Feliz Navidad

My gift to everyone living and visting the Hibiscus Garden Hotel in Panama for Christmas Eve was a four course holiday dinner menu concluding with a homemade candy and fudge platter.

Christmas in Panama does not consist of snowmen or sledding, on the contrary we build sand castles and surf.

Here's Mari organizing the flowers harvested from the garden for the special candy platter.

Here's the Cody Candy plate. Peanut brittle, dark chocolate fudge, a giant buckeye rolled in hazelnuts, coconut and rum truffles, vanilla fudge and candied almonds.

The turkeys hot out of the oven. A 90 degree kitchen plus the oven on all day = 110 degrees.

Honey roasted ham.

Once I had the meat and everything ready to plate I took a quick break to eat with the crew and exchange gifts. Here's Lotti waiting patiently for her gifts.

Now she is waiting patiently for the food.

As they all were.

The 2010-2011 winter season crew at Hibiscus Garden.

Then it was present time.

Lotti getting some practice for the new baby (Hedi is due in two weeks) with her new baby stroller.

Chris gave me some alligator teeth, which is totally cool.

After the party Mari and I sweated butt in the kitchen plating the courses for the 20 guests.
Here is the first course... a crostini sampler with mozo, tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh basil and caramelized pear.

The second course... Hibiscus Garden salad with a bit of fruit and mango vinaigrette.

The grande third course. Platefulls of turkey or ham, stuffing, gravy, mashed or twice baked tators, green beans or creamed corn and croissants. Right below is the turkey option and the one below that is the ham option.

If the guests didn't want the candy platter they can choose the rum and cocoa cheesecake.

Cat and dog. Random, but these guys are always hanging (or fighting) in the kitchen.

And for the morning there was no waste... turkey omelettes and leftover ham.

At the end of the big day (the 24th was our party and big dinner and the 25th is just another work day for me) things are back to normal... hanging laundry in the sun, playing with the animals, surfing, cooking lobster and king prawns instead of whole turkey and ham, and getting very little sleep. In 6 weeks the high season will settle down and I will able to breathe again. This is extremely hard work, twice as harder than Antarctica for many reasons, but I believe it good to give these people a taste of something new and help out. I am becomming a stronger chef, and more importantly I am becomming a stronger person. Luckily for me, the simple things in life (like right now, the pigs knocked out their water valve and depleted our 2000 litre ration of water, now we have none...) keep me entertained and well challenged.