I really wanted to believe that it was magic. Suddenly, I was in Bryant Park, with a monstrous steak in front of me. Actually, it was better than that: I had a big ol’ box of Costa Rican casado, an epic combo platter consisting of fried plantains, rice, black beans, a fried egg, some fried pork, and a gently charred steak, roughly the size of a fat skateboard.
I looked around. Yup, this was New York City. And I had four pounds of Costa Rican food in front of me. I ate it all. And then it dawned on me: is it possible that I (gasp!)… cheated?!
OK, fine: yeah, I cheated. But just a little bit. I went to a restaurant called Olga’s Place in Elizabeth, New Jersey, solely for the purpose of trafficking a massive load of Costa Rican food back to Manhattan. It was kind of lukewarm by the time I reached Bryant Park, but it was still awesome. Really, how can you possibly go wrong with fried plantains, a fried egg, fried pig, black beans, and a skateboard-sized steak?
And while I’m asking rhetorical questions: why aren’t there any Tico-owned Costa Rican restaurants in NYC? You can get tasty Costa Rican food made by a wonderful Honduran in Queens. But there aren’t any Ticos who sell Tico food.
So here’s another question: if you’re from Costa Rica, would you really want to move to NYC? In Costa Rica, there are beautiful beaches, a largely unspoiled cloud forest, warm weather, warm people, fried plantains, and no military. In NYC, there are cramped apartments, crowded beaches, chilly winters, humid trash-scented summers, outrageous rents, and too many spoiled little yappy-type dogs.
We also have food from at least 143 nations, but if that doesn’t blow your hair back… wait, why wouldn’t that blow your hair back, and why wouldn’t you want to live here? I don’t get it.
Anyway, the meal was pretty freaking great, even if it wasn’t exactly at its peak freshness after traveling underneath a river. The enormous steak had a perfect char to it, and it was adorned with my favorite condiment: more fried stuff, plus a thousand calories of rice and beans. Life is good, even if I just earned yet another asterisk.
237 Lt. Glenn Zamorski Drive