My squeeze and I took off for a week in Central America with the promise from our hosts that the only vegetarian food we would find would be beans and rice. “No problem!” I said. I love beans and rice! Ole!
Well, that wasn’t the understatement I think I imagined it to be, with plantains prepared 5 ways added to the list.
Here are a few shots from our vegetarian choices, which also included huevos rancheros, gallo pinto (beans and rice), tostones (smashed plantains), tortillas, cabbage salad (in one form or another), cheese and such standard fare as toast, fruit, etc.
The first night we arrived, we met some friends of our hosts, Brooke and Jordan, at El Sesteo, the only restaurant offering patio views to the central plaza in the city of Leon and a giant cathedral just outside. See — there it is over Daniel’s shoulder.
That night we got our first taste of gallo pino and tostones, which often are served with a hunk of white cheese on top. Sometimes this cheese was stronger/stinker than others.
Though blurry, here’s Jordan holding one up.
Brooke is an amazing cook, so we had good food all around, when we needed a break from gallo pino and tostones. That, and we were hot, hot, hot, which I think helped cut down our appetites.
Fortunately, Brooke and Jordan have a franchise of an all-natural popsicle company adjacent to their house, but somehow I managed to only have four of their 20-ish (or more) flavors during the week.
The company, La Michoacana, boasts all natural fruit bars and you can tell. The coconut has real coconut in it and I even had a seed in my mandarin orange pop! I also loved the pineapple and passion fruit. Hard to say what my favorite was.
A trip to the market one afternoon was eye-opening for many reasons. So many amazing things (the meat area certainly was a sight).
In addition to fruit and vegetables, there were sauces and condiments basically packed in plastic bags and tied off, various kinds of rice and grains and all kinds of toys, gifts, bulk diapers — you name it!
We headed to Lucia Comedor for lunch one of the days, served buffet/cafeteria style. Brooke led the pack, telling the staff what items to put on what plates.
Between Daniel and I we had beans, rice, (of course) a super sweet plantain (the dark one), a plantain with some cheese inside, a potato puff with cheese inside (like fried mashed potatoes with traces of queso blanco in there), fresh corn tortillas and more. I was told the mysterious jar on the table was “hot pickled onions.” Hot is an understatement here (but delicious nonetheless).
We drank amazing coffee all week, which B&J get delivered to their house every Wednesday, freshly roasted (still warm!). Brooke often made us fruit smoothies every morning too. It was a little tough preparing our own coffee that first night back. (And Brooke admitted she accidentally started getting two French presses ready that first day without us…)
We spent Friday night at friend Josh’s home on the beach in Poneloya, along the Pacific Ocean. The gang — a mixture of folks from the U.S. and Nicaragua — headed out to The Riviera Cafe, a bar and restaurant with a French owner and perhaps the best pizza I have ever eaten. In. My. Life.
They even got our whacky veg/vegan order correct and served on a tree trunk slab. It was so delicious. Kind of odd that I can rave about the pizza I had after a trip to Central America, but it really was amazing and unexpected.
And that night became one of the most memorable of the trip for many reasons. A rousing game of “name that video” started and the bartender obliged his only patrons. The rules: guess correctly and first and pick somebody to take a pull off of the bottle of rum. Guess incorrectly, drink twice. My main competition was the lovely Marta, a Nicaragua native with the greatest pronunciation ever of “The Ra-MO-nays!”
Sadly, I was too hungry to think to take a photo of this delicious pizza. The antics, however, I captured.
For our last hurrah, we headed to a “hostel” (if this is a hostel, let me only sleep in hostels when I travel for the rest of my life) called La Abuela on the Laguna de Apoyo. It was full of people living the good life for the afternoon — cocktailing and sunning themselves on the edge of this amazing crater lake.
We had a snack on the deck during the afternoon.
We had brought some food with us for dinner (since when Brooke asked on the phone whether they had vegetarian food, they said, “Yes. We have lots of fish…”). We ordered a couple of salads which were essentially the same — one with hearts of palm and one with avocado. Both very good.
The next morning I had huevos rancheros (essentially), tortillas, with beans, eggs and rancho sauce and a cup of fresh fruit. Dan had toast with guava jelly and some fruit.
Certainly a great last meal. I only wish we had more time to investigate such a beautiful country!