Sunday, May 29, 2016

Esencias Panameñas Debuts Its New Sábados de Fritanga, a Guilty Pleasure Weekend Menu

Carimañolas at Esencias Panameñas (Photo: Rey Lopez)

From our friends at Esencias Panameñas...

Owner and Executive Chef Yadira Stamp of Washington’s Panamanian restaurant that features authentic Panamanian cuisine with a Caribbean twist, Esencias Panameñas, located at 3322 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20010, is pleased to debut its Sábados De Fritanga, a Guilty Pleasure weekend menu. Available Saturdays, from 11 AM to 12 Midnight, and Sundays, from 11 AM to 3 PM, guests can take advantage of active weekends and indulge in delicious comfort food. Yadira Stamp devotes her weekend in the restaurant to preparing crowd favorite foods from her homeland, featuring two sampler platters (one with meat and one without) of signature guilty pleasure food items priced at $25 (tax and gratuity excluded), while a la carte items are also available.

“Panama’s gastronomy is the result of the culture of its natives, with influences from the Spaniards with the rice dishes and from Panama’s native Indians in the corn-based foods. We also got root vegetables and tropical fruits from natives of the Caribbean Islands who relocated to Panama in 1904 seeking job opportunity during the building of the Panama Canal” says Stamp. “A great number of Panamanian dishes are made out of corn. The preparation is different from that of other Latin American corn dishes such as our corn tortillas (fritters), corn empanadas, and corn tamales, given that the kernel is first cooked in water and then ground in order to obtain a dough (as opposed to using corn flour or corn meal to obtain the dough.) A typical Panamanian breakfast consists of mostly fried foods such as hojaldres (fried bread) tortillas (corn fritters) with white cheese, corn empanadas, fried yuca, fried beef, etc., which is reflected on my new Guilty Pleasures menu.”

Guests can look forward to “cheat day” worthy dishes such as Pa' Picá (for two) Esencias Panameñas sampler platter with ground corn fritters, white cheese, yuca balls, twice fried green plantains, fried yuca, ground corn patties, fried chicken wingettes, and fried beef, and Pa' Picá Vegetariano (for Two) Esencias Panameñas Vegetarian sampler platter with ground corn fritters, white cheese, yuca balls, twice fried green plantains, fried yuca, ground corn patties, and hickory BBQ riblets.

A la carte options are just as enticing and include Hojaldres with cheese, sauté sausage, or beef strips in gravy; Tortilla, fresh ground corn fritters with cheese, sauté sausage, or beef strips in gravy; Empanada De Maíz, fresh ground corn patties with beef, turkey, or vegetarian filling; Carimañolas, yuca balls; Chicarrón De Pollo, deep fried chicken wingettes with twice fried green plantain or yuca frita; Salchicha Guisada, sauté sausage with twice fried green plantain or yuca frita; Bistec Pica’o, beef strips in gravy with twice fried green plantain or yuca frita; Torrejitas de Bacalao, codfish cakes; Tamal De Hoja, fresh ground corn stuffed with chicken or vegetables, olives, capers, peas, carrots, and wrapped in banana leaves; Sopa De Pata, cow’s heel soup with yuca, white yam, carrots, and smoke turkey; Bacalao Sancochado, stewed cod fish with tomatoes, sautéed onions and sweet pepper, and served with white rice or twice fried green plantain; Pargo Entero Frito, whole snapper fried with twice fried green plantain or yuca frita, and Filete De Corvina Frita, Panama imported Corvina fish, fried with twice fried green plantain or yuca frita. The a la carte dishes range in price between $4 and $19.

For a decedent finish, guests can enjoy Panamanian confections such as Helado Casero, Esencias Panameñas’ homemade ice cream with flavors like grape nut, rum raisin, ginger, mango, or soursop; Cocadas, caramelized shredded coconut in pasty shell; Plantitá, sweet plantains puree in puff pastry turnover; Flan, caramel custard with flavors such as cheese or coconut, and Dulce de Ron Abuelo, Panamanian Ron Abuelo rum cake. Dessert ranges in price from $4 to $10.

For the perfect pairing, Esencias Panameñas boosts a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails made with raspadura, which is the Panamanian version of simple syrup and made from a combination of molasses, natural sugar and honey, which is then formed into a block. A popular cocktail made with raspadura is the Raspadura con Naranja, which is made from a combination of raspadura and orange juice and priced at $7 by the glass or $30 by the gallon. Also available is a signature Red Sangria, which is made from a combination of wine, hibiscus and ginger; the Chicheme, which is made from a combination of ground corn, condense milk, evaporated milk, coconut milk and spices; the Sorrell con Jengibre, hibiscus flower infused with fresh ginger; Chicha de Tamarindo with tamarind; Chicha de Guanábana with soursop; Chicha de Raspadura con Naranja y Limon, orange drink with cane sugar; Agua de Pipa, 100% pure coconut water, along with a seasonal Batidos, shakes made with soursop or papaya. Drinks range in price from $4 to $8.

A native of Panama City, Panama, Yadira Stamp brings over 30 years of experience in the culinary arts to Esencias Panameñas. As a graduate of The Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, Virginia, Chef Stamp has held nearly every position from dishwasher to front-of-the-house assistant manager, developing her passion for cooking. Over the past 30 years, Stamp has spent much of her career serving her culinary creations to churches, weddings, graduations, birthday parties, as well as at private homes in the DC metropolitan area. She has performed cooking demonstrations at the Farm-to-Street Party as part of the Eat Local First Week, as well as during Growing Healthy Schools Month, which celebrates the DC Healthy Schools Art in public schools throughout the District. In 2015 and 2016, as a member of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), she participated in their annual Business Expo at the Washington Convention Center, where she prepared and served her native dishes to over 250 attendees. Stamp’s restaurant patrons flock regularly from as far away as Philadelphia, Southern Virginia and even Miami, Florida to get a taste of her authentic homeland cuisine.

Esencias Panameñas is located at 3322 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20010. Lunch is served Monday through Friday, from 11 AM to 3 PM. Dinner is served on Sunday and Monday, from 3 PM to 9 PM; Wednesday and Thursday, from 3 PM to 11 PM, and Friday, from 3 PM to 12 Midnight. Esencias Panameñas is located four blocks from the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro accessible on the Green and Yellow lines. For additional information or reservations, please call (202) 688-7250, or visit