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Posts Tagged ‘Boquete gourmet’

Updating Panamanian Market Cuisine

Written on February 5th, 2011 by no shouts

As Chef Juan Linares was designing his new cooking class to include fresh and different ways to use ingredients found at most markets in Panama, he began thinking about the rich supply of farm products we have here in Boquete, often called “Panama’s market-basket”.

So many of Boquete’s newer residents and visitors see these various ingredients in markets, and they can’t imagine how they would ever learn to use them in their daily lives the way most locals do.

We commonly see otoy, tree tomatoes, plantains and tiny red peppers offered on menus in local restaurants. Achiote seeds, culantro and packs of panela fill the shelves of our local markets, but so many of us don’t know how to use them.

With that in mind, Chef Juan opened up his second series of classes offering techniques and tips on how to prepare more of these common foods to make our local Boquete cuisine even richer and more appealing.

Twelve lucky participants gathered in my kitchen to help Juan prepare Tropical Cosmopolitans, Plaintain Chips, Ceviche, Red Sweet Chili Rice, Round Salad with Fresh Tomato Dressing, Fish Moqueca, and Corn-Coconut Pudding. Each dish was made using farm-fresh ingredients such as those listed above.

Well, not every ingredient was found in the local market. The Herrerano Seco comes from Panama City, Boquete’s favorite alcoholic beverage. Juan and I both demonstrated how local residents use it with tree tomato syrup to make a very appealing and tasty cocktail.

It was fun to see Juan’s Round Salad take shape as eager participants assembled the variety of ingredients into gorgeous, colorful towers and then topped them with fresh tomato dressing and chiffonade of culantro.

To my good fortune, photographer Betty Dabney joined in on the fun, and she graciously contributed all the photos in this blog.

Thanks very much for your photos Betty, you captured the essence of the evening.

We understand that you’re an excellent cook as well as a photographer, having attended a couple of the finest International culinary schools. It’s so nice to have you join in some of our culinary events here in Boquete.

This little mountain town has so much to offer, especially when it comes to sharing talents of its residents and visitors. Chef Juan and Betty, two very talented friends, are busy doing just that.


Enjoy the markets in Boquete, they’re bountiful!
Cora

THE ROCK Declares Two Top Winners

Written on January 26th, 2011 by 2 shouts

THE ROCK, a “Food for Senses” restaurant, sponsored the “First Annual Recipe Contest” yesterday in Boquete, Panama.

The contestants came with their carefully-designed creations, and using the restaurant’s professional kitchen for finishing and serving, presented their dishes to the judges, Executive Chef Heiner Gellenberg and me. The winner(s) will be featured in The Rock’s new menu, as well as in 9°80° Magazine.

It was a surprise and honor to be asked to help judge such worthy recipes in this very important restaurant, located on the banks of the mighty Palo Alto River.

Georgiann Evans, Irene Bentley, Juan Linares, Jennifer Sayers and Bev Walker submitted their recipes to the panel, knowing they were to be evaluated based upon creativity, flavor and originality.

The panel was amazed by the entries, a complete Ceviche Bar, Chocolate Box Cake, Baked Rosemary Onion, Salmon and Spinach Shell and Artichoke Cakes, just to name a few of the recipes designed by these very talented chefs.

After much admiration, tasting and consideration, the undisputed winner was Georgiann’s beguiling Grown-up Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Even after naming each contestant a winner, Heiner and I kept thinking of that sandwich, along with Irene’s Chocolate Box Cake. We decided that both of these recipes rose above the other winners to be the top dishes in the contest.

Every contestant listed above will enjoy their recipe being featured on The Rock’s menu over the next few months. Maybe the two top winners will remain there for many months to come, I certainly hope so. Both recipes far exceeded the judges’ expectations, each one truly titillated our senses!

Be sure to visit The Rock in the near future, their acclaims have been heard throughout Boquete, Panama and Internationally. You won’t want to miss tasting Georgiann’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich, for grown-ups, of course.

Thanks Heiner, for including me in this most challenging of assignments, especially when we had to choose a winner from all these delightful, eye-catching entries. It was difficult!

Don’t miss tasting them at The Rock soon.
Cora

What Panamaians and I Eat at the Fair

Written on January 22nd, 2011 by no shouts

This is the final week of the Flower and Coffee Fair in Boquete and it has been a very busy week for everyone anywhere near the fair grounds.

Each year, vendors come from all over Central and South America to sell their wares and locals showcase their home-grown flowers and coffee.

This year was quite different in that the town father’s decided to eliminate street vendors, reduce the volume of the bands that entertain throughout the fair and spruce up the grounds by developing gardens for each and every square inch of fairground.

But my favorite part of the fair is the food available along the midways.

All the dishes are hot, fragrant, beautiful to look at and reasonably priced. Because David and I have visited this annual fair for the last 8 years, we always end up on a bench drinking a local beer and munching on yucca, the local delicacy that reminds me of dry French fried potatoes, but with more flavor.

Whole chickens are cut and grilled to order. The photo just to the right shows chicken pieces and yucca sizzling on the grill. The cook sprinkled some garlic oil on the grill while they were warming up - a good tip.

Folks were ordering fresh smoothies made in an instant, and candied apples were being dipped on the spot.
A double-dip ice cream cone or a cup of Boquete’s finest coffee, I think the best coffee in the world, is only 50 cents.

Now you know what Panamanians are eating at this year’s Flower and Coffee Fair, and it’s all fresh and delicious.

But as many of you know, there are only two of these wonderful foods that I could eat this year, much to my disappointment Because of my new braces, I could only have a smoothie and a double-dip of ice cream in a cone, David ate my cone.

However, along with a couple bottles of Atlas beer, that made for an excellent visit to Boquete’s biggest event of the year. Actually, it was just exactly right for me, I was tired of eating mashed potatoes.

You won’t want to miss it!
Cora

What is “Southern Mexican Style” Cooking?

Written on January 19th, 2011 by no shouts

In February, Boquete Gourmet is hosting two very talented local chefs, Sharon and Dave Langham, who will share their knowledge of Southern Mexican cuisine with 24 very fortunate Boquete residents.

When this “Cooking Southern Mexican Style” class was first offered, curiosity ensued. I was asked several times how the south of Mexico was different in their cuisine compared to the rest of Mexico.

Wikipedia explains that there are six regions of Mexico that differ greatly in their cooking styles. In the Yucatán, for instance, a unique, natural sweetness (instead of spiciness) exists in the widely used local produce along with an unusual love for achiote seasoning. In contrast, the Oaxacan region is known for its savory tamales, celebratory moles, and simple tlayudas while the mountainous regions of the West (Jalisco, etc.) are known for goat birria (goat in a spicy tomato-based sauce).

Central Mexico’s cuisine is largely influenced by the rest of the country, but has unique dishes such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo and carnitas.

Pueblos or villages have their own style, cooking more exotic dishes in the Aztec or Mayan fashion with ingredients ranging from iguana to rattlesnake, deer, spider monkey, and insects.

Southern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. This cuisine has a considerable Caribbean influence due to its location. Seafood is commonly prepared in areas that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, à la veracruzana. Southern Mexico is about as far away from Texas as you can get and still be in Mexico, and Sharon promises that her menu won’t be Tex-Mex style, for sure!

Now that we have all this knowledge, everyone is wondering what the menu will be for the Langham’s first class in Boquete. Sharon and Dave are excellent chefs, as visitors to the Tuesday Morning Market know very well. Their tamales, sauces and pates are very popular, making it sometimes difficult to find the exact dish you are wanting to serve, unless you come to the market early.

To learn more about this “trendy” cuisine, you will want to join one of Sharon and Dave’s upcoming classes offered in Boquete, beginning February 4 - 24. Please email boquetegourmet@gmail.com for more information on this spicy class.
Ole’
Cora

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