OSA PENINSULA, Costa Rica —Soaking up the sights and sounds of a destination are an aspect of globetrotting that every traveler considers crucial. Travelers that want to experience another unique aspect, however, are urged to immerse themselves in the heart (and heat) of a place – within the kitchen.
Located amid a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Ecolodge provides the perfect locale for the cuisine-curious to begin their exploration. Offering exquisite International dining at their award-winning restaurant, Brisa Azul, as well as weekly culinary classes that focus on regional Tico dishes, Lapa Rios pampers guests with unique delicacies among breath-taking ocean and jungle views.
Tempting meals at Brisa Azul are freshly cooked and offer a taste of the tropics to visitors who often compare their dining experience to that of a 5-star restaurant. The gourmet menu, developed by Lapa Rios’ founder Karen Lewis, includes favorite dishes like the Charred Chayote Soup, Volcano Salad and Churrasco Beef Tenderloin.
Great food, says Lewis, is an essential part of an enjoyable, memorable experience. It is for this reason that local and indigenous ingredients take center stage at Lapa Rios, where seasonal and organic foods are emphasized in each delicious dish. In fact, Lapa Rios has trained seven local men to cook and prepare its exquisite meals, as opposed to hiring an outside chef. The cooks, who have left farms and villages to learn their new skills, continually add tastes from their own culture to create a unique fusion of flavors admired by many.
To educate guests, local exotic foods are on display at every meal, and questions on Costa Rica’s cuisine are encouraged and discussed. Suggested wine pairings are also available, highlighting many internationally acclaimed wines available by bottle or glass.
In addition to fine dining, guests of Lapa Rios are also able to participate in weekly culinary classes where an Osa Peninsula local coaches cultural cooking Tico-style, instructing on regional delights like hot tortillas and gallo pinto.
Outstanding interest from guests has also led Lapa Rios to create the Culinary Jungle Experience, which allows guests the opportunity to enjoy a bountiful breakfast served at the foot of a waterfall deep in the jungle, or linger over a delectable lunch spread on a private beach. (To be offered in 2008.)
As the Travel Industry Association recently reported, 60 percent of U.S. leisure travelers indicated interest in culinary travel within the near future. Whether participating in a destination cooking class, enjoying a luxurious dining experience with local fusion or heading off the beaten path for a true taste of the outdoors, Lapa Rios offers travelers several unique (and delightfully delicious!) ways to experience Costa Rica’s sensational flavors.
Below, some of Brisa Azul’s most popular dishes provide a glimpse into Lapa Rios’ continued culinary success:
Cold Lime-Cucumber Soup
Spiked with lime, nam pla and a hint of chili, this refreshing cucumber combination eclipses the common sour-cream and dill cucumber soup. Topped with baby shrimp and grated cucumber.Volcano Salad
A mix of local and Asian flavors that includes tossed crisp lettuces and diced vegetables, topped with grilled chicken breast, fresh fish or sautéed tofu. Served with a sesame-soy dressing, peanuts and a cap of snowy white rice.
A layered combination of some favorite Tico tastes: gallo pinto, fresh palm hearts and a fresh tomato-cilantro salsa. Topped with avocado slices and marinated baby shrimp.Charred Chayote Soup with Spicy Shrimp
This smooth soup has a slightly smoky flavor with hints of garlic, onion and cumin. Garnished with a black bean relish and sour cream.
Churrasco Beef Tenderloin
Our churrasco beef is local thick cut, export-quality tenderloin marinated in homemade chimichurri, grilled to order and served with a grilled corn-avocado salsa. Accompanied with steamed yuca and baked stuffed onions.Coconut Seafood Bouillabaise
This Lapa Rios signature plate inspired by a local coconut fish soup is made from homemade red snapper stock, freshly squeezed coconut and laden with a simmering array of shellfish, shrimp, red snapper and vegetable chunks.
Sponge cake moistened with tropical rum and three types of milk. One of the most popular local desserts in Costa Rica, the cake is topped with diced tropical fruit.Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
Rich, smooth and decadent, Costa Rican harvested dark chocolate - a must for chocoholics.
Currently expanding their culinary efforts, Lapa Rios’ Brisa Azul is proud to announce the opening of a newly renovated kitchen for October of 2007.
For more information on Lapa Rios Ecolodge, or to inquire about packages, rates and reservations please visit http://www.laparios.com/ or call 506-2735-5130.