Besides cás, one of the best non-alcoholic drinks in Costa Rica is horchata. Visitors to the country might not see it on every menu, but we recommend that they order it when they do. Powdered horchata mix is also available at grocery stores or other food stores in downtown San José.

A popular drink in Latin America, where its main ingredients are plentiful, horchata is often available at Mexican restaurants, even in the United States. Latin Americans love it.

Horchata can be made from various seeds and grains–barley, sesame seeds or almonds, among others–but Costa Ricans make it from ground rice. Using a blender or food processor, horchata-makers grind uncooked rice with a bit of water to make a sort of a paste. They let this paste stand for a few hours or overnight. Once the rice has fully flavored the water, it is strained from the liquid. Horchata-makers stir milk into the rice-water, and the resulting cloudy white mixture is sweetened with sugar and seasoned with cinnamon or vanilla.

Horchata is served cold, in a tall glass with a straw and ice. Its reassuring hint of rice adds a pleasant depth and richness to the drink.

Some Costa Rican cooks use the strained rice to make arroz con leche, another Costa Rican rice-and-milk concoction.

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