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You are viewing blog entries tagged culinary+adventures.

Greetings from Argentina! edit

Meat_1 I know, I know, I have been bad. I went on vacation and I didn't even mention where was I going, right?  The good part is that although you didn't know about this trip, the Wine Tour to Argentina and Uruguay, I have been gathering great information, photography and videos that you will just love. I'll keep you posted.

During my stay in Buenos Aires, I had the fantastic opportunity to meet SaltShaker, the only food and wine blogger in Buenos Aires I know. I have been following his blog since the beginning of the year, so it was a surprise when he talked about his travels to Uruguay and the reviews he made on the top wineries. Coincidentally I will be visiting most of them during this trip too. How exiting!

I will write more later about my meeting with Dan Perlman, the talented writer and chef behind SaltShaker. For now, I invite you to visit his blog and Casa SaltShaker's website (his restaurant) for great info, menus and fotos. If you are in the area, give him a call to schedule a visit...you won't regret it.

Have a delicious day!


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  • by Chef Melissa
  • October 07, 2006
  • 7:14 am

Still Kickin’ - Divine Wine from South America edit


The confession: The popping noise gives me goose bumps. I have always loved wine, but now The Enthusiast woke up and life would never be the same. Being passionate about the world of wine makes my mission in life to search and purchase wine to enjoy with family and friends. If this requires traveling the world, then so be it.

Nothing gets my juices going like a wine tour in the most exotic of places, wearing, of course a t-shirt that proclaims me as the "Wine Diva." Nevertheless I am not afraid any more to spit and criticize or swirl and admire as a wine demands.

Now, I am finally back home from the Wine Tour.

Dsc03346_1 I missed you very much, but have to admit the Wine Tour was an unique and espectacular opportunity to explore my beloved Argentina and Uruguay in a new way. Loved to argue over a chardonnay and found the romance of corks irresistible.

Andres Rosberg, a fine gentleman that happens to be the President of the Argentinian Association of Sommeliers, traveled with our small group trough the top vineyards of his country and Uruguay. Winery after winery, I lost track of how many wines we tasted, but I sure remember the places we visited:

First, Cafayate in the Salta province. There we stayed at the Cafayate Wine Resort.  We visited Bodega El Esteco, and later we went to Bodega Laborum and vineyard. We had lunch at the home of the Laborum owner, Marcelo Romero, who is the brother of the governor of the province.

Dsc03183 October 8 was the perfect day to visit the Domingo Hermanos Winery. It was sunny with a refreshing breeze that accompany us through our journey. Thirty minutes away was the San Pedro de Yacochuya winery waiting for us. The delicious lunch was as good as their wine.

Then, Mendoza. What an unique place. We stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel, and to tell you the truth I could NOT resist the temptation to nurture my wine-loving body with one of their beauty treatments with wine. Oh my! It was quite sticky, but I loved every second of it. Ahhh...

Tomorrow I will write about the places we visited in Mendoza, including a great video featuring "the making of empanadas in a rustic oven made of mud." Stay Tuned!

Dsc03185 Now, I leave you with a link to Asado Argentina, a very nice blog on Argentinian Asado. They have an array of recipes and tips to cook the perfect asado and side dishes to accompany such a delicacy.

AND, if you are in the mood for some Argentinian Empanadas and Chimichurri Sauce, check out this scrumptious recipe. You WON'T regret it.

Have a tasty afternoon!


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  • by Chef Melissa
  • October 20, 2006
  • 12:09 pm

A tasty video from Argentina: Making Empanadas edit

We've got a treat for you today! The first video was taken at the San Pedro de Yacochuya Winery in Cafayate, Salta, Argentina. I have written a little about this fantastic winery and you are invited to learn about it HERE. Our hostess, Ma. Cecilia de Etchart, is an extra charming wonder woman. Not only does she takes care of the PR of this winery, traditionally known for the excellence of its wines. She also is the mother of two beautiful babies.

The empanadas prepared in this mud oven were part of the delicious lunch we enjoyed at the Etchart family house. They were not only yummy, but beautiful and so fragrant.  I Do not even recall how many I had! LOL!

The second bonus video was taken when we were in our way to visit the Iguazu Falls (Cataratas del Iguazu), in Argentina. The video is an aerial view from our plane. If this doesn't seduce you to go to this beautiful country, I do not know what would do it. Well, anyhow...I'll keep trying.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Chef M

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  • by Chef Melissa
  • November 25, 2006
  • 11:25 am

Food & Wine Festival at The Panamonte (May 26, 2007 - Boquete, Chiriqui) edit

Panamonte_1 The Panamonte Inn & Spa and Chef Charlie Collins Present a Night Celebrating Gastronomy and Wine

If you love gourmet food and fine wine, please be our guest at the first of this year’s Food & Wine Festivals on Saturday, May 26, 2007 at the Panamonte Inn & Spa.

Renowned Chef Charlie Collins and a visiting star chef from Panama City will be joined by El Sommelier’s Wine Specialist Juan Carlos Canavaggio, who will expertly pair select wines with each course.

The first festival theme is: French Cuisine Reinterpreted -- Latino Style

Some of the finest French dishes will be reinterpreted using local ingredients and classic French techniques. Guest pastry chef Edna Cochez, the chef-owner of Bistro Express, a catering company in Panama City, will delight guests with fresh French pastries and breads, and create a mouthwatering special dessert.

Cocktails and Hors D-Oeuvres will be served at 7:15pm in the Cocktail Lounge. Guests will be seated at 8pm for a 5-course gourmet dinner that begins at 8:15pm. Foie gras with sweet potato croquette and lobster poached in cilantro butter are just two of the exquisite dishes that will be served.

The price per person is $45.00 plus tax & gratuity.

Reservations are necessary, please contact the Panamonte at (507) 720-1327, or (507) 720-1324, or email us at reservation@panamonteinnandspa.com.

The Panamonte will host its second and third festivals on August 25 & October 13.

Para obtener la información en Español siga leyendo...

  • by Chef Melissa
  • May 17, 2007
  • 5:18 pm

A Taste of Panama - Culinary Tours edit

Barb1_2 Our tours are designed to provide unique and exotic gastronomic journeys, a once-in-a-life time experience in our country, better known as the "Bridge of the World," where modern life beautifully blends with nature's bounty.

Experience the flavors of the unique and traditionally loved culinary jewels of Panama on a gourmet tour. Our itineraries are designed with the food-lover in mind and include casual cooking classes by international Chef Melissa De Leon and other local professional chefs, tastings, visits to markets, exclusive visits to artisan producers as such as: bakers, cheese makers, coffee plantations, organic fruit and vegetable gardens, edible insects and edible flower farms.

We offer non-cooking options for companions who don't want to spend time in the kitchen. This tour is also perfect for the people who have just made Panama their home, for the tourists, for the locals, high school students and YOU. Tours available in English and Spanish.

Private and Custom Culinary Tours
If you want to enjoy a private or custom tour, tailored to your needs, this option is the answer to your prayers. We will design a special edition of any of our tours or a totally unique itinerary to fit your calendar, destinations and activities you want to include. We invite you to consider this option when planning: corporate team-building events, business meetings, business incentive trips, weddings, family reunions and friend gatherings. It will be an unforgettable adventure. Tours available in English and Spanish.

For details of our tours and other services please contact Panama Gourmet.

  • by Chef Melissa
  • June 14, 2007
  • 2:35 pm

From Mother & Father Nature: Boggy Creek Farm (Austin, Texas) edit

Yesterday I couldn't get out of "Cerro Verde," it was so foggy and misty all day long, so I decided to stay in the premises and walk thorough the pepper's garden trails, check out the growing corn field and the new additions to the veggie gardens, among others. I put on my LONG rubber boots and "fumigated myself" with the bug's reppelent I have developped over the years: a blend of lavender, lemongrass, citronella and...catnip oil! Everytime I grab the blue bottle of bug-repellent, my weimaraner and the short-leggeg aranchist Basset hound, both of them truly beloved companions, start acting really funny. I knew about catnip and cats! BUT, somehow it also makes some doggies BANANAS. Life in the tropics I guess!

Back in the office, refreshing memories of my recent visit to beautiful Austin, Tx, we are sharing with you today an incredibly beautiful video of life and trade in an Organic Farm: Boggy Creek Farm, including an interview with Carol Ann, one of the owners and creators of such a natural paradise. I was in total heaven while I taped this video,...how about you? do you like it?

Have a delicious week! I could not spect less from you :D


P.S. I originally recorded the video in a new Sony video camera, then I found out that it's is not compatible with Macs! From the bottom of my heart I say it stinks! Since I edited the video in a Mac, I had to transfer it from the video camera to the PC, then to my Mac. Definitely the result doesn't compare to the original quality promised by Sony. Anyhow...I hope someday both companies work out a deal favorable to the consummer so we do not have these kind of problems.

  • by Chef Melissa
  • October 09, 2007
  • 10:38 am

Edible Tours in Argentina: Cooking with Teresita & Empanadas Argentinas edit

Dried_peppers I lived some of the best days of my tasty life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That is what keeps me going back there year after year to explore the culture and the magical wine country.

For reference, please visit:

Teresita_2 Sometime ago I discovered Cooking (Latin American Cuisine in Buenos Aires) with Teresita, a top class cooking tours service in Buenos Aires. For me, there is nothing more inspiring than a person that is willing to share the knowledge and experience treasured all of her life.

This is the reason why today we are featuring Teresita and what she has to offer in Buenos Aires. We invite you to put Argentina high on your "places to visit" list and enjoy the wonders of this beautiful South American Country.

Welcome to the two different worlds of cuisine in Argentina. On one hand, there is the urban cuisine, highly influenced by international recipes and cooking trends, reflecting Argentina's importance in global society. Second, there is the rural cuisine that draws inspiration from the indigenous cultures in the north of Argentina. In the last case, an interesting social phenomena is happening as we speak.

Porteños, people from the city of Buenos Aires, have adopted only in recent years some indigenous techniques into the new world of Argentine cuisine. Today, we can observe the typical Argentinian empanadas being sprinkle with sugar which is a special costume used in Tucuman, a province in the north of Argentina. Frying empanadas with lard has also been adopted by some of the well-known chefs in Buenos Aires. Lard has been a tradition in empanadas making techniques in Misiones, another province in the north bordering with Paraguay and Brazil. While there are many other indigenous food preparation of Argentine traditional foods, it seems that young Argentineans chefs are adopting them slowly making sure that is a reflection of recycling innovation and not lack of contemporary cuisine knowledge.

Empanadas_argentinas_with_sugar Recipe covered at one of Teresita's classes:

Crust for baked Empanadas Argentinas
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of Salmuera (brine). Prepare a concoction with dissolved salt in hot water and left aside until cold.
4 ounces of butter or margarine

Crust for fried Empanadas Argentinas

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 teaspoon of corn oil
1 egg
1 cup of boiling water

Cooking_class_in_buenos_aires Preparation
To make the crust, place the flour into a bowl and mix the butter into the flour using your fingers. Pour the Salmuera slowly into the mix and mix it with your fingers just until the dough comes together and can be formed easily into a ball. Let the dough rest (outside the fridge) for about half an hour. Divide the dough in small balls the size of half an egg. Then roll with a roller pin out to a thickness of 1/8-inch making a rounded shape.

  • by Chef Melissa
  • November 30, 2007
  • 11:46 am

Escribiendo la Historia del Turismo Gastronómico en Panamá edit

comida panameña gourmetComparto este artículo que escribí en el 2007 para una publicación internacional, y lo re publiqué en mi blog The Cooking Diva para mayor difusión.

Somos varios Chefs panameños que hemos sido precursores en el campo del Turismo Gastronómico en Panamá. Entre ellos puedo mencionar a la Chef Elena Hernández y al Chef Charlie Collins, a quienes les envío un abrazo y las gracias por siempre haber apostado por Panamá en este rubro.

Hoy día seguimos dando el 100% por nuestro bello país, no solamente con mejores e innovadores Tours Gastronómicos, El Tour de Chefs y Team Building Corporativo con metodología de punta y el mismo cariño y profesionalismo de siempre!

Un abrazo a todos!

  • by Chef Melissa
  • May 13, 2011
  • 8:30 am

Culinary Tourism in Panama: For the Love of Farmers´ Markets edit

There is an almost romantic relationship between a cook and the food markets. It is an idyllic, prolific desire to find the veggies, fish, seafood, meats and other ingredients in their most natural environment. We want to talk to them.

Since having a vegetable garden, or raising a few cows in our backyard is not always a choice, we chose to visit the farmers markets, dairy farms so we can have the freshest produce, milk and meats from animals which have been grass feed and raised humanely.

Farmers markets are a traditional method used by farmers worldwide to sell their produce directly to consumers. By avoiding the increasingly industrialized food production, and the broker fees involved in the process of selling those products in supermarkets, the consumer gets the freshest ingredients at excellent prices.

This time we are sharing some photos we took a few weeks ago, while taking a group of visitors in a tour of Panama City’s markets. We had so much fun!

From San Felipe Neri Public Market in Panama City, Panama:



From The Fish Market (Mercado del Marisco) in Panama City, built by the Japanese Government:


  • by Chef Melissa
  • May 17, 2011
  • 5:48 am

A great excuse to visit a beautiful country: Team Building in Panama! edit

Tour de Chefs PanamaLooking for an enjoyable event for your employees or clients? Chef Melissa De Leon, Chef Julio Pascoe & The Tour de Chefs will customize a hands-on Culinary Team Building event to meet your specific needs!

We specialize in creating dynamic learning enviroments that inspire teams to improve communication and problem solving skills. Wether it’s our innovative cooking programs, team learning events, or our more traditional and ethnic cooking classes courses, all the programs use the experiential process to engage participants, enhace learning, and strengthen working relationships.

With the assitance of our professional chefs, team members work together to prepare a gourmet meal in a comfortable culinary setting, and then “break bread” while enjoying their meal together. Prior culinary experience not required! Programs available in English and Spanish.

To request a quotation please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

We hope to see you here in Panama soon!

  • by Chef Melissa
  • May 19, 2011
  • 7:28 am



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