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Buche de Noele

Buche de Noel

My Steve was born on Christmas Day and since I love all things French, I decide long ago that his birthday cake would be a Buche de Noel – his middle name is even Noel. I don’t think I ever asked him if there was some other kind of cake he preferred or even if he liked chocolate cake. A buche it is.
When we lived up north, I had a several successful attempts. Over the years, I’ve learned to make an acceptable genoise and a pretty good ganache. Whipped cream, butter, and dark chocolate, how can you go wrong?  I’ve even carried the cake to other family members’ homes with few problems.
But baking in Costa Rica is a whole different animal.  First, there’s no such thing here as “heavy” cream for whipping. There’s only ultra-processed cream-like liquid in a tetra pak.  I don’t think it has any butter fat in it. I do my best by getting it really cold.  I even chill the metal bowl and the beaters. But it’s 85 degrees in my kitchen on Christmas Day and nothing stays cold for long.  With the oven on, I just have to take my pants off, wishing I was 25 again and that someone might appreciate this view.  Every year, as I struggle to get the mousse to firm up and the ganache to stay on the rolled cake, I beg to Steve to shoot me if I even threaten to try it again next year.

Mine didn't even look this good.

Mine didn’t even look this good.

Yesterday, we rigged up a support system of ice and wedges in the Styrofoam cooler – pre-chilled, of course – to transport what should be a simple dessert to the dinner venue.  I cringed with shame as I set the mess on the table in front of my friends. But after tasting it, they raved and begged me to make it again next year.  Really, how can you go wrong with dark chocolate, butter and cream?  Maybe I’ll just put it in a bowl next year with a dozen spoons for passing.

breakfast samara costa rica

Ted Jackson is serving breakfast at the El Pollo Palace on the plaza.

 

Sorry - I should have photographed before I started eating

Sorry – I should have photographed before I started eating

His morning special of two eggs, gallo pinto, maduras, and coffee for c1,500 is the best deal around. But next time I’m going to try his Biscuits and Gravy for c1,300.

breafast samara costa rica

We’re going to make breakfast with Ted part of our Wednesday morning routine – that’s the day we take the garbage to town for weekly pick-up. (It’s an old family tradition, brought from the Pacific Northwest, to treat ourselves to breakfast on Dump Day.)

They’re putting up the stands.

samara christmas festival

Getting ready for the holidays in Playa Samara Beach means building the arena and bleachers for the traditional Corrido de Toros.  This temporary arena is built fresh every year.

christams festival in samara

Ticos are a gentle people so they don’t so much fight the bulls as annoy them.  Young toughs get into the ring and run around poking at the bulls to entice the beast to chase them so they are forced to climb the fence before being gored in the hiney.  It’s somewhat entertaining to northerners who’ve seen an actual rodeo but it’s very popular with locals.  Actually, my visiting nephew said it was the most fun he’s ever had for a buck.  The carnival rides and eateries fill out the festivities which begin each day with a cannon shot and end the week with fireworks.

leatherback turtles costa rica

We spotted these turtle tracks on Carrillo Beach yesterday morning.

leatherback turtles costa rica

The wide spacing between the fins suggests a very large nesting female,

probably a rare and endangered Leatherback Turtle rather than our more common Olive Ridley.  Comments?