Costa Rica Eats Inaugural Culinary Excursion

Central Valley Epicurean Extravaganza: Saturday & Sunday, November 10-11, 2012

Finca Rosa BlancaCoffee, chocolate, honey, herbs, fresh organic fruits & vegetables and fine wine & dining—capped off with a night of luxury at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn. Experience a range of farm to table delicacies from right here in our own backyards.

The tour includes 3 culinary-themed tours, 3 full meals, a wide-ranging wine tasting, transportation, and Junior Suite accommodations at Finca Rosa Blanca. You can opt to not spend the night, and return home after dinner and dessert are served, although you’ll want to stay…

Sibu ChocolatesThe tour begins with pickups around San Jose and the lower Central Valley beginning at 10am, followed by a scenic drive to Sibu Chocolates in San Isidro de Heredia.

At Sibu  Chocolates we will uncover the history and how-to of turning cacao into chocolate, learning how to temper chocolate by hand, and watching as they create their prized organic chocolates.

Sibu ChocolatesAt Sibu, we will also be treated to a full lunch, featuring a warm squash soup, organic micro green salad, homemade vegetarian enchiladas topped with a smoky tomato sauce and baked in their wood-fired brick oven.  We’ll also enjoy our fill of delicious sweet treats and cups of warm hot chocolate.

Costa Rica ApiariesAfter lunch, we drive through the lush hills of Heredia to the Ark Herb Farm, for a tour of this unique organic farm, boasting one of the finest collections of medicinal and aromatic herbs and plants in the neo-Tropics. While here, we will also be treated to a presentation and tasting of fresh honey, mead and goat cheese farmed and produced by Costa Rica Apiaries, who have their bee hives on the Ark Herb Farm grounds.

From here, it’s a short drive to Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn, one of Costa Rica’s top boutique hotels, where you can relax in your plush room, walk the lovely planted gardens, swim in the pool, soak in the hot tub, or sign up for a treatment at the hotel’s El Targua Spa.

El Tigre Vestido Dinner will be a 5-course “Coffee Connoisseur” tasting extravaganza at the hotel’s acclaimed El Tigre Vestido restaurant. Featured dishes include roasted tomato and coffee soup with crispy leeks, and filet mignon in a red wine, espresso and cinnamon reduction. A range of complementary wine pairings will be provided by Sabores Argentinos.

FRB Coffee CuppingAfter breakfast in the morning, we will enjoy a tour of Finca Rosa Blanca’s organic coffee plantation. We will experience coffee through the ages; learning how coffee was discovered, traded and consumed, while strolling the lanes of this organic sustainable coffee plantation and learning the entire process of organic cultivation and harvest. Since this is November, we will also be able to participate, in a small part, in the harvesting of some ripe beans. After the walking tour, we will learn how the experts discern and rate gourmet coffee by participating in a “coffee cupping”.

In the end, transportation will be provided back to your home or pick-up points in San Jose and around the Central Valley.

Option A. Includes round trip transportation, Sibu Chocolate tour and lunch, Ark Herb Farm and Costa Rica Apiaries tour and tasting, dinner and wine tasting at Finca Rosa Blanca. Cost: $145 per person.

Option B. Includes all of the above, plus Junior Suite accommodations, full breakfast, and morning coffee plantation tour and cupping. Cost: $255 per person, double occupancy.

Special Bonus Offer: Spa treatments at the El Targua Spa are offered at 2X1 for tour participants.

Space is limited. And reservations must be confirmed by November 2. Reserve via the contact form below, or by calling 2282-4973.


Decanting Red Wine In Your Blender…

As I get excited about tonight’s wine tasting and celebration hosted by Sabores Argentinos,  I leave you to savor this tidbit of advice and a few other gems of food & wine heresy.

Nathan Myhrvold’s Counterintuitive Advice On Red Wine, Foie Gras, Salad.

Hotel Bougainvillea Wine Tasting & Dinner, October 19

The Club de Catadores, Alpiste Distributors and the Hotel Bougainvillea will be hosting a dinner and wine tasting on October 19. Chilean vineyard Montes has always been a favorite of mine and will be a featured producer alongside Kaiken, from Argentina and Napa Angel, which is also put out by Montes.

Special deals will be offered on wines from all three vineyards.

The event begins at 7:30pm, and costs c25,000 per person.

Montes Wine Dinner

Fast Food Wine Pairings – Vinum La Enoteca, October 18

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. But I’ve been to some great events at Vinum La Enoteca, so I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt. Learn how to pair wines with hot dogs, chop suey and taquitos.

The event takes place Thursday, October 18, at their Plaza Los Laureles storefront at 7pm, and costs $45 per person. Reservations are required.

La Enoteca Fast Food

Corcovado Foundation Wine Dinner @ Tin Jo

The Corcovado Foundation will host its annual wine dinner and auction on Saturday, September 22 at Tin Jo restaurant, in downtown San Jose. The event features a selection of foods and wines accompanied by live music, and featuring both a silent and live auction.

This is a good chance to enjoy good food and wine, while supporting a worthy cause, and getting a chance to snag a good deal at the auction. Auction items typically include a range of hotel and tourism packages to some of the finer Osa peninsula lodges, often going at a deep discount.



Wine Deals: Jaizkibel Open House

JaizkibelWine distributor Jaizkibel is hosting an open house this Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, at their showroom in Escazu. The event is open to the general public and will feature a range of special deals, offering as much as 30% off. Jaizkibel specializes in Spanish wines, and they also import and sell other specialty products, like extra virgin organic Spanish olive oil.

Jaizkibel is located in San Rafael de Escazu, in the small shopping center that houses Sal e Pepe, behind Pop’s, right near El Cruce.

The event runs from 10am until 8pm on Friday, and from 10am until 5pm on Saturday.

For more information, call 2288-1978.


Repost: Debunking 5 Common Wine Myths

This is a good primer for wannabe wine drinkers and aficionados alike. I pretty much agree across the board. I remember talking with the sales rep for a major California Merlot winery, and that line in Sideways cost them millions. I also have a friend whose idea of Chardonnay is stuck in the 1980s, and needs to try some contemporary takes on this versatile grape instead of always reaching for the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Ross Szabo: Debunking 5 Common Wine Myths.

Note that on the list you’ll find a plug for blends, which dovetails nicely with my recent post on a Caliterra wine tasting.

Caliterra Wine Tasting and Blending Seminar

On a recent night, Caliterra Vineyards chief enologist Rodrigo Zamorano gave a wine tasting and seminar in the art of blending varietals.

The fact is that single varietal wine production and marketing is a relatively new and largely New World phenomenon. Traditionally, wines from the great winemaking lands were estate and vineyard driven and often were a blend of several different grape varieties grown on the estate or by that vineyard. People order a Château Lafite Rothschild or St. Emilion for their terroir and confidence in the vineyard’s history, not because they produce a dependable cab.

Blending wines can have many underlying justifications and a wide range of effects. In the worst cases, lesser grapes are added to the mix to increase production or boost yield, while diminishing the quality. However, conversely, a variety of grapes from a single season harvest can be blended to create a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. In addition to the wines of the great European traditions, U.S. wines like Opus One and Quintessa fall into this category.

Caliterra VineyardCaliterra, which comes from a blending of Calidad, or quality, and Terra, or land, is dedicated to sustainable winemaking practices. Set in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, their top wine is a small batch unique annual blend of just 12,000 bottles dubbed Cenit. Each year’s blend is distinct, but all are complex yet eminently drinkable. A bottle of this baby will set you back around $95 in a Costa Rican wine shop.

Their next best options come from a series dubbed Tributo Edicion Limitada, or Tribute Limited Edition. These are lovely, complex blends retailing here in Costa Rica for about $36 per bottle. I was particularly impressed with their 2010 Cabernet Franc-Petit Verdot, which in full disclosure mode is actually 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Petit Verdot, 6% Carmenere, and 4% Syrah.

Beyond these, Caliterra has a wide range of single grape wines bottled under their Tributo and Reserva labels, with the Reserva line selling locally for around $14 per bottle.

The event was held in the beautiful, new space of Hotel Si Como No’s flagship restaurant, Claro Que Si. Following an introduction to Caliterra vineyard, its history and philosophy, Rodrigo discussed the history and theory of wine blending. The seminar included a hands-on competition, in which teams sought to create the best blend by mixing from bottles of 2010 Tribute pressings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes.

I’m proud to say that working with Lance Byron of Café Milagro, with moral support and quality control from El Gran Escape’s Marsha Bennett and Si Como No’s Jim Damalas, that our 45% Malbec-35% Cabernet-20% Petit Verdot blend took top honors.

The event was hosted by local wine distributor Grupo Pampa, in conjunction with Hotel Si Como No.