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Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Eating Place in Atenas

We just had breakfast this morning at the a brand new restaurant in Atenas and boy, was it a treat! Called Nátural, it will feature as many organic and fresh ingredients as the charming young proprietress María can muster. Located diagonal from the ICE offices, the restaurant's open-air patio seating allowed fresh breezes to keep us comfortable as we enjoyed one of the best breakfasts we have had here in Costa Rica -- and that's saying a lot!

María at the feria
Our introduction to María and her excellent products came a few weeks ago at the feria, the local farmer's market where we pick up our supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. As we strolled the sidewalk where the vendors set up their stalls, we came to a new one. Just a simple table with small jars of green sauces beside a basket of torn bread chunks, it was staffed by a stunningly beautiful young woman. We stopped for a taste of the goods and were delighted with the incredible flavors of a dip made of several finely chopped herbs swimming in rich, buttery extra virgin olive oil. Next to the dip were samples of pesto sauce and marmelades, also quite delicious. But the dip, with its slightly picante or spicy flavor, was just addictive. We immediately bought a jar and proceeded to demolish it within three days. 

María told us she had recently moved to Atenas with her mom, who has always lived in the bustling capital city of San Jose. As they settled in, her mother was enthralled by the laid-back rural feeling in our little town. She felt like she had moved to the country, María said, and they both have fallen in love with our friendly community. At the feria that week, María informed us that she was planning to open a restaurant which would offer all natural, healthy foods. Well, we could hardly wait. After the closure a few months back of Cafe Cultura, the most recent effort to bring healthy organic fare to Atenas, we had almost given up on having a local eatery that would satisfy our desires for nutritious locally-sourced food. We love Gallo Pinto, of course, the popular beans-and-rice dish of Costa Rica and several local restaurants offer good food, but for us, nothing compares to the pleasure of knowing you are indulging in pesticide-free, unprocessed, all natural food.

Our waitress Margarita 
Well, it would seem that María is positioned to fulfill our wishes! Layne enjoyed a beautiful omelet made, according to our pleasant English-speaking waitress Margarita, with organic eggs and chock-full of perfectly sautéed vegetables -- mushrooms, red bell peppers, onions, carrots and spinach (did I forget anything?) -- luxuriously surrounded by a beautifully melted cheese, perhaps a Gouda. Gosh, it was good! Sharing the plate were three small slices of a dense, rich fresh-baked whole grain bread and a flawless salad in a light vinaigrette. Margarita even offered Layne a small dish of that fabulous herb dip we love. Although I stole some bites off Layne's plate, I only had a fruit smoothie because of the diet I'm on to help cure my eczema. But those tastes were enough to show what quality this place offers. And the prices were great as well. My smoothie, which was a beautiful combination of fresh fruits, not from concentrate, mind you, was only 1100 colones or about $2.25, including the tax, and Layne's omelet was just 2400 colones, a bit under $5.00. Very reasonable.
Layne's excellent omelet

Veggie-stuffed bread rolls
When we arrived after breakfast to pick up our organic veggie order from our friend Nathalie, we mentioned the wonderful food we'd just enjoyed. It turned out that she had had lunch at Nátural's the day before. She proceeded to rave about the veggie-stuffed bread
specialty that María had shown us just prior to popping them in the oven, as well as the apple pie, which Nathalie said was so good she had to have seconds!

We wish María every success in her new venture and want to assure our Atenas readers that you will not be disappointed if you walk the block and a half from the Central Park to enjoy a meal at Nátural, Atenas' newest and best healthy food restaurant. Buena suerte, María!


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Mariah is a living archetype of the goddess which brings forth the goodness of the earth transformed in gastronomical miracles... I'm a witness of her sincere efforts and endurance in the path of conscious eating, therefore I honor and celebrate the opening of such a gorgeous gathering space... Come! delight your palate, entice your senses at Nátural, Im sure you'll feel the energy of this food rushing through your body!