Finding the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey in Costa Rica doesn’t have to be a wild goose chase. In fact, plenty of traditional holiday fixings, from Christmas ham to kosher products for Hanukkah, can be found here if you know where to look. Here’s our holiday meal shopping advice, by region.
Turkeys will be available at Wal-Mart-owned Más x Menos, Hipermás, Maxibodega and Palí supermarkets, as well as at Price-Smart membership clubs and Auto Mercado, Megasuper and Perimercados stores.
Shoppers can choose from imported frozen turkeys or harder-to-find Costa Rica-raised birds. The latter are usually shipped from the United States when they are a day old or as poults (chicks) and then raised here, generally in the Central Valley cities of Heredia and Alajuela (TT, Nov. 21, 2008).
Más x Menos (www.masxmenos.co.cr) and Hipermás (www.hipermas.com) representative Gregory Solís says the supermarkets will stock Butterball brand smoked and prebaked turkeys and Honeysuckle and Riverside brands of uncooked turkey. These products will be offered at Más x Menos outlets and at Hipermás megastores in Heredia, the western suburb of Escazú, southwestern San José’s San Sebastián, the eastern suburb of Curridabat and Guadalupe, northeast of San José.
For Christmas, these stores will likely offer La Hacienda brand seasoned ham, ham hock and whole pig, with and without bone. They will also sell ready-to-heat Leclerc brand precooked ham in plum sauce and La Lonja smoked ham leg.
Most of the above stores say they will have turkey in stock as of mid-November and hams from late November through December.
Auto Mercado (www.automercado.co.cr), with 12 stores nationwide, will offer Butterball or other imported turkeys and a limited number of Zar brand Costa Rica-raised turkeys. In addition, the chain will offer Thanksgiving musts such as cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing, canned yams, piecrusts and fillings, turkey roasting bags and trays. Selected locations, including the west-side Plaza Mayor in Rohrmoser (2232-5555), Multiplaza Escazú (2201-6174) and Santa Ana (2203-5335), will most likely have a turkey presentation with free samples of various turkeys and sauces a few days before Thanksgiving. Holiday hams will be in stock starting in late November.
PriceSmart stores will stock imported Butterball premium young whole stuffed turkeys and turkey breast, as well as Land O’ Frost smoked turkey and honey-smoked precooked ham. The $30-per-year membership club has five Central Valley locations: Heredia (2262-4848); Alajuela (2441-7711); Escazú (2288-0008); Zapote, in southeastern San José (2283-9464); and Llorente de Tibás, in northern San José (2297-2343). To see a holiday catalog, go to www.pricesmart.com and click on Costa Rica.
Muñoz y Nanne supermarket in the eastern suburb of San Pedro (2253-4646) will
sell precooked imported turkey, which must be ordered in advance. You can request the type of decoration and stuffing, including cranberries and spiced breadcrumbs.
Carnes Don Fernando stores will offer uncooked and smoked turkeys, smoked Virginia ham (traditional and Hawaiian), roast pig leg and roast beef, as well as various sauces.
They will also bake pumpkin and apple pies. To reserve a frozen or precooked turkey, call one of four locations: Escazú (2289-9165); Santa Ana (2282-0181); Curridabat (2271-3334); and Tamarindo, in the northwestern Guanacaste province (2653-2262).
Another option is Caffe Torino Delicatessen in San Rafael de Escazú’s Plaza del Río (2288-4476), which will offer imported turkey, gravy, homemade pumpkin pie and smoked Virginia ham with cherry sauce. For Hanukkah, which starts Dec. 12 this year and runs eight days, traditional menus include food cooked in oil to commemorate the miracle of one drop of temple oil that burned for eight days. Kosher products are available at Más x Menos in Rohrmoser (2231-3815) and at specialty stores such as Little Israel Kosher Delicatessen in Escazú (2237-3935). Kosher Center in the western district of Pavas (2232-2991, www.costaricakoshercenter.com) will offer fresh doughnuts, called sufganiyot in Hebrew, and ready-to-eat latkes (potato pancakes) by order, in addition to its usual ample array of beef, poultry and bakery items.
On the northern Pacific coast, Supermercado Luperón in Playas del Coco (2670-1197, www.superluperon.com) will sell both uncooked and smoked Costa Rica-raised turkeys from Pavilandia and Pipasa. They will also offer trimmings including imported cranberry jelly, pumpkin pie filling, gravy, canned yams, marshmallows, stuffing mixes and turkey trays. Uncooked and precooked holiday ham brands will include Hormel, imported from the United States, and Costa Rica’s Zaragoza and Zar.
The Auto Mercado in Playas del Coco (2670-2232) will be offering turkeys and hams. While there will be plenty of whole uncooked turkeys, stuffed precooked turkeys must be reserved in advance. Tamarindo’s Auto Mercado (2653-2414) will also have frozen uncooked turkeys; stuffed precooked turkeys must be preordered eight days in advance, as they are brought in from San José. The store will also carry cranberry jelly and sauce, pumpkin filling, turkey stuffing, turkey trays, gravy and applesauce.
Also in Tamarindo, Carnes Don Fernando (2653-2262) will offer uncooked and precooked turkeys, as well as various ham products, roast beef and sauces.
In Jacó, Más x Menos (2643-3027) will sell smoked and uncooked turkeys, stuffing, trays and nuts. A variety of hams will also be offered during the holiday season. In Herradura, try Auto Mercado (2637-8440).
In Quepos, Super Más (2777-1162) Hill have imported frozen turkeys, stuffing mixes, gravy mixes, applesauce, pumpkin pie filling, pie trays, cranberry sauce, fresh and dried sage and canned yams. For Christmas, the store will offer Costa Rican ham, ham leg and whole pig, and can make plum, pineapple or applesauce upon request. Both turkeys and hams must be ordered in advance.
Limón’s Más x Menos (2798-0070) Hill offer frozen turkeys and ham. To reserve an Heredia-raised turkey, call the Pipasa agency (2758-3536) at the beginning of the week to order a bird for the weekend. Also try Maxibodega (2758-1245).