Serious Party Grub For A Costa Rica Beach Party

By BobbyRica | February 23, 2011

beachparty

Let us not discount the importance of food as an ingredient for a successful beach party. Because food, like booze, livens the mood of your guests. And it’s also a fun way to show off what you can do (or to put it exactly, what your chef friend can do).

Quite honestly, Costa Rica food is conservative in taste. That’s another way of saying the local food is bland. It doesn’t have the richness and complexity of Mexican food. Nor the big tastes of American food. The food here is simple and unassuming. So if you’re throwing a party, I’d go for something more robust.

ribs

Even though I enjoyed a few plates of casado and picadillos, I have always gravitated to my Texan culinary roots. I always enjoy a good Texan barbecue. And with a party like this, nothing makes the heart go fonder than the sweet-smelling aroma of meat sizzling in the fire. Beef, sausage and pork ribs slathered with special barbecue and cooking beautifully in a grill never fails to delight.

Since we didn’t have a large enough grill to accommodate the amount of food we’re planning to serve, creating your own makeshift griller is serious work. It takes four to five hours of prep. Hours before the party, we open a deep hole in the sand outside. This is where we lay the kindling and the wood. Since we’re in a beach, I make sure that the hole is at least twenty feet away from the surf. We don’t want to ruin the barbecue with the tide rushing in.

feast

I place a layer of coconut leaves and banana leaves on the surface of the hole. I then add rocks (preferably volcanic rock) to pin down the bed of leaves. After laying in another layer of coconut leaves (dry this time), I start building a fire.

Stan, my chef friend, sets small pieces cardboard on fire. We later add dried leaves (we have lots of them in my patio), then put in twigs and branches. As soon as we pile them all up with chopped wood, we let them all burn till everything’s died down and became embers. And make sure it stays that way. That’s the perfect time, we put in the grilling apparatus. No fancy equipment here. Just four bamboo stakes hammered on the sand to support three sheets of wire mesh.

prepping food

But even before that, the food has to be prepped. A day before the party, Stan arrives with an order of six pounds of homemade sausage; ten pounds of baby back ribs; twelve pounds of beef sirloin, six pounds of cabbage, eight pounds each of fresh swordfish, squid, and albacore tuna. Later the grocery delivers a gallon of mayonnaise, a gallon of olive oil, four jars of mustard, and a whole other stuff to fill the entire dining room table.

Our menu for that day? All barbecued meats, coleslaw, some green salad and a pineapple upside down cake that are all prepared near the makeshift grill. Thinking about the feast is making salivate heavily.

But there’s so much work to be done. After breaking down the meats, I help Stan to prepare the marinade and then soak in them overnight. Then we start another herculean task of chopping heads of cabbage, carrots, chilis and sultanas. Then mixing them together with the mayonnaise dressing for a simple yet creamy, spicy coleslaw. And for the next day? Stan would work his magic with the pineapples with his upside down cake spiked with rum! He and I will take turns working the grill. It starts looking like an episode of Top Chef, yes?

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Fortunately for us, Stan and I had help: his sous chef who was on vacation. He had the good heart of giving us a hand. Both Stan and him were beasts in the kitchen. We were a happy threesome turning the food till the wee hours of the morning. We also got drunk in the process! Happy times! I gotta say that without those two, this reunion party one wouldn’t have been as successful.

If you want more recipes and grilling tips, I usually go to grillmaster Steve Raichlen for advice on everything barbecue. You can also visit his other site here.

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