Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Best Paella in Costa Rica -- Kelly Creek Hotel

I used to live in Spain and often yearn for one of the delicious paellas that I used to enjoy there. Funnily enough, I recently found a perfect paella not in Spain, but in Cahuita, a beautiful little town on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The place is called Kelly Creek.

The restaurant is small, and we actually had to go twice. On the first night, we were too late, and the owner (manager and chef) politely told us that we could come the next day, but we ought to make a reservation.

As we wandered around the little town the next day we saw our host collecting the ingredients, and when we arrived in the evening, we had a fresh and perfect paella with all the little bits of seafood that make a paella nice -- clams, mussels, calamares, shrimp, and so on. The rice was cooked to perfection, and I think it had been cooked over an open fire. It was lovely.

We washed down our paella with jarras of sangria. The owner took pains to emphasize that this was actually a better paella than you get in Spain. He cooks in small quantity; he shops daily for the freshest ingredients; and, being Spanish, he knows how to make a paella that is 100% authentic.

The owner is a great artist as well. We also had a lot of fun in the restaurant looking at the owner's pictures. Every space on the wall is covered with his paintings of scenes in both Spain and Costa Rica, and there are also several pictures of his wife. He also takes the time to tell you all about the wild life found in the creek and in the adjoining national park.

We also decided to stay the night in one of the hotel's four rooms. We got a double/double for all four of us. The hotel is all wooden, and it is all in good taste. It does not have air conditioning, but there are good ceiling fans and mosquito nets. The room was about $50 for all four of us. We had a good breakfast in the restaurant the next morning.

Another nice thing is that is absolutely next door to the Cahuita National Park, which has a great beach.

If you are thinking of going to Cahuita, it is a very special place. I very highly recommend both the hotel, and the restaurant. And if you are there say hello to the hotel's parrot for me!

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