Creating an authentic Thanksgiving dinner or holiday meal for friends and family shouldn’t cause stress. Costa Rica has plenty of options for finding all you need to whip up the perfect holiday feast, or have someone do it for you.
Auto Mercado (www.automercado.co.cr) supermarket chain offers a wide variety of imported and local holiday foods at locations around the country. The supermarkets’ Auto Deli service will prepare Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for you: turkey with stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, a choice of salads and sauces and apple, pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving; and stuffed chicken, barbecue ribs, shrimp, pork and ham for Christmas, along with accompaniments.
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself person, the supermarket offers frozen turkeys (about ₡2,600/$5.20 per kilogram) and trimming ingredients in can and box varieties. Stove Top Stuffing, boxed mashed potatoes, canned yams, cranberry sauce and an assortment of canned pie fillings are now in stock.
Más x Menos (www.masxmenos.co.cr) supermarkets will carry frozen unstuffed turkeys starting mid-November. At the beginning of December, the stores will carry pork chop, with or without bone, in addition to their current selection of whole smoked chicken (₡4,000/$8) and a variety of hams (beginning at ₡8,000/$16 per kg). Más x Menos has stores around the Central Valley, as well as in Jacó on the central Pacific coast and Limón on the Caribbean.
Saretto (2228-0247) supermarket in the western San José suburb of Escazú offers a variety of meats, including holiday favorites such as uncooked turkeys (₡3,000/$6 per kg) and smoked and Virginia ham (₡7,500-₡12,000/$15-$24 per kg).
The store typically receives only one or two cooked turkeys per year, so those interested in buying one need to call and reserve a bird early. Saretto also carries a wide range of gourmet products and stocks a dizzying array of wine and liquors.
Muñoz y Nanne, a popular supermarket in the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro (2253-4646, www.munozynanne.com), will offer roasted stuffed turkey for Thanksgiving as well as holiday products such as Virginia ham, Hawaiian ham and roast pork, along with a good wine selection, including a bargain shelf and an entire room dedicated to foreign wines. Call for prices.
Carnes Don Fernando (www.carnesdonfernando.com) meat shops offer roasted and uncooked frozen turkeys and accompaniments like gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Deciding between the pumpkin, pecan and apple pies offered for dessert may be your toughest decision of the season.
Other meats available include roast beef tenderloin, Virginia ham, chicken and pork. For those not confident in their cooking abilities, Carnes Don Fernando offers catering as well as private cooking lessons. The chain has four locations: Escazú (2289-9165), Santa Ana (2282-0182) and Curridabat (2271-3334) in the Central Valley, and Tamarindo (2653-2264) on the northern Pacific coast. Call for prices or to place an order.
Alpiste (www.alpiste.co.cr) in Escazú is the perfect place to find ingredients for your holiday cocktail party. The Italian gourmet store offers delectable meats like Fiorucci Serrano ham, prosciutto and Genoa salami (about ₡11,000/$22 per kg) and imported cheeses, pastas, pâté and mousse. Pair your food with an Italian Chianti or perhaps a bottle of prosecco. Alpiste stocks a wide variety of imported wines and liqueurs, including Limoncello, Amaretto and Sambuca.
For a chocolate fix, head to La Chocolatería (www.lachocolateria.net), an artisanal chocolatier that uses high-quality Costa Rican cacao to create delectable chocolate treats like truffles, filled chocolates and cakes.
The store also sells a variety of homemade cookies, brownies and other sweets. Husband-and-wife team Enrique Devis and Martha Navarro founded the store in 1995. For the holidays, Devis recommends the chocolate Christmas house and the gingerbread cookies. And to impress someone special, he suggests a gift box of gourmet filled chocolates – the champagne-filled ones are divine. La Chocolatería has three locations: San Rafael de Escazú (2289-9637), Pinares de Curridabat (2272-1833) and Heredia (2560-5055).
And for those celebrating Hanukkah, visit the Kosher Center (2232-2991, www.costaricakoshercenter.com) in the western San José district of Pavas for all your kosher needs.
The store carries frozen turkey from the United States (₡8,000/$16 per kg) in addition to whole chickens, beef and cured meats, and has a bakery with delicious breads, cookies and cakes.