Portumanian Pond Life

There are days that become indelible in your mind. Every element of it comes together to make something perfect, special and unrepeatable. Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have one of those days.

My darling friends Rossy and Paula cooked up the idea a few months ago to host a dinner featuring dishes from their native lands - Panama and Portugal. Since Rossy's place had lots of space and this beautiful, warm pond, it was decided that's where it would be held.

When you've got great friends, lots of tasty VQA wines, sunshine, swimming and a glorious feast, there's really not much else to ask for. Even as the day unfolded, everyone in attendance marvelled at how perfect it all was, and we all agreed it was one of the best days any of us had ever had.

And the food? Well, Rossy and Paula created a menu of fourteen dishes. Everything was delicious, and luckily, I remembered to bring antihistamines so I could indulge in the crustaceans. One of my favourite dishes was also one of the most basic - the coconut rice with pigeon peas. The sweet richness of the coconut milk the rice was cooked in made the dish special in its simplicity. Other personal highlights were the salt cod balls, and the choco flan.

Here's what we ate:
Rossy (Panama)
  • Empanaditas de Pollo - mini empanadas stuffed with chicken
  • Ceviche Mixto - lime marinated shrimp, octopus, mussels and clams
  • Mariscos al Ajillo - shrimp & scallops in butter & olive oil garlic sauce, with grilled fennel & smoked tomatoes
  • Arroz con Guandu y Coco - coconut & pigeon pea rice
  • Ensalada de Palmito y Vegetales - mixed salad of hearts of palm & vegetables
  • Escabeche de Pescado - pickled, fried fish
  • Crema de Mango, Gengibre & Lima - mango ginger lime mousse

Paula (Portugal)
  • Rissois de Camarão - shrimp in pastry
  • Bolinhos de Bacalau - codfish puff balls
  • Cataplana de Amêijoas - clams in Cataplana
  • Asas de Galinha PiriPiri - piri piri chicken wings
  • Porco Bêbado - roast 'drunken' pork
  • ChocoFlan - chocolate cake with baked custard & dulce de leche
  • Bolos de Mel - Portuguese honey cakes (recipe)

After a blissful day of swimming, eating, drinking and laughing with some of my favourite people, even the swarms of mosquitos as the sun set couldn't take away from the experience. It's one I hope to come close to again, and soon.

cod fish balls & shrimp pastriesEmpanadascevicheGuacamoleCheersthe setting for our supperCucumber tomato saladveggie salad with palm heartsCataplana clamsEscabeche'Drunken' Porkcoconut rice with pigeon peasmariscos al ajillomango ginger moussePortuguese honey cake'Impossible Cake'Paula and Rossy.


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