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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!

Boquete’s First “Underground”

Written on May 19th, 2010 by one shout

Everyone was atwitter as news of the location of Boquete’s first underground dinner was sent to confirmed invitees only. This was a private affair and an event that has unending possibilities in Boquete.

Years ago, I hoped to receive an invitation to this most misunderstood and adventurous form of dining experience. Friends in Florida had invites to local events such as this, but never me. Because the guest list is private and I didn’t know many people who attended such events, I didn’t know much about them. I only knew they packed a bottle of fine wine into their fancy wine totes and went to some “mysterious” place for a gourmet dinner.

But on Saturday, I attended my first “Underground”, and the first such event in Boquete’s history. As you can tell by the photo, the guests and the location will remain undisclosed, but I’ll include the menu and a couple “chef moves” below. It’s difficult to describe an indescribable event, but here’s a glimpse.

The evening was fun-filled and a bit glamorous. The crowd was amazing, people who have lived in Boquete for years and folks who were visiting here for the first time. Young and not-so-young, dressy and smart-casual attire, all types of gourmands. Three things we all had in common; a love for adventure and fine living, a yearning to do something different, and a desire to meet new friends for the first time.

To have a renown chef, Lauretta Bonfiglio, to present the dinner, was icing on the cake!
Chef Lauretta’s “Six Tables” were moved to the dining site from the Bistro Boquete, closed for a few months for renovation. They were arranged in neat fashion, draped in matching tablecloths and each setting was arranged in a formal design with shiny tiles, crown-shaped napkins and a scroll marking the menu, as listed here.

Lauretta’s Six Tables
“Nouvelle Creole - Underground”

Tomato, Mozzarella and Roasted Garlic Tart

Carrot and Leek Soup with Fresh Thyme

Garden Fresh Greens, Walnuts, Pears and Blue Cheese
Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Caribbean-Style Chicken with Brown Sugar and Peanut-Spice Rub
Cajun Au Gratin Potatoes

Pan-Seared Filet Mignon with Dark Rum, Red Chili Sauce
Wild Mushroom Rice

Chocolate-Almond Ice Cream Torte with Ganache, Whipped Crème and Fresh Mint

The guests enjoyed being served at the same time, course by course, table by table. Each place setting was coordinated in style and color, and each dish seemed more interesting than the last. The conversation grew as the dessert was served, topped with whipped cream and a birthday candle. As guests lit their candles and sang “Happy Birthday” to Roger, Lauretta and her staff appeared to huge applause, bows and flashbulbs.

This is what Underground is all about, enjoying a special evening with good friends, great food, and memories that will last forever. Boquete is a magical place with stunning rainbows, rich full-bodied coffee and world-class restaurants. Now, Boquete has opened a whole new dining style, one with a bit of mystery included. I understand “Six Tables” are moving to an elegant coffee finca for Boquete’s next Underground.
Can’t wait!

Don’t You Love “Non-Traditional”?

Written on November 14th, 2009 by one shout

turkeyWhat a lovely turkey, roasted in a “non-traditional” way, like our forefathers did it 200 years ago.  The key word here is “roasted”, not baked in a bag, deep fried, covered, or wrapped in foil, but “roasted”, plain and simple in an open roasting pan.  Nowadays, this is called “non-traditional”.

Throughout the evening in this, the second cooking class hosted in my Boquete Gourmet’s kitchen, Chef Lauretta put the emphasis on the way it was when real flavor was savored and enjoyed, when real fresh green beans were key and when jacket potatoes were baked to perfection in a real oven for at least an hour and a half.  This was real “gourmet” fine dining!

potatoesYes, we’re getting back to the days when flavor was the most important thing, when gravies were dark, when stuffings were rich flavored and when succulent turkey meat was the most important dish of any Thanksgiving dinner.

When the combination of good friends having a good time cooking together, using the finest, freshest foods available anywhere and cooking with a top chef  like Lauretta from The Bistro Boquete, the meal is the icing on the cake.

No wonder everyone had such a good time preparing this very traditional, “non-traditional” Thanksgiving Dinner together.  When we sat down to dinner to enjoy  the meal, we knew this was something special, in special surroundings in this special town of Boquete, high up on the side of a volcano in Panama.

It was an unforgettable evening, so far from our home-land.  Yet, something seemed so familiar and comfortable, was it the crispy, crunchy crust of the golden-brown turkey skin?   Yum!      classaprons

Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Class - Nov. 12

Written on November 4th, 2009 by no shouts

thanksgivingclassExecutive Chef, Lauretta Bonfiglio, from The Bistro Boquete Restaurant, will present a Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Class on Thursday, November 12, 2009, beginning at 5:00pm.  The class will be hands-on, so you will be able to cook along with Lauretta!

You can read about Lauretta on my blog, “Lauretta’s a Star!”. Her style of cooking was developed in Colorado, where she was chef and cooking instructor for many years. Her paired wine dinners are very popular at The Bistro and tickets to those events sell out quickly.

LaurettadavidThe menu for next week’s class includes the Thanksgiving turkey, Lauretta-style, with dried fruit stuffing and giblet gravy. She’ll show how she makes her signature twice-baked potatoes, real green bean casserole and pumpkin rum mousse.  She’ll also include a few surprises.

The fee of $35 includes the hands-on class, full Thanksgiving dinner, recipes and a glass of wine or eggnog.  Please bring your favorite knife, as your knife skills will be sharpened, as well.

The class will be held in my kitchen, just above the castle in El Santuario, Boquete.  Lauretta and David are the perfect team to make each class so much fun, Lauretta cooks and David pours!

Please email me for reservations at or my cellphone number is 6614-9514. You may pick up your tickets at The Bistro, but go quickly, there are only 4 tickets left!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at this “Very Non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Class”.  TBG

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