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Underground Dining with the Stars

Written on October 19th, 2010 by no shouts

It was easy to plan this multi-faceted dinner. The location was overlooking a huge, deep canyon in the highlands of Panama, and the menu was prepared by two very talented chefs.

As the hosts enjoyed their amazing view a few weeks ago, and the stars began to twinkle, the theme immediately became apparent - “Dining with the Stars”. Such a dinner would include dining under millions of bright stars that light the tropical skies over Boquete, as well as with famous movie stars of the past and present.

The gracious hosts, Renny and Austin, opened their home to one of the finest Underground Dinners that has ever been presented in Boquete. The menu included five courses, each building upon the other to make a crescendo of flavors, colors and glamour. To add to the glamour, each guest chose a framed photo of a movie star to mark their position at the table, and to alert the servers as to the entree they were to be served. Red frames were served roast pork and yellow frames indicated grilled white fish. It’s a fun idea that can be used for any such gathering.

The full menu included:
Fusion Consummé
Croistini topped with Eggplant Relish

Green Salad with Shrimp

Intermezzo: Beer-soaked Green Grapes

Roast Pork with Cherry Liqueur Sauce
Grilled White Fish with Asparagus-Bacon Sauce
Broccoli & Garlic Pasta
Cucumber-wrapped Zucchini
Fried Black-eyed Peas

Tres Leches Cake with Blackberries & Beer

Chef Renny, assisted by Chef Marvin Pupino, instructor at the prestigious Instituto de Alto Cocina, assembled each dish moments before serving, and plated each course on a unique serving piece. Diners were delighted with the sparkling decor and new tastes as dish by dish appeared before them.

The movie stars added an extra touch of charm to this unique gourmet dinner. It was fun remembering the films, lives and history of Hollywood, even when such a fine dining experience was happening far away in Boquete, Panama, high upon a canyon ridge and under the brightly lit night sky.

More Underground Dinners are planned in Boquete in the near future. The themes will be different and the locations are always a surprise. The lucky diners won’t discover where the dinner will be held until the evening before the event.

Renny and Marvin’s evening of “Dining with the Stars” will be remembered by everyone who attended. It was a most delightful and “star-studded” event.

Thanks very much to the hosts and their entire staff,

Pacific Rim Cuisine - Underground

Written on June 18th, 2010 by one shout

The second underground dinner was held in a pouring rainstorm, high on the side of a Volcano in Boquete, Panama. It was a thrilling event, filled with lots of laughter, great food and friendly people. The dinner was overbooked, but everyone seemed to find a seat and to enjoy the 5-course gourmet dinner presented by Bistro Boquete Chef Lauretta. Diners found it to be truly world-class.

Tables were set with tiny shirts, bright flowers and twinkling candles and the affair began with drying off umbrellas, uncorking wine and getting to know each other. Guests were very adventurous, coming to a dinner with an unknown menu at location only disclosed the day before the event. Their excitement was tempered by knowing the chef, renown for her expertise for preparing many world cuisines, and her desire to always bring forth the finest available in culinary circles.

This night was extraordinary, not only because of the lavish menu, but it rained and the dinner was held on an open patio, deep in one of the finest coffee plantations in Boquete, Panama. The atmosphere was cool and cozy with the fire roaring.

Lauretta presented her menu beautifully, serving course after course in perfect rhythm. This was her menu, including dishes from six countries around the culinary “Pacific Rim”.

Sushi California Rolls with Spicy Mayonnaise and Wasabi

Thai Coconut Ginger Chicken Soup with Fresh Mint

Chinese Noodle Salad
Sesame Peanut Dressing

Hawaiian Grilled Fish Filet with Asparagus
Basmati Rice

Korean Barbecue Pork Chops
Hot Pot Vegetables

Green Tea Mousse with Sake-marinated Dried Plums

Country cuisines represented from the Pacific Rim were Thailand, USA, Japan, China, Hawaii and Korea.

The Green Tea Mousse with Sake-marinated Dried Plums was a dish from Ming Tsai’s “Blue Ginger” cookbook, an example of “where east meets west”, as Ming says. Lauretta’s twist on Ming’s recipe used dried plums instead of dried cherries, as the original recipe prescribed. This photo shows Lauretta plating these luscious, rich, little desserts.

You can see how beautifully the patio at this famous coffee plantation was decorated, but you must have been there to truly appreciate the fine food, impeccable service and friendly atmosphere of this second-ever underground dinner in Boquete.

If you’d like to enjoy one of Lauretta’s extravagant, gourmet, 5-course dinners, please let me know and I’ll send you an invite soon.

Happy dining!

My 100th Blog Post - A Milestone!

Written on April 19th, 2010 by 7 shouts

As a new blogger, I’ve had lots of fun writing about what’s important to me, living and growing in Boquete, Panama. Eleven thousand, eight hundred fifty (11,850) visitors have opened my site. It’s really astounding!

Thanks to all of you for peeking at our lives here in Boquete, it’s an amazing place in which to live. The rainbows are spectacular, the air is clean, and coffee grown here, is the best in the world!

In a nutshell, the first 100 posts were mostly about the people I know and love, the folks I see every day, and the neighbors who give so much to our community. There have also been fellow food bloggers and readers from around the world whom I call friends, although I’ve never met them face-to-face. I’ve mentioned lots of famous people who have impacted my life in some way or another. The nearly 100 people named in my blogs are named again below, and I really appreciate the contribution each person has made to my life since moving to Boquete, nearly 8 years ago.

Would you like to guess the most popular article of the 100 blogs I have written? How about guessing the average amount of time each visitor spends on the site at each visit? The answers are given below.

Thanks so much to the real stars of the past 100 blogs! By name, they are: Lauretta Bonfiglio, Sharon James, Juan Linares, Renny Kranich, David Kent, Jon Day, Kurt & Norman, Erik Carrera, Charlie Collins, Alison Holst, Anne Necker, Maritrini, Joyce and Nick Newton, Tom and Caroline Bot, Richard Detrich, Tammyjo Eckhart, Danilo, Jerry Wager, Elvin, Dorothy Lamour, Jorge Ortega, Liz Lees, James Cagny, and Tova Speter.

Thanks to Nelson, Calixto, Belisario Torres, Kelly Herring, Jim and Cindy Eickhoff, Julia Quiroz, Cesar, Doris Day, Idu, Papa Ricco, Giovanni, Carrie and Jonathan, Violet, Patricia Martinelli, Carlos Williams, Amy Adams, Greg Henry, Gobbles, Clyde and Phyllis Stevens, Ruby McKenzie, Eddie Cantor, Marian and Ethan Becker, Hershel and Mikey, Grandma Gates, Zorida, Lee Zelter, Axel Schob, Kirsten Peck, Judy Garland, Gale Cellucci, Drick Perry, and Anayansi Menendez.

I so much appreciate David Necker, Eric and Jane, Lori Lynn, Dave and Erin Ross, Groucho Marx, Rachel White, Martine Heyer, Richard Meyer, Mickey and Squirt James, Frederic Chopin, Mario Batali, Edgar Castillo, Vasco Numez Balboa, Irma Rombauer, Julia Child, Craig Claibourne, Barbra Streisand, Michelangelo, Diego Rivera, Bill Streit, Bing Crosby, Emeril Lagasse and Steven R. Covey.

You can still guess the top blogs, these photos will give you a hint. The top, broad category is “Boquete Living”, including blogs about daily living in the Highlands of Panama.

The #1 blog in my first 100 articles, is “My Fiestaware Collection”, written October 8, 2009. The blog you visited almost as many times, at #2, is “Panama’s Coffee Cup - Cafe Duran”, dated January 8. The #3 blog is “Hollywood’s Golden Age of Dining”, written January 3.

At each visit, the viewer stays on site an average of 2 minutes, 37 seconds, quite an amazingly long period of time, especially when there are millions of other sites to visit.

I’m so very grateful to all of you for your time these past several months, and I hope to make my second hundred articles even more interesting and fun! If you’d like to suggest a particular subject, please let me know. Thanks again for your support!


Fajitas - Hot Off the Griddle!

Written on January 10th, 2010 by 4 shouts

hotoffpeppers1Lots of fun and ideas are ahead for the next Boquete Gourmet Host Chef Cooking Class, “Fajitas - Hot Off the Griddle!”, presented by retired engineer, owner of Inglestec Language Institute and Coordinator of the Annual Brisas Cooking Contest and honored Guest Chef, Renny Kranich.

The class will be held in the Boquete Gourmet’s kitchen, high above Boquete, Panama on Thursday, February 11 at 5:00pm.

Renny will be sharing her one-of-a-kind method for preparing “Fajitas”, using the finest of beef filet mignon, fresh-grown Boquete vegetables, as well as her very own “Pico de Gallo”.

The base for Renny’s fajitas are her hand-made “Tortillas”, better than can be found anywhere. They made exactly the right size to use with imaginative fillings that are spiced just right to your taste, whether mild, hot or in between.

To begin the class, enjoy a cool glass of “Margaritas on the Rocks”, made in Renny’s very own nontraditional manner, no blender, please.

The photo below doesn’t show the unexpected ingredient Renny adds to her Margaritas, you won’t want to miss it. Notice the large serving glass, it only needs to be rimmed with salt and filled with Renny’s Margaritas. Yum!

The crowning dish of the evening will be “Filled Nubes de Chocolate”, a tall tower of clouds dripping with chocolate ganache. You’ll want to make this for all your guests, a real show stopper!

To reserve your seat for this unique class, please comment below or email The registration fee is $30, including the class instruction, recipe book, complete dinner, Margarita on the Rocks and a glass of wine. Class size is limited to 12, first come, first served, so please make reservations now for this once-ever event!
See you there,

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