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Recipe Thieves
Beware talented local chefs – your secrets are no longer safe!

By Marcia Banes
Photos by Emiliana Garcia


This Month’s victim: Luis Alvarez, the 24 year old head chef of the tranquil Luna Azul Hotel and Restaurant nestled on the northern border of Ostional just before San Juanillo. Owners Rolf Liichtenstein and Andreas Baumann work closely with Luis to develop the very best recipes to present to their guests. This elegant menu changes nightly and is determined by what fresh ingredients are available to the kitchen each day. Luis studied his chef apprenticeship just after beginning with the hotel as a builder. Nine months later, Luis came back wanting a job as a cook and he has now been the restaurant’s chef for 4 years.

Scene of the crime: Hotel Luna Azul is the creative vision of Swiss owners Rolf and Andres, who built the hotel in 2003. This charming eight room hotel and restaurant has an open – air setting, bright stucco walls, colorful artwork and is surrounded by a private nature reserve with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Luna Azul is the perfect setting for a gourmet dinner and is open from 6pm-9pm nightly (closed Tuesdays) A three course meal with appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a glass of wine will range from around 20,000 to 25,000 colones including tip and tax. Credit Cards are also accepted at no extra charge.

  The Stolen Recipe: Rondon Soup – a creamy seafood soup with mussels, clams, red snapper, octopus and shrimp. Originally from Limon, Chef Luis creates his version of this authentic Caribbean dish, which is not only native to Costa Rica, but is a local favorite of almost every country that lies on a coast in the Caribbean. The differences in the recipes depend on what seafood ingredients are available to the different regions and as Chef Luis told us, the secret to a good seafood soup begins with having an excellent Fish Broth.

Steps to preparing Fish Broth: Start with a whole fish (Luna Azul prefers Spotted Red Snapper) then skin and filet the fish and remove the gills at the base of the neck. Take the remaining parts of the fish, the head and spine, and boil them in water along with a whole onion cut into quarters, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and whole grain pepper. Boil the ingredients for about an hour and a half. The broth can be stored up to three days in the refrigerator and will have a thick jelly-like substance to it.



Steps to preparing 1 Serving of Rondon Soup:
• Use 150 ml of fish broth and pour into medium sized sautee pan.
• Add 1 ½ Tbsp of onion, 1 ½ Tbsp of red peppers to sautee mixture.
• Next, add seafood mix (200 g) – When the clam shells open up slightly, add the coconut milk – one equal part to the amount of fish broth used.
Chef’s Cooking Tip – Keep reducing the heat of the burner so that the coconut milk doesn’t separate.
• Now add shrimp (2 Large) and fish (200g) and cook 1½ to 2 minutes until done.
Chef’s Cooking Secret – Just before removing from sautee pan, add a few drops of chili picante sauce such as tabasco or chilero to the soup.
• Serve Soup hot in a large bowl and sprinkle with cilantro for a finishing touch.


  Presented with the soup as a wine selection is a bottle of Torrontes Etchart Privado from Argentina. Torrontes is a sweeter tinted white wine with a less acidic aftertaste. The region that the grape is grown in is 1800 meters above sea level which gives the grape vines a different oscillation of temperature than most vineyards. This white wine is meant to bring out the flavor of the fish broth without overpowering the coconut milk.

The creamy texture of the soup had an almost buttery feel and I felt as if it would also taste good over rice or noodles. The hint of cilantro and the drops of hot sauce complimented the flavors in the soup and I was pleasantly surprised that the fish broth did not overpower the soup.

Hotel Luna Azul is a perfect place to take that special someone out to a romantic dinner and the variety of dishes on their dinner menu makes it an excellent dinner option for anyone looking for an authentic gourmet meal.


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