One of the great challenges about being a chef is learning to have the patience and drive to never give up when trying to create a new recipe, especially one that seems impossible to achieve. Earlier this year the recipe that seemed impossible, albeit assumingly simple, was creating our own nacho cheese sauce for the world famous “Nachos as Big as Your Ass” here at Eat at Joe’s. It would seem that melting cheese down into a sauce should be as simple as putting cheese into a pot with a basic roux, some milk and, “voilà”, you have cheese sauce. However that isn’t the case at all. It’s actually quite difficult to make that yummy, melty sauce we all know goes perfectly over warm tortilla chips. Just how difficult is it? Well, difficult enough for us to spend nearly two months here in Costa Rica trying to figure it out.
Here at the Surf Camp we continually seek to refine & improve the dishes at all of our restaurants. Our goal is to do this by using more locally-sourced products such as our meat and vegetables, creating more flavorful dishes, and serving our guests plates that look almost as good as they taste. Not only are we using more and more products grown or raised in our local region of Guanacaste, but the beef we use is raised without hormones and antibiotics, our fish is straight from the Pacific Ocean, and our cheese is made locally in Monteverde. All of our bread is baked less than an hour away; fresh every day! And of course, our world famous nachos have become our most popular dish by the thousands because we continually put in the time to make them taste better and look better.
So back to that Pale Ale nacho cheese sauce…. I sat in the kitchen time after time making batch after batch trying to figure out how to keep cheese from separating when making it into a sauce. I kept trying to use all of those French techniques I learned cooking sauces both in culinary school and other top-notch restaurants but all of them failed and I didn’t know what to do. Then I had to remind myself that I’m in Costa Rica and that they probably make the cheese a bit different here. I also knew I couldn’t change the type of cheese either as it’s the same great cheese we’ve always used from Monteverde. So I decided it was time to study the science of cheese-making. What I discovered was that we could make the best cheese sauce we have ever tasted and we could do it with our own beer from Volcano Brewing Company to boot! I went back to the kitchen once again with the only two items I had been missing; Pale Ale and sodium citrate (a natural type of salt used to emulsify cheese). It worked! Finally! In the pot was the most beautiful, smooth and flavorful nacho cheese sauce I had ever seen and tasted. All the kitchen staff was continuously dipping chips in a frenzy. That was the day we created our own With’s Rock Pale Ale Nacho Cheese Sauce! It has been a hit ever since and the nachos are better than ever.
Although I feel a little dorky getting so weird about nacho cheese, it’s important that we spend the time needed to create dishes that our Witch’s Rock family will love & enjoy time and time again. It’s our goal to continue this process of care for our food. We are committing ourselves to always making a better product and making sure our restaurants set a standard that has been long overdue here in Costa Rica.
So stop in sometime soon and try our nachos. I’m sure you’ll notice the difference and see why it was worth the effort to make our own Witch’s Rock Pale Ale Nacho Cheese sauce.
To see what other’s are saying about our new Nacho’s and other items in our hotel restaurant, check us out in Trip Advisor – Witch’s Rock Surf Camp