Driving through the country of Costa Rica, you can’t help but notice bananas, coconut, coffee, and cocoa growing everywhere. These ingredients are pretty much what I gravitate toward on any dessert menu, so I felt as though I was in some sort of temptation-rich green organic version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. During our visit, I had the opportunity to take a Costa Rican cooking lesson from a local foods guru, Ms. Veronica, and was very much looking forward to learning how to make something other than dessert with Costa Rica’s abundance of delicious ingredients.Veronica is known among locals and expats for making healthy home-style meals. From fresh fruit juices and smoothies, to organic raw foods, to Caribbean style rice and beans with patacones … no one leaves Veronica’s Place hungry!
Located on the second floor of a vibrantly painted cottage in the small surfer town of Puerto Viejo, Veronica’s Place has fun views of the downtown area and the broad porches and open windows allow for a fresh ocean breeze to cool the air.
My husband and I arrived with empty bellies, eager to roll up our sleeves and work in the kitchen with her to make dinner. She greeted us with a warm smile and a couple of extra aprons, immediately putting us to work grating fresh coconut to extract the milk. (PS … I’m thankful for the convenience of buy this stuff in a can at home!). With all of us sharing stories, laughing, and prepping food around a small table, I instantly felt like we were in her home and making a family meal.
As the afternoon grew to evening, we diced, chopped and sauteed our way through many conversations that made the time seem to pass so quickly. We must have been in the kitchen cooking for at least two hours, but Veronica says that extra time in the kitchen is the secret ingredient called a ‘dash of love.’ In the end, we made three dishes: coconut rice and beans, Caribbean style chicken, fresh salad with homemade lime dressing, and chilled cass and ginger juice. Overall it was a fun night!
If you visit Puerto Viejo, you must stop by Veronica’s Place for a bite to eat. Long-term travelers, nomads, and adults looking for a career break might be interested in Veronica’s work exchange program. For $10 a day, you get a home stay with three daily meals, Spanish lessons, cooking classes, and working in a fun vegan/vegetarian cafe! I can’t think of a better way to immerse in ‘la pura vida!’
Check out the photo gallery below for more shots of our fun cooking class. Many thanks to my husband Pete for taking all the pictures so I could focus on cooking!
Be sure to try the Caribbean Chicken & Rice Recipe at home!
**This was part of a sponsored trip by Costa Rica. Opinions are my own.