Villa Deveena, Playa Negra, Costa Rica 17/20

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THE directions on the web site from Liberia airport run to 120 words, but mercifully most of it is tarmac except for the last four and half dusty, rib shaking kilometres of dirt road. The Playa Negra in the address is also one of the great, but, I am told, tough surfing beaches. There were just a few pelicans when we passed through at low tide.

IMG_6364Patrick Jamon cooked at the White House for presidents Reagan through two Bushes and a Clinton but has now decamped to this remotest of remotest spots a few dunes back off the beach. He is French and has converted a piece of what was literally jungle into a restaurant with rooms around a swimming pool and a kitchen. You eat almost in the open air. It was a dark and stormy night which is my excuse for the low quality of the photography here. This is a highly polished cooking in a a spot that is as idyllic as it is unlikely. The menu makes the best of what he has on his doorstep which is mainly superlative fish and fruit. Some of the best of central American cooking does not get the press it deserves in part because it is attuned to its climate and as such does not necessarily travel. It was 33 degrees the night we were there. When you have mango and avocado like these there is no sensible reason to do anything else but put them on the plate – here to garnish some local prawns pan fried with a French twist of some lardons and lettuce. Perfect.IMG_6356

The tuna tartar with samphire was equally presidentially good. That is a Yukka crisp in the background as garnish.IMG_6354

Another French twist, obvious but not often seen, was the tapenade for the deep fried octopus. Not a good photo! IMG_6352

The thrust of the menu tends to be towards France adapted to local supplies and so breakfast was naturally a Benedict and the light was much improved:IMG_6368Worth the (very big) detour as they say: I am not sure you would eat this well on Capitol Hill but it is a lot more relaxed. Cocktails and everything else matches. The rooms are spacious and impeccable five star. All round it is stunning.

http://www.villadeevena.com/

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