“Taste of Nosara” showed the depth of culinary talent as chefs from local restaurants competed for bragging rights and raised a much-needed $1565 for the fire-fighting and security association.
While all the dishes showed care and talent, a few managed to stand out as favorites among both a panel of judges and popular acclaim. Dishes were judged in four categories: a house special, dessert, ceviche, and the Tico favorite of arroz con pollo.
The judges pick for the top dish was the sliced sirloin tip by Marlin Bill’s Bill Lancaster, tender, rare, au jus with a buttery horseradish sauce that complemented rather than overwhelmed. The public voted equally for the tuna tartar from Pacifico Azul, chef Melissa Mora’s sumptuous offering complemented well with mango and avocado slices.
Placing in the top three and taking inspiration from Asia, Gilded Iguana chef Cynthia Urbina created a Thai Salad Wrap with shrimp rolled in lettuce with a nice crunch from peanuts and a spicy sauce. Also getting favorable mention from the judges was Kaya Sol chef Jorge Matamorros’s Pollo Trobador, chicken filets with bright flavors and a savory lemon sauce.
Judges awarded the honors for best ceviche to Arepa’s ‘El Tenor Ceviche’, who can always be found selling his popular concoction at the gas station, sometimes with his own lyrical accompaniment. While Arepa has set a standard for the area, the public favorite was Giardino Tropical chef Mario Esther Rodriguez Castillo’s recipe, with clear citrus notes. Also getting favorable comments was the Ceviche Peruano from Café de Paris chef Fabien Piquet, an ambitious mix of sea bass (corvina) with corn, yucca, camote (sweet potato) and ginger flavorings. Il Basilico chef Alexander “Chandy” Cabalceta Lopez also scored favorable comments for his recipe using corvina and pulpo (octopus).
Chandy, while well known for his pizza, took top honors from the judges and the public for his Arroz con Pollo, which might be considered the national dish of Costa Rica. It was a well-balanced formula, somehow managing to stand out from others.
The judge’s unanimous decision for best desert was Marlin’s Bill’s Key Lime Pie, Pam Lancaster’s sinfully rich and limey creation. The crowd favorite was La Casona chef Freddy Sandoval’s Empanada de Chiverre, a traditional Easter pastry filled with a sweet pumpkin-like paste from the round yellow gourd.
The hungry Sunday afternoon crowd at Marlin Bill’s Restaurant exceeded expectations but managed to avoid turning the event into a feeding frenzy.
Casa Romantica’s chef Remo Britshgi represented with shrimp wrapped in prosciutto ham. Harbor Reef’s Yamil Matarrita served a classic chicken burrito topped with guacamole. Café del Sol’s Milena Montiel offered bocadillos with savory cheese and Italian salami toppings on French bread.
Il Pepperoni chefs Kike y Fofo served the classic pudding-like dessert Arroz con Leche with raisin flavorings. Dos Pochote’s chef Pepe Bernades presented shrimp with cucumber and mint, a refreshing approach.
In addition to the restaurants, other contributors to the event include Villa Mango B&B, Bobbi Johnson, Lagarta Lodge, Olgas, Super Nosara, Organico Deli-Market, Guiones Minimarket, Liquorera Guiones, Nomad, Sharon Freedom Designs and Palancho Cordoba – DJ Black.