Nothing says vacation like a leisurely breakfast. Half-asleep, you come downstairs, or stay in bed, or sit on your balcony overlooking the sea, and someone brings you a pot of coffee or hot chocolate or green tea, freshly squeezed juice, a plate of fruit, a basket of warmed baked goods with butter and little pots of honey and artisanal preserves. All you need to do is breathe in the fresh air, stretch and start enjoying your freedom.
Sunday brunch, too, seems a small vacation: an excuse to drink before noon and linger over mimosas, bloody marys, and coffee. Vacation resorts present fabulous brunch buffets with fresh squeezed juices and platters of fruit, an omelet station, pancakes, hash brown potatoes, smoked salmon with capers & red onion, roast beef with horseradish, bacon, cured hams, and sausage. A dairy station with yogurt and cheeses. A bakery section with sweet and savory pastries. It’s a feast for the eyes and the senses, two-meals-in-one, best enjoyed when brunch is the day’s main event.
Many of our clients come to town with their family and friends. We serve them breakfast family–style so each guest can choose the foods they prefer to start the day. Frittatas, casseroles, and quiches or a big pan of fluffy scrambled eggs are the most popular dishes we make for a crowd. Next to the eggs, we offer bacon or sausage or smoked fish, fresh salsa, cheese, sour cream, scallions, a basket of toast or tortillas.
It is hot here in tropical Tamarindo, so a breakfast of fresh salads is a great way to start the day. Avocado toast or bagels are perfect, served with a tomato salad, locally sourced smoked rainbow trout, pickled onions, capers, and hard-boiled eggs. (Recently we learned that a dozen eggs can be hard-boiled in a steamer. Bring a pot of water to a boil, place the eggs in a steamer over the hot water, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and submerge eggs in an ice bath. After a brief chill, the shells peel off like a dream! The eggs can be served whole, deviled, chopped into egg salad or sliced in an egg slicer.)
Black beans are traditionally served with every meal in Costa Rica, and for breakfast, ‘gallo pinto‘ is the gold standard, a must. The dish is made by sautéing celery, oregano, sweet peppers and onions, then adding in leftover beans and rice from the night before. Chopped cilantro and la famosa Salsa Lizano finish the dish. Pinto is served with corn tortillas, fried homemade cheese or natilla (sour cream) and plátanos maduros (caramelized plantains). For the big appetite, add fried eggs and Carne en salsa (beef sautéed in a tomato sauce with peppers and onions). Other favorite side dishes are sliced avocado and pico de gallo (a fresh salsa of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and lime), bacon or sausage or pork carnitas.
Breakfast salad is another good, easy meal for a crowd. Start with a bowl of hearty mixed greens (romaine, escarole, spinach or kale) dressed in a light vinaigrette. Popular toppings perfect for the salad include scallions, garlic croutons or quinoa, avocado, tomatoes, bacon or serrano ham, feta cheese. Top the salad with a fried egg sunny side up and you have a perfect breakfast bowl.
Pancakes are a favorite meal for many. Our favorite pancake of the moment is made with a ¼ cup of cornmeal, and ¾ cup all-purpose flour, melted butter, eggs, and yogurt instead of milk. To make sure the pancakes rise, mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients in separate bowls, combining them only when you are ready to cook. (Crepes, another breakfast favorite, are thin pancakes and it’s best to make the batter in advance and refrigerate it for an hour before cooking.) We top our pancakes with fresh fruit, or strawberry and maple syrup compote.
Potatoes are always delicious. We like to serve potatoes Pangas–style, cut into ½ pieces and roasted with diced jalapenos. Traditional hash browns or potato pancakes (rosti) are also great. But a recent favorite is a one dish Indian meal with potatoes cooked and then chopped into 1-inch pieces, fried with sliced onion and fresh turmeric, ground cumin seeds, paprika, and jalapenos. In a cast-iron skillet, cook until the potatoes are crisp, and then break eggs on top of the potatoes, cover the pan and cook for 6 minutes or until the whites are fully done but the yolk still runny. Serve with yogurt and chopped cilantro.
After breakfast or brunch? That hammock next to the pool looks nice!
Christina Spilsbury and Rick Macsherry have lived in Tamarindo since 1989. They own and operate Sunset Catering.