A taste of the tropics: Hot summer coolers

April 11, 2012

From the print edition

In this tropical land, when the dry season bombards us with hot weather and warm breezes, the best way to refresh and quench your thirst is to go for nature’s very own electrolytes: tropical fruit. 

The dry months in Costa Rica, January through April, mark the arrival of the season for a multitude of fruits, and also the most affordable prices in stores and stands all around the country. 

Don’t be surprised if a truck full of produce parades through your neighborhood inviting everyone to step out of their houses and buy freshly-picked fruit. Or stop at one of the many roadside stands to entice your senses with the ever-changing array of fruits, nuts and homemade foods that vary as much as our country’s topography.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, green and ripe mangoes, papayas, and pineapples are just the beginning. Look for rare and exotic fruits you may have never seen or tasted, such as the mangosteen, star fruit, passion fruit, dwarf guava, sour guava, dragon fruit, tamarind and beach grapes. In each area of the country, you will see unique local products available at this time of year, unparalleled in affordability and flavor.

Ticos love fruit. Although in recent years fruits such as apples, grapes and stone fruits are a regular sight at every supermarket, most folks still remain loyal to the seasons and buy the freshest fruit at the right time. In every soda or restaurant, you will find a choice of a naturales  fresh fruit drinks – that change daily as the ripest and most ready fruit is used to make the cold and welcomed beverages.

Libations are made with this plethora of fruit as well, as mixologists join known flavors and spirits with exotic and tropical twists to create amazing and flavorful cocktails such as passion fruit daiquiris, mango margaritas, and gingered piña coladas.

Now is the time to enjoy the delicious and refreshing bounties of nature at their ripest. Take advantage of the fruits in season and quench your thirst with unique tropical concoctions.

Recipes: 

Cantaloupe & Mint Cold Soup Shooter

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped ripe cantaloupe or honeydew melon, cold

½ cup peeled and seeded cucumber, cold

2 tbsp. fresh mint

1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. agave nectar or maple syrup

Salt & pepper to taste

Greens for garnishing

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Add ice if needed.

Serve in a glass or shot glass and garnish with the greens.

Makes 2 servings

Watermelon-Ginger Martini

Ingredients:

1 cup watermelon juice

1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 oz. quality vodka

1 dash lemon or orange liquor

Ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add enough ice to fill.

Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with basil and a piece of watermelon.

Makes 1 serving

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