Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Our trip to Costa Rica was such a luxury, made possible through a long series of events and coincidences. The luxurious part was being able to stay there for so long--our last couple of trips have been so rushed that staying for an entire month was just sublime.
The fact that it was so long, though, plus the craziness into which I plunged upon arriving back home, has meant that reentry has been particularly difficult. I'm homesick for the first time in a long time and find myself daydreaming about all kinds of things we did on vacation, mostly the mundane ones, the time spent with my family.
Which brings me to the torta chilena. My mother is retired and lives on the beach, and after spending a couple of weeks there, we packed up the boys and hopped on the bus to San José. We had the driver drop us off on the outskirts of the city, where my brother works, and then just sat at the bus stop with our piles of luggage until he came to pick us up. My mother had to squeeze between the car seats. The luggage barely fit. I wouldn't be able to carry any bags on my lap in the front seat, my brother informed me, and pointed at a box he'd brought with him. I was in charge of holding the torta chilena, which he'd had a colleague make to celebrate our arrival.
Everyone seems to have heard of tres leches, but I don't think I've ever seen a torta chilena in this country. Just imagine about eight or ten thin rounds of shortbread cookies, about ten inches in diameter. Then just stack them on top of each other, spreading dulce de leche on each layer as you go. Dulce de leche is the glue that holds it all together. If you want, you can frost it with meringue. But you can also just top it with more dulce de leche. The meringue is never quite as good after the first day.
Then again, this torta chilena didn't last a day. My brother also pointed out that it was made with sweetened condensed milk, not dulce de leche. (Costa Rica: the land where sweetened condensed milk is sold in child-sized cans with pop tops so you can get your fix anytime you want.)
And so I sit here in a windowless office, on a slow day at work. I'm feeling that post-lunchtime heaviness kick in. And I sure could go for a cup of coffee and a slice of that heavenly torta chilena.
[I've never made it myself, but this recipe looks good. I just might have to make it.]