IT’S MARTINI TIME – The Story of Ginger Restaurant and Sailing around the World (almost)

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Food, Costa Rica Living, Newsletters

Tank Tops Flip Flops edition no. 32

We are pleased to have as our guest blogger Anne Hegney from Ginger Restaurant.  Anne and her husband Bengt are long time Playa Hermosa Residents, highly involved members of the community and as you will learn – Very Successful at “Retiring” into their dream professions in Costa Rica.  Here is their story – ENJOY

Ginger Restaurant

Both Bengt and I are both sailors. I grew up sailing and racing Lasers and Hobie Cats, and Bengt took up sailing as an adult. Bengt had always had the dream of buying a nice 40′ sailboat to live on, and sail around the world, but I said “No way”. So the comprise was to move to Costa Rica, and buy a smaller sailboat that we could sail up and down the coast.

We moved to Playa Hermosa from Montreal in 2000, when Bengt sold his clothing manufacturing business and retired. I was a high school math teacher, which I loved, but I told him that if he was retiring, I was retiring, too, and I did. For two years. By then I was so bored, I decided I needed to get back to work. I had been a chef in Montreal when we first met, but had never had the opportunity to open my own restaurant, so my dream was to open a little restaurant and bar, where I could serve a few tapas. We wanted something small, about 5-6 tables, and preferably on the beach, but there was nothing available to rent at the time, so we bought the property and hired Costa Rican architect Victor Canas to design it, and it was beyond our wildest expectations. I still love the design.

The restaurant opened December 20, 2003 (our ten year anniversary is coming up!!) and was a hit from day one. In the beginning, I was in the kitchen and Bengt was ‘mein host’, and general fix-it man. After about 4 months, the bartender quit unexpectedly, and I became the bartender. Bengt went on strike with the fix-it jobs, and decided that his skills were put to better use holding up the bar. I hired a handy man, and fired Bengt. After a while I hired a bartender, and promoted myself to ‘Executive Chef’. So I still design the menu and the recipes, and train the cooks, but I’m no longer sweating on the line every night.

After 5 years, we expanded, building a second, open-air terrace, which doubled our capacity to 100 (so much for the little bar idea!) It opened in February, 2008, just as Bengt left for Sydney, to sail across the Pacific from Australia to Costa Rica on a 55′ catamaran.

So he (almost) got his dream, and I got mine.

We started doing ‘Martini Night’ with half-price martinis every Friday night, two years ago, to get the locals out. It’s turned into something that’s a lot of fun, mostly Hermosa and Panama people getting together and catching up with the neighbors.

Cheers,

Anne

How’s the Food in Costa Rica?

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Food, Costa Rica Living

I cannot begin to tell you how many people’s firstFruit Plate Costa Rica comment to me is about how fresh the food in Costa Rica tastes. I really notice it whenever I go back home to visit friends or family. The food in the USA is terrible. It is nothing but preservatives and additives and there is really no flavor at all. We read all the horror stories too about how many steroids and hormones are in the beef and chicken, along with MSG and sodium nitrate, just to act as a food coloring. And everyone stuffs their face on a daily basis with fast food. YIKES. No wonder kids are 7 feet tall and child obesity has tripled since 1980.

Lobster Costa RicaNot in Costa Rica. Almost everything I eat on a daily basis is fresh, with no additives of any kind. The taste is amazing; fresh and bursting with flavor! I really notice it with dairy products like milk and cheese. Wow, are the eggs incredible and having real orange color too. They are so fresh that the grocery store doesn’t even refrigerate them; they literally just came out of the chicken a couple days ago. Fish is another perfect example. Obviously when you live in Colorado, there is not going to be fresh Swordfish as they have to truck it 1500 miles, so it must be frozen. In Costa Rica

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