About 32°C and a bright sun, walking the streets of Panama City. I would kill for an ice-cream! But I must admit that the traditional Central American ice-creams sold in the streets, consisting of grated ice in a plastic cup topped off with a chemical colorant, or the industrial ones packed with sugar are really not tempting to me. That is precisely when I remember my discussion with Maria from Café Ruiz in Boquete and the fact that she supplies a high-end ice-cream store in Casco Viejo, the charming neighbourhood of the capital…
A few minutes later, we find ourselves in Granclement, in front of about 40 flavours of ice-creams (espresso, coconut, dulce de leche, lavender, after eight, Madagascar vanilla, rocky road, caramel, 4 chocolates, pistachio, basil…) and sorbets (mango, passion fruit, mango banana, raspberry…). The high-quality treats are made according to the traditional methods used by the best French artisans and with some of the best local products, such as the coffee from Boquete.
The French couple, Aude and Alexandre de Beaulieu took the plunge in 2003 when they fell in love with Casco Viejo which was then still pretty dodgy. Buying one of the buildings and completely renovating it with great taste, Aude and Alexandre have turned it into a successful business. “It was hard in the beginning”, Aude explains. “We handed out free ice-creams to the locals to have them taste our products but they thought that the ice-creams were not sweet enough and lacked colours. But we didn’t compromise: no colorants! Today, of course we have many tourists as customers, but I am really happy to serve many locals as well who have learnt to appreciate our ice-creams.”
“Jumping from our settled Parisian lives to this Central American adventure was seen as a crazy move!”, Aude recalls. “But the entrepreneur-friendly atmosphere and booming economy of Panama along with our hard-work and dedication mindset has made that gamble a great success.” Today, Aude and Alexandre are developping their business and raising their four kids in Panama City, making sure they are aware of the different cultures and difficulties, growing up with an open-mind.
I still haven’t made up my mind regarding which flavour I am going to taste in the crispy and fresh homemade waffle cone that already smells delicious… I am completely torn between their bestsellers (coconut, dulce de leche, rhum-raisin and the chocolates) and the unexpected flavours. Eventually deciding, I thoroughly enjoy these ice-creams, without a doubt the best one we have had during our three-month trip through Central America. And we already agree on coming back to taste some more flavours while we are in Panama City!
Claire & Marcella
- If visiting Panama City, make sure to stop by Granclement and treat yourself to their delicious ice-creams!
- Our personal favourites are espresso, coco, rocky road and the fruity mango and passion fruits. How about yours?
- For more places to visit in this part of town check out our article about nightlife in Panama City.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!