From there, the conversation went straight into the gutter.  From left to right Marc, Mandy and Scott. I think we were talking about vasectomies at that point.
 Our hostess for the evening, Meredith with our guest chefs.
 Bryan, me and Mike.
 Bucatini with maitake ash, uni, tomato and purslane.
 This was the winner of the entrees. Lamb neck with charred yogurt, meyer lemon and fava bean. Perfectly cooked to roasty perfection.
Cheryl and Mike finishing off the Chateau d'Yquem.
If you're interested in bidding on an event like this for you and your friends, keep your eyes peeled for the next Shooting with Chefs event. It's a great fund-raiser and the auction items are off the charts!
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more adventures.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mercado Central - If you can't find it here, you likely don't need it.

Mercado Central
Bordered by Avdas. Central and 1 and Cs. 6 and 8 | Barrio La Merced, San Jose, Costa Rica
Mercado Central is like Union Market in DC, but on a much larger scale and a much lower budget. It's hard to find though, as there are no street signs and no addresses. Everything in Costa Rica is found by it's location relative to other landmarks. This makes it difficult for tourists. Eventually you begin to get your bearings based on landmarks on your tourist map. When asking directions it seems that everything is three blocks "that" way. That instruction became one of the jokes of our trip. Below is a map showing it's relative location.
We walked from our hotel. The walk was very interesting as some of the streets around the market are pedestrian-only and are filled with vendors of everything....and I mean everything. 
At no time did we feel unsafe when walking the streets, though we only went exploring during the day.

As soon as you walk in your hit with sounds and smells. Some good, some not so good. Wherever you have this much fresh product you're going to have some rot.
 Nothing goes to waste here. They use/sell everything.
 The boys were waiting for us to buy some freshly roasted coffee and someone ran up to them with coconuts for sale...easy marks I guess. 1000 Colones for two if I remember correctly. That's a far cry from the $8.00 we paid in Hawaii. 
 More than 1/2 the time I didn't know what the items were I was looking at. It was overwhelming.
 Octopus is big here. We ate a lot of it.
 Colorful veggies. 
 Herbs of every variety.
 Lots of peppers.
 Elihu, would you loofah my stretch-marks?
Had to throw Mrs. Smails in there for you.
 Aloe and garlic. 
 I certainly couldn't name everything without the signs. They did have a lime that we used frequently down that is known as the Rangpur Lime. It's a hybrid of lime with another type of citrus fruit. It was used in cocktails and cooking. 
In the market there are a lot of places to get cooked food as well. We had breakfast in a Soda. We went all Tico and had what's known as Tipico. Just a plate of rice and beans with your choice of meat and/or eggs. It was a staple of our diet while we were there. Inexpensive, tasty and filling.
You can get smokes here too, though they're very expensive. Notice that Big Tobacco doesn't have much influence on the warning labels here. Health care is very inexpensive in Costa Rica. One of the reasons for that is the relatively healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my trip to the market.  Stay tuned for more Costa Rican adventures on Pleasures of the Table.