I just got back from basking in the Central American heat for a week in Panama. We lay on the beach, toured the Panama Canal, visited a village in the crater of an extinct volcano, got stung by what has got to have been some of the biggest jellyfish in the world, and enjoyed some good old Canadian poutine. Wait, what? Poutine in Panama?
What is it about vacations that make you crave stuff you can get anytime at home? Like a cesaer and poutine when you’re in Panama for example. If you happen to find yourself near Playa Blanca in the Farallon region, you’re in luck.
We found out about a bar right on the beach and only 5 minutes from the hotel we’d be staying at before we left. It’s called Woody’s and it’s Canadian owned by a couple who now call Panama home. Monique and Woody even have ties to Winnipeg -Monique was stationed at the Air Movement Squadron in Winnipeg many years ago and has very fond memories of the city. She is quick to welcome you if she has never seen you around before and is happy to talk about their experience living in Panama.
Another bonus if you visit during the winter- they are huge NHL fans, a giveaway as soon as you walk into the place. Hockey jerseys of all sorts adorn the walls, but the majority are those of the six Canadian team. Right away we noticed Winnipeg fans had already left their mark – both old and new Jets jerseys hung from the ceiling. They also stream NHL games on a TV on the bar. The first time we went, it was a Friday night and the Winnipeg Jets happened to be playing. We couldn’t believe we were sipping on Atlas (one of Panama’s beers) just steps from the beach and watching the Jets game live!
We had heard lots about the food from online reviews and from other hotel guests. They always recommended the fish, shrimp and of course- the poutine! We ordered all three and were not disappointed.
The shrimp was comparable to the jellyfish that stung me the next day – the biggest I have ever seen!
The poutine is their claim to fame. After I tried it I could see why. It was perfect. The gravy was not too bland, not too salty and the perfect consistency to melt the curds. The fries were crispy and I almost jumped out of my chair when it was placed in front of me and I saw they use actual cheese curds. I got to talking to Monique and she told me that so many Canadians come down to visit them weekly, they go through 100 pounds of cheese in one week! Fortunately for them, it is locally produced so they never run out.
It was such a treat to indulge in fresh, local seafood, while also enjoying a little comfort from home in the form of gravy and cheese.