Friday, August 24, 2012

Cooking At La Cusinga!!!

Cooking At La Cusinga with The Chef of the Jungle

Yes, finally, my cookbook of recipes culled from my time at La Cusinga Lodge in Costa Rica is finished and available in a number of different formats.  The book is in color and has a number of very nice color photos of food, ingredients and the area around the lodge.

I am selling a beautifully printed high quality paperback that is both signed and numbered out of my home for $24 with postage and handling included.
It can be bought with a check sent to:
David L Mahler
PO Box 397
Scotts Mills, OR  97375,
or, by Pay Pal payment to:

I am also selling a downloadable .pdf file through the same payment channels for $12.

Cooking At La Cusinga is also available as a "print on demand" paperback and/or as a kindle download through  Additionally it is available as an ebook through Google books.

Those who have bought the book have been effusive in their praise and here are some of the comments I have heard:

"Greetings Chef Dave; Gayle and I just picked up our signed copy of your wonderful cook book....and are sitting here this moment drooling over the many delicious culinary delights you put in there. Thanks so very much for sharing this wonderful cooking experience with the world."

From Patrick Pealer, "Hey Chef, we got the books! You should be extremely proud. (as I am) They are beyond gorgeous. We thank you more than words allow."

Received your fabulous book yesterday afternoon! My husband and I are so excited about cooking fish over an open fire! We have a firepit, and a grill that fits on top of we are pretty much ready to go!!!! Also learned something totally new about olive oil. Just read your explanation to my David. One of my favorite sections is Salsas/Sauces...these are going to be such fun to prepare and enjoy!!!!! Thank you, Chef Dave! Your book has a special place in our kitchen and in our hearts ♥ ♥

My friend Pat Benson received her cookbook yesterday and this is what she had to say:
"David, your cookbook is amazing. The details, photos and of course recipes show what a talented and dedicated Chef you are. Thank you for keeping this project alive and bringing it to print. It was a long road, for sure."

"Book arrived yesterday; I second Pat's emotion. I got a particular kick out of checking off all of your dishes I'd eaten and jonesing over the ones I missed. Bravissimo! Your writing took me right back to LC. Very gracious tone about the whole work from One Classy Chef of the Forests North & South." Chris Migliaccio

So don't miss out on this very special cook book.  The recipes are exactly what I served at La Cusinga and the book is filled with great cooking tips and in depth explanations of techniques and "the why and wherefore" of the recipes.  Additionally the book has an in depth glossary of local ingredients and terms and is beautifully indexed.

Please get in touch with me now to get your own signed and numbered copy.

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.