by Chef Jeremiah Bullied
Having read ‘Wild Fermentation’ years ago and more recently, ‘The Art of Fermentation’ last year, I have been familiar with Sandoor Katz, the world’s foremost expert in lacto-fermentation, for some time now. Imagine my surprise in my first few weeks in Costa Rica when my employer, Pedro Belmar, casually mentions that Sandoor Katz will be in San Jose, a three hour drive from the Monteverde Cloud Forest, hosting a workshop on all things cured and pickled! I have been interested in the art of food preservation and natural pickles for as long as I can remember, but in the last couple of years I have really delved into it, curing my own dairy, meats, sausages, sauerkraut, kimchee, fruit, and kombucha to name a few products. In September of last year I taught a workshop in food preservation for the Montreal university, Concordia, at their City Farm School. The lacto-fermentation component was by far the most popular part with the students.
With its cooler climate (by Costa Rican standards, anyway) and abundance of seasonal produce, Monteverde is a wonderful place to make pickles. One of the first things I did on arriving in Monteverde was start preparing batches of pickled mandarin limes, sauerkraut, and creme fraiche which we have begun to incorporate into the menu.
Sandoor is known, not only for his technical know how, but also for his ability to proselytize the virtues of fermented foods. He was in fine form for our workshop that Sunday, answering and asking questions, and interacting with us as we went along. We spent the morning learning theory, technique and the numerous health benefits of fermented foods. After a delicious vegan lunch we rolled up our sleeves and got to work making sauerkraut. We discussed Latin American fermented foods such as masa madre (sour dough), chicha (corn wine) and agua de sapo (ginger beer) and covered the myriad of fermented food preparations from around the globe. It seems like no matter where you go in the world there are crocks bubbling and crops being gathered to be stored.
Workshops like this are always the best place to encounter like minded people, and being new to Costa Rica, it was a great opportunity for me to meet local chefs, farmers and food entrepreneurs. It turns out that San Jose and Costa Rica is every bit as plugged into the global progressive food movement as Montreal and Canada; The people I met at Casa Cambalache made me feel as if I was back home with my friends and collaborators back home, cooking up a storm!
I was really inspired by the Sandoor Katz to see what new ingredients we can use to pickle and preserve something truly unique in Monteverde and share it in a workshop. If you are in Monteverde on Monday the 12th, join us for a Lacto-Fermentation Workshop hosted by me from 9am until 12pm at Hotel Belmar.