QUOTE: “I loved baba ganouch before I learned how to say it. I still can’t spell it.” --Author Unknown
The restaurant Beirut opened its doors in Playa Blanca about two years ago. Bringing Middle Eastern cuisine and a mix of international flavors to the beach area, Beirut has friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Similar to Spanish tapas, Romanian mezeluri, and Italian antipasti, Beirut offers the mezze (a Lebanese spread) dish. The mezze brings variety of aromas, flavors, colors, and textures to the table; it’s a stunning array of small dishes. Don’t know what to order? The mezze is your solution. Beirut’s extensive menu also allows you to create your own mezze. The mezze for two is $52, but could easily feed three or four.
When summer comes back to Boquete in early 2015 the valley will resonate once again with the sounds of world-class Latin Jazz and the raw power of North American Blues. For almost a full week, world-class music will rule the Boquete valley again with the 9th edition of the annual Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival, the biggest international music festival in the Chiriqui highlands.
With a star-studded program of 56 musicians from the US, Panama and Europe, 8 daytime shows in the beautiful amphitheater of Valle Escondido plus 5 nightly jam sessions, a New Orleans style street parade, a Latin Jazz garden party at the Panamonte hotel, a free concert in the park, a „The Art of Music“ art show and a ‚Music for Schools’ program, the 2015 festival will be the best ever.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
As the year end approaches, I decided to look back at my wine reviews and select some of the highlights of 2014. I have broken it down to Sparkling Wines, White Wines, Rose’ Wines and Red Wines.
All the wines I list have been rated a BEST BUY or HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, or both.
Chandon Brut Nature, $19.40, 13% alc. Argentina
This non-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir shows full flavors with some intensity. A very nice alternative to more expensive French Champagne.
2013 Crios Torrontes, $8.75, 13% alc. Argentina
Always a favorite. With a dry, medium body and hints of citrus, peach and honey.
2012 Lagarde Viognier, $12.65, 14% alc. Argentina
Dry with a minerality uncommon for a Viognier. As it warmed, it became richer and more complex. My wife ordered a case, which should tell you something.
Greenhouses or in Spanish viveros, are a common solution used by gardeners to combat the dry and hot months in Panama. While having and operating a greenhouse might seem like a daunting task at the beginning, if you can see the construction through your garden will flourish.
A greenhouse can be a big help in a tropical climate, especially when growing vegetables. It can help regulate temperature, humidity, water distribution, and protect from pests. The allure of a greenhouse in North America is often that you can extend your growing season; here in the tropics it is more about creating a consistent environment.
The most common greenhouses seen throughout Panama are simple, but they do the trick. A semi-permanent structure made of PVC piping and metal with or without roof, is not only an economic, it’s also efficient. Some greenhouses use a clear plastic covering rather than a mesh roof, for plants needing more light. Affordable irrigation systems are also available locally. Automatic irrigation can help take the guesswork out of watering, it can also free up time for other hobbies. With automatic watering and airflow conscious construction, your greenhouse can actually take care of your plants for you.
If you have ever dreamt of fresh herbs and vegetables straight from the backyard, Panama is the perfect place to achieve this goal. But before you start your garden, consider building a green house, it will also help keep you from cursing the local iguanas.
The holiday season is upon us along with the season for entertaining, cooking, and sharing food and drink. Here are three holiday recipes sure to impress your guests.
Rum Punch / Ron Ponche
This is a traditional Panamanian drink, served at Christmas and New Year celebrations. It can be made with or without rum.
- 4 big cans of evaporated Milk (315 grams each)
- 2 big cans of sweetened condensed Milk
For many the beginning of a New Year is about starting a new chapter, getting a clean slate, a new opportunity to start over. While parties and fireworks are global traditions, there are certain unique customs that have their roots in the Spanish and Latin American World.
Wearing white for New Year is one way to represent a fresh start and bring good luck. Add a splash of color with the underwear you wear. Red for love, yellow for prosperity, green for health. Do not wear black or you will be doomed throughout the coming year.
Eat 12 grapes - one with each toll of the midnight strike. Each grape represents a month of the year and eating them is supposed to bring you luck. A lot of people throw in an extra grape, for extra luck.
Hoping for that dream vacation? Walking around in circles with a suitcase is said to ensure a year with plenty of travel.
Every year on January 6th the Coronado Area Social Association (CASA) celebrates Three Kings Day with special needs children and their families.
Three Kings Day, or in Spanish, Dia de los Reyes, is celebrated in many parts of the world. On the Christian calendar it marks the date the three kings brought gifts to baby Jesus. For many living in Panama, it is customary to give a gift on this day.
For the past 6 years, Senora Maribel Gonzales has welcomed eighty families with special needs children into her home to celebrate the occasion. Guests enjoy lunch and dessert, and children receive gifts donated by a local church. Each year, CASA provides a food basket for each family. Last year 80 families took home a basket, and children wore decorated paper crowns and received photos of them taken that day.The baskets, containing dry foods such as flour, sugar, pasta, beans and other canned items, cost about $25 each. Fundraising events are hosted annually to raise the money to buy food items.
On the first and third Tuesday of every month PlayaCommunity hosts a networking evening at La Teca’s popular Happy Hour. This December those dates are December 2 & 16. From 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. guests enjoy 2 for 1 drinks and a special tapas tasting menu.
This bi-monthly event is a great way for expats to immerse themselves in the beach community.
Get to know the PlayaCommunity team and other local business owners while enjoying great food, quality drinks and music!
Did we mention Ron Abuelo sponsors the evening? This means just for showing up you get a free glass of Rum and the chance to win some great prizes.
La Teca will also be gives away two bottles of their house at every event.
Stop by and see who’s at La Teca this evening, you may even win a great prize!
Did you know that the Coronado Community Center (CCC) hosts a variety of social, educational, and health related activities every week? Located on the 2nd floor of the Village Mall, CCC was founded by the Panama Christian Foundation (PCF) in March of 2014. Since its inception, this simple facility has acted as a classroom, a studio, a dining room, and clubhouse. It has become a tool for locals to learn English and receive job training, a place for kids have fun and discover, and a meeting spot for social gatherings.The facility is open to all members of the community. Here is a closer look at some of the activities taking place at the CCC:
As we have entered the last quarter of 2014, the excitement is up! The traffic from visitors to Panama is increasing and as I travel around Panama I can feel it, I see it, and I hear about it.
With the presidential election behind and the new administration set to begin to put it's stamp on the next 5 years, I must say, now is the time to have a look if you are considering Panama as your next chapter in life to retire, to vacation, or to invest before the next boom.
I have spoken with developers from Holland, France, Italy, China, and the U.S. eager to enter the market and make things happen! New hotels are the key, and a sure sign of things to come. Especially in the area of Bocas Del Toro.
Tucked away in the small town of Los Pozos, (10 minutes past Cholos), this family owned bar and restaurant is open to the public on weekends. Bacchus is more than your average restaurant. With a large pool and three 4x4 tracks, it’s a great place to spend the day with family and friends. Since opening earlier this year, Bacchus has quickly become a local hot spot. When we stopped by to visit with Dutch owners Arjan van Groenigen and Katrien Slaar, it was clear to us why.
The atmosphere is welcoming. Bacchus has that old school, no-frills vibe that fits in with Panama’s naturally rugged terrain. The eclectic bar is spacious yet comfortable, sitting on 23 hectares of land, nestled between several small fincas. While only 20 minutes from Coronado, life is a bit more relaxed at Bacchus, explained Katrien. The main social area caters to families with several activities to keep the kiddies entertained. Katrien and Arjan’s son Troy is the inspiration behind features like the custom sandbox, little tike bikes, go-carts, and playroom room fully equipped with cartoons.
Paul, 35 and Tara, 34 moved to Panama from Alberta, Canada last year with their son Linden, 2 and daughter Taya, 5. Looking to get out of the cold and break free from the rat race, they decided to move to Panama. With their children in mind, Paul and Tara chose the Coronado area.
“Coming to Panama with kids definitely restricts where you can live,” explains Paul. “We needed to be near quality schools and health care, the Pacific beach area was our best option, apart from the city.”
On October 16, my wife Jackie and I attended Felipe Motta’s 14th annual Gran Feria de Vinos in Panama City. With 7 countries and over 60 wineries represented, it was a good cross section of wines to taste. This 2 day affair was heavily attended, with an ample contingent from the beach area. My personal strategy is to arrive as the doors open, thus avoiding much of the crowd.
We tasted nearly 75 wines that evening. When tasting that many wines and trying to remain objective, your humble reporter always behaves professionally and spits each taste. I can report we were the only ones doing so!
Not all the wines are currently available in Coronado, but I have been assured they can be ordered in any quantity.
On to the highlights:
At its regular meeting on the 27th of October, the Rotary Club of Playa Coronado honored a local student, Francis del Carmen Moreno Torres as a charter member for their recently announced, Student of the Month Program. Francis is enrolled in sixth grade at the Roberto Eisenmann School in Coronado. She is an honors student with hopes of a future in Civil Engineering. Some of Francis' favorite activities are soccer, drawing and painting along with spending time with her family.
Francis was introduced at the meeting along with her father, Mr. Cesar Moreno. She circulated with each Rotary member and shared some her passions including her fondness for her little sister, Jennifer, her favorite foods, colors and classic stories like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Members were impressed that Francis, upon entering the meeting immediately approached each member casually and introduced herself with a huge smile and warm handshake, catching some members by surprise.
Rotary of Coronado is seeking nominations for additional students from area schools. Selections are based on academic achievement, respect for fellow students, and a desire to improve the world in which they live.
Panama becomes independent from Spain and voluntarily joins “Great Colombia” with the idea of forming one country together with Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia. This country lasts only for a short time, soon becoming the “Republic of Colombia”. The Isthmus becomes subject to abandonment and neglect. These factors, among others, lead to the formation of several separatist movements, which result in separation from Colombia in November 1903.
During the month of November, the following dates are historically significant and represent a month of patriotism in Panama.
November 3: Panama's separation from Colombia.
November 4: Flag's day.
November 5: Consolidation of the separation from Colombia.
November 10: Declaration of Independence in “La Villa de Los Santos”.
November 28: Independence of Panama from Spain.
The Coronado Community Center hosted a splendid art show and reception on Saturday June 14. Featured were the works of 4 international artists which ranged from paintings, to prints, to photos and some works which were multi-media. It was well attended and between the art, the music, the food and wine/drinks it was very well received by all.
The art will continue to be on display during this week until end of day Friday June 20 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Feel free to stop in and browse (except for Wednesday and Friday mornings which are booked for classes). You might find that perfect item for your new condo or living room!
The event was a 'first' for Coronado but won't be the last. Artists interested in participating in the next event, feel free to stop in or call. www.corocom.info
"I'm not flexible enough" is an all-too-common response to the question, "Have you ever tried yoga?"
The truth is you don't have to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga will likely improve your flexibility as you practice, but you don't have to start out that way. You don't have to be young, either. You don't have to be tall, short, thin, fat, patient, impatient or any other thing. If you're breathing, you can do yoga.
Globally, rural poverty is a double-edged sword. It limits rural and indigenous communities and destroys the natural world. When basic needs like education, sanitation and health care are kept at bay, change is difficult and environmental degradation is inevitable.
In Panama, unsustainable methods of farming and deforestation continue to be a main source of income in many rural and indigenous communities. Scientists have determined that without increased conservation in many of these communities Panama will face a loss of biodiversity.As Panama develops, it becomes harder for the country’s rural and indigenous populations to earn a livable wage. While many seek employment in urban areas, most are met with a low demand for unskilled workers. In an effort to resolve the conflict the, Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Conversation Panama, has turned to ecotourism.
With the current election, the municipality of Chame elected a new Mayor 28-year old, Nieves Mayorga, who is the daughter of the former Mayor of Chame, Euclides Mayorga. Euclides served as Chame’s Mayor for seven consecutive terms – that’s thirty-five years. During the last administration, Euclides Mayorga was charged with corruption and was sentenced to three years in La Joya, a Panamanian prison.
Nieves, who holds a Masters degree in logistics, decided to run for mayor when her father’s conviction came down. “When I was 12 or 13, I told my father, I wanted to be a deputy or a congresswoman. He said, “No, politics are dirty, and they will eventually make you dirty too.” She continued, “But that happens when the good people do not engage in politics. When good people get involved, you see things change.”
Juan Carlos Varela, belonging to the Panameñista Party, has been elected to be the next president of Panama. During his electoral campaign, Varela made an alliance with “El Partido Popular” (The Popular Party). They called the alliance “El Pueblo Primero” (the people first).
As power begins to shift to Varela’s administration, the working alliance with The Popular Party remains strong. Varela’s team has presented the governmental proposals using the same slogan, “El Pueblo Primero.” While the new government’s promises are many, among them are the following:
Price controls in the basic basketJuan Carlos Varela has promised he will sign an executive decree that will freeze the price of 22 products in the Basic Basket. These price freezes could result in a monthly savings of about $58.00 per family.
Tomorrow (Saturday June, 7 2014), Nitro City will host their first skateboarding competition, starting at 10:00 a.m. The event is open to the public, for spectators and competitors.
Day passes will be available for spectators. A day pass allows access to the pool, washrooms, showers, wifi and other events including soccer demonstrations that will be happening throughout the day.
The categories for 'Nitro Skate Cup' competitors are as follows:
Junior, amateur, female, advanced.
First place will receive a prize of $100. Winners will be awarded a day pass and room. Prizes provided by Super Deportes, Adidas and Snickers will also be awarded.
Inscription is $20, this includes a t-shirt for the event, food and transportation if needed.
The latest edition of La Playa is at a distribution point near you, and we are already working on July’s edition. The ad deadline comes up quickly - to get your message in July’s La Playa, be sure to contact us by June 15th.
You know, this month is supposed to be slow season, but you would never know it from June’s calendar of events. Here are some upcoming event highlights:
VISTA MAR TENNIS ACADEMY
REAL ESTATE FAIR
U-Realtors, a member of Panama’s MLS system is having a Real Estate Fair this coming weekend from June 6 - 8th. With over 450 listings, this is a good opportunity for those seeking to buy or list a home. Details at the link below:
PLAYACOMMUNITY’S VEGAS NIGHT
You gotta know when to hold em, know when the fold them…
Bring out your best game on June 26th for Vegas Night at Pacific Casino in Coronado and get ready to WIN WIN WIN!
From 5pm on, Pacific Casino will be periodically holding free Slots, Black Jack and Poker Tournaments for prizes. If you haven’t played a casino game before, this is a good chance to give it a try and have some fun. For those hard nosed gamblers, paid slots and tables will be open for play - YES! there will be poker, if we have the players.
Get a $3 slots play coupon, when you RSVP. One coupon per person, only valid for June 26th’s event.
WORLD CUP DINING - RINCON DEL CHEF
When you visit Rincon del Chef this month, you will get a chance to try out a new Special Menu. Fernando is offering dishes from World Cup Countries. Here is a sample menu:
SPANISH FOR GRINGOS
The Coronado Community Center announces Spanish classes for Gringos, starting June 22. Check the link for details and enrollment contact:
These and many more events are going on this month. There is yoga, Rotary meetings, karaoke, live music, happy hours, Spanish classes, pet shows and lots, lots more. For up-to-date event listings, check the calendar at: http://www.playacommunity.com/en/events/cal
I’ll be at Pacific Casino on the 26th. Hope to see you there!
The Coronado Community Center is pleased to invite all 'Spanish Challenged Gringos' to the new Spanish classes for adults every Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 - 11:30 AM starting Wednesday June 11.
The classes will be a formal structure with progressive studies building on grammatical structure, verb tenses, and practical every day conversational practice and vocabulary building. Classes will be held in the comfortable, quiet and controlled training center of the CCC located in 'The Village' shopping center (Machetazo) above Multi-Bank facing the highway, visible just as you enter.
Ordering a 'pizza and cerveza' is one thing. Having a 'conversation' is another thing altogether. Develop the joys of good communication with structured classes and enjoy living in Panama!