Category Archives: Food story

Coffee-Making Process In Costa Rica, From Seed To Cup

Doka Estate, Costa Rica
Doka Estate, Costa Rica

Before the tour, we had a lovely lunch buffet on the veranda, overlooking the beautiful garden.

Lunch at Doka Estate - Chicken in curry, beef ribs, rice and red beans sauce, salad, veggies.
Lunch at Doka Estate – Chicken in curry, beef ribs, rice and red beans sauce, salad, veggies.
The lush garden at Doka Estate
The lush garden at Doka Estate
Banana trees to distract insects from eating the coffee beans
Banana trees to distract insects from eating the coffee beans

Do you ever wonder why coffee is so expensive? Well, after I recently visited a coffee plantation called Doka Estate, in
Costa Rica, I can totally understand why the prices are so high. It’s a long process to get from the coffee bean to the cup. I will share with you my experience, and what I learned from the tour guide. It starts out with the coffee beans from the berries, that are planted, and grown in different stages. Eventually, they are transplanted in the coffee fields, where they take about 3 years to produce the berries. The trees can live up to 100 years, however, after 25 years, the quality starts to deteriorate. The plant is called Coffea, and originated in Africa. It produces fragrant white flowers which turn into green berries. When the berries are ripe, they turn red, and are ready to be picked by hand.  They don’t all ripen at the same time, and that makes the process more tedious.  This particular plantation has about 200 pickers, and they use what is called a canasto, a basket to collect the berries. (It looks like a laundry basket) The pickers collect up to 20 baskets a day each.  Inside the berries are two coffee beans, but once in a great while, some will have just one bean, and it’s called the peaberry.

The tour begins in the seedbed, where the tour guide explains the development process of the plant, the collection of the ripe berries, the classification, the fermentation, the drying, the peeling and the roasting  process.

Coffee seedbed
Coffee seedbed
That's me,picking coffee beans off the plant using a canasto
That’s me, picking coffee beans off the plant using a canasto

 

Machine collecting coffee to classify them
Machine collecting coffee to classify them

The second station is the oldest humid coffee processing plant in the country that works by hydraulic power.  The grains are classified, and the best ones are heavy, and stay on the bottom.  Afterwards, the process of de-pulping of first and second quality coffee takes place in the grinders.

 

Sorting the coffee
Sorting the coffee

Next, the natural honey of the grain is cut in the fermentation tanks. This  process is vital, and significant to the taste of the coffee. The coffee is dried on the patios under the sun.  During rainy seasons, they use a drying machine, but they prefer the natural method.

Coffee fermentation tanks
Coffee fermentation tanks
Coffee drying machine
Coffee drying machine

 

Dried coffee is stored for 3 months
Dried coffee is stored for 3 months

Afterwards, the coffee beans are stored in the warehouse for three months in their parchment, the outer layer of the coffee beans.

Coffee after it's dried
Coffee after it’s dried

At this point, the coffee still has no fragrance, but they are ready to be peeled, and then exported or roasted in the country. The parchment is used to make paper.

A very small portion is used to make decaffeinated coffee. They get shipped to Germany to remove the caffeine from the coffee beans. They do not have the machines in Costa Rica because most people drink regular coffee, and the machinery is quite expensive.  Why Germany, you might ask? It’s simple, they have the engineering, and they use water only without any chemicals  in this process. They don’t charge Doka Estate for this service.  Germany sells the caffeine that has been removed from the coffee beans to large companies such as Coca Cola, Red Bull, etc., that’s how they profit from this service.

Finally, the roasting plant is visited,  and we observe the different types of roasts: Italian Espresso is roasted for 20 minutes, Peaberry is roasted for 18 minutes, and French Roast is roasted for 15 minutes. The longer it is roasted, the more intense the flavor.  This explains why the espresso is the strongest.

Coffee roasting machine

Coffee roasting machine

Different types of roasted coffee
Different types of roasted coffee
Coffee tasting
Coffee tasting
Coffee sampling
Coffee sampling


“Doka Estate coffee is one of Costa Rica’s highest quality coffees. The Doka Coffee Estate is located on the fertile slopes of the Alajuela Poas Volcano, the rich soil and the ideal altitude and climate have made the Santa Eduviges farm famous because of its excellent coffee.

The Vargas coffee growing family also carry a brand – Cafe Tres Generaciones – ‘Three Generations Coffee’ that conveys the great care and pride that this coffee growing family have placed in their coffee trees.”

Pictures:  by Foodiewinelover –  taken with my iPhone 6
Source: Information was obtained from the tour guide Adriana, my observations, and Doka Estate website.

I hope you have enjoyed, and learned some interesting facts about my journey through the coffee-making process.

Happy Coffee Sipping!

Gina, Foodiewinelover

Foodiewinelover
Foodiewinelover

 

On The Radio With Foodiewinelover

 

Wiskey Sour Foodiewinelover

Hello everyone, I’m super excited to announce to you my radio segment this afternoon. The show will be broadcast on wsRadio Network. Please go to wsRadio.com and click on Studio-A (listen live) for the VinVillageRadio show at 5PM ET today.

Also, here are links to mobile apps for listening:

Android > http://bit.ly/wsr-app-android

iPhone/iPad > http://bit.ly/wsr-app-itunes

I will be sharing my story about food and wine, and hope you will tune in. You will learn more about me, the girl behind Foodiewinelover, and My food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles.

Wine Description

Bai Gorri Rioja

Wine Tasting, wine glasses
Wine Tasting, wine glasses

 

Foodiewinelover Stonecrabs

 

Foodiewinelover Gina Martino Zarcadoolas

I’ve enjoyed this amazing blogging journey, and want to thank each one of you for your support.

Sit back, Relax and Enjoy the Show!

Gina ~ Foodiewinelover

Here is a link to the radio interview:

Spaghetti al Pomodoro con Basilico

Spaghetti al Pomodoro con Basilico

San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano Tomatoes

Spaghetti al Pomodoro con Basilico is Italian for spaghetti in a tomato sauce with basil. It is one of the most traditional, and classic dish you will find in Southern Italy. It originated in Naples, the land of my paternal grandparents. In the Campania region, this dish is known to be a poor man’s dish because of the simple ingredients. It is made with San Marzano tomatoes that are indigenous to the area, where they are grown on volcanic soil. They are known to be the sweetest tomatoes in the world, very succulent, and less acidic. Here in the US, there is nothing poor about this dish, because it is made with high quality ingredients. There are many variations to this traditional dish, but today, I will share with the you the basic ingredients to make a killer sauce. Italians are very proud of their heritage, and DO NOT LIKE IT, (to put it mildly) when their original recipe is modified, or altered in any way. That is totally understandable, because they are trying to keep hundreds of years of traditions.  Unfortunately, when a traditional Italian recipe is recreated, it tends to lose some of its authenticity, primarily because an ingredient cannot be found, or because it is adapted to meet a person’s lifestyle. I can honestly say for this dish, I was able to find all the ingredients, but of course, everyone has his/her own style, and method of cooking. Ideally, fresh San Marzano tomatoes would be better, but they cannot be found in my area. Canned peeled San Marzano tomatoes with the D.O.P. label is perfectly acceptable, even by Italian standards. Follow me, Let’s get cooking!

Serves: 4-6 Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Spaghetti, Anna brand, or any brand of your choice
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, + more to drizzle
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2  28- oz canned-San Marzano, peeled tomatoes, Flora brand
  • Himalayan salt, or sea salt to taste, for sauce and pasta
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

    Preparation:

    1) Do your prepping, slice the garlic, leave one can peeled tomatoes whole, and crush the other one with your hands like the Italians do. It’s so much fun to use your hands, but, I use gloves because I have very long fingernails. (If you want to cheat, put it in the blender for 5 seconds. I didn’t tell you that, shhhhh!) Chop up 2-3 basil leaves. Set aside.

    2) In the meanwhile, bring water to a boil for the pasta. While that’s happening, you will have plenty of time to make the sauce.

    3) In a medium-size pot, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat, sautee the garlic, as soon as it releases its aroma, (if you wait too long, the garlic will burn, and have a bitter taste) drop the peeled tomatoes, the hand-crushed tomatoes, basil, and salt to taste. Bring to a quick boil, lower the heat to medium – medium-low, simmer uncovered  for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

    4) You will be working simultaneously, while your sauce is simmering, the pasta water will come to a boil, add salt to taste, and cook pasta al dente, (to the bite). Follow package directions, minus 2 minutes of cooking time.  To check for doneness, I do it the old fashion way, I taste a strand or two of pasta.

    5) Drain pasta. By this time, the sauce should be done. Pour the pasta in the sauce, turn off the burner, and mix very well until every strand of spaghetti is coated with the sauce. It will look like a lot of sauce, but the pasta will absorb it in no time. Some cooks don’t crush the tomatoes, but that’s a personal preference.

    6) Put the spaghetti in a pasta bowl, add a little sauce on top, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with basil leaves. That’s it!

    Tip #1) please note, black pepper is not used, because the tomatoes are the featured ingredients in this dish.  I didn’t want the pepper to overpower the sweetness of the tomatoes.  This is the case, where less is more in this particular dish.

    Tip #2) Some Italian cooks prefer to serve the grated cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano on the side.

    Tip #3) Do not throw the pasta on the wall to check for doneness. Use the timer, or simply taste it.

    Tip #4) It is not necessary to put oil in the pasta water. Just stir the pasta at the beginning, to avoid them from sticking to each other. Once they start cooking, they will separate from each other.

    You will pay a premium price for these canned tomatoes, but it will be worth the dining experience. Take it from me, I have been in the kitchen for the last 25 years.

    I have used different brands of San Marzano tomatoes, but I must tell you, it was the first time I tried the Flora brand, and my family and I could not get over the sweetness, and the complex flavors of the tomatoes. I am certain there are many other great brands out there. This is my opinion, and I did not get compensated to write about it.  I’m simply sharing my experience with you in Gina’s Kitchen.

    A little known fact, Neapolitan pizza is made with San Marzano tomatoes,  known to be the best pizza in the world. Now, you can finally understand the reasoning behind it.

    I recommend a delicious Italian red wine to pair with this scrumptious dish. A super Tuscan, a Chianti, a Rosso, the list is endless, and the choice is yours. If you can find Lacryma Christi, it would pair beautifully, since it’s from the same region, and similar volcanic soil as the tomatoes.

    All the images belong to me, Foodiewinelover, except for the last image of the tomatoes. Photo credit is given to Goldlocki, found in Wikipedia.

    Spaghetti al pomodoro con basilico

Everything you see, I owe it to Spaghetti As Sophia Loren puts it, “Every thing you see, I owe it to Spaghetti.”

San Marzano Tomatoes

I hope you will try this delectable sauce, and share your experience with me.

Buon Appetito!

Happy Crushing!

Costa Rica, Paradise in Central America

costarica10
Enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean

Somewhere in Central America, there is a little paradise called Costa Rica, meaning “rich coast”.  In 2009, it was ranked the greenest country in the world.  It has enchanting rainforests, beautiful tropical birds and adorable monkeys, indigenous to the region. Education is a main priority in Costa Rica, it has a literacy rate of 96%.  The main language is Spanish, however, many people speak English as a second language.The people are warm, and always welcome you with their characteristic phrase, Pura Vida. It literally means pure life and is used as a greeting to wish you “good living”. Part of their food culture is this condiment called Lizano sauce.  It has a sweet, smoky flavor with some tanginess, and makes everything taste better. I always bring a bottle back with me to the US.  They put it on a variety of food,  including their traditional breakfast called Gallo Pinto. It is considered their main breakfast dish of rice and beans mixed together with onions and bells peppers.  This condiment is a staple in every household, and restaurants across the country has it displayed on their table.  Part of their diet includes lots of local fresh fruits and delicious veggies. They also like fresh seafood, chicken and meat. There are many traditional and flavorful dishes, and I always relish them during my visits. This country is known for its delicious coffee,  Cafe Britt.  You will also find more affordable ones at  the supermarkets. 

costarica3
Rice with Chicken and veggies
costarica6
Delicious Fried Fish
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Seafood Ceviche
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Chicharon, Fried Pork Skins, very traditional
costarica8
Shopping in Nosara, a world-renowned yoga retreat

The first time I went to Costa Rica was in 2001, I attended a beautiful wedding held on top of a mountain overlooking the gorgeous views of San-Jose, the capital.  During that trip, I visited the volcano Arenal, and swam in the Hot Springs. I also took a rainforest lift ride, and was amazed by its beauty and vastness.  I fell in love with this enchanting country. I’ve been back four times since my first visit.  Guanacaste is one of my favorite provinces, and it’s located on the Pacific Coast. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from San-Jose. I have also flown on a twin-prop plane which takes about 30 – 45 minutes. I usually stay in a beautiful house, perched on a tall mountain, overlooking the breathtaking views of the pacific ocean. I have also stayed in beautiful resorts and hotels, but, will share more details in future blogs.  Real Estate has skyrocketed in the last ten years, as more and more americans are retiring there, or making it a second home. However, it is still very affordable to live there.

costarica11
Unspoiled beaches in Guanacaste ~ Playa Carrillo

I can never get enough of Costa Rica, a small country packed with delicious food, panoramic views, rich cultures and great adventures. I go there to relax, and have fun with loved ones.  I think I’m ready for another trip soon! I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me, and learned something new and interesting about beautiful Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!

 

Bites, Bubbly & Blogs

Since I am still fairly new at blogging, I decided to have a little get together in my kitchen with a couple of fellow (beginner) bloggers. We brainstormed and exchanged notes and ideas to help each other out. Angela will be blogging about food and wine and Barbara will be blogging about her amazing photography skills. I learned a lot from Angela’s organizational skills and computer knowledge, and Barbara taught me how to give my photographs some character and make them pop.  Their sites will be up and running soon, and I could not be more excited for them. From what I am seeing, bloggers help one another and are very supportive of each other.  That in itself is a big inspiration and motivates me to bring out my creative side.

GinaAngBarb

Needless to say, we had fun in my “Gina’s Kitchen” with small bites and bubbly to celebrate our new ventures. Of course, we spent nearly two hours, on and off trying to get some great food shots. Thank goodness, Barbara was there to guide us and give us some useful tips in food photography. This takes practice, and one can only get better with time and lots of experience. I made a lovely lump crab meat salad “sans mayo” since Angela does not care for it. I know some of you are frowning but not all of us are created equal and that’s what makes life so interesting.

It is a very simple recipe that anyone can whip up in no time

  • 1 – 8 ounce jar lump crab meat
    you can also use imitation crab meat which works
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 TBS olive oil

Degree of difficulty: Very easy
Serves 4-6

Preparation:

Lightly break up lump crab meat, if you are using imitation crab, you can shred it with your hands for a nice presentation. Combine all the ingredients at once and chilled for at least one hour. For added richness, you can add some mayonnaise and whatever spice you like.

lumpcrabmeat

I also served some delicious smoked salmon with sliced cucumbers. They were light and tasty but most of all, they paired beautifully with the bubbly.

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Simple, yet sophisticated

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Barbara brought some delicious hummus with veggies and Angela made a very healthy and scrumptious salad with field greens, avocados, corn, cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts.

foodblogging2014aug 138

It was a fun and productive day, especially in the company of two friends that I care for. I admire both for their lovely qualities and  generous hearts.

Stay tuned for more exciting blogs on food, wine and travels. Until next time, happy blogging from Gina’s Kitchen!