Joanne & Damian do Raleigh

Exploring life from a different perspective


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La Iguana Chocolate Farm

Signs of the town Mastatal

During my week long stay in the community of Mastatal, I had the tough job of visiting a chocolate farm with Damian and his team of volunteers. Seeing the fruits grow in the sunshine, tasting the beans and coming away with organic truffles was brilliant if the truth be told. Let me introduce you to La Iguana.

On a more serious level, La Iguana is an example of just one of the farms local to the Costa Rican area of Mastatal, near La Cangreja National Park, that run their business aimed at sustainability and eco-tourism. The farm has volunteers working and living there as part of their travels and Mastatal has gained its own group of tourists with businesses like this. From Eco Lodges to La Iguana Chocolate Farm, Mastatal is looking to grow the community by encouraging like-minded travellers to take a stay in their town and learn about their sustainable ways of life.

The couple that run the farm were amazingly welcoming, with Cacao drinks and chocolate brownies being served to all of us, along with a tour of how they create those delicious truffles. Why not look them up on Facebook and consider a different kind of holiday.

Joanne x

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Fairtrade Coffee. A sustainable plantation.

Roasted coffee beans

Damian and I do love our coffee and I remember my brother buying me a coffee bean grinder when I was a skint student and I still love using it today. There is nothing nicer than the smell of fresh coffee beans and when they are covered in chocolate – even better!

So when we got the chance to visit a Costa Rican coffee plantation in Monteverde, we knew it would be a fab experience and as it is Fairtrade Fortnight, it seems an appropriate time to inspire you to buy Fairtrade coffee next time you do your shop.

Cafe Monteverde is a co-operative run by several families and the highlight of this coffee farm is the sustainability of it. The pigs supply gas, an exercise bike supplies power and the coffee pickers are paid a much higher wage than the base level.

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As part of the tour we got to blind taste 5 different coffee varieties. First by smell and then by taste. There was a whole science to this and we were amazed how different the roasting could affect the taste. We thankfully ranked the ‘supermarket’ coffee blend as the worst and came home with our very own Cafe Monteverde coffee beans for our Sunday morning treat.

Jo x

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Food memories of Central America

Gallo Pinto in a mess tin

I would not call myself a ‘Foodie’ at all, but when I am somewhere new, I do like to try as much of the local food as possible and Central America gave me so much to have fond memories of. I was lucky in that I got to travel around more than Damian, which meant I did not have to live off porridge and pasta. I tried everything apart from the Chicharron and the Tres Leches Cake and ate all over the place from in the jungle, from a mess tin, by the amazing Costa Rican & Nicaraguan coast and even in the homes of the local communities. I have my favourites and I am blogging this to remind me to get cooking some of them now I’m back in the UK. Enjoy, Jo x

Gallo Pinto

A breakfast favourite

http://boulderlocavore.com/2011/08/costa-rican-gallo-pinto-beans-and-rice.html

http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2014/02/recipe-for-costa-rican-gallo-pinto-black-beans-and-rice.html

Gallo Pinto

Salsa Lizano

The sauce that Costa Ricans can’t live without. Think Worcester sauce … kind of.

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lizano-style-costa-rican-salsa-176299

Rice & Beans

http://www.moneycrashers.com/easy-rice-beans-recipes/

Rice & Beans cooking on a stove

Casado

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/community/costa-rican-casado-recipe

Casado

Plantain

I loved these and will have to hunt them out

http://laylita.com/recipes/plantain-recipes/

Plantain

Patacones

http://www.food.com/recipe/patacones-fried-plantain-92191

Patacones

Tamale

This is a speciality as a Christmas tradition

http://outwardboundcostarica.org/2014/costa-rican-christmas-tamales-recipe-seven-easy-steps/

Tamale

Huevos Rancheros

I think this is the breakfast Damian would prefer at home

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/eggs-recipes/mexican-breakfast/#Sj0mRLXiOmA3GZvR.97

Ceviche

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/09/how-to-make-the-perfect-ceviche_n_1784546.html

Avocado

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20395687,00.html

Quesillo

http://crazyparentsinnicaragua.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/quesillos-nicaraguan-treat.html

Tortilla

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/1864/flour-tortilla-wraps.aspx

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/quick-easy/tortilla-recipes/beef-pineapple-tacos-0

Tortilla

Chalupa

http://www.heb.com/recipecat/Healthy-Chalupas/1500102/2900003

http://www.simplecomfortfood.com/2014/01/22/mexican-chalupa/

Chalupa

Empanadas

I tried these in Argentina, but I actually learned how to make them in Costa Rica

http://costarica.com/recipes/empanadas-cheese-bean-turnovers/

Empanadas

Chicharron

http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2014/01/homemade-chicharrones-pork-rinds-low-carb-and-gluten-free.html

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/06/the-nasty-bits-how-to-make-chicharrones-recipe.html

Chifrijo

This was in the news whilst I was there about an issue of ownership. So can you copyright a recipe? It was intriguing.

http://www.costaricacooking.com/chifrijo.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chifrijo-recipe.html

Pineapple

I miss these as the taste over there is delicious. I’m not a fine of Pineapples here in the UK. So strange that they can be so different.

http://www.marthastewart.com/275231/pineapple-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide

Tres Leches Cake

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tres-leches-milk-cake/

Rosquilla Biscuits

I got to eat these fresh and warm from the wood burning stove. Delicious!

http://juliadellacroce.com/forktales1/2014/02/24/the-magical-gluten-free-cookie-a-rosquilla-lesson-step-by-step/

Rosquilla Biscuits

Churros

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2459641/churros-with-chocolate-dipping-sauce

Coffee (With sugar)

The coffee is worth the reputation over there and in Nicaragua it is served with lots of sugar whether you like it or not. You get used to it very quickly though. Not good for the arteries.

cup of coffee