If you were a kid, what would you think of a place that has a dome filled with butterflies and delicious ice cream that is made on the premises? And this is a dome that you can walk into, so that you will be surrounded by butterflies.
My friend Lobo, or actually Chris’s friend Lobo, has built such a place, and he has just received formal permission and recognition from the government of Costa Rica as only the 3rd Butterfly Sanctuary in the southern part of the country. Not only is it a beautiful place to visit, but he is raising and protecting many species of butterflies, and will even be selling them globally, so that global populations can be restored.
It is still under construction, but the ice cream is beginning production now, and the dome is still a beautiful structure to see. In addition, the yoga studio above the cafe has been in use for some time already, and you can see it in this video:
I feel proud to know him, and I hope to help him make “Casa Alagria” (Joyful House) a thriving mecca for ecotourists, children, and all others that visit Costa Rica. In fact, Chris and I are planning to help him in a few ways…
As a nutritionist, I will be helping Lobo with his menu for the cafe on the premises, and I will even help him with the ice cream, so that he can try to make the healthiest ice cream possible. How can Lobo make healthier ice cream at Casa Alagria?
- He starts with raw milk that comes from local farms. Local is important for many reasons, as it supports the local community, and enables use of the freshest milk possible. And this is grass-fed milk, as all the cows on the mountain are on pasture. There are no Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) that I have seen up here. These are happy cows.
- He has his own pasteurizer. While I would prefer unpasteurized milk, the law requires it for public distribution. However, since Lobo controls the pasteurization he can use the lowest temperatures allowed. When we get to 65C (150F) and below, the milk retains a lot of its important qualities. Lobo will be able to do this. And I will use some of that milk before pasteurization for kefir (read more below).
- Lobo controls all the ingredients, so he can avoid using the unhealthy chemicals that are found in other ice cream brands. And again he will use local ingredients as much as possible for flavors. For example, the chocolate will come from beans that are grown right here in Costa Rica.
Another big way that both Chris and I will be helping Lobo is with the menu for the cafe. Chris is a great cook, and his pasta is quite famous around these parts.
The cafe has a beautiful yoga studio upstairs, so cooking must be kept simple. Lobo has a kitchen in the cafe, but he doesn’t want to fill the yoga studio with the smell of food. Thus, the menu items will be limited, and lots of cooking can be done at Chris’s place (LSpecial). Some of the menu items that we look forward to seeing on Lobo’s menu…
– Kefir. My most recommended super probiotic, we will do something a bit special for the kefir at Lobo’s place. Since he is getting whole raw milk, and needs mostly cream, we will use the remaining milk to make a ‘low fat’ kefir. I do not normally recommend ‘low fat’ anything, but in this case we will still be making kefir with raw milk, and you can still get all the fat from his ice cream 😉 And of course it will come in many different flavors, using local fruits from the area.
– Bone Tea. Sometimes you want something warm to drink, and nothing is healthier than homemade bone tea. This is actually bone broth that is served in a cup with herbs and spices. We cook the broth for 24 hours to extract all the nutrition possible, and we do it with Chicken, Beef, or Pork, so there is something for everybody to enjoy. Carrots, celery, and onions are melted in too, along with ginger and turmeric root. Parsley and garlic are also part of the mix, and other herbs (rosemary, thyme) and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne, more garlic) are added when served. There is nothing better for healing the gut.
– Calzones. No explanation needed. Chris makes amazing calzones.
– Bella Pannuzza (Beautiful Pan Bread, pronounced ‘panutsa’). This is an old favorite of mine that I learned from an Italian woman while working in her Deli several decades ago. I’m excited to bring it back and share it with many people. We will make several different varieties… imagine something like eggplant parmesan rolled into pizza doh so that it looks almost like a loaf of Italian bread. We do the same thing with ham and cheese and other varieties.
– Lasagna. Chris can make a great lasagna and it can be cut and frozen for individual servings. He can do the same thing for ravioli, eggplant parmesan, and more. During the busy season when there are many people we could even cater fresh hot food from Chris’s kitchen.
Lobo has many ideas for food items too of course, so we’re all looking forward to taste testing the many possibilities 😉 The peak season doesn’t begin until the end of the year, so we still have a lot of time to prepare… and a lot of ice cream flavors that need taste testing 😉