Specialty Foods & Recipes
Qué Pasa offers articles about specialty foods available in our area.
As we discover more, we will share here.
Restaurants still have their own page, available from the menu bar at left.
Recipes are in pdf format, easy to download and file or print as you choose.
We also encourage you to make use of the search function at the left side of your screen
to find what you are looking for on our site.
The Feria - Grecia is host to one of the best ferias or farmers markets in Costa Rica. Every Friday and Saturday you will find locals stocking up on the weeks' provisions and spending a lot of time socializing. The freshest fruits, vegetables both local and imported, a range of dairy products including yogurts, cheeses, natilla (sour cream), eggs, meat/pork/fish, you name it. There is also a wing that offers shoes, clothes and craft items.
At both entrances you will find a whiteboard listing the products available and their base weekly price, so you can also shop smart by buying what's abundant at the moment for the best price.
If you're walking there, you can take a taxi home, as there is a regular line of them waiting inside the market grounds, ready to whisk you home to enjoy your fresh goodies.
The Grecia Feria is located at the bottom of the hill on the road to Sarchi, parking entrance on the right in front of El Lagar hardware store. On the other side of the market (across from the Tribunales/Courthouse) is a walk-in entrance and the parking lot exit.
The Central Mercado - The central marketplace that is the heart of every town. Grecia's is located on the left as you come into town on the main road from the pista (highway). The local bus terminal is adjacent, you will see it first. The central market has everything - fruits, veggies, dairy, meat/pork/fish/chicken, plus a pharmacy, shoe stores, clothing, hardware store, plastic goods and supplies, sodas to sit and eat or order to-go, herbs, macrobioticas, pet shops, this is the original market in town.
Cuts of meat, poultry & fish in Costa Rica - they're not like in the US!
Learn what's what with our cheatsheet link.
New Cooking Resource available! Click here to learn more about Gloria Yeatman's new book.
Fresh farm raised lamb meat is now available delivered to your door anywhere in Grecia, Sarchi and Naranjo! Margarita Solis Alfaro raises her lamb flocks in Guanacaste and has them processed by her butcher in Coope Victoria. She is multilingual and highly educated. You can order any cuts including ground lamb by calling Margarita at the number on her business card. We love the neck cuts and ground lamb ourselves, plus lamb is one of the healthiest meats available!
by Don and Debra Rogan
La Carne Boutique
by Diane Cooner
All the expats have been raving about this new carneceria. The owner, Adrian Marin Arroyo, is very enthused about bringing a high quality product to town and especially about educating Griegos (people from Grecia) in the art of barbeque. He is offering US cuts of beef that a US palate will find very appealing.
By all accounts, this shop is offering the best beef in country. If you have been here for any amount of time you will know that finding really good beef is not an easy task, more like hit and miss. And you will have learned that most cuts of beef (and other meats) here bear no resemblance to what gringos are accustomed to.
There is a coffee table book for everything – Adrian has one for beef on the counter at the shop. He is happy to search out and find what you are looking for. He is offering other products for your BBQ experience as well – just now I see he now has large block of Himalayan salt to set your on prior to cooking, to enhance (but not overwhelm!) their flavor.
Rib Eye, New York steak, T Bone, brisket, flank steak, sirloin, and other Premium cuts. La Carne Boutique has them all. Right here, downtown, half a block south of the Grecia Church. They also offer premium cuts of pork and free-range chicken.
BBQ classes (complete with a 100% English speaker) are in the works; interested parties should make a note of LCB's FaceBook page for current information, class times, etc: La Carne Boutique.
Please note that La Carne Boutique is closed on Mondays.
Their regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and Sundays 10am to 2pm.
Official address is 50 mt south of the Church House, Grecia. 2444-1914 / 8432-3180.
Sausage and hamburger patties made from 100% buffalo meat are now available at La Carne Boutique. Buffalo meat is much healthier than beef or pork because it is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein. They are sold under the trade name Caffer, a word derived from the name of the African buffalo.
Caffer meat products are the result of a class project by 24 year old Andrea Bolaños for a course in food technology at the University of Costa Rica's technology campus in Balsa de Atenas. Bolaños started her own company two years ago. She selects the buffalo herself to guarantee the quality and personally oversees production and distribution.
She plans to add more types of meat in the future. A lunchmeat type is not yet in the market. Hamburger patties come in 4 at 100 grams for c3000 or 2 at 250 grams for c4000, and sausages are 3 or 4 at c4000.
by Ellen Van Dyk
'Steak Express' is a new concept of delivering cuts of beef to the address requested with your phone call or emailed order. You can purchase from a single cut or packages for your event. They offer exclusive cuts.
In Grecia, 2495-0758
Cakes by Lorena
By Carol Phillips
We would like to introduce Lorena Calderon d/b/a Queques por Lorena (Cakes by Lorena) to the Grecia expat community. Lorena is our neighbor and has been in business for 17 years baking Birthday, Wedding, Anniversary and special occasion cakes out of her home for her customers in the Grecia area. She is a celebrated baking expert and has a talent for designing decorative cakes. My husband ordered a Birthday cake from Lorena for my last birthday and it was beautiful and delicious.
Lorena has a great bilingual (Spanish/English) website at http://quequesporlorena.weebly.com where you can view her cakes and order a cake by item number listed at the bottom of each cake photo. There is an email order form and a phone number for Spanish or English speakers on her website. She needs a 3-day notice for cake pickup when ordering and payment should be in colones. For Wedding cakes she needs a deposit before processing your order. Check out her website for her contact information.
La Queseria don Beto
by Diane Cooner
I am just thrilled to report that don Beto cheese is once again available in Grecia!
Some people might recognize the name - it is the well-known Zarcero cheese maker Don Beto who used to first sell at the feria (out of the back of his car) and later delivered special orders to the ice cream parlor Sensación, across from the park.
They make fabulous cheeses, both cow and goat. Some favorites are fresh mozzarella, ricotta and palmito.
They also offer provelone, parmesan, fresh mozzarella and more. You can read up on their other offerings on their Facebook page (don Beto queso), or better yet just stop by the store. It is one block west and one block north of Banco Nacional, between a candy store at the corner and a paper store.
Hours are: 7 AM to 6:30 PM, Monday through Saturday
Goat Cheese Now at Corso's Deli
Walt Clayton has provided an update on Finca BAA Goat Cheese, which is now available at Corso Lecheria, a new-ish deli located one block east of Pali market in Grecia.
Update - Goat Feta Now at Corso's!
FETA CHEESE DEBUT
by Walt Clayton
Popular demand for Feta cheese became so intense that Ronald Rodriguez, master cabinet-maker and producer of Finca BAAA goat cheese, started experimenting. Taste tests proved that all his efforts paid off -- folks who love Feta raved their kudos. It's great on salads, in soups, and on pizza, among other delicious applications.
For 19 ways to use Feta, check out this link with its mouth-watering photos:
Presently, Finca BAAA Feta is now available at Corso Lechería Tienda by the Grecia church where all his other varieties are sold. For Feta fanatics in Atenas you can get it at Balcoń del Café on Highway 3 as you enter the town from Grecia. The Café also carries several varieties of regular goat cheese. Price is the same everywhere: C3,500 for a ball weighing at least 320 grams, far lower than PriceSmart and superior in texture and flavor.
Try this Feta just once and your taste buds will clamor for more!
GOAT CHEESE IS BAAAAAK!
by Walt Clayton
Long time, no cheese? Well, that's about to end, as a newer, better and more permanent source is now available to cure your cravings.
In San Isidro de Grecia, English-speaking cabinet-maker Ronald Rodriguez got into goat milk for its remarkable health benefits over cow milk. He built beautiful pens and bought three goats of a high milk-producing breed. Soon he had more than enough milk and started making cheese, using the same proven recipe that we gringos were buying last year. Ronald is up to nine goats now, so there is plenty of milk for producing more cheese. Initially, he will focus on two types:
Fresh: A slightly different recipe that produces a smoother, more spreadable version resembling American cream cheese but with that unique goat cheese flavor. In just a couple days it's ready to eat. At a taste testing it got rave reviews.
Aged. Using the original recipe, this cheese is aged for about two weeks, forming a yellowish rind and acquiring a slightly more pronounced goat cheese flavor. The 300 gram cheese ball shrinks a bit due to lost moisture as it cures.
The milk Ronald uses is strictly from his own, carefully selected goats. It is 100% pure goat milk. Sanitation is of the highest priority. Prior to milking, hands and goat udders are thoroughly sterilized with a special disinfectant wash. Every batch is pasteurized in custom-made, stainless steel pots. Temperature is precisely controlled every step of the way and cheesecloth is boiled after each use. Here's a short YouTube clip of the milking process:
Ronald is extremely hygiene-conscious, and his wife, Marjorie, has just earned a certificate in food handling from the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje. Following a government health inspection of his operation this month, the national Ministerio de Salud will issue a permit to engage in full commercial production.
Observing this whole process has been an enlightening experience. I had no idea of the health benefits of goat milk compared to cow's milk. Briefly, a) it's easier to digest, b) has fewer allergenic proteins, c) is high in calcium and low in cholesterol, d) keeps skin looking good, and e) absorbs minerals and nutrients better. For a fuller explanation, visit: https://draxe.com/goat-milk/
Serving Tips. There are myriad ways to enjoy goat cheese, limited only by imagination and ingredients. A few favorites: with olive oil on toasted artisan bread; crumbled onto salads and into soups; pizza toppings; omelets; with any pasta; melted on salmon with dill; grated on popcorn. The Internet is loaded with suggestions and recipes.
Future Products & Plans. Ronald has ambitious but realistic plans for the future, including a special, dedicated processing center where the entire procedure -- once milk is acquired -- takes place. This is already underway, and soon all equipment will be installed to streamline the work flow from pasteurization to refrigeration to packaging. A totally sanitary, first-class operation.
FAQs. People are curious about goat milk products, such as: Can the cheese be frozen? Yes. Can I buy raw or pasteurized milk? Yep. Got yogurt? Not yet, still working on it. Also, experimental cheese batches with thyme, basil and rosemary are being developed, but carefully so as to not overwhelm that unique goat cheese flavor. It's best sometimes not to mess with Mother Nature. (Storage tip: Goat cheese will absorb the odors of other strong foods if left uncovered in the fridge. Best to wrap in plastic film and use an open box of baking soda to absorb food odors.)
Pricing. Fresh and aged cheese can be ordered in balls weighing about 300 grams, but less for aged as moisture is reduced. Price is C3,000 for either.
Delivery. Cheese can be picked up at Ronald's home, which is across the street from his cabinetry workshop on Calle Rodriguez, about 200 meters from the panadería (bakery) in San Isidro (see map). To make finding it easier a wooden goat sign is mounted above his gate. I will take orders online and Marjorie will fill them between 9:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Saturday. Be sure to greet the goats!
Blog. Due to high interest in goat cheese, a blog site is in the works. This will enable us to provide product updates, new video clips, photos, serving tips, negotiations with the goat union, and mucho more.
Email list. A master list has been created to notify cheese addicts when orders can be placed. To get on it, please provide complete name, email address and general area where you live. Phone number is optional but helpful.
Contacts: Walt Clayton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 6246-6015 (WhatsApp)
Ronald Rodriguez at 8724-9140 (WhatsApp)
Marjorie at 2444-2559 (Spanish only)
by Diane Cooner
This cheese is wonderful. Great texture, great flavor. Very nice people, totally clean set up for the goats, the goats are, indeed, VERY happy! 5/27/2017
by Irina Just
This deli, next door to the "upper Musmanni", one block east (uphill) from Pali (75 mts. este del Pali), has already been featured in QPG as the store where one can buy goat cheese from Baaa Farms in San Isidro - but Corso is so much more that it deserves its own article.
It is a complete deli, owned and run by one of the oldest and famous Grecia families of Randall Rojas A.
They sell cheeses, beef, pork and chicken and "embutidos" (sausages).
The tienda is bright, clean and cheerful with its white and mint stripes.
To the right are several big refrigerated counters where they display meats, sausages (by a German sausage maker, but not Harry, I found out), cheeses, organic and "regular" eggs and a plethora of dairy products.
A separate stand-up cooler straight ahead holds the famous local goat cheeses.
There is an assortment of dry goods as well.
On the huge blackboard behind the counter is a drawing of a cow with indicators pointing to particular parts of the animal and linking it with specific cuts of beef, such as "Porterhouse" and "Rib-eye", for example.
All meat products are safely "shrink-wrapped" and ready to go.
Their phone numbers are: 2444-2479 or 6407-5757 (for home delivery)
Hours are 7 AM to 8 PM (I assume, they're closed on Sundays).
P.S. Corso may be the only place in Grecia where you can buy bagels AND smoked salmon AND capers all in the same place. You'll have to run over to Pali, 1 block west) to pick up the cream cheese and red onion, though....
Ittriyya Foods - Custom Italian foods
Entrepreneur Sarah Farhat has a nice selection of custom Italian foods for sale.
“Every product that I make is homemade and extremely fresh. I want to share Mediterranean and Italian foods--like fresh lemon and mint ravioli, which are common on the Amalfi Coast or cannoli, typical of Sicily.
“I also make all the butter and cheese myself, including the cheese in the ravioli. So, I guarantee the freshness and quality of everything I sell.
“I have a real passion for what I make. Quality is my first focus and, for now, I work via custom orders to keep everything a 100% natural and without preservatives.”
You can contact Sarah Farhat by phone or email to place your order and arrange for pick up or delivery. 6303 0303; email@example.com.
Thank you to QPG subscriber Ginny Conley for this new food connection! 12/4/2017
Of course, if you're into cheese you're probably into wine as well.
Vino Tres Amigos
Local Winemaker Starts Exclusive Club to Benefit Grecia School
A winemaker here in Grecia? Yes that’s right. He is in San Isidro de Grecia and his name is John Brewer. Some people already know him as Vino Tres Amigos. John is a resident of Costa Rica, moving to the Grecia area from the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine region of Northern California.
John donates ALL his profits from this project to The Special Needs Children’s School here in Grecia.
The Special Needs Children’s School is in need of your help. Have you ever wanted to help those in need in your community? Now all you have to do is drink John's wine. Again, all the profits go to the school. If you like good wine, you can purchase some of your wine from him instead of Walmart, PriceSmart, or other stores. This is a great way to help by simply drinking wine.
The Club is limited to 12 members - and right now 9/22/2018 - there are openings - your opportunity to join this exclusive wine group!
Each member receives 1 or more bottles of wine per month when they donate 4mil (4000 colones) per bottle.
Vino Tres Amigos will even store your wine for you if you like.
Since the wine is newly made, it will take a few months in storage to get to its full body. Vino tres Amigos makes only a few cases of per month and it’s all done by hand. The wines are primarily quality red wine mostly like that from California and Chile. This is why there is only a limited amount available to the public.
One of our members likes the idea so much he buys the wine and donates the money for the school and gives the wine away to friends. He also knows that the inexpensive new wine he receives will mature and improve in taste after only a few months. On a health note this wine contains half the sulfites usually found in wine. For more information or to be part of this exclusive club, contact John Brewer at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 8400-1929.
An update for Vino Tres Amigos:
In 2018, John was able to donate 140Mil (about $250) to the Special Needs School. We are in limited production but have a new sparkling wine avilable . 4 mil donation earns you a bottle. It is medium dry with hints of cranbery. We have room for more members . A bottle a month help keep the everyone happy. With every sip of wine you take you would be helping the children with special needs in Grecia. It does not get any easier to show you love Costa Rica.
We now have an authentic pizza oven and are using that for another project, Mi Madre's Angels, helping mentor and connect single mothers with no spousal or family support learn to develop and run their own businesses to help themselves. We can serve pizza for up to ten people. Contact me for details about participating in either or both of these great win/win projects. email@example.com John Brewer, founder, Vino Tres Amigos, Mi Madre's Angels.
by Ivy Penman
Chris and I love good coffee. It was one of the main attractions which brought us to Costa Rica and of course in Grecia we live right in the middle of a huge coffee growing area. In Grecia you can buy gourmet coffee direct from a grower, in San Isidro de Grecia.
We have a French Press, which we think makes the best coffee, but it requires a coarse grind. I used to buy Cafe Brit and have it ground at Pricemart but now I buy my coffee from Maricela, in Calle Rodriguez. She grinds it and packs it in vacuum packs. Like Cafe Brit it comes in light, medium and dark roasts. The medium roast is very similar to Terrazu from Cafe Brit. Of course if you prefer a lighter or darker tasting coffee you can buy a lighter or darker roast. Did you know that many of the cheaper ground coffees in the shops contain additives, such as barley, to cheapen the product? Maricela and her husband grow, store, roast, grind and pack their coffee in vacuum packs. Drinking their coffee is a wonderful experience.
Maricela and her husband are located just off Calle Rodriguez. Turn right just past the green-painted Salon, opposite the school, before La Colina. They are both very helpful. They will also deliver.
• 350 grams ground premium C. 2,275
• 350 grams coffee beans, premium C. 2,275
• 500 grams ground premium C. 3,250
• 500 grams coffee beans, premium C. 3,250
Call Maricela Ballestero Alfaro on 2444 4072 (Spanish) or for English call Laura 8641 2152
MY TICO CAFFEINE FIX
by Walt Clayton
I’m no hoity-toity café co...no...see...ur. I just know what I like.
Rarely do I try free samples at PriceSmart or any other place, but on a trip to the Grecia feria I was offered one I couldn’t refuse. I had already tried several so-so store brands of coffee but this was truly local, so I had to give it a shot. After all, I’m a coffee addict and will be living here a long time.
Offering me a sample cup was coffeemonger extraordinaire Rodrigo Espinoza – young, sharp, and passionate about producing the prefect brew. So passionate, in fact, that he gave up his lucrative position as a financial executive with the Dos Pinos dairy products firm to devote himself fulltime to café. One taste and I was hooked, which led to an animated discussion about coffee in our area.
Turns out Rodrigo, owner of Café Greco, has five varieties on five hectares of trees just outside San Isidro, about 500 meters before you get to the town, west side. And he does it all -- grows, dries and ages the beans, roasts them in a vintage Italian contraption, grinds, blends and sells them. The rich consistency cannot be matched by other distributors who blend beans from dozens, even hundreds, of small growers.
Many local producers got their start during World War II, when most of the surrounding sugar and coffee fincas were German-owned. Upon declaration of war, the Germans were deported. Fincas passed to the government. Costa Rican groups got the land and formed the first cooperative in the country: Cooperativa Victoria. Rodrigo’s grandfather became part of the cooperative, and his land prospered and expanded within the family.
But enough history, let’s cut to the coffee. Basically, there are two types: “el robusto” from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia – a so-so rough bulk coffee for mass consumption. A finer “arábica” bean is found in Central America, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and is what Rodrigo grows exclusively. The best crops are between 1,200 and 1,800 feet altitude in volcanic soil, and Rodrigo’s trees are at 1,300 feet, smack in the prime zone. The winds at harvest time help dry the husked beans, which makes this area ideal.
Being the perfectionist he is, Rodrigo is constantly tinkering with new varieties in his experimental plots. One bean in particular, Geisha, is more of a tea than coffee, but is highly prized by Asians and commands up to C20,000 per kilo. It’s not robust enough for local tastes, so is essentially for export. By comparison, his ground arábica goes for C6,700 per kilo, or about $6.13 per pound.
To try Café Greco for yourself, swing by the Grecia feria on a Friday afternoon. Rodrigo has a grinder at his stand and sells his beans either whole or ground. To personally see his operation in San Isidro, call or text him at 8832-6254, or shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – his English is probably as good as your Spanish.
Private tours for visitors are welcome, and good for gift purchases and a quickie education on all this great coffee that surrounds us. I took mine in December at the height of the harvest, followed by husking and drying. Watching the Italian roaster in action is a nostalgic thrill, followed by sampling on the premises. In an hour you’ll be café-savvy!
German sausage maker Harry Hofmann in La Garita
by Irina Just
Do you know how many varieties come under the general name “sausage”?
There are numerous types to fry (Bratwurst);
many varieties to cook or boil (Kochwurst)
and still more to spread or slice – the spreadable kinds are pâtés; the slice-ables ones are either salames or Landjägers.
German-born sausage maker Harry Hofmann offers 2 pages of variations, divided into “Sausages and Bolognas”; “Salamis and Hams” and “pâtés” and offers 23 different types under the first category; 10 varieties under the second, and 12 different pâtés.
Under “miscellaneous”, he lists an assortment of roasts, chops, schnitzels and steaks, smoked trout and various mustards in addition to Liver-dumplings (Leberknödel), Meat-Salats (Fleischsalat), Sauerkraut (both raw and cooked) and several aspics (Sülzen).
I personally have tried only about a third of his offerings (I'm working on the remaining 2/3) and found each sausage not only to be very delicious and “pure” (Hofmann uses no fillers), but also absolutely authentic. Hofmann has been re-creating the unique styles from different areas of Germany, importing spices and herbs to make them just right.
Hofmann makes his sausages fresh to order which means an order must be placed on a Friday so he can get the freshest ingredients on Monday and your order will be ready for pick up at his plant in La Garita by the following weekend.
Check out their site at: www.embutidoshofmann.com (updated 12/21/2018)
Take the autopista route 1 to the Coyol exit (the one to Riteve and to cross over to Rta. 27). Turn immediately right, so you have the Riteve building on your left.
Go approx. 3 kms straight on that road and you'll see a container plant on your left.
Harry's is across the street, on your right.
Monday to Friday: 7:30 – 11:30 and 1 to 4 Saturdays: 8-11