Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kudos for La Cusinga

Trip Advisor has recently published their listing for the top eco-friendly accommodations in the world and the home base of this blog, La Cusinga Eco-Lodge came in third internationally.  Great job by Geinier Guzman and everyone here at La Cusinga to make this honor possible.


Travelers' Choice Winner Tops List of Eco-Friendly Hotels

NEWTON, Mass. – April 6, 2009 – /PRNewswire/ — TripAdvisor®, the world's most popular and largest travel community, today announced its top 10 eco-friendly accommodations, according to TripAdvisor editors and travelers. From rustic cabins in the forest to contemporary digs in the city, these green properties allow travelers to be environmentally conscious, while enjoying incredibly unique and beautiful places to stay.

1. Eco-Adventure: Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, Hopkins, Belize – Travelers' Choice Winner 2009: Best Bargain, Best Hidden Gem, Best for Romance – Average Nightly Rate: $245
Set on 21 acres of coastal forest, this eco-resort's green practices ensure that nothing goes to waste, from composting all vegetable and fruit scraps to using old linens as cleaning rags. In addition, the resort's dive adventures educate guests to minimize the negative impact of human contact with the environment. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The fact that the resort advocated reusing towels, limiting sheet changing and using the surrounding natural beauty made us feel that we were contributing to the preservation of Belize."

2. Terra Firma: Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, Teton Village, Wyoming – Average Nightly Rate: $371
Eco-friendly elements abound in the Hotel Terra, literally from floor (environmentally-friendly carpets) to ceiling (recycled roof shingles). Organic linens, low-flow toilets and solar-powered faucets can also be found in guest rooms, and even relaxation is green here, with organic spa products, and 100 percent natural mattresses made from recycled and organic materials. As one TripAdvisor traveler said, "We were ushered to our suite and discovered that not only was it the latest in eco-friendly hotels, but incredibly luxurious!"

3. Organic Accommodations: La Cusinga Eco Lodge, Uvita, Costa Rica – Travelers' Choice Winner 2009: Best Hidden Gem – Average Nightly Rate: $166
While stunning views of the Pacific are reason enough to visit La Cusinga Eco Lodge, its eco-friendly programs and commitment to conservation make it all the more appealing. Set in the rainforest, the eco-lodge's electricity is generated by solar and hydropower, and the water is heated by the Costa Rican sun. Buildings are constructed from re-forested wood and local materials, and rely on natural air currents to cool them. As one TripAdvisor traveler commented, "The organic gardens were my personal favorite, and they use all the fruits and vegetables in their daily meals."

1 comment:

  1. congratulations! sounds like you're doing a good thing and getting recognition, beautiful!


Wednesday May 13, 2009 La Cusinga and Me

This words below are from our website describing La Cusinga.  The story, however is much deeper and much richer than these introductory words can describe.  La Cusinga represents a noble and successful effort to preserve this section of unspoiled coast and to keep it alive as a model of what true ecology can accomplish.  The dreams and visions of John Tresemer, the owner of La Cusinga and the Finca Tres Hermanas that surrounds it, have been realized here in what is a true example for all who would preserve and protect what remains of this, or any natural wonder. 

La Cusinga 
La Cusinga Lodge is a coastal rainforest eco lodge dedicated to marine and terrestrial conservation and environmental education. Its location on the southern Pacific coast provides guests with sweeping ocean views and a relaxing beach vacation. In addition La Cusinga is part of a private nature reserve that supplies the visitor with an unparalleled look at Costa Rican wildlife and rainforest. The reserve consists primarily of 250 hectares of virgin rainforest that borders thousands of more acres of privately protected forest. On Costa Rica’s still wild south-western Pacific coast, La Cusinga Lodge borders Ballena Marine National Park which was developed to protect the humpback whales that frequent the coast. La Cusinga Lodge was established in order to share the unique site with Costa Ricans as well as international visitors. Besides getting exposure to rural Costa Rican culture and beautiful vistas, visitors have access to highly prolific areas of primary tropical rainforest and unspoiled coast, all conveniently accessible. 

i returned to La Cusinga this past January, 2009, with a dream in mind.  I wanted to create a cuisine for our guests that would bridge the gap between what La Cusinga offered physically and spiritually, and what they were putting in their bodies when they ate here.  I knew from having previously lived in Costa Rica for over two years that there were organic farmers and that sustainable agriculture was being practiced, but at that time it had been limited in its scope as well as its distribution.  

My first steps upon returning were toward the local Feria to seek out and communicate my ideas with the growers and vendors who could provide me with a local, organic and sustainable product.  The fertile valleys of San Isidro that lie over the coastal mountains and to the Northeast of our Pacific location are rich and productive but are only now exploring the potential that they hold.  

I had in mind a vision that would support local farmers, fishermen and food artisans and one that would recreate (or perhaps, create) a new cuisine of Coastal Costa Rica.  I visit the markets each week to talk with growers and to develop the  relationships that I believe will be mutually beneficial as Costa Rica experiences its rapid growth on an international level
Organic farming is a new and not heavily supported concept in our part of Costa Rica.  It is a brave step for farmers to make, as local communities of both growers and consumers have never placed, or not known to place, an importance on farming organically and sustainably.  I feel a responsibility as a Chef here to be at the forefront of those encouraging and supporting these pioneers  

I came to La Cusinga almost three years ago not knowing what to expect.  My first time through here was characterized by a lack of understanding and appreciation on my part as well as an inability to recognize or connect with the local "flavor" that would make for a coherent package for out guests.  I now feel as if I have made a "connect" with the property and the vision.  I am not completely satisfied and hopefully, never will be, until we are able to produce, right here at La Cusinga, the greater share of the produce we serve.  However, the groundwork has been laid with local farmers and the availability and quality of organic produce is impressive.

Now at La Cusinga I serve a variety of organic lettuces and braising greens.  My salads include wedges or slices of rich red tomatoes as well as sweet !00 and yellow pear cherry tomatoes.  I roast organic beets and marinate them in balsamic vinegar to be served alongside the lettuces and topped with a locally made organic goat cheese.

My soups are made from roasted and steamed local organic vegetables and tiny organic yellow creamer potatoes have found their way onto my plates, nestled against filets of locally caught fish.
I am now using a local organic cocoa powder that still contains the nuggets of cocoa butter unlike the fined cocoa powder in the markets.

And better still, I am able to use palmito (hearts of palm), ginger, cilantro and its sawtooth leafed cousin culantro coyote, mangoes, hot and sweet chiles, mandarina limes and yucca root from our own Finca Tres Hermanas to serve in my dining room at La Cusinga.   The connection from jungle and farm to table is evolving.  May it continue to grow.