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Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 04:17 AM EDT

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Chez Titi - Incredible 4.9 ranking on Degusta.

Food & DrinkSpeak to almost anyone in the Panama City foodie scene and you'll get a confirmation that Chez Titi has become all the rage over the past couple of months.

The tea salon and restaurant has risen quickly to top place on the Degusta Panama rankings within its price category. (Degusta is Panama's Yelp equivalent - a great resource when choosing a Panama City dining location!)

OfertaSimple.com now offers you the chance to try Chez Titi's most popular dishes at a fraction of the price. Who could pass up on the change to taste $40 worth of food and drink for only $20.

Among the tastiest bites are the salmon crepes and seafood bisque. It's rare to find a restaurant that receives 4+ stars across the board - for food, ambiance, and service - let alone accompanied with a 50% discount.

OfertaSimple.com - Take advantage now, before the deal ends or vouchers sell out.

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3,000 Expired Products Were Seized During An Operation In Chiriqui

Food & DrinkApproximately 3 thousand expired products and without their expiration date were seized during the weekend by the Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition Defense (ACODECO) from several businesses in Chiriqui.

The authorities from Acodeco expressed their concern due to the large amount of expired products they found that are aimed for the consumption of children such as chocolate, candy, cookies, juice, and so on.

Alexis Ortega, director of Acodeco, said not only children could have been affected with the expired candy, because they also found rice—a basic product in Panama—full of maggots.

These operations were carried out in Rio Sereno and David. (Telemetro)

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Excise Tax For Liquor Will Be Modified

Food & DrinkDuring the celebration of the Cabinet Council on Tuesday, the bill 057-13 was approved, which amends the section 7 of Law 45 from 1995, which proposes amendments to the Law 15 of March 12, 2013, related to the Excise Tax for Liquor and other provisions.

Through this, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank de Lima, is authorized to present the draft Cabinet Resolution 122-13 to the National Assembly (AN).

According to the exposition of this bill, it has been observed that this tax is withheld by the National Customs Authority (ANA), and this should not be because this tax must be directly collected by the National Revenue Authority.”

It was proposed to make changes to Law 45 of November 14, 1995, because there is currently confusion between businesses related to the import, export, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages regarding which entity is responsible for collecting this Excise Tax. (Panama America)

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The Specialty Coffee Auction Of Panama Will Take Place in June

Food & DrinkThe international auction for Panama’s specialty coffees will be held on June 11 via Internet from the district of Boquete in Chiriqui, said Plinio Ruiz, president of the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP).

Ruiz said the 25 lots of coffee that won in the competition “Best of Panama” held in Boquete will participate in the auction, and each producer will auction from 150 pounds to 400 pounds of coffee.

During the auction, where buyers from the five continents will participate, the Geisha, Natural and Traditional coffees will be part of the exposition. (Panama America)

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Special Coffee From Panama Conquers The Global Market And Demanding Palates

Food & DrinkKnown around the world for satisfying the most demanding palates, special coffees from Panama have earned a place in the international market with prices matching their quality and meeting the criteria of the most expert tasters.

About 30 members of the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP) grow and export this precious product, and one of its finest varieties, the Geisha, has reached the cost of $374 per kg, the highest price in the international market.

Each year, producers make an international coffee-tasting event called "The Best of Panama", a competition in which judges evaluate international specialty coffee lots and they award the highest score to the winners, who then participate in a global online auction with buyers from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Taiwan.

On the high mountainous areas of the province of Chiriqui, located on the border with Costa Rica, around 400 miles to the west of Panama City, there are over 40 farms in charge of growing, besides Geisha coffee, other varieties of the finest Panamanian coffees, such as Pacamara, Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon or Typica.

Geisha coffee is the world's most recognized and the best priced coffee among the experts for its citrical flavor and floral and jasmine aroma, as well as its balanced acidity.

THE BEGINNING

The Geisha variety was discovered in Abyssinia in southwest Ethiopia, in 1931, and was imported into Panama from Costa Rica in 1963, according to the SCAP, an association created in 1996.

The president of the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama, Plinio Ruiz Jr. said this variety was brought to the country because its leaves are resistant to rust.

Rust is a coffee pest caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, which causes premature leaf fall of coffee and undermines its productive capacity, unable to perform photosynthesis.

The SCAP specifies that the main criteria at the time of choosing which variety should be grown are the grain quality, the production capacity and resistance to weather and pests.

Ruiz said through the introduction of the Geisha in the highlands of Boquete, in Chiriqui, one of the six mountainous areas of the province where fine coffees are grown, it was discovered that “the taste of this coffee was extraordinary."

"This is how it all began, then, electronic auctions were introduced in 2004 all around the world, and this is when the variety of Geisha as a special coffee was discovered, obtaining the highest price in the market," said Ruiz.

SCAP’s President highlighted that the total commercial coffee production in Panama reaches 28 million pounds (bags of 46 kg), in which special coffee represents 2% of this production.

However, he said the specialty coffee produce "a whole market noise" because their lots reach "exorbitant prices, ridiculously high, compared to commercial coffees".

MARKETS

Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, United States, France, Holland, Germany and the Nordic countries such as Finland and Sweden are the markets that pay the highest prices for coffee from Panama.

However, Ruiz said countries in the Far East buy the most because they have a palate adapted to identify very fine flavors from plants and can identify "very easily" high quality drinks such as specialty coffee.

In that regard, he assured the most requested coffee is the Geisha, out of the special coffees, which has reached the price of $374 per kg.

This week, the lots used to grow the Ironman coffee (washed Geisha coffee), Esmeralda Especial (Natural) and Pacamara Don Julian (traditional washed coffee) got the first place in its category at the XVII International Specialty Coffee Tasting Event, “The Best of Panama.”

Judges from the Netherlands, Taiwan, United States, Japan and South Korea chose among 46 lots of the best coffee in Panama, in a tasting that lasted several days and finally concluded on Wednesday in Boquete.

In the Geisha category, Ironman lot owned by the coffee producer, athlete and manager of the Panama Stock Exchange, Roberto Brenes, obtained the highest score with 91.7031 points.

The director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), Ric Rhinehart, said the quality of Panama’s coffee is higher every year and separating Geishas from other coffees "helps maintain the quality of the other varieties of coffee."

After this tasting event, samples are sent from the lots to be auctioned online on June 11 to the potential buyers who sign up for the auction, said Ruiz. (Prensa)

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The Best Coffee of Panama will be chosen

Food & DrinkJudges from the Netherlands, Taiwan, United States, Japan and South Korea will choose from among 46 lots the best coffee in Panama, in a tasting that will begin tomorrow in the western province of Chiriqui, said the organizers today.

In the seventeenth international coffee tasting special "The Best of Panama", which will end on Wednesday, the best beans will be chosen, in the categories of natural, traditional and Geisha coffee.

Judges will evaluate basic aspects like the aroma of the bean before being prepared and after being placed in hot water, its acidity, texture, fragrance, uniformity, sweetness and cleanliness of the cup, and the aftertaste it leaves on the palate, according to official information.

The president of the Association of Special Coffees from Panama, Plino Ruiz Jr., said the 46 lots in the competition "are the best of the Special Coffee production in the highlands of Boquete, Volcan, Bambito, Piedra de Candela and Santa Clara, from the 2012-2013 harvest."

The 46 lots are the result of a first qualifying round, held last week, at which 71 lots participated, Ruiz said in a press release. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Coffee from Panama has been judged as some of the best (and most expensive) in the world for the last several years in a row.

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Smashburger Expands Central America Presence to Panama

Food & DrinkDenver, CO (Restaurant News Release) Smashburger, the rapidly expanding better burger restaurant concept, and QSR International LDC, a leading multi-brand quick service restaurant developer, today announced a new partnership agreement with Diqueos Tagaropulos and his company, Inversiones Platinum Brands S.A., to build five new Smashburger restaurants in the Republic of Panama over the next six years. This agreement will continue the market growth for Smashburger in Central America and represents the second territory in the region, with locations in Costa Rica in Moravia, San Jose and the Juan Santamaria International Airport scheduled to open this spring.

Inversiones Platinum Brands S.A. currently operates Wing Zone, a U.S. based chicken wing fast-casual restaurant chain. Inversiones Platinum Brands opened Wing Zone’s first international location in Panama in 2010 and now operates five restaurant locations in the region. Smashburger is the second restaurant concept for the company.

“We are pleased with the progress of Smashburger’s international expansion, with Panama representing our fifth international country, and are fortunate to work with leading franchise partners to develop and grow our global presence,” commented Dave Prokupek, Chairman and CEO of Smashburger. “It is an honor to welcome Inversiones Platinum Brands to the Smashburger family and to help them build the leading better burger brand in Central America.”

Richard Eisenberg, President of QSR International stated: “As we continue to execute upon our expansion plans for the Central and South American region, we are excited for the opportunity to partner with Inversiones Platinum Brands and look forward to recruiting other well qualified restaurateurs to our franchise system as we continue to build a strong, passionate following for our leading better burger brand around the world.”

Diqueos Tagaropulos, President of Inversiones Platinum Brands S.A. added: “We are proud to be selected by Smashburger and QSR International to be the exclusive developer for the brand in Panama. We are excited to replicate the success of the Smashburger brand model, which has set a new standard for fast casual restaurants across the globe.”

As Smashburger continues expanding throughout the United States and internationally, Panama marks the latest international country for the young brand. The first Panama location is expected to open in 2014. Recognizing there is still significant opportunity and global demand for its burgers, Prokupek adds “we are dedicated to continue growing our better burger concept all over the world and expanding through new partnerships including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, as well as Central America, South America, the U.K. and Asia.” (Press Release)

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The Cost Of Putting On A Traditional Christmas Dinner in Panama

Food & DrinkHousewives are getting ready to prepare the traditional Christmas dinner. In search of the best prices channel 2 TVN News AM visited several supermarkets where, according to the Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition (Acodeco), the best prices are offered for basic family food necessities.

In these shops we found Christmas hams starting at $17.00, turkeys from $16.00, rice from $2.09 for five pounds and the popular "guandú" at $3.95.

A food that cannot be missing from the Christmas table is the traditional "rosca" of egg bread that is available at an affordable price, as well as the popular apples and grapes, all within reach of the budget.

In total you can expect to spend about 80 dollars on the purchase of the basic ingredients of Christmas dinner, for about 4 people. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: During the evening news broadcast yesterday TVN ran down the results of their price survey for the "basic family food basket" and found big differences in prices for the exact same goods, depending on where you shop. The cheapest prices are at the Xtra supermarkets nearest to the poorest neighborhoods, while (not surprisingly) the highest prices are at the Riba Smith and Super99 supermarkets closest to the most exclusive neighborhoods of Panama City.

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ACODECO Investigation Determines Egg Producers Are Not Meeting Technical Specifications

Food & Drink The Authority for Consumer Protection and the Defense of Competition (ACODECO) conducted an investigation to determine whether chicken eggs being sold in the country comply with the required technical specifications.

The group of technicians from the ACODECO wanted to determine if the eggs being sold as jumbo, large, medium, and small met the technical specifications.

The investigation was conducted in 118 supermarkets and packaging plants, where they checked a total of 33,202 dozens of eggs, of which 7,492 (22.09%) were rejected.

According to ACODECO, the majority of the eggs checked were measured to see if they were either large or medium sized.

According to the investigation, the two companies producing jumbo eggs, Melo failed 28.57% while Toledano failed 58.82%.

Of the 10 companies selling large fresh eggs, the companies with the highest rates of compliance were: De Patio (92%), Melo (78.12%); Toledano (75.61%), Del Dia (73.68%); Edanjo (40% ); and Granja Teresa (14.29%).

Four producers (Finca Bremer, Caribeño, Athenas and Avícola Chong) scored 0% compliance.

As for medium eggs, of the nine companies producing, only two (Del Dia and Edanjo) complied 100% with the technical regulation.

They were followed by by Melo (95.65%); Toledano (69.09%), Caribeño (57.14%); Guayacanes (38.46%).

The companies Granja Teresa, Bremer and Rodeo had 0% compliance. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The way they are talking about this is somewhat confusing. For example, they measured eggs being sold by the Toledano company as medium sized eggs. In their investigation they determined that in fact only 69% of those eggs were actually medium sized according to the technical specifications, while 31% were not (because they were smaller.) In doing this report, some poor bastard had to measure 398,424 eggs. Why so many? Did anyone ask ACODECO what they did with all those eggs after they measured them? (urp) Que huevo...

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Renowned Chef Ruben Dario Ortega Vieto - Now At The Veneto

Food & DrinkGood news for Foodies and Gourmands in El Cangrego. Ruben Dario Ortega Vieto, of recent Luna fame, has made his way over to El Cangrejo and signed on as the Executive Chef of the Veneto, Wyndham Grand Hotel and Casino. Looks like this Panamanian UberChef is going to make another impact on the dining scene in Panama City, bring gourmet to this landmark hotel. Imagine banquet events without rubber chicken and groaning buffets .. gourmet holiday parties, weddings and more.

His pedigree includes of course Luna, but also stints at La Posta and at various posh eateries in Washington DC where he honed his culinary talents at the likes of the Bistro Bis, The Elbow Room Restaurant, Ritz Carlton and Ardeo. Chef Ruben pursued his career in culinary arts after giving up on the hustle bustle of the finance world. Fresh local ingredients, meticulously selected fresh produce (4 am trips to the market) , creative spices and vibrant atmosphere combine to bring wow his guests in not only the New York Steakhouse, but in every other venue of the Veneto’s diverse collection, including banquets.

As this article is released, Chef Ruben is further expanding his horizons at A Wyndham Chef’s training event at the famed Escula Internacional de Cuisine at Valladolid, Spain. He promises to return from Spain in early November with even more delicacies added to his already impressive armory.

If you are lucky enough to land an invitation to the limited engagement, invitation only “Power Lunch” at the famed New York Steak House, you will find an engaging personality presenting unique and delicious bites. Follow Chef Ruben at @rubenortegaviet

New York Steakhouse is located in the Veneto, Wyndham Grand Hotel, on Via Veneto Free valet parking.

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