Catering in Tamarindo
You can always get what you want…if you know how to talk to your caterer.
Most people associate catering with big events: weddings, family reunions, milestone birthdays. Have you ever considered hiring a caterer for a romantic dinner for two? Caterers can make your vacation much more relaxing, particularly if you are traveling with a group that includes small children. Tamarindo is not a fast food hub, and cranky kids can ruin a delicious restaurant meal. If you are renting a condominium or a beachfront house, consider giving everyone a break and hire a caterer to cook for you. You are on vacation. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the experience.
STOCKING YOUR REFRIGERATOR. After a long day of travel, do you really feel like getting in a rental car and driving to the market? Why not let your caterer shop for you, and have your refrigerator stocked with everything you want? You could order a prepared snack or meal, or have breakfast ready to be reheated and served in the morning. While the local Auto Mercado carries many of your favorite brands from home, be aware that imported foods, like Ritz crackers, Kraft cheese, Lays potato chips and Kellogg cereals are luxuries here. A caterer can help you find local substitutes for foreign brands. And they can also advise you if your brands are not available here. Remember, if you can´t live without your Shredded Wheat, pack them in your suitcase.
PLANNING YOUR MEAL. When you contact a caterer, ask for some sample menus with prices. If you like what you see, make sure the caterer is available for the date you desire. Let the caterer know the date and time and location for your meal. Provide the number of people who will be eating, and the ages of any children (fees are often discounted for children under a certain age). Let the caterer know if you expect full service: setting the table, plated or family style, clean up. Many clients opt for self-service: the caterer drops off the food ready to serve and they take care of the rest. (No service charge added to the food cost.) How many courses do you want? Do you have big appetites? Do you want to sample the local cuisine or do you want a break from rice and beans? Tell the caterer about any food allergies you may have, or if you are on a restricted diet: Vegan. Gluten-free. Paleo. Kosher. If you already have an idea in mind, tell the caterer exactly what you´d like to eat. The more information you provide, the easier it is to fulfill your desires.
RESERVATIONS. Most caterers require a deposit in order to reserve their time. An inquiry is not a reservation. And many caterers are fully booked one month before the busy holiday season. Find out if the caterer accepts cash only, or if you can use a charge card.
BUDGET. Many people are reluctant to set a budget for their meal. But stating up front the amount of money you are prepared to pay per person can avoid a lot of back and forth with the caterer.
VACATION RENTALS. Most rentals have a fully stocked kitchen, with table service for at least four people. If you are planning a party, first you must get permission from the owner or property manager. Ask them if there is a charge for using their home as a party venue. Is there a limit to the number of guests the rental can accommodate? Ask the owner about dishes and flatware and pots and pans. There are disposable (even eco-friendly) plates and flatware and cups at the market. Or you can rent everything you need for a party at a reasonable price. Check out a good local supply company to get an idea of what you can rent: www.alquileresparadisonatural.com . Or contact one of the many wonderful event planners working in Tamarindo and have them take care of all your needs, including lighting, flowers, décor, music & rentals.
BAR. Many people like to stock their own bar and ask the caterer for a bartender. But before you decide to do your own bar, be aware that you will need to consider refrigeration, coolers, ice, mixers, water, alcohol, juices. Stocking a bar requires a lot of work. Perhaps you would rather have your caterer take care of it. They can make sure you have enough to drink (Most people who stock their own bar run out of essentials like water, mixers, ice, and liquor. And often enough, the party is over when the liquor runs out.) A reputable caterer can buy alcohol at wholesale prices so the difference in price is not really worth the time spent putting your bar together.
Christina Spilsbury and Rick Macsherry have lived in Tamarindo since 1989. They own and operate Sunset Catering.