This Costa Rican Life: Episode 2

by Andie Mitchell on February 26, 2012

This edition of Pura Vida will center on the most fundamental and important part of life: food.

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We begin this discussion at the request of my mother, a lady who has several pressing questions:

1. What are you eating?

2. Are you nothing but skin and bones? Eat more.

3. Have you seen Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen yet? Those two are in Costa Rica, you know.

First, hi, hello, Mom. Answers: 1. Lots, 2. No and will do regardless, 3. Not yet.

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Eating in Costa Rica

Here in the land of bliss, I do try to carve out 4 solid hours of writing each and every day. Because the internet is unreliable at the house I’ve rented, I walk a mile along the beach to get to my favorite little café: La Botanica Organica. It’s a completely open air bungalow that serves organic breakfasts and lunches, exquisitely bold Caribbean coffee, fresh fruit and veggies juices & smoothies (called batidos, which are an ultra smooth blend of fresh fruit with ice and most often milk, though yogurt is also used), and my favorite homemade jam to date: papaya vanilla.

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So, you’ll find me at La Botanica Organica nearly every morning from 8am to 1pm, laptop open, in semi-decent clothing (often as little as possible for heat reasons), with my earbuds in, listening to the most raucous mix of early nineties jams. While there, I always drink two cups of heartbreakingly good café con leche (coffee with whole milk) and eat one of two breakfasts (each cost roughly $6):

1. Huevos fritos, pan tostado, y fruta: Two fried organic eggs, locally baked whole wheat toast with butter and papaya vanilla jam, and a bowl of mixed tropical fruit: mango, pineapple, and papaya. The fruit is, without even a moment of hesitation or consideration, the best I’ve tasted in all of my 27 years. I’d go so far as to say that I didn’t know fruit could be this sweet, this luscious.

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I have morphed into the world’s slowest eater and this meal will take me no less than 30 minutes to finish.

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or I eat:

2. Organic granola made with goji berries, nuts, flax, and raw cocoa nibs with full fat yogurt and fruit.

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When I’m done eating and reading emails, I write for at least four undivided, undistracted hours.

And then I walk a mile back home and put on my uniform: a bathing suit.

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At which point, I also make myself a Caribbean salad to tote to the beach.

This salad is almost always the same: a mix of green leaf lettuce, shredded cabbage, one cup of cumin-spiced black beans (Camille and I soak then simmer a big pot of beans at the start of each week and then saute them with garlic, onion, cumin, and chipotle chilis in adobo- these work well on salads and for dinner with rice and vegetables), fresh mango, half of the world’s creamiest, most buttery avocado, fresh pico de gallo (another staple that Camille and I make each week in bulk), corn, a squeeze of lime juice, and sour cream.

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And then I go to the beach.

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Around 5pm, Camille and I are sufficiently sunned, pruned from excessive swimming, and ready to head home for what I’ve established as a house rule: Wine Hour.

It couples with Snack Hour.

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Wine Hour is very official and it involves tremendous amounts of Bossa Nova music (Girl from Ipanema most often) and it ends promptly when I say so. Which is to say, never.

I force each of us to drink a whole coconut from the trees in our yard. Once the juice is drained, we then eat the soft white coconut flesh inside.

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We both shower off the sandstorms that we’ve become and by 7ishpm, we’re embarking on our favorite task: dinner.

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Most often, this meal is some hefty combination plate (casado) of spicy refried black beans, rice, more pico de gallo, guacamole, enough hot sauce to singe my lips, and garlicky sauteed vegetables.

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On a few occasions we’ve bought fresh snapper and served it with a chipotle cream sauce (a stirring of chipotle chili in adobo with sour cream, fresh lime, and garlic) and fresh shrimp, which Camille perfectly sears and tosses with a sweet garlic lime butter.

One to two times per week, we fancy ourselves and go out for dinner.

We’ve tried almost all of the local hotspots and have found that, unlike the lodging in this part of Costa Rica, food is fairly expensive. Or at least, it costs roughly the same that it would in the States and when you compare that to the fact that I’m paying to rent a home for $10 per day, you shrug just a bit. My favorite eateries have been:

Beach Hut – which sits directly on the beach and allows you to eat in a hammock if you so choose. I always so choose. There, we dined on an outstandingly flavorful shrimp and mango salad with avocado and cayenne sauce. Each of our salads, including beachfront hammocking and ample breeze, cost $8.

El Pescador- “The Fisherman” is a restaurant owned and run by one of our friends here in Costa Rica, Elie. Each and every fish has been caught that morning by Elie’s father. Camille and I split a whole fried snapper with fried plantains and coconut milk rice and beans . It was, to put it very articulately, crazy good. Ultra tender and flavorful. Here we paid roughly $30 for a shared entrée and two beachy cocktails.

La Pecora Nera- a spectacular Italian restaurant that we chose for Camille’s birthday. There, we ate one of the most delicious meals of my life: Handmade sausage bruschetta, fresh ravioli with meat ragout, homemade focaccia bread, garlic shrimp, panacotta, and profiteroles. Our bill, including a perfectly crisp bottle of white wine from Orvieto in Italy, was outstandingly $150. A delicious birthday for my girl.

Que Quilombo- an Argentinian grill. I ordered and devoured a well-marinated beef tenderloin, cooked to a delicate pink medium rare, with fried potatoes and salad.

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Since we’re so very [very, very] active, it’s important that we eat enough to maintain energy and, more importantly- happiness. We drink close to two liters of water (each), everyday. All of our meals include unnerving piles of vegetables, rice and beans, and a heaping portion of fat in the form of: butter, avocado, oil, and/or full fat sour cream. Each food that we eat is fresh, almost entirely unprocessed, and natural. Fruit- papaya, pineapple, and mango- it’s our purest joy outside of $1 tequila shots. And this way of eating- it’s as close to living at a health spa as I can imagine.

Perhaps interesting to some (and wildly uninteresting to others), I find that while my calorie intake at home in the States naturally falls around 2000, I’d imagine my here that it ranges, uninhibited and roller-coasterly, between 2300 and 2600+ each day, including vigorous physical exertion, but not including all manner of daiquiri and colada consumed. Those, I’m fairly certain, are health foods and therefore do not count.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

regan @ miss maillard February 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I am so damn jealous of those avocados I can’t even stand it. Bliss.

PS – Coladas are TOTALLY health food / calorie exempt.

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Amanda February 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm

That sounds like the most beautiful day ever. It amazes me that you get to live it every day.

My boyfriend would die for that Carribean salad, I bet. It sounds so tasty.

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Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy February 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Have I mentioned how jealous I am? Yes? Ok, well then I’ll simply say “great tan” and silently long for warmth and sunshine.

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Sierra February 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm

ummm….can I have your life, please?

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Michele February 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

So happy I stumbled upon your blog adventure. I think I’ve gained five pounds seeing all the glorious food. I need to get some swimming in!

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Maxine February 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Hey! I am enjoying reading about your adventures and life so much. I travelled for 2.5 months too, through Asia and it was incredible and changed my life.
I truly believe we were meant to live more like your day-to-day is now…
Looking forward to seeing what Panama is like because it is on our hit list.
Kia kaha!

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Trisha February 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You write so beautifully Andie… I can’t wait for your book to come out so I can buy it! I think a lot of people need to read your blog/book that are trapped in an endless cycle of dieting. Being active, eating intuitively and sitting with your emotions really is the answer to reaching a healthy weight and peace of mind. I am at a healthy weight but am working on the peace of mind thing :) Thank you so much for writing, your words are appreciated more than you know! Sounds like you are living the life there :) Happy writing!

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Amanda V February 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Ohh I love (and miss) batidos! First had them in Ecuador.
Yum yum! :)

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Michelle in N. Cal February 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Sounds simply glorious! ENJOY! ENJOY! ENJOY! every moment.

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suki February 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

oh, what a life. :)

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Marnely Rodriguez February 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm

So happy to hear you’re having a fantastic time! That papaya makes me thing of my favorite batida, which is Papaya and Evaporated Milk (normally Carnation brand). Try it, definitely makes me happy just thinking about it! Fruit juices and batidas are one of the things I miss the most about living back home…And fruit here in the US, sadly…is never like Caribbean fruit! Enjoy for both of us dear!

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johnny February 27, 2012 at 2:49 am

Hopefully it’s all as wonderful as you make it sound. You look refreshed and absolutely BEUTIFUL! Your girlfriend looks fantastic too! This life seems to suit you so keep it as long as possible. Love hearing about your life, it makes for an interesting start of my day!
Thanks for all that you have given us! :)

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh February 27, 2012 at 4:40 am

I think mama can be reassured you are eating well and enjoying life which is what it’s all about baby! (Well that and the hokey pokey…which I also hope you’re doing on the beach)

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brandi February 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

well. now i’m sure that i need to move there. that day sounds just about perfect.

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Parita @ myinnershakti February 27, 2012 at 7:35 am

Jealous doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling. But along with that emotion, I’m also REALLY happy and excited for you! What an adventure. I can’t wait to read your book!

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NikNik February 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

You, your food, drinks, cafe and girlfriend all look gorgeous! And you sound so happy too!

Thanks for letting those of us over here in the cold live these wonderful parts of your life vicariously through your blog.

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Bea February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

Andie-Have you tried Momma Mia in PV yet? It’s owned by two Italian brothers who make AMAZING pizza with fresh ingredients and real mozzarella cheese. It’s not necessarily Tico food but as a native New Yorker living in CR it was my go-to restaurant when I was missing pizza!

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Jen February 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

Hi, Andie! I love your blog. That food looks just amazing! I studied abroad in Costa Rica in college, and fell in love with it! Mango remains my most favorite fruit, and I wish I could still pluck it off the trees and eat it. :)

I was wondering if you’ve tried a guanabana con leche? It was another favorite while I was there. Now, I buy guanabana nectar in a local store and try to recreate the drink, but I haven’t quite perfected it. I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it yet!

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Lu February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

Guanabana is my favorite drink ever. Have you tried to find pulp instead of juice? It makes a world of difference.

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Megly February 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

I am THOROUGHLY jealous- this looks like the ultimate summer vacation, but you get to enjoy it winter! Well, you definitely earned it and I hope you guys are living it up.

I cannot wait until fresh produce like this is more readily available (not that we get locally sourced avocado or mango in Minnesota ANY time of year, but…). And I love, love walking! Sounds like a great way to get exercise. Can’t wait to read more about your Costa Rican adventures :)

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Christy February 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I have become an avid reader of your blog and really enjoy it. I love all the pictures and the recipes and have tried many of them for myself. I was wondering if you could post some of the recipes that you are cooking while you are there and that you talked about in this post and others like the cummin spiced black beans, the pico de gallo, and the shrimp. They look amazing. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading and cooking. Have Fun.

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Tara February 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I want to move to Costa Rica now and just live on the beach and eat all that amazing food!

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Charity Hines February 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Ya killin me….that was some of the most devine foodie details, I’ve read in some time. Kudos & thanks for taking us along for the adventure.

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Malika February 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Wish I was there, it looks amazing!

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TA February 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

This looks absolutely amazing. I’m wishing I was there too. New place I’m going to add to my ‘To Visit’ list

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Lu February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

I’m so glad you’ve found the “rice and beans” with coconut milk. They are the best!!! These entries make me miss my home.

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Carmen March 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Andie
I love your blog! Will you share your pics recipe and…how does it do in the frig all week? I’d like to make it inbulk but am afraid it will go bad before I eat it but I LOVE pico!!!

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Andrea March 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Try papaya with lime juice sprinkled over the top. It will change your life. I spent 3 months in Mexico several years ago. I found with all the lovely fresh fruit and veg and all the exploration (all on foot) I probably consumed more calories than I would at home but never gained a pound.
Lovely blog by the way. I just found it via pinterest.

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Samantha Johnson March 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hey Andie, you’ve completely inspired me to go on a Costa Rican vacation now!! Do you mind me asking how you found your rental house?! I’ve been looking all over and can’t seem to find any reasonable prices!! Any help would be much appreciated!! :D

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J. June 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Awesome blog! What a life :o) We ate at LaBotanica Organica for a week straight when we visited Costa! My husband ate two breakfasts each morning because everythig on the menu was so good.. he couldn’t decide! I was satisfied with just having the coffee, but I endulged in the rustic french toast made with local bread. Thanks for bringing me back! I read that they have new raw items on the menu, via Facebook!

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