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Monday, October 15, 2012

Turtle-speed Internet and Goat Cheese Goodies

Despite our love of the country, Layne and I would likely not be in Costa Rica if it weren't for the Internet. "How's the Internet?" has been one of the first questions we ask when looking for housing over the last two and a half years. Speed and reliability are critically important to us both. Thanks to the plethora of news websites, we stay in touch with world events, United States politics and other news. With email we communicate with friends and family around the world. Signed up now with USTVNow, we can watch U.S. programming such as the presidential debates, baseball playoffs or just the Food Network. With Google and other search engines, we are able to look up virtually anything, offering us a far broader range of research sources than even the largest public library. With Skype or Magic Jack I can call my mom every week just as I have for many years and we can chat with friends by video or voice. All in all, it's a mainstay of our happiness and contentment here.

The other day I had occasion to feel like I was ON the Food Network as I faced a basket of disparate items and a goal of making a dinner out of them, a la the cooking program "Chopped." Somehow we had ended up with way too many beets in our organic order for our normal consumption as well as some goat cheese that was close to going bad. In town that day thinking of hamburgers as a backup plan for dinner, we had picked up some ground beef. So there I was with three ingredients in a less than  obvious combination for a meal. How was I to use all that?

Off I went to the computer, entered "hamburger, goat cheese, beet recipe" in Google and up came a predictably weird recipe but one that now, having made it, I would count as a new favorite. The subtle goat cheese flavors in the ivory-colored garlic cream sauce along with the addition of fresh herbs in the meatballs, both topping the crazy red spaghetti, makes for a colorful and tasty dish. I didn't think to take a photo of my version of "Goat Cheese Meatballs, Beets and Spaghetti" but I'm sure Diane, the author of Created By Diane, the blog where I found it, won't mind my use of her shot. I encourage you to give it a try if you like beets and goat cheese and if you need a vegetarian version, just omit the meatballs! The cream sauce is a sure winner.

And speaking of food, there's a nice new restaurant in town -- Cafe Cultura. Well, it's not actually new, just under new management and the changes are welcome. The earlier effort at Cafe Cultura could claim some good food but the service was marginal. Once Layne ordered French toast and it was delivered to the table sans butter or syrup! Plus, there was no whole wheat bread and the food was sometimes served cold, among a few other limitations. The new and improved Cafe Cultura still offers delicious Eggs Benedict and the standard Tico breakfast of Gallo Pinto and eggs but also lists Smoothies, croissant sandwiches and lots of other goodies on the menu. Pleasant outdoor seating provides a lovely fresh-air dining experience. 

The new owner is putting in gardens in the back where he plans to grow his own organic veggies and herbs. Apparently the ambiance suits one shelled reptile that surprised us with a stroll across the lawn. It made an entertaining video and I'm sure he was going at top speed as he eyed the dangerous humans nearby, but let's hope we never have Internet as slow as this turtle!

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