The tropics are well known for their abundance of delicious fruit, and many of the dishes and drinks at the Sugar Beach Hotel restaurant reflect Costa Rica’s seasonal offerings. Whether it’s a simple garnish of puckery-sweet starfruit, plucked fresh from the hotel’s garden, or a mouth-watering mango chutney to top the day’s catch of mahi-mahi or red snapper, tropical fruit add a special twist to our menu.
In February, the mango trees are heavy with ripening fruit, much to the delight of the howler monkeys that lounge lazily in the trees’ upper reaches, savoring the sweet orange pulp. Locally-grown cantaloupe, one of Costa Rica’s major exports to the United States and Europe, can still be found lingering in the local pulperias (general stores) at the tail end of the harvest season.
Cashew apples also hang succulent from the cashew trees at this time of year; these ruddy or yellow fruit, from which emerges the beloved cashew nut, bear a pungent aroma that verges on the disagreeable, but the juice lends a distinctive tang to a sunset cocktail.
Other more exotic fruit can be found lining the supermarket shelves, including the daunting guanabana, a large, spiny green fruit whose sweet flesh is much prized for the traditional batidas, or smoothies. The lesser known caimito, or star apple, also hangs ripe at the peak of summer. This round, purple fruit’s rind oozes a milky latex when cut, and the chilled inner pulp makes for a sweet summer treat.