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Posts Tagged ‘Chef Lauretta’

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!

A “Whisk Hunt” in Panama

Written on October 29th, 2009 by 2 shouts

Wait, is that a whisk the witch is riding on?  It’s difficult to tell, she’s so far away.  It doesn’t look like a broom, no - - it’s a giant whisk! I am looking for a whisk exactly that same size.  I want to use it in my new huge, flat-bottomed  stainless steel bowl to make fluffy meringue, like Lauretta made in her cooking class.  Why not go on a “whisk hunt” ?

It’s almost Halloween and with any luck, I’ll find that witch’s whisk!witch2

This morning was beautiful up on the side of Volcan Baru, I could see the Pacific Ocean from my kitchen window and the sky was clear.  That’s my way of forecasting the weather each day, if I can see the ocean in the morning, it’ll be a good day. But, if I want a more detailed report, I go to; there is no television reporting of local weather available here in Boquete.

Boquete has limited supplies of kitchen tools.  Our local La Reina Department Store doesn’t carry whisks at all, I always try to buy things in Boquete, if possible.

Because the weather was good, I headed to the city of David, 45 minutes south of Boquete, to begin my “whisk hunt”.  It’s less than a week before Halloween, so this is the best time for my hunt.

There are several large home-improvement stores that have recently opened in David and my favorite is Novey, located on the Panamerican Highway.  Novey had the cutest little whisk.  I had to buy it because it’s just right for beating an egg in my Pyrex measuring cup.  No big whisks at Novey.

Near Novey is Arrocha, a large modern department store with a big housewares department.  Unfortunately, the entire store was dressed up for Christmas and the housewares department was condensed into one aisle, my bad luck.  No whisks at all, but I did find heavy glass candle holders for $2.00 each and got 3 of them.Whisks

My whisk hunt continued to the far side of David to ERA, the only restaurant supply store west of Panama City. Luck was with me, I found the biggest, most beautiful, long-handled, delicate, grey and purple striped whisk you could imagine.

Guess what??? The lady who found the whisk in ERA’s back room was dressed TOTALLY IN BLACK!

When you come to my kitchen, you’ll see my gorgeous whisk hanging next to my other 3 whisks, waiting to be used to make a lovely meringue for Meringue Kisses.  They’d make good “Trick or Treat” candies, don’t you think?

Lauretta’s a Star!

Written on October 17th, 2009 by 3 shouts

LaurettachocolateLast night was a big event for all of us who decided to spend the evening cooking with Lauretta, the Executive Chef of The Bistro Boquete restaurant. It was the first fund-raising event of the year for Bid 4 Boquete, a local effort to raise support for four worthy charities in Boquete.

My kitchen was the center of activity as Lauretta demonstrated her talents. Her students tried to emulate her techniques as they watched and studied her every move. The photographers tried to snap just the right photos that would capture the moments the way they really felt. The mood was electric and to be with Lauretta in a small, intimate group gathered around my kitchen island was like watching an artist create her masterpiece. class

Lauretta doesn’t use specified quantities in most of her recipes, only the ingredients are important. “You create the dish to meet your own personal taste, look and feel”, she said. “The final result is entirely up to you.  Creativity is the key to cooking, and you must put your heart and soul into every dish you make.”

Sure, Lauretta had her shopping list of the finest, freshest ingredients she could find in Boquete, and everything she cooks with in her restaurant is readily available here.  To learn how to put those ingredients together to make a “masterpiece” was what these eager students were waiting for Lauretta to show them, and show them she did.

frying Every student had the chance to duplicate the skills demonstrated; to roast and skin peppers over the gas flame, to easily pull juicy meat off whole  simmered chickens, to whisk egg whites to fluffy perfection and to dip and fry cheese-stuffed chilies to exactly the right golden color.

We learned our lessons well, it was evident when we gathered around the dining table and enjoyed such delicious dishes, talking and laughing about how much fun it was to prepare dinner while being guided by such a stellar chef.

At the end of the evening, we returned to my kitchen to share Lauretta’s Toasted chili walnut ice cream and to hear a surprise.  It was David and my 20th wedding anniversary! What better way to spend our anniversary evening, than cooking with Lauretta and some of our very best friends, knowing that all the proceeds from this extraordinary experience will be divided among The Handicap Foundation, The Lions Club, The Rotary Club and Buenos Vecinos de Boquete. 

How sweet is that?groceries2

Chef Lesson Oct 15

Written on October 3rd, 2009 by no shouts


The most successful fundraiser to ever be held in Boquete is the BID 4 BOQUETE AUCTION, a one-day event held at our local fairgrounds on the first Sunday in December each year.  This event draws hundreds of folks, not just those attending the event, but so many business owners, residents and visitors who donate time, talents and items to make this such a success.

This year for the first time, special events are happening on days prior to December 6 and this is the first one scheduled.  Lauretta Bonfiglio, Executive Chef of Bistro Boquete Restaurant, is donating a cooking class to be held in The Boquete Gourmet’s kitchen next week.  All proceeds will go to the Bid 4 Boquete effort.  The poster above is probably too small to read, but I wanted to show how beautifully designed the event is and Lauretta’s Mexican theme, “Taste of Mexican Mole”.

Chef Lauretta probably uses fine-quality commercial kitchen equipment in her restaurant and I can easily see that my kitchen is in dire need of updating.  Now is the time to upgrade, so I’m busy equipping my kitchen with the finest cooking items available around this area.

Monday in David, I found a Cuisinart 12 inch, stainless steel skillet, the one with a small handle opposite the long handle, AND a very fancy Cuisinart 11 cup, stainless steel food processor, Model Number DLC-2011CHB.  I’ll need to study the detailed manual to learn how to use it, it does so many things and it’s so powerful compared to my 25 year-old Black & Decker model.

You can read about finding my saucier in a recent blog.  Several small utensils, serving pieces and large bowls will need to be purchased in order to make this latest upgrade to my kitchen complete.  You’ll be able to see a complete inventory of my updated kitchen in future blogs, please check back soon.

Chef Lauretta’s class sold out almost immediately and it’s happening next week.  I’ll be ready.

Thanks to Bid 4 Boquete for giving me the opportunity to donate the use of my kitchen for such a worthwhile cause, and thanks to Chef Lauretta for donating her time and expertise to help our Boquete community.  The students are in for a fun-filled evening with Lauretta and without them, this project would not have been possible.

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