A wave of 800 or so foodies swept over the Pacific coast last Saturday, inundating The Great Culinary Festival organized by El Sabor de Ojochal, a new association of local restaurants in this gourmet enclave, south of Dominical.
Thirteen local restaurants set up portable kitchens in the large rancho of Restaurante Boca Coronado, at the mouth of the Río Térraba, to serve sample dishes from their menus.
Longstanding Ojochal restaurants Exotica, Citrus and Villa Gaia were on hand, as well as more recent additions to the local restaurant scene, such as Ylang Ylang, El Fuego, Mama e Pappá, Café Pancito, El Diquis del Sur, and brand-new Azul. Each restaurant offered three tastings from their menus, with cuisines ranging from French to Spanish to Italian to Argentine to Costa Rican to Indonesian.
The $20 admission included three tastings, with additional tastings for $3 each. Savory samples included: coconut ceviche, fish tacos, salmon quiche, lasagna, stuffed peppers, grilled rabbit, boeuf Bourguignon, skewers of pork with peanut sauce, cognac-flavored pâté and various versions of chicken curry.
On the sweet side, just to name a few: banana pudding with caramel sauce and sliced bananas, airy cheesecake, dense chocolate cupcakes, and a refreshing pineapple sorbet. To complement the food, there were wines, and experts on hand, from La Escuela del Vino Centroamerica.
Live music performed by local musicians and imports from San José lasted all day, from noon- 9 p.m., on an open-air stage, surrounded by tree-shaded tables where guests could chow down and enjoy the music, food and wine.
Continuing on the success of this event, this group of local restaurateurs, spearheaded by the owners of Citrus, Ylang Ylang and Azul, has plans for a restaurant week, April 19-26, when member restaurants will offer fixed menus and special dining packages. In July, they are planning another one-day festival with cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and a chef competition.
You can get more information on future events at www.elsabordeojochal.com or follow them on their Facebook page.