Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood

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EdSails
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2010/12/03 22:40:35 (permalink)

Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood

A few weeks ago I took advantage of a great rate to do a Panama Canal cruise. The gourmet food on the Island Princess was very nice, but I was on a mission to find some roadfood type places in the countries I visited.

I found my first find in Acapulco, going off the beaten (touristy) path in a quest for a taco. I found this stand, out on a side street with nary a tourist in sight. The menu says it all.
 
The experienced waitstaff ready to take my order.
I rdered a variety of tacos---chiccharon, al pastor pork, chicken, mole and barbacoa. This is what I got.

Each one was delicious. I also got a side of beans (visible in the row of containers on the front of the cart and some salsa. The cost---$2.50 American. Roadfood at it's best!
Walked back to the touristy part for a local beer to finish it off. Yum!

 
Some of my adventures were cut down some by the weather. It's the rainy season in Central America and I got a good dose of rain. In Panama City/Puerte Amador, I did make it to a neat little outdoor area where I got some great empanadas.
The dough was flaky and fresh and the chicken and pork stuffings were delish.

 

And after all, what could be more Roadfood than a meal cooked over a auto wheel!
Later on, I did my search for ceviche. I had decided to see if I could try some in each of the cities I visited. Here's the ceviche in Panama City.

A mixed type, with octopus, shrimp and local fish.It came with the hottest----and possibly best---hot sauce I had ever eaten. I asked if the had it bottled to go, but no such luck----they made it fresh during the day. Look at that color. Habanero supreme!

 
The local Panamanian beer was good too.

 
In Puntarenas, Costa Rica, I found this ceviche------strictly local sea bass.

The first time I was in Aruba I just walked a few touristy places and had some coffee and that was it. This time, I decided to talk to the locals and see what to try. Some of the locals at a store I was in steered me on to this thing called a pastechi. It's essentialy Aruba's version of the empanada or Jamaica's pattys. The first place I was sent to looked promising. The women at the store said they got them all the time from this place. I went there but they were out of just about everything.

I went back to the store where I had been and got a suggestion of an even better place but one that was quite a walk. Well, I was on a mission!
The sign in from of the place left nothing to doubt. I had arrived.

I looked at the menu. Too many interesting things to choose from!

I decided to try a beef one and a conch pastechi. Conch happens to be one of my favorite things so I was really happy. They came quickly, accompanied by two bottles of sauce---a hot sauce and a curry sauce.

I split them in two so I could try each half with a different sauce.

They were delicious. The conch was tender and still had the taste of the sea. The beef was good too. If I could have ordered one of everything on their menu I would have. The sauces realy kicked things up but did not overpower the flavors. 

After that I went to Iguana Joe's to sample the local beers.


The Polar Beer, while technically not local, comes from Venuzuela-------seventeen miles across the sea from where we were.
I had a few disappointments. Cartegena, Columbia, was the port I wanted to see the most. I had a place called La Cevicheria all picked out as well as planning on walking the streets to buy a few more vendor treats. Instead, it poured rain the whole time and traffic was a mess, so all I got was some of the local beers at a little bar out of the rain, outside but under an overhang. Good, but not what I wanted foodwise and certainly not the walking day I had planned in Cartegena. Cabo San Lucas has some decent beer but my wanderings could not find a "real" taco place to eat at. 
Fort Lauderdale, was fun. I found a place called the Elbo Room and had a blast there (as well as a few Jack and Cokes).Apparently a few RF'er's know the place.
 
 
A few doors down, I got a decent Greek beef shawarma. Back in the USA again eating Roadfood!
 
 
post edited by EdSails - 2013/10/22 16:55:41
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25 Replies Related Threads

    BT
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/03 23:30:07 (permalink)
    Off the beaten path in and around Acapulco can be a little risky these days, narco-war wise.
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/03 23:39:07 (permalink)
    What a great trip and report.  I really like the look of the ceviches except for the suckers.
     
    Love the wheel grill. 
    #3
    leethebard
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/03 23:45:48 (permalink)
    Looks like a fascinating trip with the equal in food,,,thanks!
    #4
    EdSails
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/03 23:48:45 (permalink)
    BT

    Off the beaten path in and around Acapulco can be a little risky these days, narco-war wise.

     
    Not that much different from going to some of the Mexican places in East LA and my barbecue places in Compton and Watts.
    #5
    mayor al
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 08:33:10 (permalink)
    ED-  Thanks,  Your report reminds me of the famous line from TV's MONTY PYTHON  "Now for something Completely Different" !!   Very nice write-up!
    #6
    ann peeples
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 08:40:24 (permalink)
    Your narration and pictures are great-takes me there!
    #7
    DirtDude
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 09:43:46 (permalink)
    Sampling local foods and beers? You are my hero.
    #8
    Sundancer7
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 10:00:03 (permalink)
    I have always wanted to do the canal trip.  I envy you and your experience.  Nice write and great looking food.
     
    Paul E. Smith
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    #9
    Greymo
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 10:25:17 (permalink)
    Great report and pictures, Ed.  Your trip through the Panama Canal was far more exciting than mine, Roadfood wise!
    #10
    BillyB
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 11:32:16 (permalink)
    Great report Ed, thanks for the pictures of the great food ............Bill
    #11
    kland01s
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 11:42:59 (permalink)
    That hot sauce looks fantastic! At first I thought it was soup, that would have been a shock!
    #12
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 13:12:15 (permalink)
    Beautiful writeup--a week of beer, tacos and empanadas sounds pretty peachy.
    #13
    joerogo
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 15:00:45 (permalink)
    EdSails, I'm laughing as I read this trip report, because it could be me writing it.  When we cruise and stop at an island, the first thing we do is head to the beach.  Then it's on to the parts of town the the faint of heart shy away from.  We only drink local beers and conch in any way, shape or form is meal of choice.  
     
    Never been through the canal.  Nice to know there will be good eats if I ever do.  Thanks for an excellent report. 
     
    PS - There are several good punch lines for the picture of the auto wheel/grill
    #14
    EdSails
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 15:29:36 (permalink)
    If you are at all interested in kewl mechanical things, the Canal is a must. The combination of nature, brute mechanical force and fine tolerances is really neat. I shot almost 700 pictures from the beginning of the Canal to the end. The ship I went on (the Island Princess) goes through the Canal with a gap of LESS THAN 2 FEET on either side. Amazing!
    kland01s, I really did ask if I could get some of that to take back. I've been a hot sauce fan for years, and this blew my socks off. It was sneaky hot-------that first burst, then a lull, and then---WHAM! But the key was the flavor, it was not just heat.
    #15
    Davydd
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 16:08:28 (permalink)
    Ed,
     
    Great report. Although cruise ship food is generally good to excellent it was nice not to include it. We just got back from an eastern Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Greece. My pursuit was pizza in the Italian stop at Naples. Took a private overnight tour to Cairo and Giza and extended our cruise with extra days in Rome on our own in order to sample the local fare away from the tourist hordes.
     
    I'm not a cruise ship enthusiast. This last one and an Alaskan cruise are the only ones I have taken. But now I desire to take a London, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallin, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg cruise. There is one that goes through the 100 kilometer long Kiel Canal in Germany. It may be a while before I consider the Panama Canal.
     
    Polar Beer from Venuzuela? That indeed is strange.
    #16
    BT
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 18:24:49 (permalink)
    EdSails

    BT

    Off the beaten path in and around Acapulco can be a little risky these days, narco-war wise.


    Not that much different from going to some of the Mexican places in East LA and my barbecue places in Compton and Watts.

     
    I realize this can happen in East LA too, but usually in the US they are not so indiscriminate or just incompetent about whom they kill:  http://www.timesonline.co...cas/article7061705.ece
     
    Anyway, I have read in many sources and for some time now that tourists in Acapulco are best advised to keep to the main tourist areas.
     
    Even in my neck of the woods, in Nogales, it has gotten so dicey with a few shooting incidents ( http://azstarnet.com/news...8a7b-001cc4c002e0.html ) that I have stopped going there much and business dropped off so badly at my favorite restaurant there that they moved north of the border (not sure how they can do that but they did--as I read the Police Chief of Juarez now lives and works in El Paso, phoning in orders to some deputy south of the line).
    #17
    EdSails
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 19:11:20 (permalink)
    BT,
    Yes, I understand your point. We were fortunate that our cabin steward was from Acapulco, so he told us exactly where to go for what we were looking for. We wound up walking about 2 blocks from that main tourist area so I really didn't worry. Originally, based upon what I had read too, I was almost not going to get off the ship in Acapulco. If it hadn't been for Flavio the cabin steward telling us what the areas were that we should stay in, I would have worried a lot more about the reports. As it was, we were able to have some beers at a nice touristy spot on the main road across from the beach, walk the two blocks up and find the taco cart, and then continue another 2 blocks to the "Mega Store"---their version of a Super Walmart with everything from groceries to furniture and clothes. We got some Mexican beer and wine to bring back to the ship there. From there we just walked back down to the main road again and caught a taxi back to the port. If we had walked another 2 blocks further------we could have gone to the huge Sam's Club they had there!
    There was a large military/police presence in Acapulco. I saw more in Acapulco than in Columbia, and Panama combined. I hope they can straighten out the safety issues. Many cruise ships are now dropping Mexican ports from their itineraries due to the safety issues. We were vigilant, but I'd also say we were a little bit lucky.
    Ed
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    SoulOnFire
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 20:43:59 (permalink)
    Being a good Zonian (that being a born and bred resident of the Panama Canal Zone), I should point a couple things out for you.
     
    The ceviche in Panama is truly amazing and you got a good batch there. The fish would be corvina, basically Chilean sea bass.  Love the suckers!
     
    The best beer from Panama is Atlas by far.
     
    That hot sauce is called Aji Chombo, which is also the name of the pepper.  It's a type of Scotch Bonnet. If you don't mind the price, you can order a bottle or twelve from Howler Monkey Hot Sauce.  Do a search for them.
     
    That empanada has me hungry now.
    post edited by SoulOnFire - 2010/12/04 20:46:14
    #19
    EdSails
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/04 23:46:06 (permalink)
    Soul on Fire,
    I do agree-----we actually bought a few six packs of Atlas ($3.50 US per six pack----what a deal!) and found it to be a very good beer. Thanks for the tip on the hot sauce. I will try to find the one you mentioned. Good stuff!
    I do remember something about it being corvina now. Amazing what a few beers does to the memory.....I tend to like the ceviche mixta so I was happy to find it there. Nice blend of textures. And with that hot sauce and several beers------I didn't even notice the rain!
    #20
    mr chips
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/15 03:35:28 (permalink)
    Great report. You are a true roadfooder with an intrepid soul. What a great adventure!
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    mr chips
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/15 03:38:24 (permalink)
    BT

    EdSails

    BT

    Off the beaten path in and around Acapulco can be a little risky these days, narco-war wise.


    Not that much different from going to some of the Mexican places in East LA and my barbecue places in Compton and Watts.


    I realize this can happen in East LA too, but usually in the US they are not so indiscriminate or just incompetent about whom they kill:  http://www.timesonline.co...cas/article7061705.ece

    Anyway, I have read in many sources and for some time now that tourists in Acapulco are best advised to keep to the main tourist areas.

    Even in my neck of the woods, in Nogales, it has gotten so dicey with a few shooting incidents ( http://azstarnet.com/news...8a7b-001cc4c002e0.html ) that I have stopped going there much and business dropped off so badly at my favorite restaurant there that they moved north of the border (not sure how they can do that but they did--as I read the Police Chief of Juarez now lives and works in El Paso, phoning in orders to some deputy south of the line).

    Bernard, was that restaurant Elvira's where you took Trudy, me and Sam a few years ago?
    #22
    TFitz
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2010/12/18 11:26:31 (permalink)
    Great report. I liked the wheel rim grill, just goes to show that with a little imagination you can find a way to get things done.
    #23
    Hot Dog Empire
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2011/04/10 19:42:00 (permalink)
    Ahhhhh, Panama! I was there in the Army. Some of the finest food ive ever eaten, was in Panama from the street vendors. Thanks for the report!
    #24
    californyguy
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2011/04/10 23:31:11 (permalink)
    great report-looks wonderful, fun and exciting! Its been years since I've been down that way ,but then we were told not to eat anything or drink the water...one day had sodas with ice and got terribly sick...have things changed or were we just being fed a line back then?
    #25
    EdSails
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    Re:Cruising through the Canal for Roadfood 2011/04/10 23:50:32 (permalink)
    I guess it's part your constitution.......I have traveled for many years and not worried about it.......eaten fresh oysters in Mexico, drank water in the Sinai desert, etc. Sickest I ever got from eating food was from a McDonald's outside of Portland!
    #26
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