Simply described as “Latin America meets Italy. Panamá meets Mediterraneo. Bringing real Latin American food to Bristol” , La Panemeña aims to bring some authentic fever to the Bristol food circuit.
I was so glad i could come to their first Bristol pop up event. All Gluten Free apart from one dessert option, i was truly in allergen heaven.
On booking the event Carla from Can Be Bribed With Food (La Panameña’s creator), put my mind at ease by telling me that everything but one thing was to be Gluten Free. I did a tiny dance in my seat. I love trying different foods, and the words ‘Homemade’ and ‘Comfort Food’ make me sink at the knees.
The first event, entitled Dia de la Bandera (Day of the Flag) invited us for a mere £20 per person for a 3 course meal and bring your own. “Come join us celebrate Panamá’s independence from Colombia at 40 Alfred Place for a Sunday lunch filled with Latin American warmth! One sitting, communal tables, lots of food, colour and music.” I decided to bring along my camera and take some photos. I knew this was going to be fun.
That’s exactly what it was, a food celebration. Unlike going to a restaurant, this felt like an occasion; i love things like this and it gets me excited even when writing about them. The atmosphere on the Sunday was fantastic, everyone wanted to be there to celebrate tasting this new food, it was warm, cosy and vibrant. Just what i wanted on a freezing cold November day.
Food was plentiful and communal. Handing round bowls and having conversations mostly about how to get the recipe off the chef, is exactly what you want from an event like this. No one should be discussing anything else but the food.
Highlights for me were an amazing Tazita de Guacho (rice, beans and pork soup). Wholesome, peppery and packed full of flavour, i could have eaten a whole bowl.
Ceviche de Pescado Blanco and Patacones (fried green plantain), which made my husband want to go home and re-create this straight away; we already started planning on how we can work it into our weekly food list. Beautiful Sea Bream mixed with coriander and sweet fresh tomato, cured in a tangy, sharp marinade; fragrant, fresh and addictive, contrasted excellently with chopped cashew nuts to add another element of texture.
My favourite dish however, was the Homemade Beef Tasajo in Tomato and Coconut Sauce with Arroz con Guandu (Rice and Peas from the Caribbean side). So tender and rich, with a bit of sweetness. Our table did a conclusive ‘oh my god this is good’ in our heads. We didn’t have time to say anything because eating this was more important.
What i love about all of this food is that is doesn’t scare you to try to recreate it at home. It so packed full of comfort and love that it’s almost enticing you to make it your own and try some more. It also proves that using naturally gluten free ingredients can make some of the best food you have ever tasted.
La Panameña have set them up for a long subscription of event attendance from me, and i do hope other Bristolians or any out of towners venture to attend to one of the events (*whispers* i hear the next one is in January). You can start by liking the Facebook page.