Monday, July 22, 2013

21 July 2013

We had an awesome trip to Panama City, Panama last week. It was my first time in Central America, and the city was fascinating. It seems that every square foot is under construction, and their economy is booming. We spent the first two days in the old town, Casco Viejo, at Las Clementinas. It was an extremely charming small, six room boutique hotel, and the atmosphere and service were impeccable. They also have the highest rated restaurant in Panama City, and the food is divine. They are literally restoring the district brick by brick, and it is great to see all of the activity. I can't wait to return in a few years to see their progress. We also visited the Panama Canal and watched a ship pass through the locks. It is such an engineering marvel, and the history is fascinating. They are in the process of adding a new, larger canal on the other side, so business is good there. We moved over to the new Trump Ocean Club and Hotel for the last four nights, compliments of our dear friend, Leslie Westbrook. Although new, the Trump building was equally as fascinating with its architecture that evokes a sailboat image. All in all, we had a wonderful trip, but it was great to get home.

On Saturday, we went to the Canton Farmers Market, and I served as a judge for the Tomato Sandwich Festival. It was a lot of fun, and Roy Taylor did an excellent job with the event. His homemade sourdough and rosemary breads were also enjoyed! It was good to see so many people out to enjoy the festival and farmers market. It is small town events like these that make Canton so special. After the festival, we returned home to spend some quality time in the cement pond. We relaxed most of the afternoon, and I made a simple pasta and tomato sauce for dinner to top off a great day.

For tonight's Sunday Supper, I selected a Panamanian theme to celebrate our trip. I made Arroz con Pollo with a side of fried plantains. For the plantains, I created a dipping sauce from tangerine marmalade, garlic chili paste and apple juice. It was sweet and very spicy, but it turned out well. Our friends TJ Cochran, Cory Wilson and John Clark joined us for dinner. TJ and Cory crafted a beautiful table setting on the side porch, and the monsoon rain arrived just in time to complete the Panamanian rain forrest setting. I served a slightly chilled Spanish Tempranilo wine with dinner, and we had a wonderful time. While I enjoy traveling, there is truly no place like home.

The Menu:

- Arroz con Pollo

- Tostones: Fried Plantains with Tangerine Chili Dipping Sauce

The Recipe – Arroz con Pollo


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken cut into pieces or four thighs and four drumsticks
2 teaspoons salt
1 pinch saffron (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 ounces smoked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice, or two slices thick smoked bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 3/4 cups canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 small jar of capers, rinsed
1 cup rice, long-grain
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.
Cook the chicken, turning, until well browned, about 8 minutes in all. Remove. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the ham, onion, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften,
about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, about 3 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, capers, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and saffron and bring to a
simmer. Stir in the rice and add the chicken in an even layer. Simmer, partially covered, over moderately low heat until the chicken and rice
are just done, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with crusty french baguette.

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