Issues Archives: Volume 02

First Sighting

At first thought it was a patch of blue sky piercing the rainforest canopy; but its light moving, bending. Moving horizontally with erratic patterns. Eyes drawn to the brilliant blue flashes, following with absolute focus, then its gone. The unavoidable reaction to the first sighting of the blue morpho (Morpho peleides). The top of its wings are a brilliant reflective, irideMORPHOCLOSED-0050scent blue, edged in black that creates the display, while the under side are camouflaged to protect against predators, having a non-reflective dull brown with multiple eye-like spots. With all those eyes staring back, what predator would want to attack?

The vivid brilliant blue color is a result of microscopic scales on the back of the wings. When in flight the bright blue and brown colors flash giving off an illusion of appearing and disappearing. They are spectacular in flight, especially when in a group flying together. The blue morpho is difficult to photograph because while resting their wings are usually folded, seeing onlymorpho-00028 the camouflage part if you can find it. Just when you think you will capture the brilliant blue upon opening their wings, they take off in flight bobbing up and down or close their wings again.

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Pineapple Express

We know things taste better in the tropics. Great tasting food and tropical desserts come from great tasting ingredients like limes, oranges, mango, pineapple and other exotic fruits. Excellent fresh-peeled and even more delicious as a cool smoothie or refreshing sorbet. We take you from market to kitchen for your own tropical delight.

Did you know there are many varieties of pineapple and they are members of the bromeliad family?  They usually arrive in your local store in various states of ripeness, and the variety of pineapples have a different shape, skin coloration, meat and seasonality.  Generally speaking, the more compact the pineapple, the more concentrated the sugars. In Costa Rica they often serve small, golden amber pineapple as a snack or dessert, small grained, non-stringy with very tight openings in the meat; it’s incredibly sweet.

An amazing alternative is the white pineapple, also cultivated in Hawaii. In the wild it has variegated leaves and coloration in the veins of the skin, including a reddish or purple tint as well as green and red hues. The white has the consistency of watermelon, not stringy, is quite juicy and tastes like piña colada; not too sweet, just right and perfect to enjoy “licuado” or smoothie-style.  On one trip to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, our friend Rafa of Pelican House showed us which pineapples were ready to cut and enjoy immediately and licuado.  Machete in hand, the white rules.

Its easier than you think to make a refreshing frozen sorbet in your own kitchen with just a blender and freezer. It’s a beautiful dessert, so light, creamy, acidic and smooth on the palate. Much better for you than processed treats because you can choose the type of sweetener and the amount that you prefer, if any.  Follow our tips on juice handling and you’re ready to make a delicious tropical dessert just like you remember,  maybe even better.  For presentation, make a serving boat from a cleaned out shell of 1/2 pineapple, wash and freeze. Serve the sorbet or ice cream in the frozen pineapple boat and garnish with mint or citrus leaf. Pineapple is a good dietary source of fiber, vitamin C, B6, manganese, copper and thiamin.

Pineapple Sorbet

  • 1 medium fresh pineapple
  • ¾ cup caster sugar (finely ground sugar) Substitute 1/2 cup extra light Agave Nectar. To make caster sugar place sugar in food processor and process until sugar becomes dusty at edges and finely ground but not powdered.
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Lime juice
  • 3-4 drops pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. aged amber or dark rum (optional)

Wash, peel and core the pineapple and cut into large chunks. Place pineapple into food processor and process until pureed. Add sugar and lime juice and mix well. Pour into a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and press puree through the sieve to catch any fibrous pulp. This will give you a creamy mixture. Add the vanilla and the rum to the sieved pineapple mixture. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Place chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers instructions. In a pinch, a blender will work to re-aerate the semi frozen mixture and then place back into freezer. The trick is to serve soon after it has set so it can be scooped out. If it is hard frozen you will need to let stand out of the freezer until it softens for scooping out. It is futile to try to extract home made sorbet from a hard frozen container.

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Costa Ballena A Top Destination

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By Steve Linder

Behind this crescent-shaped beach is the last stand of Primal Rainforest reaching from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

Costa Ballena, in the Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica has been getting some good press lately.  Travel & Leisure magazine recently named Bahía Ballena one of the top 13 “Hottest Travel Destinations” and TripAdvisor announced Travelers’ Choice Awards naming Uvita number 15 on a list of top destinations in Central America. Of the top 25 Central American spots, 12 were in Costa Rica.

Travel & Leisure, a US based company, is read by almost 5 million people worldwide and describes Bahía Ballena as a pristine bay previously a favorite of backpackers and migrating whales but recently discovered and accessible.  TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site garnering more than 200 million unique monthly visitors and they describe Uvita as a tiny village with miles of pure white sand and fabulous swimming.

The Marino Ballena National Park is a gem named for humpback whales who meet and mate there every year.

As seen from the air skirting above the canopy you can find a multitude of hidden beaches that you can later explore by car or on foot.  This beach is just South of the Whale’s Tail near Punta Uvita.  All beaches in Costa Rica are technically public beaches, therefore free.  Although getting to a specific beach may involve crossing private property or through a National Park.  Be sure to obtain permission or take a well marked path that is known to be free access, otherwise you will want to pay the property owner or park the access fee.  Its a small price to pay for the maintenance they provide to make the beach accessible.  Having said that, the path may still be dangerous and the road may require 4×4.  This is a case for proper adventure attire and travel tech, i.e. walking poles or stick.


Steve Linder can be found @pacificlots.com

 

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