It was on the afternoon of 20th August, 2011 that I first walked in a dream-like state through the garden of Hank (Henry) Karcynski’s spice farm ~ Villa Vanilla…and I can scarcely believe it has taken me all this time to write about the my experience, the importance of it and the impact made to the intensity of flavour & colour of my menus from North African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Persian, Thai & Malaysian dishes, the Mediterranean, Latin America, Caribbean, Creole & Cajun specialties.
But then, here I am, composing my experiences whilst siting in the small cabin in the forest, near the Spice Shoppe, just above the small pond and within a 2 minute walk of the viewpoint over-looking pristine, primeval rain forest. It is somehow fitting, after all this time, that I have come to stay for a while to better understand the dynamics of sustainable farming with and within nature and receive yet more inspiration to create new, authentic dishes and craft a diversity of fusion food…take it up another level, explore more taste dimensions.
Without any doubt, Hanks rich, earthy and intensely flavoured produce has added another dimension to the authenticity of my menus. My clients frequently commented on the Sabor Intensiva & subtleties; and frequently followed my footsteps to Villa Vanilla to experience – and purchase – for themselves, once I have related my experiences to them and of their need…being foodies…to find their way there.
My first impression was ”this isn’t a farm…it’s a garden…isn’t it”? Such is the sensitivity of the planting, that Hanks finca is not merely given over to ‘production’. Interwoven with the spice tour route is the epiphyte trail, the myriad of birds, flowers & exotic plants. I had started researching organic spice supplies in Costa Rica immediately after returning from the UK where I established Sabor Intensiva Private Chef Services in the leafy opulence of London’s Grove Park, W4.
This small community of well-traveled internationally successful foodies and bon viveurs frequently called upon my spice alchemy to satisfy their own spice addictions at home with family & friends, as well as corporate entertaining. Later, when I found Villa Vanilla and began blending Hanks’ Red Turmeric, Cinnamon, Peppercorns, Cocoa and Vanilla in to my menus the taste experiences went off-the-scale ~ like Wow!
An increasingly internationally travelled-client base up and down the Pacific coast and on return visits to the UK & Europe and the USA got the Villa Vanilla experience and subsequently made their own way down to Quepos, and up to Villa Nueva via Naranjito…you really can’t craft better testimony than that.
Since that first visit in 2011, another in 2013, I have continues to receive spice deliveries via the Tico national bus carriers. With new additions of Cardamom, Kaffir-Lime & Clove, new dishes with the requisite authenticity and which I can only add with good taste conscience; now feature among my menu options.
Maybe it has taken me this long to communicate the joy of the taste experience because of a selfish streak that really wants to keep it my secret…well…guess what….tough…the secret has been out there a while among the cognoscenti who, I am glad to say have been sensitive in sharing their own discovery.
Some things really should be respected, and in the words of a wise Wizard…”keep it secret…keep it safe”.
Thank you Hank!
Private Chef, Croz’ Crosbie