Jacki writes about her daily life in Panama, and provides a great look into what it is like to live in our adopted, beautiful – but developing – country.
So, since our last posting about Rancho Los Toros, we have been back several times for dinner. Most recently, we attended Joe’s first Thai night and his monthly gourmet wine tasting dinner.With David & Stephanie (at left) in tow – and with a personal invitiation from Joe – we tried out Joe’s new chef, Andreas Peña, for his take on some Asian cuisine.
Peña comes to us from Colombia. He trained at the Gato Dumas Colegio De Cocineros in Barranquilla, Colombia, and has worked in Cartagena, Colombia and Panama City.
For Thai night, he served wonton appetizers filled with crab and served with a sweet chili sauce. The main course consisted of a chicken skewer on a bed of basmati rice and lightly coated with a Thai coconut sauce. A side a grilled vegetables completed the plate. The wontons were scrumptious and the chicken was tender but we all noted that the meal was missing that distinct Thai spiciness.
As is standard at Ranchos, Joe made sure our wine glass was never empty! He filled our glasses all night with some yummy reds from his fabulous wine cellar.
The next night was sushi night. Although we missed it (we had other plans), we are going to try again in the near future. Chef Peña prepares a sushi menu of tempura, langostino (shrimp), tuna and California rolls – with all fish caught fresh that day, of course.
Last night (January 19th), we attended the wine dinner. It was my second, but Chris’ first. Although he doesn’t even drink wine (and, in fact, is completely on the wagon at the moment), he thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food.
It started with appetizers of gouda cheese melted on pieces of baked baguette and topped with slices of red pepper and prosciutto. It was perfectly accompanied with a Merlot. Then it was on to a cheese and olive platter, with marinated garlic cloves and paired with my favourite wine of the night: a Chilean Carménère. I’d never had a Carménère before – but I certainly will in the future. It was just so smooth.
Our sommelier then pulled out a Chardonnay for the salad course – a warm capri salad. I’m not a big Chardonnay fan – prefer a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio – but it was still good.
The main course was scrumptious – grilled pepper steak with a creamy mushroom sauce, with crusted smashed potatoes on the side. It’s hard to get good steak in Panama, but this was FABULOUS. And, of course, steak is only steak when there’s a yummy Cabernet Sauvignon with which to wash it down.
Finally, the dinner was capped off with homemake chocolate cake and a flute of sparkling Rosé wine from Spain.
The food was delicious, and we will continue to head back to Joe’s place whenever we can!
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