There is a current thread running on Boquetening.com with a resident claiming the food in Chiriqui is not equal to Washington State. I am sure there are places in Washington State that have both excellent and awful food. We have the same here, but because there are fewer people in Chiriqui Panama than in Seattle Washington, we have fewer of both.
Napoleon is credited with saying that “an army marches on it’s stomach”. Not everyone will agree but to me a great vacation requires great food. Great food can be mean different things to different people. I like to try new things. I like innovative cuisine, I like things I cannot or will not cook at home.
Our trip to Isla Palenque had included a surprise, great food, the best I have eaten in Chiriqui, the best I have eaten in Panama.
In April 2011 I wrote a restaurant review of The Rock in Boquete, in that review I said, ”About two weeks ago Mayra and I ate at the La Casa de Lourdes, an acclaimed restaurant in El Valle. The meal in El Valle was not even close in quality or taste; this was excellent food”. The chef at the Rock was a Panamanian named Oliver Blond, Oliver is now the chef at Isla Palenque.
On Isla Palenque the chef has a captive small and demanding market. He can be innovative or lazy. Oliver selected innovative and excellent. His food qualified as the best I have eaten in Panama. He has taken local ingredients and produced unique variations including some with very traditional names and non traditional execution.
The Island has it’s own organic gardens and produces much of what is served. It also has the Pacific Ocean on it’s doorstep providing fresh fish, lobster, shrimp and more.
So here is the naked truth, to us foodies, the following photos might be pornographic. These photos are a hollow expression of how good the food actually looked, smelled and tasted.
Like all people who never grew up, I like to start with dessert. Here is a crepe stuffed with strawberries and covered with island produced coconut ice cream.
When Mayra saw traditional dishes on the menu she wanted to see how different they could be. She tried the Arroz con Pollo and said, “the is the best I have ever eaten”. It had both flavor and lots of chicken.
I needed to see what could be done to make a Cuban sandwich different, it was heaven on toasted bread, unlike any I have eaten before.
Sancocho is another Panamanian tradition, just like Mayra texting while she eats. This soup was the best Sancocho either of us has ever eaten.
Mayra never tasted a salad with marinated beef in it before this one, exceptional.
Oliver was trained as a chef in Chile, so when I saw Lobster Empanadas on the menu I knew it would be a test of his education. We spent two weeks in Chile eating scores of empanadas in January, none tasted this good.
If you look at the Corvina plate in the Rock review and look at this grilled fish you will see some signatures of the chef and some new innovations.
Chuleta, pork chop, in Panama usually means a thin cut, rib in pork chop either grilled to oblivion or fried. This two rib thick chop was moist on the inside and covered in a perfectly complimentary sauce.
If this was not enough to make you salivate our final evening meal had the following menu. Neither of us could make to the end and it was very fortunate we only had to walk a few score meters to our room.
So to all you who say Chiriqui does not have GREAT food, you just haven’t been to Isla Palenque, yet.
This is the LINK to their website for more information.