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And today, I had forgotten to bring in oranges for the juice and the pureeing process so I searched the kitchen for something that would work in its stead, something exotic. We make a "frescito", a cool fruit drink for our guests at the Lodge each day and today it happened to be made from maracuya, passion fruit. Perfect. As I ladled the cooked carrot-beet mixture into the juicer, I added hefty glasses of the lightly sweetened passionfruit juice to the mix and let the blender fly. What emerged was a beautiful deep ruby color. It was alive with the scent of ginger and what I can only describe as a floral essence. I stuck my finger into the still hot mix and took a taste. Wow. The maracuya was IT. I chilled a pitcher for service and froze the rest in ziplocs for future diners. Great start.

Next step was the salad. I had garden fresh organic lettuces already cleaned, courtesy of the day crew, but wanted to add a few touches to it that would take it out of the realm of "green salad". I've been getting organic cherry tomatoes, small and brightly flavored, from Marjorie and Bolivar at Diamante Organico, down in the San Salvador valley; and they add a great touch. Angelica and I split these and dressed them with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, a splash of sherry vinegar to bring up the acid and a drizzle of olive oil. We'd let these sit for a few hours before service so that the dressing would "take".

I have been using a lot of palmito, or hearts of palm, lately and had several lengths still in the refrigerator. It grows right here on our property. But I also had some small kohlrabi, the oddball of the tuber/root family, also from Diamante, that I wanted to do something with. The idea hit me that if I cut both the kohlrabi and the palmito into discs, they would be the same size and almost the same color. The palmito wouldn't need cooking, it has a nice fresh crunch on its own, but to achive the same texture for the kohlrabi, I'd need to blanch it. I like the idea of the two white discs, side by side in the salad, looking the same, but tasting quite different.

I wanted some bite and a little color, so I sliced the white part of large green onions into thin white discs as well and now had three sets of white circular vegetables. Color; it needed color, so I fine sliced sweet red bell pepper (chile dulce, here) into thin, thin strips and then cut those into thirds, almost splinter like. I tossed all this with sea salt and pepper while contemplating my dressing.
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La Cusinga Lodge (La Cusinga S.A.), Uvita, Costa Rica
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