|Note: That’s not me in the kitchen. (Heheh.)|
I was completely on the fence about whether to go with beef, chicken, or fish as a main dish, guessing and second-guessing what the kids would want to eat as I always do at home—until we arrived at the Pacific and I knew we’d be crazy to go with anything other than fish.
The morning of our big dinner, “Chef Pablo” stopped by to introduce himself and discuss the evening’s menu. Fish was not a problem, he assured me. “But what kind?” I wondered out loud, staring at our group of six. Silly me, this is not the kind of thing one pulls out of a hat (or freezer, if you are at my house). Naturally, he would leave us to drive straight to the fish markets at Malpais to see what was the best of the morning’s fresh catch. That sounded perfectly acceptable to me as I glanced over at our private swimming pool, and the footpath to the glorious Playa Hermosa just beyond it.
|Chef Pablo, ready to get to work, and wondering why I’ve pulled out my camera.|
We spoke in more general terms about the kinds of dishes we would like to go with the fish, so he could shop accordingly once determining the type of fish. While it felt a little strange to still have some things up in the air, I admit I was relieved to be leaving some of the details, and the shopping, in somebody else’s hands for a change.
Then we discussed two more very important components of the meal: wine and dessert. Chef Pablo, having grown up and received his earliest culinary training in Argentina, and then going on to work in Spain before settling in Costa Rica, had a great knowledge of wine and indeed led us to an excellent bottle to pair with our meal (I went with Argentinean, of course, and for $25 we got a fantastic white from his supply).
That evening, I hustled up the beach trail at the appointed time to find Chef Pablo arriving with all of the ingredients in his backpack and a small cooler, which he’d carried down the pedestrian lane to our villa. I watched as he quickly took over the kitchen of Blue Batik, having no idea I intended to report on our experience to more than a few friends. After a few quick pictures, I quickly realized there was really nothing left for me to do but to slip on that crumple-proof, quick-dry maxi dress rolled in the corner of my suitcase and climb into a hammock.
|Not-cooking on vacation? More of that, please.|
We visited as the children played on in our private restaurant, and I suddenly realized what was missing. Without batting an eye, I pulled up an old Argentine tango album I’d almost forgotten was on my laptop, and plugged into the villa’s sound system. I saw Pablo crack a small smile, but said nothing as we lit the candles and adjusted the evening lights of the outdoor rooms to suit.
Before we knew it, dinner for six was served on our long slab table beside the illuminated pool. The red snapper was incredible, and even the 2-year-old at the table ate his with relish. Chef Pablo had thoughtfully set aside certain ingredients from our salad that the children enjoy, though not necessarily mixed together (including olives!), and arranged them on separate plates.
Dinner was delicious, to be sure, but to be cooked for and served in the outdoor dining room of our beautiful villa no one wanted to leave but for the beach, where the children were free to play—and eventually pass out—once finished, while we slowly enjoyed our meals, our wine… our chocolate ice cream cakes, all the while enjoying the magical setting of Blue Batik… it was a definite treat and highlight of our stay on the Nicoya Peninsula.
|Another satisfied customer.|
We booked Chef Pablo through Costa Rican Vacation, who can help you hire a private cook for one special meal, for one meal each day, or for all of the meals during your family’s stay in or around Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, including at two of their properties where we stayed as guests: Casa Vista and the Blue Batik villa you see here.
While I enjoy some perks as a travel writer, those who are interested may be assured we paid the full rate for our dinner with Chef Pablo, and this review of our experience, as always, is subject to my own opinion. In this case it would have to be a definite: “Two thumbs up!”
Now… what on earth are we eating tonight? Seriously!? Perhaps a little tango music will help.
P.S. As I explain in my review of Blue Batik, this could be an ideal place to stay with extended family (as we did) and/or a vacation babysitter and celebrate a special anniversary or birthday—in which case a festive dinner in with your own private chef could be the icing on the (birthday) cake. To help maximize your vacation bliss, a local babysitter is also available to guests through Costa Rican Vacation. See details in the review.
All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli