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Post archives under the tag: dental tourism in Panama
October 20, 2010 | Jeffrey Apton
Going to Panama for a dental vacation? Here’s a personal tour of the restaurants in Panama — by an American “Foodie” and professional dental tourism provider.
An Eating Adventure: Panama City
I admit it. As a Baby Boomer, any meal promising a heavy dose of Omega 3s has to be good. Panama means “many fish,” so I was inclined to be excited about eating in this beautiful country.
I did not realize just how excited I would be, until we set down for a week in Panama City.
My travels for work and vacation have taken me around the world a number of times. Thinking about some of the places I have can start me salivating. Yakitori stands by the train stops in Tokyo, almost anything in Italy, mezzes (small plates of food) overlooking the Golden Horn in Istanbul come immediately to mind.
So it came as a most pleasant surprise to find that thinking about the food of Panama has the same effect on me. When I told Robin before our trip that she was going to be amazed, she was a bit skeptical. By trip’s end, she was a convert.
I initially thought that Panama would be pretty similar to Costa Rica, food-wise…a general bland affair based around comidas typica, the rice and beans that accompanies everything.
In fact, the food of Panama has a diversity not found in its neighbor to the North, which occupies a similar geography. Perhaps it is the ethnic diversity of Panama, with African, native Indian, Chinese and European influences that makes eating such a diverse pleasure.
So jump in the cab with me and let’s go eat. We had a car and the rental was not expensive, but you will find places easier in Panama City by cab, and let’s face it, getting lost for an hour with a growling stomach is no fun (more on this later)
Parrillada Jimmy is the kind of place a tourist might drive by on the way to somewhere else. This large, plain looking building with wrought iron furniture had a simple hacienda charm inside, and was bustling with local families and business people. My grilled octopus was as good, if not better than anything I had on the plaka in Athens, and the grilled steak was pretty great as well. I still dream about that octopus and a cold beer and as Arnold said, ”I’ll be back.”
We left the hacienda-style restaurant and went on to the Old City. The remains of what existed after Captain Morgan sacked the city in 1671 was there, as was a building with lots of Indians selling molas, the native cloth with colorful animal designs. I had to buy one of a fish, of course (below). And we got to see the ruins of some of the buildings that Morgan fired upon. The joke, however was on the Welsh buccaneer, because the Spanish took the gold and silver out before he could grab it.
This trip was a work mission trip to meet the excellent Panamanian dentists who work with our dental tourism company (http://www.panamdentaltours.com/). One most gracious dentist invited us to dinner at Siete Mares (Seven Seas), an elegant place with valet parking, located in the Financial District. I would have ordered their specialty lobster, but he was paying. So I had a truly wonderful bacalao, the dried salted cod that gets soaked in water and comes back to life as a mild and flaky delight. Although our dental friend was a bit boastful about his dental abilities, the great food and wine more than made up for his ego.
The next night we met a tour operator and friend, Carlos in Casco Viejo. This part of the City was built in 1673 after the sack of the Old City. It’s a trove of great and classic architecture and like many cities in the world undergoing urban renaissance, Casco Viejo is being upgraded…back to its 17th century splendor. We chose Manolo Carocol, which may be one of the best-loved places among artists, young entrepreneurs, business people and hip tourists (us of course). You put yourself in the owner chef’s hands and get what is fresh that day, as he calls it “food with love”. You may sample sole carpaccio, pork loin with pineapple, gingery prawns or andalusian gazpacho with cucumber. The wood tables, white stucco walls, and artifacts and local art that fill the restaurant make this a dining experience that must be experienced. It was great!!!
Acha is a restaurant we tried to find another evening, a great modern seafood place, with a longstanding reputation. After driving around for well over an hour and getting nowhere, we settled- and it was clearly not settling- on Madame Chang’s, a Chinese restaurant that would have been at home in San Francisco or Vancouver.
I left ceviche off the menu on this short trip. You can get this citrus-marinated dish almost anywhere, with corvina, a mild white fish that we only found in Panama, shrimp, conch or octopus. For me it is the perfect food: tastes great, good for you, low in fat and fantastic with a cold beer. Some day we will make it at home.
We cannot wait to get back to Panama very soon and visit the islands, where I understand a tribe lives that was been trained by an Italian chef in pasta making…from scratch. Carlos, a friend who also arranges tours for our clients, told us that there was a plan to send the Indians to cooking school in Italy. This was a great idea, but also an amusing one—when you see how they dress, the thought of Indians in Rome seems kind of funny. Anyway, it was not to be. It seems that the idea never got going due to lack of funding.
If you are a dental tourist we send to Panama, ask about the restaurants. These will be the first meals you eat with your new teeth, and you will be a very happy camper whatever you choose.
May 8, 2010 | Jeffrey Apton
This USA Today article features six places with in-country costs that make a vacation budget easy.
This is what was said about Panama, where a seven day vacation including airfare and 3 -star hotel was estimated to cost $1,130.
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