Written on January 19th, 2010 by corakentone shout
The Panama Coffee Cup this week is Cafe Balboa, sold in a very familiar red and white bag bearing the impressive mark of the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez Balboa. This is a fitting name for a coffee produced in Panama because in 1513, Balboa crossed the isthmus of Panama and was credited for being the first person to see the Pacific Ocean.
The national currency of Panama is the “Balboa”, which replaced the Colombian peso in 1904. Do you know when until the U.S. Dollar became tied to the Balboa?
In this series of articles about the fine coffee that grows in and near Boquete, Panama, I’ll try to give some information about Panama’s coffee growing industry and its importance to Boquete.
Over 85% of all coffee grown in Panama is grown in Chiriqui Province, of which Boquete is the leading growing area. 50% of all Panama coffee is exported, 75% goes to the U.S. and 25% to Germany, Japan and Italy – yes, Italy!
Let’s get back to Cafe Balboa. When I opened my freshly-purchased bag of Balboa coffee, I didn’t notice any aroma, which surprised me. As I prepared my coffeemaker, I did faintly get a whiff of light coffee fragrance, quite woodsy and green. I try to make each pot of coffee consistently in the same manner, using 1 tablespoon grounds to each 6 ounce cup of water.
The resulting cup of Balboa coffee was not as full-bodied as I hoped, not as dark or flavorful as I expected it to be and the brew seemed thin in comparison to other brands. So, I doubled the amount of coffee grounds in my next pot and got a more tasty, satisfying cup.
I couldn’t find a website for Cafe Balboa, the closest I could find was www.caffebalboa.com, only a place holder awaiting development. If you know of a site where I can find out more about Cafe Balboa, please let me know.
The bag states that it’s processed and packed in Concepcion, which is located on the other side of the volcano from Boquete, not too far away, as the crow flies. The price is a reasonable $2.30 per pound.
Interesting to learn that ever since Panama received its independence from Columbia, the U.S. Dollar has always been tied to the Balboa. Since 1904, Balboas have been circulated alongside Dollars.
After looking at these Balboa coins, why do you think the coffee label shows Balboa looking the wrong way?
Written on November 16th, 2009 by corakentone shout
These bananas certainly look frozen to me, but even the below freezing temperatures on top of Volcan Baru wouldn’t freeze Panamanian bananas. No, these were frozen in my freezer overnight and they are hard as bricks.
Now the problem is how to peel them. I stuck the bananas in the freezer, peel and all, I didn’t want to take the time and trouble to peel them and bag them. Besides, why use bags when bananas come with peels, nature’s perfect packaging?
When I’m ready to use bananas, I take them out of the freezer and let them frost up for a couple minutes. In the meantime, I get out my favorite big knife and cut off the tips. I cut off enough so I can see the banana-colored flesh. It’s not sickly brown or mushy like it would be if I had peeled it before freezing.
Then, holding a half in my left hand (right hand if you’re left-handed), I split it slowly lengthwise into 2 pieces. These pictures show David actually peeling our banana. Look at that color, just like a real banana and just as firm as if it hadn’t been frozen.
Now, holding a piece in my left hand and beginning at the top, I ease my thumb between the peel and the flesh and slowly move my thumb down the banana. It’s easy to do if you do it smoothly. The inside releases itself and comes out all in one piece, ready to use in your favorite cakes, pies or frozen drinks.
Did you see my recipe for Banana Daiquiris I posted last week? Carrie and Jonathan came over to try a Banana Daiquri made with my frozen bananas. Everyone loved them, the second daiquiri was even better than the first!
Written on October 18th, 2009 by corakentone shout
If you love to cook and you would like to share your passion for cooking with others, please consider this to be your very special, personal Invitation to request consideration to become a “Guest Chef” in the new “Host Chef Program” in Boquete.
You do not need to be a professional chef by any means, home cooks are most welcome to participate in the program. My kitchen is open to anyone with a desire to have fun; not only by cooking up their favorite specialties, but by showing others how you do it. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? As Stephen R. Covey says in his book “The 8th Habit”, “Engage your passion and if you have a talent for sharing it with others, this should be your 8th habit to develop”.
My kitchen provides all the tools, utensils, equipment, foods and support necessary to give each “Guest Chef” the most care-free, fun-loving atmosphere in which to present their best specialties to others. And, my kitchen is situated near the top of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, Volcan Baru.
If you’d like to become a “Guest Chef”, please let me know. You don’t need to live in Boquete to cook in Boquete. It would be my pleasure to host chefs from all over the world, so please consider cooking while you’re visiting our lovely little town.
Please click the tab above for more information about TBG Host Chef Program.
You may fill out the comment space below this Invitation and I’ll send you further information in my reply. Please include your name, specialties, possible dates you would like to be hosted, and any other information you think I might like to know about you. Happy cooking! TBG
So many people read about Boquete, they hear about what a beautiful place it is, how the finest coffee in the world is grown here, and of all the wonderful things there are to do here. But, what they don’t know is exactly how to get here. It’s not an easy trip, and getting here is so much fun.
First you must get to Panana City’s Tocumen Airport and that’s the easy part. You can fly from about anywhere in the world and you can connect in several US cities. Iberia and other airlines fly directly to Panama City from Europe and other faraway places. Tocumen Airport has upgraded in the past few months and is now quite modernized with baggage belts and quick visa checkpoints.
Once you’re in Panama, you must get to Albrook, either the airport or the bus station. Aeroperlas and Air Panama Airlines fly out of Albrook airport, you may visit www.flyairpanama.com or www.aeroperlas.com, both are friendly sites and are easily read in English. You can print your own tickets quickly and easily. The connections are not always available on the same day your arrive in Panama, so hotel reservations may be appropriate for your flight schedule.
If you are adventurous, you could take a bus from Albrook Terminal de Autobus, just across the way from the airport. The fare is about $15 and it takes 6 hours on a good day. The coaches are air conditioned, really cool air conditioning, they have clean, comfortable seats and the drivers and attendants are excellent. The bus stops in Santiago for a “coffee” break and to stretch your legs, then on to David. If you have the time and want to see Panama up close, this is the way to get to David.
You could also rent a car at the airport and drive to David, which is probably the most difficult way to get here. The streets are not well marked and just to find the Panamerican Highway is a huge feat. We have driven the route several times and it’s still a challenge to make it the entire way to David without getting lost. I could tell you a story of how we went to Chorreara in search of David, but another time.
Once you’re in David, you can rent a car or take a yellow school bus to Boquete. Only one road goes north to Boquete, it’s the road just past TGIFridays, next to the big Novey store. In a short 45 minutes on a constantly rising road, you’ll drop down into our little town, our little paradise. You will be in the heart of the mountains, just below Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama, the closest place to heaven on earth.
Pick up your copy of Boquete's only cookbook, a collection of local and new-comer recipes you will enjoy for years to come. Prepare dishes made with coffee, traditional meals like Mondongo, and party fare served at many contemporary events.
The Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook is available now at Sugar and Spice Bakery, La Reina Department Store and Souvenir El Cacique in Boquete, Bookmark Bookshop in Dolega, Felipe Motta Wine Store in David, while supplies last. The perfect gift for only $8.00 if purchased locally. Retail price is $12.95, and is available for shipping anywhere in the world.
Host Chefs feature easy, uncomplicated recipes that even the most novice chefs can learn. Recipes are health-minded and use fresh, local, in-season ingredients. Classes are hands-on and limited to 12 people. Standard classes cost $25, cocktail classes cost $35, and the price includes all ingredients and a full meal. Titles marked with a (V) are menus that can accommodate a vegetarian adaptation Please mention this when making your reservation.
Please make reservations on the calendar herein by clicking "Reserve Now" on the date scheduled.
NOW - Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook is available for shipping anywhere in the world. This is a book of Boquete, Panama flavors, including 150 recipes prepared daily in the high mountains of Panama, where the finest coffee in the world is grown. If you'd like to taste Boquete cuisine in your own town, order this cookbook now by clicking