Temas Especiales

25 de Jan de 2021

Nacional

Eggplants and aussie wine delight

PANAMA. Purple is the fashionable color of the season and, to keep up with it, this week I wined and dined in purple.

PANAMA. Purple is the fashionable color of the season and, to keep up with it, this week I wined and dined in purple.

I went around asking everybody if they like eggplant. Surprisingly, half of my surveyed acquaintances had never tasted it, a few said they didn't like it and a small percentage said they absolutely loved it. Good for them, because eggplants are packed with health benefits and, in the hands of a good cook, they are just delicious.

Eggplants are native to India and figure in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, mainly. The most popular variety is Black Beauty with large, deep purple fruits that weight up to one pound. Other varieties come in different colors and shapes. A good friend of Syrian origin told me about a popular appetizer in Arabic cuisine: Baba ghanoush. It's made of pureed eggplant with onions, garlic and tahini. Tradition says this dish has the capability of giving women sweetness, fertility and seductive abilities - a thought that reminded me that I need to increase my eggplant intake. I went out with the firm goal of finding the best aubergine dish in the city.

At Beirut Restaurant (Front of Marriot hotel), I sat with a couple friends to enjoy a nice evening in their veranda-like dining room. Eggplant Sherezade and Eggplant Tripoli were thinly sliced, topped each with a different sauce. Nice, but not enough on the plate to turn me into a seductress! But a nice spot for people gazing.

For those who think eggplants are mushy, Athens (Calle 50) cooks up a thin crust eggplant pizza, which is my winner. They also offer Eggplant Imam, both dishes under $10.

The Italians have their famous Melazane alla Parmigiana, (eggplant parmigiana) and, according to dear friend Alberto, Rhino's Restaurant (Federico Boyd) cooks a perfect balance of tomatoes, cheese and eggplant. Another winner at Rhino's is the Eggplant Folati, which is baked eggplant and peppers. Both options are served as appetizer and main dish.

I ran out of time and could not find a good french ratatouille; suggestions and recipes will be gratefully accepted.

If you are a home body and have culinary abilities, pick up eggplant at any major supermarket in town; I have seen beautiful ones at El Rey and Riba Smith. My Serbian friend Sasa told me they call it poor man's ham; they slice it, then batter and deep fry it and it's a great addition to veggie sandwiches.

My suggestion to all who haven't awakened yet to eggplant delight? Remember what tradition says.

OZ WINE

Wednesday night, Felipe Motta hosted an Australian wine-tasting night at their wine store in Marbella.

Carlos Rodriguez, VP of the Foster's group, lectured the attendees on a selection of four Australian wines: Rosemount Diamond Shiraz, Lindeman Bing 65 Chardonnay, Penfolds Shiraz-Cabernet and Greg Norman Cabernet-Merlot.

Lively and charming, Rodriguez explained the origin and characteristics of each one. He said that what makes a wine great is not just the wine itself but also the food that accompanies the wine.

He demonstrated this by giving each person a pinch of salt, sugar and pepper and suggested we sip the preferred wine before and after tasting them. With each, the balance of sugar, acidic and spiciness changed.

In recent years, Australian wines have been getting more attention around the world, with an unprecedented growth in exportations.

My favorite was the Rosemount Diamond Shiraz as it was soft and velvety to my palate.

Turned out it was what Rodriguez recommends for tomato-based eggplant dishes.

To get your own supply of down-under wine, visit the Felipe Motta wine store (Marbella).

FIND IT

Athens Pizza, Calle 50, El Dorado and Obarrio. Info: 265-4637 www.athenspizzapanama.com

Beirut Restaurant, banking area in front of the Marriot Hotel. Info: 214-3815

Rhino’s Restaurant, Federico Boyd avenue Info: 223-1090

Felipe Motta Wine Store, Marbella Info: 302-5555, winestore@felipemotta.com