Costa Rican astronomy expert JJ Fonseca Anchia is the charismatic new guide for an out-of-this-world culinary and stargazing experience
Gastronomy meets astronomy in “Taste of the Stars,” the world-renowned dining experience at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, combining a six-course tasting menu with a guided stargazing session. The concept began at Four Seasons in 2014 and has since been copied around the globe.
Making the night more fascinating than ever is the Resort’s resident astronomy expert, Juan Jose (JJ) Fonseca Anchia. Born in the small Costa Rican city of Alejuela, JJ is in his late 20s and works as a nature and activities guide for the Resort. He’s an especially popular leader for such activities as paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, biking and more. But JJ’s real passion is astronomy.
“Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by the planets, stars, nebulas and more. I’ve always been curious to understand space and what’s around me, so I’m constantly reading books and articles, watching videos and looking at pictures.” JJ is completely self-taught with an astonishing, encyclopaedic knowledge. Beyond his expertise, he is charming and he can completely captivate a crowd. With modesty, he says, “I love to share everything I’ve learned with our Four Seasons guests.”
Also enhancing the “Taste of the Stars” experience is the fact that Costa Rica is a truly superior stargazing location – especially during the months from November to May when the night sky is dense with stars that look remarkably close to Earth. Guanacaste Province is located at 10 degrees north latitude, just above the equator, which makes it ideal for viewing the constellations of both the northern and southern hemispheres, as well as the moon and planets. In September 2020, Travel + Leisure magazine named Guanacaste one of the world’s top places for stargazing.
Of course, the night’s other highlight is the six-course tasting menu, featuring dish after dish that connect to the cosmos with unique ingredients and special stories. Every course was named after a stellar object or an ancient myth about the constellations. From smoked salmon and fresh oysters to grilled red snapper and beef tenderloin, every plate delivers a surprise in terms of flavour and presentation, always stimulating the senses. Four different drinks elevate the theme, starting with the Dark Matter cocktail – an activated charcoal Margarita crafted with chili – and continuing with universally acclaimed wines.
When guests arrive at Nemare restaurant, they are given details on the logistics of the night. As each course is presented, JJ approaches the table and explains the food’s connection to the stars. After every two courses, guests are invited to enjoy 20 or 30 minutes of stargazing, using several high-powered telescopes. JJ is on hand to point out all the stars and planets that are visible that night.
As JJ explains, “I like to wake up the little kid we all have inside. Looking up at the stars brings out people’s sense of curiosity and wonder. Everyone finishes the night with a feeling of awe and amazement, thinking about the all the mysteries of the universe.”
To ensure the best stargazing experience, “Taste of the Stars” is only available from November to May. The three-hour program always begins at 6:00 or 6:30 pm, as visibility decreases significantly after 9:00 pm. The experience is best for two to ten people. The cost per person is USD 350 plus taxes and service charge. Book at least 72 hours in advance by contacting the concierge team at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica: firstname.lastname@example.org