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Restaurant & Hotel Reviews

Kalaluna Bistro, Drakes Bay, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Mon, February 03, 2020 12:01PM

Kalaluna is known as one of the best restaurants in the Drakes Bay area, Trip Advisor currently has it at #1 in their listings. It’s just outside the village of Agujitas on the coastal pathway to Cocolito Beach; if you’re staying in the village it’s going to take you between 15 to 30 minutes to walk there, depending on where in the village you are. We visited after a day at Cocolito Beach, which is a lovely half hour walk away, and it’s worth showing you a few photos of what we saw on the way to the restaurant, to give you an idea of what maybe in store for you if you visit. First, the beach (this beach is the first of many you’ll find dotted along the coastal path). Apart from at the weekend there were very few people here, and this was high season.

And here are some images of the animals we saw on the pathway that leads through the rainforest. The pathway is easy to follow, and it mostly either hard packed dirt or paving slab.

Howler Monkey.
Collared Trogon.
White Faced Capucin Monkey.
The view from the front steps of Kalaluna.

We were obviously thirsty after spending all day walking in the sun and at the beach so we freshened up with a cocktail and a beer as we spoke to Claudio – who owns the restaurant along with his wife, Shirley – about how the restaurant came to be, and some of the challenges and guiding principles behind the running of it.

Shirley and Claudio, the owners – and head chefs – of Kalaluna.
A cocktail with a view.

Claudio has been a professional chef all of his life, first in his native Italy, then in many other countries including Dubai and various islands of the Caribbean. It was whilst working in the Caribbean that he came to Costa Rica on holiday, and fell in love with the place. Soon after he was offered a head chef job in Drakes Bay, accepted immediately and it was there that he met Shirley, who was also working as a chef at the same hotel.

“We decided to open Kalaluna a few years ago, and it’s been a great success,” he explained. “It’s sometimes tricky to get some ingredients, such as good mozarella, though. There’s only one producer of this in all of Costa Rica, and they’re far away in Guanacaste. I have to drive for hours, to near the Panama border, to pick up our shipments of it, and if for some reason they’re delayed, we don’t use a replacement. We just cross the item off the menu. You can see there, on our menu, the items with ‘no’ written next to them, that’s because we couldn’t get a certain key item for the dish. For instance, if we can’t get the good mozarella, there’s no caprese salad. If we can’t get the Parmesan, then the spaghetti bolognaise is crossed off. There are substitute cheeses available here but there’re all like cardboard. I’m Italian, I can’t serve up sub standard food!”

Here’s a photo we took of the menu on the wall the next day in full daylight, you can see there are a couple of items crossed off. Looks like the Parmesan was available that day! We find this comforting to hear, we love passionate chefs like Claudio, and chefs with standards. Food is such a joy, how can a reasonable person not be passionate about it! It also means that if you eat at Kalaluna, whatever you order will be carefully prepared, in the correct manner. There are no short cuts here at all. Which is probably one of the reasons that it’s always booked up every night. Take note, if you want to eat there, reserve in advance.

Claudio also spoke about his passion for using traditional local ingredients such as green papaya.

“Locals used to eat this all the time as a snack, but now, like in many countries, snacks mean chips, or fast food, and the green papaya is hardly every seen. But green papaya is so good! We use it in the gnocchi. And I’ve recently created a new take on guacamole. I’ve never liked it but Shirley prepared some for me and I thought, this is nice, but I think I can improve it. I’m going to bring you some for your first course, see if you can guess the extra ingredients I put in, ok?”

We happily agreed. Claudio departed for the kitchen and we enjoyed our drinks, and a chickpea salad that was sent out whilst we waited for our guacamole to be created freshly for us…

…and also we spoke to an elderly Swedish couple who sat down at the next table. They said they’d been coming to the Corcovado area for 20 years.

“The wildlife viewing here is the best in Costa Rica, without a doubt. That hasn’t changed. But it’s so nice now to be able to eat well, to this level, as well as having the nature all around. We eat here often, and no matter what we order, it’s always excellent. Enjoy your meal!”

The guacamole was beautifully presented, the puffed up disks reminded me of the Indian-style ‘puri’, they also had a similar airy texture and crispness. As for the secret guac ingredients, I think I detected Kalamata olives, and maybe some capers (later I did ask Claudio, but he’s keeping his recipe a secret. I’ve since experimented with both ingredients and found them a nice addition, they really add a feeling of the Mediterranean to the dish!)

For main course we had pesto pasta; N had the green, I had the red. Mine was made primarily with red cabbage, which I thought ingenious, and something that I have also since experimented with at home to great effect. This is a game changer for me, this idea that pesto can have a variety of base ingredients, not just basil and pine nuts. It’s a concept rather than a set recipe. Once you realise this, a different realm of cooking opens up.

We both loved our pastas, and were satisfied, but there was a little space left for a sweet, and since the candlelit restaurant was such a romantic place to linger on a warm tropical evening we ordered a chocolate dessert.

The dessert was smoothly blended, and rich; we didn’t need much of it as it was very dense. It was an excellent and satisfying manner in which to end our visit. Then we walked back to our room (note; take a flashlight, you’re going to need it. The walk to the village is easy enough but there are hardly any streetlights), it’d been a magnificent day!

Check out Kalaluna, they have a website here – https://kalaluna-bistro.negocio.site/

and a Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/Kalalunabistro/

and there’s also lots written about them on Tripadvisor.



Olam Pure Food, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Uncategorised Posted on Sun, February 02, 2020 01:27PM

Olam Pure Food is a restaurant within the Nautilus boutique hotel in Santa Teresa. Organic ingredients are used there, some of which come from the many fruit trees that grow on the property, and there’s a large variety of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and raw cuisine on offer. When I visited they told me that they can accommodate virtually any dietary restrictions, and regularly help design meal programs to bring guests into optimum health. They also offer detox retreats, nutritional guidance, juicing, meal planning and raw food cleanses, you can learn much more about all that by checking out their website – https://hotelnautiluscostarica.com/restaurant/

Like most of the more modern properties in Santa Teresa (and indeed the whole of Costa Rica), Olam is a short walk from the beach. Costa Rica passed a Martime Zone Law in 1977 that states that any land within 50 metres of the high tide mark is public property, so nothing can be built on it. That’s why so many of the beaches there have such marvelous views, like these, which you can see a short walk from Olam.

In some Costa Rican towns, such as Jaco, there are many hotels built right on the beach. That’s mainly because they were built before the law was made. Luckily there’s not much of that going on in Santa Teresa, it really is a nature and beach-goers paradise.

To find Olam and Nautilus, check it out on google maps at first, then walk from wherever you are along the dirt road that runs parallel to the beach and about 200 meters inland, and look for the small sign that points up to the hotel on the left.

Palms and bamboo surround the restaurant, there’s a bright, fresh, cool feeling, and it was immediately apparent that the hotel appeals to a more health conscious, mature, quiet crowd than many other places in surf-crazy Santa Teresa.

For instance, I was staying at Casa del Mar nearby, which is more of a surfers hotel. And whilst it was friendly enough it wasn’t nearly as nice an environment to be in at Nautilus, probably because the surfers spent much of their time on the ocean and just used the hotel to crash out in. And they didn’t seem to care much about what they ate, either, (the kitchen was communal so I could see) so didn’t require a veggie and vegan restaurant (they were mostly eating cans of tuna – or a fresh fish – alongside some rice or salad, which might sound environmentally sound and healthy, but not if you’re into the ocean and understand the break down of the food chain caused by over fishing, and the toxic metals now found in all fish. I’m really shocked at how many surfers – who rely on the ocean for their joy – seem to ignore these 2 very important and well known points, but that’s another blog post for another day!)

The yoga deck is upstairs from Olam restaurant. There are several classes a day, and since the studio has a view of sunrise and sunset I can imagine classes at those times would be especially magical.

Before I talk about the food, here’s a final view of the well landscaped hotel grounds. This is the path leading from restaurant to pool. For more photos, check the website out – https://hotelnautiluscostarica.com/

It was cool in the open sided restaurant, such a relief from the beach which had been melting that day. English is well spoken by the friendly staff and Juan, the Argentinian co-owner, introduced himself and was happy to talk about the menu.

“The restaurant serves no meat, and just a little feta, honey and eggs,” he said. “I’m vegetarian myself, which is a big step for an Argentinian used to high quality meat! But I traveled a lot a few years ago and because I couldn’t get the sort of quality meat I was used to at home, I started to just eat vegetarian. And before I knew it, I was eating no meat at all, and still feeling great. In fact, better than before. I do a lot of sports, and it seemed to help me with that. And then of course I began to learn about the environmental issues associated with meat and dairy. So we decided to create a restaurant that didn’t serve meat. I know most restaurants have vegan options these days, but it seems that’s just to offer something to everybody, rather than an ethical decision. I see no point in serving both meat and vegan. Some people like restaurants that offer both meat and vegan options, but others just want to give their business to a restaurant that shares their ideals. Those people are our clients.”

I thought this was very enlightened of him, and also brave. It’s hard enough to operate a veggie/vegan restaurant in a big city where there are potentially a lot of customers, but in a small beach town in Costa Rica where there’s a lot of competition from other omni restaurants with vegan options, and other nearby beach towns, for tourist business, it requires some vision and strong ethics. I admire that very much indeed.

I glanced over the menu and quickly made my choices. I was hot, I was hungry, and it was already 2.30pm, and since the restaurant closed around 3 I wanted to make sure I ate! I ordered 2 courses, and started off with a large ‘Green Jungle’ smoothie.

This wasn’t all the menu, but as you can see, there are a lot of vegan choices, and the prices are fair.

The green smoothie went down quickly, that hot beach had left me gasping! It tasted as you’d expect a good green smoothie to taste, and not too cold. No brain freeze going on here, which is nice for a gulper like me as brain freeze hurts my eyes (true story) yet that fact rarely stops me drinking icy beverages too fast!

I ordered the humus with warm wholemeal panini-artisan-style bread. It was well seasoned with parsley and paprika and drizzled with oil and tahini, with a few whole chickpeas to show the ingredient.

The humus had a very traditional taste, and excellent presentation. It was a new way of serving it, for me, very simple yet perfect. It’s always good to see how others interpret a traditional dish, it gives me ideas, and I’m definitely going to try to re-create this at home.

I washed it down with a lemon and ginger homemade herbal tea (the pot held 2 cups), and then my lentil burger arrived.

The burger comes with salad or fries, I had the salad which consisted of cucumber, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, tomato, lettuce, red cabbage, and a lemon dressing.

The lentil patty was smooth (unlike the black bean burgers that are my usual go-to, which have a chunkier texture), fried, very thick, seasoned well, and as with the humus, I’m very inspired to try to recreate this patty at home. It was delicious, and filling.

To finish, I had another smoothie. There were 9 to choose from and I had the ‘Mi Corazon’. It seemed an interesting way of getting my beets and also my anti-inflammatory berries in, and since I’d never had a beet-based smoothie before, it seemed right to give it a go.

What a colour it was!!! I just sat there looking at it for a while. That wouldn’t have been the case if it’d been the first thing I ordered, but now I was almost satiated and in no rush. Also, the sun was still fierce outside yet here it was cool, and the sunset wouldn’t start for a while. An ideal time to be idle indoors, marveling over a beautiful smoothie. Here’s another item I’m trying at home, it tasted as good as it looked.

Then it was time to go for a walk on the beach and enjoy the sunset.

Consider eating at Olam if you’re in Santa Tersea (or staying at Nautilus!). The food is superb, it’s organic, healthy, tasty, inspirational if you’re a keen chef, and fairly priced. And the place is trying to do the right thing environmentally and ethically, and it’s always good to support businesses like that. You can discover more on their website here – https://hotelnautiluscostarica.com/restaurant/



Zula Inn Restaurant

Restaurants Posted on Thu, January 30, 2020 11:31AM

Zula Inn is a family run restaurant about a 15 minute walk from the main crossroads of Santa Teresa, where you can find the banks, doctors, dentists, etc. If you’re on the beach near the Banana Beach Club (where some of the best surfing in the area is to be found) then walk up the access dirt track next to it, Zula Inn is very near there. The beach thereabouts looks like this.

And if you’re into walking or running, a few hours of hiking the beach north will get you here (what I’m saying is, the beaches here are amazing!)…

When the beaches are this good it’s hard to leave them, even for food, but you’ve got to power all that hiking and surfing somehow, so it’s got to be done. Luckily, Zula Inn isn’t far from the beach, and it makes for a nice spot to hang out if you’re looking to escape the sun between midday and 4pm, or indeed, if you need a break between catching waves!

The restaurant has been open since 2004 – Roger the owner came for the world famous surfing in 2000 and decided to stay on – and serves traditional Israeli and Costa Rican food including gallo pinto, casados, shakshuka, falafel, and much more.

All these can be combined with their hummus plates, pita sandwiches or Israeli plates. I went for the falafel plate as it was 3pm and since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast I had quite the appetite. Here’s a few shots of the menu to give you an idea of what else is on offer.

I started with the ‘Healthy Green’ Smoothie, asking them to hold the honey. It was like a slushie, perfect in the 30C, humid weather. I loved the pineapple, lemon and cilantro combo, I slurped it down so greedily that it bought on a bit of brain freeze for a few minutes.

Zula Inn claims on it’s website to have the best smoothies in town. It’s hard to disagree with them on the evidence on this ‘Healthy Green’. It was incredibly refreshing. OK, now onto my falafel plate.

As you can see, there’s plenty of food there, and it’s well presented. Roger said the coleslaw had mayo in it so since I’m vegan, he offered to replace that with a carrot and cabbage salad. The sauces at the top left were a fragrant, green salsa and a spicy, hot chili.

The falafel was most certainly hearty, home-style, with the chickpea base having plenty of texture and being well fried. I’ve had falafel before in Italy that is so delicate you could pair it well with a Chianti (and I did!) and I think that has it’s place but to go in a sandwich I prefer the style served at Zula Inn. It’s the sort of thing your Mum might serve up if they cooked falafel, very comforting and satisfying.

The salad was simple yet fresh and tasty, Mediterranean style.

Another notable point was the humus; with the layering of herb, cayenne and olive oil there’s no mistaking the Middle Eastern style of presentation and rich taste. It made for an excellent compliment to the varied textures and tastes of the other elements of the plate.

I found the Zula Inn Restaurant a welcoming place to while away a couple of hours, you can escape the sun in the shady garden, the people are friendly, you’re not rushed, the music is chill and relaxing. Great food, too. It was actually as hard to tear myself away from the place as it had been to leave the beach a few hours earlier, but I knew how good the sunset always was off of Santa Teresa so I made sure I was down there for that.

I very much enjoyed my meal at the Zula Inn Restaurant. You can check them out (they also rent rooms nearby) here – http://www.zulainn.com/

or on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/zulainnsantateresa/



Chop It – Holy Cow Burger, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Thu, January 30, 2020 10:31AM

Santa Teresa is known for it’s surfing and it’s beaches. And when we say beaches, we mean, miles upon miles of sand linked by rocky headlands that you feel you could walk forever on. In fact, we walked for 3 hours heading north of Santa Teresa and we saw no sign of the beaches going away. They just kept getting wider and wider, and emptier and emptier. Wonderful. Here’s a couple of pics we took to give you an idea of what you’ll see if you stay there.

That last photo was taken near Chop It, if you walk 15 minutes down the beach and then turn left up the street you’ll reach the mini mall on the crossroads where the road heads up to the rest of the world (the first town you’ll come to if you take the bus out of here is Cobano, from there you an connect to San Jose and other points in the country). The mall is where Chop It is located.

The mall is a mini oasis in what is a very dusty, strung out town. It’s clean and airy, a marked contrast to the miles long dirt road around which the villages of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais cluster. Here’s a view of the road…

…and now here’s a view of the mall. The tables of Chop It are on the right hand side. The photo is actually taken from outside a dentists office where I had some work done – if you’re looking for good dental work at a very decent price I can recommend this place, it’s called Pacific Dental.

And here’s a couple more views of the Chop It tables and exterior.

I visited Chop It because I’d read that it was a nice environment in which to eat, and that it was run by nice people who served tasty, healthy, vegan food. And this turned out to be true! They don’t just serve vegan food though, so if you’re with a meat eater, there’s lots there for them too. Here’s a look at the menu. I enjoyed reading through it, there are some quaint plays on words (The Bees Knees, Four Play) that I recognized as being the sort of thing my family from England would say, so I wasn’t surprised when I found out that the owner, from Toronto, used to be married to an English guy.

It’s not as commonplace as you’d think to find restaurants serving organic salads in Costa Rica. The country is known to use the most pesticides of any country in the world so it’s good to try to combat that if you can by eating organic. And at Chop It not only could you eat organic, the menu shows that you can eat it with great variety. You often find mango and avocado in salads in the country, but kale, arugula and beets? Not so common at all in my experience. So, all this made me happy to see. But I wasn’t feeling in a salad-only sort of mood, I had my mind on a burger-like experience, so I asked about the vegan options. There were 3 vegan burgers to choose from, and I went for the ‘Garden of Eden’ plate, which was described as a felafal burger with roasted veg, babaganoush and humus, with an organic house salad on the side.

To start with though, I had to quench my thirst. All that beach walking had me dry as a bone. I went for a glass of water and the ‘Sea of Love’ without the honey. I was curious to see how spirulina would work with mango and blackberry, as they’re not ingredients I would ever have thought of putting together.

The mango blended lovely with the blackberry, and the spirulina wasn’t apparent, which was fine by me. I could get the nutrients but not the taste, which has never been my favourite. I’m going to try the mango and berry combo at home. I thought it was a well sized drink and a fair price. Often first-time visitors to Costa Rica expect it to be far cheaper than North America or Europe, but whilst on average it’s better value than these places it’s not the sort of cheapness you would find in, say, Egypt, or Guatemala. But paying the equivalent of $5.50 US Dollars for an organic superfood smoothie is, I think, fair, and very good value compared to what I pay back in Toronto.

And that’s not even factoring in the price you’re paying for location. Back in Toronto I’m generally either in a cramped restaurant hiding away from the cold, or I’m on a crowded patio making the most of summer. And whilst both scenarios are OK, chilling out among palm trees on a calm, cool terrace just 5 minutes walk from a stunning beach is infinitely preferable, and worth, within reason, paying a little extra for! OK, onto my main meal.

I’d expected a felafel patty but instead there were 3 falafel balls in an open bun topped with the grilled veg (eggplant, peppers and zucchini) and moistened with the babaganoush and humus. The salad was crisp and contained carrot, beet, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion and red pepper.

I’m a felafel aficionado. I once toured Egypt and Israel for a few months eating felafal in every town, almost every day. I was mad for it. In case you’re the same as me and want the down-low, this is Israeli style, chickpea based rather than fava, with the white interior suggesting the dry spices of Jerusalem not the green, abundant parsley and coriander of the Nile Valley.

It wasn’t very oily, it had just enough bite to suggest it was carefully fried, and overall I really enjoyed it. It made for a perfect late, light lunch.

To finish off, since I was still thirsty, I had the Four Play drink.

Then, satisfied, I ambled down the road to the beach to enjoy the late afternoon sun, and then the sunset.

If you’re in Santa Teresa check out Chop It, you can find their Facebook page with full directions here – https://www.facebook.com/chopit.holycowburger



Ylang Ylang, Montezuma, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Mon, January 27, 2020 01:21PM

Ylang Ylang ( https://ylangylangbeachresort.com/ ) is a family run resort and restaurant that’s a 15 minute walk along the beach from the village of Montezuma, in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. The meal I had there was a highlight of my 5 day stay in Montezuma…

… but before I talk about that, I want to share a little of the story behind the resort and restaurant, as I think it’s pretty special.

The founders of Ylang Ylang, Lenny and Patricia Iacono (both raw vegans), acquired this beachfront property in the late 1970’s, at a time when the village of Montezuma was substantially quieter than it is today. It must have been the proverbial one-horse town then as today the village is still very low key, friendly, and really is only a couple of streets large! Here’s a couple of photos I took in January 2020 to give you a feel of the place.

This is the view from where the bus drops you off in the centre of town.
Restaurant signs as you walk from bus stop to the supermarket.
The main street, taken from outside the supermarket.
The village is the scattering of buildings you can see beyond the beach.

So back in the ’70’s Lenny and Patricia lived off of the land and earned a living selling dried fruit. From their earnings, they opened a health food restaurant, El Sano Banano, in the center of Montezuma, and slowly they developed the beach front property that would become Ylang Ylang. They set out to create a beautiful oasis where family, friends and partners could come to enjoy the natural surroundings of Costa Rica in a secluded yet nurturing and comfortable environment.

Their original house is now the Ylang Ylang restaurant and yoga studio, whilst the guest bungalows (there’s space for around 50 guests now) can be found dotted among the verdant gardens. Walking through the gardens it’s hard to believe that just 50 years ago this was cattle pasture and coconut grove. Things grow so quickly in Costa Rica!

Although the signs of cattle farming have gone the memory of it lives on in the restaurant, which will not serve meat as a protest against this type of farming, which has been so destructive for many areas of Costa Rica. Chicken and fish are still available, although with the pace of change as it is, I would imagine that dishes containing these will become fewer as people start to become even more environmentally aware – as well as health conscious – and demand for them drops.

The walk to the restaurant from Montezuma is beautiful. Leaving the village you come to a wide, sandy beach; half way along is the sea turtle rescue centre (during nesting season they release the babies at about 3pm most days) and a further few minutes of sand and surf will being you to the resort.

The view back along the beach from the entrance to Ylang Ylang.
The beach in front of Ylang Ylang.
The view of restaurant and yoga studio from the beach.
The entrance to the restaurant, with the blue of the Pacific Ocean beyond.

The photos can’t do justice to this dining experience. It was a typically warm, humid, January day in Montezuma, I’d been hiking up to the waterfall just out of the village for the previous few hours and was hot and tired. The restaurant was immediately cooling but I opted for an outside table in the shade of palm trees as I wanted to enjoy the full expanse of light, and be cooled slowly by the sea breeze rather than by fans. That view and multi sensory experience – the deep greens and blues, the bright pops of red flower, the bird call, the quiet talk and gentle laughter of a few other guests, and the crashing of the waves on sand – immediately refreshed me.

I started with a ‘Green Passion’. I was tempted by the ‘Coco Berry’ as the waiter said they made all their coconut milk fresh each day in house, which sounded unique and tasty, but I’m a keen athlete so when I saw ginger and pineapple in the same drink I thought ‘anti inflammatory heaven!’ and ‘Green Passion’ it was. Plus there was spirulina in it, an algae known for it’s high nutritional content but one which I’ve previously not enjoyed much in my energy shakes. I thought it’d be good to see how it tasted in this combination. I’m glad I tried it, it was a revelation. I think the sweetness of the pineapple and passion fruit helped immensely, not so much masking the taste of spirulina as enhancing it. I loved the taste.

Then I ordered lunch. There were a great many vegan choices! This was just the page I focused on, there were several other options (to see the full menu, check it out online – https://ylangylangbeachresort.com/ylang-ylang-restaurant-montezuma/

My waiter was genuinely friendly, and knowledgeable and enthusiastic about every dish available, he knew the menu inside out. This is always a good sign for me, when the business has encouraged the staff to eat and learn about everything on the menu. It shows they care for the staff, and the diner’s experience. I opted for the Blackened Tofu Steak with Mango Sauce. I’d never eaten tofu this way before, neither had I had a mango sauce, and it seemed a fresh but substantial dish, perfect for a hungry guy on a warm, tropical day.

When my plate arrived, joy arrived with it. What color, what presentation, what aroma; together with the wider scene it was a carnival and as I began to eat I just kept thinking of the Tahiti of Gauguin (different part of the world I know, but it just seemed appropriate!). And whilst his colorful paintings might well have been just a slice of his imagination, this was most certainly real. Stunning.

There were a full range of textures, which I love. Al dente carrots and green beans, sauteed onion and green pepper, and steamed squash – all in a thick mango sauce – surrounded brown rice topped with the pan-seered tofu (which had been dipped I think, in a medium spicy/hot marinade before frying). This wasn’t just a delight for the senses but also for the imagination. I was inspired to make the mango sauce at home (and since have, a sweet, thick puree that goes well over any steamed veg) and to use parsley and paprika as a decorative element as well as for taste. The tofu fell apart, the dish was light and fragrant. Perfect for location and circumstances.

For dessert I had the avocado chocolate mousse with mint and bananas. I’m used to making chocolate mousse out of avocados at home and love the creamy depth and richness that it offers, and this was an excellent representation of this vegan favourite. Not too sweet, with a good balance of flavors. The chocolate was there but it didn’t overcome the bananas, they co-existed in taste paradise.

I sat for a while after my meal, watching the pelicans and frigate birds soaring overhead, listening to the waves, enjoying the atmosphere. Then I took a look at the yoga studio. I did my yoga teacher training a few months ago and enjoy checking out potential practice spaces wherever I go.

It’s a lovely, cool space. Looking out on the palms, beach and ocean there’s room for between 20 and 30 people in there, comfortably (much more if you’re doing a New York ‘room for another one here, and here, and here, shift your mats up a little please!’ style class). It seemed a space ideally suited to meditation, too. Not a single motor engine sound (there hadn’t been for my entire meal), just the waves, and the breeze.

I am sure I’ll be back. Ylang Ylang offers great value packages that include breakfast and dinner, and the yoga space is superb, as is the location. Nearby Montezuma is a friendly, safe village that’s easily reached by bus, shuttle or taxi from San Jose, it really is an idyllic destination that’s accessible to most who would think of travelling to Costa Rica.

I urge you to stay, or dine here! And if you like this review, please share it around online, Facebook etc, so others can learn about Ylang Ylang. Thanks.

Check out their website for full details of rooms, rates, menus, etc – https://ylangylangbeachresort.com/



Boon Burger, Burlington, Canada

Restaurants Posted on Tue, November 05, 2019 10:47AM

Whenever we visit Burlington – for the Chilly Half Marathon event, for example ( http://www.chillyhalfmarathon.ca/site-chilly/Chilly_Half.html ) – we eat at Boon Burger. Their burgers are without a doubt the finest veggie burgers we’re ever had at a restaurant in Ontario. They also have free fast wi-fi so you can post your race photos whilst you warm up (the Chilly Half invariably lives up to its name) and refuel!

The Southwest Crunch, with buffalo bbq sauce, ranch, corn chips, onion, lettuce and tomato. The range of textures here is satisfying and deep, from the crunchy chips through the crusty bun, through the firm patty to the fresh salad and just enough sauce. This is very intelligently put together, created by somebody who clearly loves their burgers.

All of the burger patties are made fresh daily, or you can pay a little extra ($1.75) and get a Beyond Meat patty instead. All burgers are served with a COBS whole wheat, seeded bun ( https://www.cobsbread.com/ ) and are well priced at $9.75 max (the sandwiches are $7.75 max). If you want a double patty it’s $2.75 more. Very reasonable prices.

The Jalapeno Chedda, with bermuda mayo, cheeze, jalapenos, lettuce, onion and tomato. This is a more moist, saucy burger than the Southwest Crunch, more a burger to eat with the knife and fork rather than the hands. Unless you want gooey hands, that is. Which isn’t a bad thing.
About to get stuck into the Jalapeno Chedda.

Aside from burgers there are also pizzas, brats (made with Beyond Meat bratwurst), salads and a range of poutine.

Not The Same ol’ Poutine.
Poutine Lover.

Boon Burger is in Burlington centre and a few minutes walk from the Art Centre, which is also the HQ for the Chilly Half Marathon. Lake Ontario is within a 3 minute walk and there’s plenty of parking nearby (we parked in the municipal car park which is free on the weekends). To discover more and see the full menu, check out https://boonburger.ca/



The House of Ginger, Uvita, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Tue, August 27, 2019 06:16PM

This is Chinese/American food at its finest, and almost everything on the menu is also offered as a vegan option. The General Tso’s is a masterpiece – little tofu explosions of fiery joy – and all the other dishes were tasty, too. N grew up in the US in the 80s and everything she got on her menus back then was available here, updated and tastier. As with ‘The Flutterby House’, this food is worth travelling a long way for. If you’re staying at the Tucan Hotel in Uvita, however, it’s just a 15 minute walk along the road. Here are some photos of our meal.

The entrance is off the main north-south highway.
Seating is outside, under a tin roof, in a nicely decorated courtyard.
You know how at many restaurants they charge more for the vegan options? Well, not here. And we did ask if vegetarian meant vegan here, and it does.
Fresh juices to start with.
Vegetable rolls for appetizers.
Dumplings were our other appetizer.
Our main dishes. We shared plates.
These tofu General Tso’s were magnificent.
It was a filling, very tasty meal.
This was clean, tasty, great value Chinese/American food.

To find out more, check out their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/houseofginger01/



Flutterby House, Uvita, Costa Rica

Restaurants Posted on Tue, August 27, 2019 05:35PM

We only ate at this famous hostel but received a very favourable impression of the place. It’s not offering the same experience as the Tucan Hotel that is near Uvita bus station; Flutterby is more of a party/yoga/hippy vibe with a focus on sustainability, and it’s very close to a magnificent beach yet quite far from the bus station, services, and fresh water swim spots. We loved the friendly welcome and the comfort-style food is superb with plenty of vegan options. There’s an extensive choice of local craft beers too, as well as all you’d expect from a great bar. We enjoyed staying at the Tucan but we also regret that we didn’t stay here. Next time we will! Here’s some details about our Flutterby meal.

The bar and restaurant blends into one huge space, and the vibe is a very welcoming one. The dorm and private rooms lead off from this centre point.
The entrance.
The yoga studio, at the other end of the ground floor to the bar.
This very helpful list of onward travel options was near the entrance. The staff were happy to answer all our questions about moving on from Uvita, even though we were only eating there.
Another excellent list! We like the fact that Flutterby serves lots of local beer, and explains it in a clear way. I want to know what it is, and how strong it is. Sorted!
The stout was as lively as the label.
Food time!
We had the burger and yucca fries, the felafel plate, and the patacones and black bean dip. All of it was vegan.
The burger was a great size and tasty.
The felafal plate, plenty of differing tastes and textures there.
To finish with we had the densest vegan cheesecake ever. Amazing.

It was a great meal. The food was served quickly, and by very friendly staff.

We recommend you check the Flutterby House out. Their website is here – https://www.flutterbyhouse.com/



Pret, London & Brighton, UK

Restaurants Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 05:05PM

Pret is one of the largest chain eateries in the UK and they have over 450 outlets worldwide. They’re deservedly popular and if we’re looking for lunch but can’t find a vegan restaurant that we like the look of, our choice is either Pret or the smaller chain of Leon’s. There are several veggie choices at Pret including sandwiches, baked goods and salads and a great many healthy, organic, tasty drinks. Here’s a look at what we ate in Brighton. The receipt is shown so you can have an idea of what’s available, and the price.
Above you can see our dairy-free turmeric drink with a touch of warmth from ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. They’re made with rice-coconut milk alternative instead of milk.
There are lots of vegan eateries in Brighton but the problem is at the moment either they’re out of the town centre, or they’re fine dining (which we don’t want at lunchtime), or that their seating is limited, and since we were had much to see and enjoy and time was limited we chose Pret because you can walk right in and take a seat (or get your food to go and sit in the park or on the beach if you prefer). Pret are a far easier, more convenient option and the food is fresh, well priced and tasty, too.

Note, if you’re eating in the restaurant your food will cost you more than if you take away.

You can check the Pret menu, locations and their policies in sustainability and organic produce here – https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb



Leon’s in London & Brighton, UK

Restaurants Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 04:00PM

There are a great many locations of this popular chain restaurant. We ate at the one just outside Tate Modern in London first, it’s so handy if you’re visiting the art gallery. I like to spend a lot of time looking at the exhibitions – they had 2 on the day we visited that I wanted to see – but I can’t do it in one viewing so it’s essential I have a break between exhibitions. The food at the art gallery is quite pricey and of limited choice so the fact that there’s a good value option right outside that gives me several veggie and vegan options was fantastic.

The second Leon’s we ate at was in central Brighton. Just as good as the London branch, and with the same perks, such as, if you bring your own mug the coffee is cheaper, and on the day before the city marathon (in London as well as Brighton) they’ll give our free rice boxes to runners. Basically all you have to do is turn up with your runner’s bib number and they’ll hand over a carb loading lunch. Very cool.
The food is great and fresh, the vibe is fun, check out the Leon’s website to discover the menu and branch locations – https://leon.co/



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