We love their posts at each destination titled Price Check where they provide a comprehensive shopping list of typical items found at each of their destinations. It's a fascinating price index that provides an idea of what it costs to live like a local all over the world.
The items listed on the price check are similar at every destination in order to make a apples-to-apples comparison of what typical items such as water, coffee, milk and eggs cost. It really is fascinating to see what a bag of groceries would cost you from Barcelona to Buenos Aires. Just weeks before our trip a Costa Rica Shopping List was posted and provided us with a good idea what food would cost us if we decided to cook for ourselves, which we did every morning.
Costa Rica is very modern with every mercado, super mercado and super grande mercado listing out prices at check out in US Dollar and Costa Rican Colones. Change was always given in Colones. We found an incredible array of local goods and brought back many as gifts and by requests from those familiar with the local salsa and sauces. Here is a list of our favorites.
Beers - the local beers in Costa Rica mimic German style beers with light pilsners dominating the scene. Imperial seemed to be the beer of choice by the locals.
We actually preferred the darker richer, but still fairly light Bravaria beer.
Costa Rica had a dizzy array of hot sauces, but the one requested even by brand was Banquete's Salsa de Inglesa, a spicy thick worchester-like salsa that punched up our morning spuds. We brought back many bottles of this stuff which we think prompted TSA to do multiple searches of our bags leaving them wide open at baggage claim and even breaking a zipper and tag off what we thought were our invincible Kiplings! It was worth it though!
Another local item we absolutely loved was the creamy beans made in Costa Rica. We found out later what made them so delcious was the fact that they were fried not once, but twice! The boil-in-the-bag was convenient and efficient. Of course we snagged numerous bags for a quick meal back home.
Another bagged creation we loved was the local sour cream. Placed in a plastic bag with a screw-corner-top. Now why don't they do this with sour cream back home? This item we had to enjoy in Costa Rica, but will remain in our memories and hearts!
Did you know you can drink the tap water in Costa Rica? We told you it is a very modern country - Latin America Lite is what we liked to call it, more like Hawaii than Mexico, but we still bought bottled water, if for only one reason to say "I'll have some Cristal today."
Coffee is delicious in Costa Rica and there are many brands. With beans growing in the wild at Monteverde's Cloud and Rain Forest the country is ideal for growing top-notch coffee beans. We bought the Brit brand at the local grocery store but came across a small roaster while dining in Santa Elena at the base of Monteverde. We bought the coffee beans without trying it and as we were paying for our delicious dinner was offered up some and we marched back in the rain to pick up many more bags. Soon to be available online - Tree House Coffee Beans. Delicious!
There were many other items we purchased, but while we were in Costa Rica we bought fresh fruit, the yummiest avocados, plantains, the best tortillas, chocolate and of course some Cuban cigars!