Isla Vida-Isla Mujeres 2019

March25

You know when you meet someone and you simply click? So it was recently when we met Lisa at her Isla Vida restaurant. She is a Canadian like us so of course we had that in common but also a love of good food and gracious hospitality.

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We had quite an adventure finding her place but here are the best directions I can give you……. Take Medina all the way south until you are just past the south tip of the Salina Grande in the Colonia of El Canotol.  On the left hand side of Medina, you will see a very tall wall with brightly painted stones. Continue about 2 more blocks and you will see a large tree on the right hand side of the road that has been decorated with white lights. Turn left at that street and then left again. You will be on Flamenco Street across from the El Canotol Market.  

We started our evening just as the music commenced. We were there for the food and to learn Lisa’s story so after the first couple of times that the musician came to our table, we simply didn’t make eye contact and we were left to our conversations.

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We started with the special drinks that Lisa recommended -Tropical Sun and Isla Vida. The former was a concoction of pineapple and orange juices, as well as Malibu Rum and coconut cream. The latter a mixture of mango and pineapple juices with Malibu again and vodka. Both were so refreshing and delicious. 

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We also had the treat of tasting the hand-crafted peanut liquor made by El Torito. I also sampled El Torito’s hand-crafted liquors at the Artist’s Fair. Now back home, I am wishing that I had purchased a couple of bottles to bring home with me. Lisa’s endorsement was that the product was excellent but the people behind the product were even better!

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Smurfs also arrived at our table. They were a fun concoction of Carolanne’s liqueur and blue curacao and tasted like blue bubble gum!

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I miss Bloody Caesars when I am on Isla but Lisa being Canadian features a great version.

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But to the food…the mahi mahi in a pineapple glaze with a crispy fish skin garnish was amazing. Perfectly prepared and gently nestled upon spring mix greens, the flavours simply sparkled.

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So too the lobster fettuccine alfredo. When lobster is not in season, frozen lobster served with a silky fettuccine is a wonderful treat and discovering so many chunks underneath the pasta was a pleasant surprise. The alfredo sauce was luscious and displayed the hand of a skilled chef who we were lucky enough to meet!

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We also enjoyed a stuffed poblano. Different from Chiles Relleno it was filled with gooey manchego, pico de gallo, creamy chipotle, black beans and mango and the flavours sang in harmony.

Our dinners were so satisfying that we could not imagine eating dessert or having another cocktail for that matter. We made our way down the street to Medina and wondered how we had gotten lost in the first place.

Do yourself a favour and let Lisa, her chef and the beautiful daughter of the new English teacher in town, take care of you for an evening. You will not be sorry.

Kath’s quote: “I will stop loving you when a mango grows on an apple tree”.-Lekiesha

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Love never fails.

 

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Dulzara Argenta-Isla Mujeres 2019

March22

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Dulzara Argenta has been open for two years as of last November but because we had never visited before, we didn’t know that we had arrived at it until we were right on their doorstep.

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Dulzura means sweetness and tenderness and although that describes this female duo’s business, it also describes themselves. Embracing and kissing my cheek when we, total strangers went upstairs to visit their bakery.

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It has a small inside eating area with beautiful open windows that make you feel a part of the community.

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and a charming and colourful upstairs patio.

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We commenced our visit with a tall and cool iced coffee.

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Besides bakery goods they make empanadas and pasta. We tasted both beef and chicken empanadas with Argentinian chimichurri sauce. They were fabulous. 

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This is a photo of their pasta machine hauled all the way from Argentina, that they employ for both their empanadas and fresh pasta.

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But for the moment let’s go back to their primary offerings-pastries! We tasted this luscious lemon pie

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as well as raspberry cheesecake.

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Although I didn’t get a chance to taste this pear pie (seen here) or the quince pie, they looked delectable. The latter as I understand it is very Argentinean.

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We also enjoyed the tastes of two kinds of “Alfajor”, another traditional Argentian confection. In both cases, two cookies are sandwiched together with a filling. In the case of the chocolate one it was a luxurious dulce de leche. Each pastry was sealed with either a dip in chocolate or a role in coconut.

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One of our new friends demonstrated the ancient ritual of drinking mate. Mate, also known as chimarrão or cimarrón, is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink. The procedure involves pouring hot water into the bowl of herbs while at the same time sucking the infused liquid through a straw. I understand that the mixture is high in anti-oxidants and very healthy. We were given a gift of mate to take home including a metal cup with a wooden interior and the mate herb mixture.

Marita is taking English classes and practiced by writing out the procedure to make mate for us.

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Both women obviously love their business and the traditional food they serve. They say with glee “we cook what and how our Mommas cooked! ”

I returned later in the week to witness the fresh pasta being made.

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These heavenly little pockets were lovingly stuffed with spinach, Parmesan, garlic and other seasonings.

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Ribbons of fettuccine were hand cut. Both swam in a light sauce of fresh tomatoes. A garnish of basil and a shake of Parmesan made them perfection!

Kath’s quote: “I compare a pastrycook who makes good colifets to a distinquished fashion designer, endowed with perfect taste, who can make charming things with vey little material. In the same way, out of almost insignificant scraps of pastry, we have to create pleasing and graceful things that also tempt the appetite”.-Antonin Careme (Marie-Antoine Careme) (1783-1833)

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Green Demon Beach Club-isla Mujeres 2019

March20

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When we are vacationing on Isla Mujeres, we typically take a lunch to North Beach. Lunch is usually left overs or my favourite torta made with manchego cheese, lime mayo, cucumber and cilantro. But, on this day we ventured to a beach club. As Playa Norte gets busier and busier with rows upon rows of beach chairs and boats dropping anchor, we were migrating further and further east on the beach. Green Demon Beach Club occupies premiere position on that stretch. The shallow water in front is absolutely lovely and there are palms that offer up shade in the area.

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As we perched at a little wooden table and chairs, guacamole and chips arrived. The taco chips were plentiful and the guacamole full of the good stuff (namely avocadoes and not much more). I had a craving for a burger and fries but wanted to explore the healthier options provided by the beach club.

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In the end, I decided upon a veggie burger with portabella mushrooms and sweet potato fries. The delicious burger was so enormous that I could only eat half and dropped off a “to go” container with family that we knew on the beach.

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D who doesn’t eat bread was really happy that he could be served lettuce wraps with fresh tuna. He remarked that the dish was fresh and crunchy.

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While I sipped on a terrific mojito, D decided upon a smoothie of strawberry, chia and coconut. We were well pleased with both. We were both impressed that we could eat well but lightly, right smack on one of the most glorious beaches in Mexico.

Kath’s quote Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom.” -Thomas Carlyle

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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El Patio de Musica, Isla Mujeres 2019

March18

The biggest surprise of this year’s sojurn to Isla Mujeres was the revamping of El Patio de Musica. I would venture to say that while the previous focus was on the music and beverages, the food seemed a bit of an afterthought. But that was then and this is now. Although they are the only establishment on the island that engages continuous musicians, we felt that the focus had definitely shifted.

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Happy Hour is 3 until 6 everyday and I enjoyed a Mango Margarita for 70 Pesos (Lime Margs were 60 pesos). D appreciated that they boasted a complete line up of craft beer from the Isla Brewing Company. He especially enjoyed the Mucho Macho and that would be because D just is (mucho macho…). While D was on the island we returned each and every night to soak up the ambience and those delicious drinks.

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One evening we stayed for dinner and boy were we glad that we did. We love charcuterie back home and order it often when we are dining out. It never occurred to me that we would find the meat and cheese boards on Isla but we most certainly did. The board highlighted two kinds of salami and four cheeses (I successfully negotiated with D so he would trade my blue cheese for one of the other three). There also was a lovely charred Argentinean chorizo which we both adored as well as a grainy mustard and fig preserves. When we asked for additional crostinis, they were cheerfully supplied. We might have concluded with the charcuterie as we often do back home but we just had to sample a couple of entrees.

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I had not had coconut shrimp up until that time and eagerly chose it. The six shrimp were perfectly cooked and nice and crunchy with lots of coconut flavour. They were offset by a mango dipping sauce and complemented with vegetable rice and buttery veggies.

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D hadn’t yet ordered fish tacos and made that his choice. He ordered two grilled and one fried. Red peppers and zucchini accompanied the grilled fish and cole slaw and chipotle crema topped the fried. He declared the fried one the winner as he was delighted with that spicy sauce. Guacamole and Pico de gallo also arrived on his dinner plate.

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So too, we had not yet sampled the flan on this visit, so El Patio was the night to do so. It was excellently prepared and tremendously satisfying.

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We missed the sunset that evening but caught a glimmer of it through a vine covered trestle on the roof, by our table.

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We were enamored by the foliage and the exotic birds that the greenery attracted. The sweet singing of the birds, added to a very memorable evening.

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But when all was said and done it was the staff that we most appreciated. We must have been asked half a dozen times if our libations and dinners were to our liking. We got special attention from  server named Jacob; he was born for the hospitality business-engaging, sincere and attentive. He was the real deal!

Overall with the exception of street vendors, we thought that El Patio was our best bang for our buck on the island.

Kath’s quote: “If music be the food of love, play on”-William Shakespeare, ‘Twelfth Night’

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Love never fails.

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Green Verde-Isla Mujeres 2019

March16

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We visited Green Verde for the first time in 2018 because a close friend of ours declared that it was the best restaurant on the island. When we walked there this year from our apartment on the airport strip, we were surprised to find that they had moved almost across the street.

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Their new location was equally pretty (see the photos above) as the original. I really got a kick out of their former location which utilized reused and recyclable items in their décor.

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I think that they moved some of their furniture with them because I distinctly remember this beautiful table and chairs.

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First off we enjoyed delicious Mango and Passion Fruit Mosquitoes. I am amazed as to how the islanders have upped their game regarding artisan cocktails. These were very enjoyable, in fact, each and every time that we sample a cocktail at a new spot, we imagine it to be the best.

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We really enjoyed their shrimp, first marinated in a green sauce (we were at Green Verde after all) and then flamed in Mezcal where we expect the pan had been deglazed with the addition of butter and then used as the base for the terrific sauce. The five jumbo shrimp (I always giggle when I state this) were plated with spaghetti that was topped with a drizzle of cream, cheese and little scoops of avocado.

One of the first dishes I ever ate on Isla was La Lomita’s Chili Relleno. Although I haven’t had a chance to visit them this year, I am still hooked on poblano chillies.

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Green Verde’s rendition is stuffed with a mixture of chicken and corn and then topped with a slice of a creamy cheese and garnished with sunflower seeds! It was accompanied by a side of Mexican rice and beans. Although I typically forego the beans, I loved a taste of rice with each scoop of the poblano stuffing.

The entire evening was lovely and we were well taken care of. The move across the street hasn’t lessened Green Verde’s food or service quality. There are so many lovely variations of typical Mexican fare. Check them out.

Kath’s quote: “….shellfish are the prime cause of the decline of morals and the adaptation of an extravagant lifestyle. Indeed of the whole realm of Nature the sea is in many ways the most harmful to the stomach, with its great variety of dishes and tasty fish.”-Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79)

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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