Knowing the source is not a secret, it's the only way.
Can you think of a place you traveled to where the experience of someone sharing their food or drink was the passion of their existence? I'm talking about the kind of passion that lingers in the sparkle of their eyes, and a huge smile as they not only describe everything on your plate but, share the stories behind it all.
This is the moment that every bite you put in your mouth takes on a new flavor, or a smell that will forever be tied to that experience. Tantalizing and eyes shut, you think about the old man and his daughter that have been caring for the animal for years, the woman who passionately grows the greens and the fruit in your salad or the grandfather that learned to create sauces from his parents, who learned from his parents, that take days to make.
Wherever you may have been, it was their way of saying to you "this is my world, and I am honored to share it with you." I'm interested to hear what your experience was and I imagine it is this memory that brings to mind the most vivid smells of the smoked wood used to cook the bbq'd meat, the ever so slight burning of a new hot sauce, or deep sweetness of a piece of mango in your tuna poke.
Sourcing food locally is a way of life for us personally and, the most important part of cooking for our guests. The most basic motivation behind this passion is not only to control the quality of our ingredients, but to ensure that we are connected with the source, that we support our community, that we know the animals have a beautiful life as well as death, and the best part; we create incredible relationships with the families that we source our food from.
Going to get pork or beef for our restaurant is an all day affair. It means I get up crazy early, hike to a families house, we have coffee together (oh man, remember how delicious the coffee is here?) then, we get to the work of the day butchering an animal they have lovingly raised for years.
To some, this may sound a bit archaic or even barbaric however, when done well the process is actually quite peaceful, fast, and there are certain rules you follow to ensure the animal is respected all along the way. This includes even the private thoughts in your mind.
We never buy meat from a store and it's not because we are in Panama, it's the same in the USA. We always bought direct from the rancher and so this passion; the ability to sit and have a cup of coffee (I know, I obsess) with the family who has decided to part with their animal ensures that they get a fair price, and we get the best quality meat you can imagine.
Oh, and you will get a long story at the side of your dinner table too.
Perhaps this is the reason our little teeny tiny restaurant - 12 people per night, in the jungle of Panama has won an award for top 10% greatest restaurants in the world (I know, I'm bragging but....marketing. And, we worked damn hard for that prize) but as I have said before: this, my friends is just the beginning....
Your Friends in Morrillo,
Cari and Ryan Mackey
Owners and Hosts
Morrillo Beach Eco Resort
Now...about your story; let's hear it!