How do you enjoy the ending of one year and the appearance of the next?
Festivities differ from culture to culture, person to person. The New York City Times Square countdown is customary to individuals in the United States. In Japan, dwellings are scrubbed, fights forgiven and the temples ring their gongs 108 instances. The Dutch burn bonfires of Christmas trees in the roadways to drive out the old and bring in the New. Some persons celebrate the whole night and afterward greet the New Year in a bleary eyed haze. Some stay home to reflect alone, or with close relatives, on time passed and occasions that would come. Some make resolutions for the New Year.
Here in Panama there is an enchanting custom that has its beginnings in The country of spain. At midnight, you take 12 grapes, one for each month. You possess a silver coin in one hand and hold, or wear, gold jewelry in the other. As you consume each grape, you make a wish for each month. In the end, you toast with sparkling wine and afterward you might kiss neighbors, family, and even strangers as the feeling hits you. Following this ritual ensures wellness, riches and love for the coming year.
This year, at the Panamonte Inn & Spa in Boquete, Panama, the aforementioned routine was celebrated in the El Salto Lounge to the music of a coltish latin salsa band and fireworks. Nevertheless, it’s what came right before the conventional consumption of grapes that was truly eventful: a six course meal with unique wine pairings designed, guided and prepared by Executive Chef Charlie Collins, one of the Inn’s owners and a worldwide acclaimed chef.
Amuse – gueule
Fresh Fig tied up with Bacon, Salvia and Prosciutto
Marques de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc
Pacific Shrimp Parfait with Avocado,
Diver Shellfish and Mussels grilled in Brown Butter,
Goat cheese Dumpling with Pernod Cream Sauce
Altos del Plata Chardonnay
Thai Basil Sorbet
Patagonian Crown roast al Rosemary and Barbequed Sparerib,
in a Bordelaise syrup,
Caramelized Baby Carrots
LAN Red wine Crianza
Dessert or Cheese
Cheese Selection: Brie, Fontina, Manchego – Fresh Cherries
Plum Pudding – Eggnog
Grapes – Champagne
From the initial bite of the tasty fig and crisp prosciutto, through the delicious seafood courses, to the wonderful dumpling with chevre, to the well cooked Patagonian crown roast, to the ending bites of conventional plum pudding, this was an awesome tour de force.
For 2011, the Inn was totally reserved, the dining area was full, and the word is spreading quick. A recommendation: make your plans now, make your reservations now…for New Year’s Eve 2012 at the Panamonte Inn & Spa, Boquete, Panama.
My New Year’s Resolution for 2012? To have a good time New Year’s Eve next December 31st at the Panamonte Inn & Spa and see what Chef Charlie does to top off last year’s dramatic event. And save room for the grapes. Happy New Year within the Panamonte Inn & Spa.