The other night we visited a cozy little restaurant up on the San Miguel Ridge, one ridge over from where we live. We went with our good friends Lucy (Justa) and Steve, who had been wanting to take us there for a while. The place is called Mirador Brisas del Monte, and really the best thing about it is the gorgeous views you can see from anywhere you sit inside the soda.
You can also sit outside in the back, where they have some limited seating. There are pillars throughout the café and outside with wood carvings on them, which the owner did himself. The owner, Tom, is a friendly and very smiley guy – he was happy to show us around when we first got there.
A little hidden gem about this place, is behind the restaurant – there is a little casita (small house) that Tom had built in the old, traditional Costa Rican style. Lucy was so excited to show me this place, as she loves her Costa Rican heritage and traditions and was familiar with many of the items in the casita. This casita is very much how Costa Rican people lived in the “olden days”, and how some people still live. In fact, Tom told us he currently has a worker staying in this little house (seriously, like right now).
Here are a few pictures of the casita. In this first picture below, this section extends from the kitchen, and is the kitchen sink area – where one washed dishes (with a big pail of water brought in by hand). This worked extremely well, for the water just ran off the ledge and outside onto the ground. Also – any scraps or remnants of food were brushed off and outside, where the chickens, hens & dogs were there to quickly clean it up. Lucy told me it was not unusual to be in the house and have hens and chickens walking through… it was part of their life.
Here you can see the old-time stove and oven that used real wood for fire to heat. Also, there is a Chorreador (Costa Rican coffee maker), as well as a tea kettle and super cute old-style pot with lid and handle. Below – left, is a meat grinder and coffee grinder. Also – the “plate/bowl” you see behind the grinders was for washing clothes – BY HAND. Below – right – a bed. And guys – this bed was HARD as a rock! This is what they slept on, with an old coffee ruck-sack for a cover, which actually kept the heat in very nicely. Everything had a purpose. They had nothing that was unnecessary, life was simple (and I thought MY life was simple).
Here is a “candle” – a bottle, with a home-made wick that they would fill with kerosene; a gas-lit lamp – they would light and carry everywhere – from room to room; a “safe box” – where any valuables were kept under lock; and an old time “water bottle”. This bottle was actually made from an old fruit, hollowed out and dried, and used to fill with water. The coffee workers would fill this up with water in the morning, and take with their lunch in this ruck-sack. Typical lunch would be homemade corn tortillas filled with beans, rice & eggs.
In a small corner of the house, there is a closet – basically just a bar of wood, with a few clothes draped over it, hidden by a tarp. And in the back, behind the clothes – a sewing machine – operated by foot peddles. The Mother/Wife of the house made all the clothes for everyone. Can you imagine being a woman back then? No baking or making bracelets for fun – you baked and cooked and sewed because you had to, not for “artistic creativity”.
And when neighbors came calling to visit, you better be up and dressed, as they might just appear in the window:
Here is a hand-made broom, made out of old dried branches. Lucy promptly took it outside and showed me how she used to use it – to sweep dirt, leaves, etc. – it actually worked really well:
And here’s my dearest hubby, who stole the broom and started playing around, “getting his witch on”…. What’s up with the “#1” finger, babe, flying to the moon? And yes, he’s wearing his “party shirt”:
We had heard the food was nothing to write home about, but after perusing the menu in great detail and questioning our waitress at length (did I mention Lucy is Costa Rican and perfectly fluent in Español as well as English?) , we all decided on our entrees. Prices were pretty decent, here’s the menu:
This is what we had, and everyone seemed to think it was pretty good, we all tasted each others entrees:
Brisas is open Friday through Sunday, 11am – 11pm, and don’t ask me how to get there as I wasn’t driving… (actually – just drive up the San Miguel ridge until you see it, it’ll be on the left hand side).Ciao for now, folks! – Jen PS – special contributions by my pal Lucy.