Costa Del Sol Carnitas Tacos

Cloud and Mukki in Costa Del Sol“Damn! Sure is hot here! But I sure feel better now that I can say good-bye to this sailor suit.”

—Barret Wallace, FFVII

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 32 corn tortillas
  • 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 4 thinly sliced red radishes
  • 8 limes, cut into wedges
  • Flaky sea salt

Place the pork in a casserole dish. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano and sprinkle all over the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes.

Peel most of the papery outer skin from a whole head of garlic, leaving the bulb intact. Trim a half-inch off the top to expose the cloves inside. Repeat with the second bulb. Tuck the bulbs between the pork pieces, cut sides facing up, and drizzle with olive oil.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Turn the pork pieces and bake for 30 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow the pork to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat, removing bits of fat. Warm the tortillas over the stove.

Serve tacos with cabbage, avocado, and radishes. Squeeze a lime wedge and some soft garlic on top before eating and sprinkle with sea salt. Makes 32 tacos, enough to serve 8–10 people.


Costa Del Sol Guacamole

Hojo on Costa Del Sol beach“Wait a minute. I’m going to look for my guidebook. It says, Costa del Sol is the gateway to the West. And has a prominent world renown resort, which has been around for ages.”

—a tourist in Costa del Sol, FFVII

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll be left with half a tomato, half a chile pepper, and lots of onion and cilantro. Use them to make Costa Del Sol Sashimi Cocktail!

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato (about ½ small tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • ½ serrano chile pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, chile pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt, and lime juice. Mash until combined and stir in black pepper. Serve with warm tortilla chips.

Costa Del Sol Sashimi Cocktail

Costa del Sol bar“Welcome to Bar del Sol! Here’s to tropical nights!”

—the barkeeper in Costa del Sol, FFVII

This is one of those recipes where it’s vital that everything be very fresh, especially the fish. Make the recipe as soon as you get back from the market. Goes great with Costa del Sol Guacamole!

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato (about ½ small tomato)
  • ½ serrano chile pepper, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Cholula or Tapatio are recommended)
  • ½ lb. sushi-grade fish, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Tortilla chips

In a small casserole dish, combine the lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, onion, tomatoes, chile pepper, salt, and hot sauce. Stir in the fish, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Divide into two martini glasses, garnish each with a cilantro sprig, and eat immediately with tortilla chips and chopsticks.

Costa Del Sol Fish Tacos

Costa del Sol beach“If you want a good time, come to the beach! There are lots of beautiful women. You wouldn’t happen to be… rich?”


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 lb. mahi-mahi or other firm whitefish
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about ½ a lime)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Chopped green cabbage
  • Fresh salsa or pico de gallo
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Pour olive oil into a casserole dish and whisk in spices, cilantro, and jalapeno. Add fish and turn to coat on all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, up to an hour.

Prepare a grill to high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.

Grill the fish for about 4 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other side, covered throughout, until it flakes easily. Wrap in foil and set aside. Grill the tortillas on both sides until warm. Place a piece of fish into each tortilla and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of lime-mayonnaise sauce.

Serve tacos with cabbage and salsa and squeeze a lime wedge on top before eating. Makes 8 tacos.

Year-End Recipe Roundup, Plus a Contest!

Quina QuenI experiment with plenty of Final Fantasy recipes, but I only post the ones that I really love.  That said, looking back over 2010, I definitely have some favorites.

Cid’s Spicy Chili

This was the first recipe I posted here, and there’s a reason.  I kept re-writing the recipe, re-making and passing it off for friends to try, through several winters.  I started with dried beans, played around with that concept, and ultimately decided that canned beans were a better choice.  When I finally had a keeper, I was thrilled!  This is, in my opinion, the perfect chili recipe.  (I know Texans will disagree.)

Irvine’s Cowboy Breakfast

I make this all the time.  It’s healthy, but also deliciously cheesy — a great Sunday breakfast.  To vary it up, use a can of pinto beans instead of refried beans, adding them in the beginning along with the butter and allowing some of the liquid to cook off before pouring in the eggs.

Coq Au Madhu

Bhujerba obviously has roots in colonial India, and I used that as the inspiration for this revamp of a classic French recipe.  Another variation is Bodhum-Style Coq Au Vin, which is inspired by California cuisine instead — the two recipes are as different as night and day.

Mobliz Dried Meat

This recipe is time-consuming, but the results are oh-so-worthwhile.  I’ve served these ribs at several summer parties, and they’re always a huge hit.

Zanarkand Lamb Pilaf

FFX’s city of Zanarkand was modeled after the Uzbek city of Samarkand.  This recipe is a take on a traditional Uzbek recipe.  The lamb and apricots melt into the rice to create a deliciously creamy pudding.

Madain Sari Stew

In FFIX’s Madain Sari cooking scene, Eiko sings, “Potato, potato, pumpkin bomb, lots and lots of nuts,” while she’s making her stew.  I used that as a starting point for this recipe, which might sound weird but is surprisingly (and exceptionally!) tasty.

White Mage Chicken Soup

This is my go-to recipe when I’m under the weather.  It’s full of ingredients that heal and promote wellness.  It’s also fairly quick and easy, which is useful when you aren’t feeling strong enough to cook more complicated food.

Nabradian Garlic Chicken

I keep making this over and over.  Based on a French recipe, it’s incredibly rich and flavorful.  The mushrooms reference the flora of shady Salikawood.  When paired with good wine and good bread, it’s a feast worth serving to friends.

Costa Del Sol Beach Burgers

I’m a San Diego native, and a lot of my recipes are local in flavor.  I tend to think of Costa del Sol as a stand-in for my region.  Of all my Costa del Sol recipes, this is my favorite.  Whether you use a grill, or opt for a faster version on the stove, these burgers always come out better than anything you could order from a beachside drive-thru.

The one-year anniversary of this blog is coming up soon.  I’d like to challenge my readers to create your own Final Fantasy recipes!  Send them to me at  The contest ends February 15, 2011.  I’ll pick my favorite and publish the winner on March 1st.

Happy cooking!

Costa Del Sol Beach Burgers

Cloud Strife at Costa del Sol“Oh man, we’re almost to Costa del Sol. When I get there, I’m going to take a long overdue vacation. Maybe I’ll go down to the beach and get a tan…”


  • 8 oz. ground chuck, 85% lean
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) mayonnaise
  • ½ tablespoon (¼ oz.) ketchup
  • ½ tablespoon (¼ oz.) hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio
  • ½ tablespoon (¼ oz.) sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 soft white hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 4 slices of deluxe American cheese
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 thin tomato slices
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce

Remove the meat from the fridge and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, and pickle relish, and transfer to the refrigerator.

Pour olive oil into a small bowl. Slice the onion into ½” rings and brush on both sides with oil. Save about half the oil for later use.

Shape the meat into four patties, each approximately 4 inches across. Spread a light coat of olive oil on each side of the patties, and salt and pepper them to taste.

Prepare a grill for high heat.  Place burgers directly over heat. Spread each patty with mustard, cover, and cook for 2 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional minute, covered.  Add a slice of cheese to each burger.  Cover and cook for 30 seconds.

Remove burgers to a plate and tent with aluminum foil, being careful not to let the foil touch the cheese to prevent sticking.  Grill onion and buns, about 1 minute.  Continue cooking onion until golden and soft.

Divide the mayonnaise mixture between the two bottom buns. Add a tomato slice to each bun, and sprinkle with shredded lettuce. Add a meat patty to each bun, and cover with onions. Top with remaining meat patties and the top buns. Makes 2 double cheeseburgers.

Per double cheeseburger: 685 calories, 46 g. fat, 14 g. saturated fat, 7.2 g. poly. fat, 14.3 g. mono. fat, 120.7 mg. cholesterol, 1306.1 mg. sodium, 302.9 mg. potassium, 26.7 g. carbohydrates, 1 g. fiber, 38.7 g. protein, vitamin A 5%, calcium 28%, iron 20%

Costa Del Sol Shrimp Cocktail

Cloud in Costa Del Sol“…Puff… puff… would you kindly hurry? The heat here is drying my nose.”


For a vegetarian version, substitute a 14-oz. can of white beans, drained and rinsed.

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (if grilling shrimp)
  • Worcestershire sauce and freshly-ground pepper, to taste (if grilling shrimp)
  • 1 pound Persian cucumbers, washed and diced (or 1 large common cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced)
  • 2 ripe avocados, peel and seed removed, diced
  • ¼ large red onion, peeled and diced (about ¼—½ cup)
  • 2—3 red tomatoes (about 12 ounces), washed and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, washed and minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, washed and minced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • 1 cup V8 juice, or tomato juice (if you have a juicer, try using Vincent’s Red Juice instead)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (Cholula or Tapatio are recommended)
  • 1 lime, washed and quartered
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • Mexican beer (optional)

Toss raw shrimp with 1 tbsp. olive oil and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle with freshly-ground black pepper. Grill in a basket or on skewers over direct high heat for about 4 minutes, turning once, until the shrimp are firm to the touch and just turning opaque in the center.

Alternatively, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Cook raw shrimp in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, until turning opaque. Remove and immediately immerse in ice bath. Drain well.

Combine cooked shrimp, diced vegetables, lemon juice, V8 juice, and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour, or overnight.

Spoon mixture into 4 bowls and garnish each with a lime wedge. Serve with tortilla chips and Mexican beer, if desired.