Isla Mujeres 2017- Trip Report Day Two

June27

Up early but out of bed after D. I was so jealous that he got to see the sunrise from the malecon! I vowed to get up with the alarm thereafter.

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Some early morning shopping in the fresh market.

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With an opportunity to show the Wee Ones how tortillas are made.

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An early dip at North Beach with with J1 and J2 and the little girls. We almost had the beach entirely to ourselves!

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Shrieks of excitement!

We stopped for Breakfast at Rubens. Read all about it in this link.

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The day was lovely and lazy. I showered and got ready for the wedding rehearsal on the beach. Met up with the gang who had completed the golf cart scavenger hunt at Jax.

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It was a windy rehearsal at Playa Sol.

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I imbibed in a second Happy Hour at Tres Mentiras.  We went because it is the only place that we can order the beer from Isla Brewing. Winnipeg friends Rudy, Carol, Margaret, Donna, and family Sue, Kelly, Lorraine joined Doug and I. Turned out that J1 & J2, babies, Kate & Lori were all there for dinner with good reports.

From there we ventured across the street for a fabulous rehearsal dinner at Lola Valentina’s. Separate post and food photos in this link.

Another round of wonderful speeches and tributes were made by all the wedding party but especially my nephew Jon. I was struck by how emotional the groom’s friends were when trying to express what his friendship meant to them.

The rest of the extended  family were gathering all along Hidalgo. Often when we walk Hidalgo in the evening, we will be greeted with a shout or a wave. But this stroll was especially sweet as we knew someone at almost every restaurant along the street. D stayed out with the guys including a dear old friend of his from Cambridge Ontario who also happened to be uncle to the bride. I took a “Glamma” shift and slept on J1 & J’2s futon to be near the little girls until everyone arrived home.

Kath’s quote: “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.”- Henri Nouwen

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Love never fails.

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Isla Mujeres 2017-Trip Report Day One

June26

We have been visiting Isla Mujeres since 2005 when my sisters and I booked at Villas Punta Sur not knowing that we were the opposite direction from Playa Norte. In spite of our short time on the island and our inconvenient locale, the three of us instantly fell in love with Isla. Since that time husbands, other siblings, extended family and friends have visited too. Some have been enchanted and others not so much.

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Our entourage minus the grandbabies.

But our 2017 visit was a very special one, because we accumulated for the wedding of my niece/goddaughter.

We arrived a couple of days before the wedding, right on the day that a welcome party had been planned at the two villa property where the bride and groom’s families were staying, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The early morning departure did not go all that smoothly and so our eventual arrival was especially sweet.

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The grandbabies did particularly well considering that had been plucked out of bed in the middle of the night.

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The port was really busy so we missed a couple of ferries and eventually caught the 1:30 pm.

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D took the golf cart full of our luggage

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and everyone else walked to the Xbulu-Ha hotel. We had booked four suites and everyone settled in quite nicely. I went to the Supermercado to buy some lunch supplies to sustain us until the party that evening.

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Boo at the party.

The Welcome Party was a perfect time. The guests included all the Kapilik/Resch/Gray families, as well as Isla friends Jan and Bruce

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and long-time Toronto friends Richard and Melinda (who just happened to be on the island at the same time AND staying at the hotel right next door!).

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Dinner was a Taco Bar featuring Cochinita Pibil (authentic Mexican pulled pork which is typically available from locals on Sundays), (thanks to Isla friend Wanda) , locally made tortillas, pico de gallo and guacamole made by chef/friend Ziggy and all lovingly assembled by Sister #3.

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The bride and groom.

As we broke bread together we were introduced to various Australians (the groom is Australian) who we had often heard of but had never met in person. As speeches commenced, we all soon realized that this was not going to be a typical wedding or even a typical destination wedding. This was gong to be an opportunity for new lifelong friendships to be created and cemented. I personally was not surprised as every perfect detail had been in the planning for months.

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As the merriment continued a beautiful orange moon rose from the ocean. I for one felt as if our assembly was being divinely blessed.

Kath’s quote: “For love is a celestial harmony
Of likely hearts compos’d of stars’ concent,
Which join together in sweet sympathy,
To work each other’s joy and true content,
Which they have harbour’d since their first descent
Out of their heavenly bowers, where they did see
And know each other here belov’d to be.” -Edmund Spenser

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Love never fails.


 

 

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Crème de L’Essence

June19

Keep an open mind when you pull up in front of Crème De L’Essence 1833 Inskster Blvd. and get ready to experience something absolutely unique. I for one was not expecting a restaurant of this calibre in the middle of an urban industrial park.

Black and white photographs adorn black walls but the room is astonishingly bright due to their south facing windows. Tables are simple and are surrounded by what I would call “church chairs”; you know the kind that can be stacked impossibly high?

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The menu itself is a basic laminated sheet. But this is where the mundane departs and luxurious food enters the scene. We started by sharing Black Garlic Linguine with arugula and parmesan. The lengthy pasta ribbons were satiny and the creamy sauce was offset with peppery arugula leaves. We moaned with our first tastes and were not shy about finishing every last dollop of sauce.

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My lunch date opted for an all day breakfast item and chose the Ube Pancakes. We were baffled by the purple flesh of the flapjack. With research, I discovered that the colour comes from the ube yam which is used in a variety of Filipino desserts such as ice cream, cakes, hopia, and halo-halo. The pancakes themselves were fluffy and delicious, sensational when topped with bruleed bananas and coarsely chopped hazelnuts. When my companion could not finish her portion, I picked up her fork and did the deed for her!

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My eye had been drawn to the Chicken Poutine where pulled chicken confit adorns herbed fries and are smothered with roasted corn, cheese curds, gravy, grape tomatoes and an option of shaved foie gras! I decided to dial back the decadence level and chose roasted brussel sprouts enhanced by a pomme puree and more chopped hazelnuts. From our elementary French we thought that the pomme puree would be apple sauce but was in fact a pureed potato as in pomme de terre or potato in French.

My relatively light choice meant I could indulge in my companion’s left overs. When you visit, ensure that you have your elasticized pants on as your tummy is sure to expand with the lavish fare.

Crème de L’Essence is owned and operated by RJ Urbano and Ryan San Diego. The have all day, take out and catering menus available. They are open from Tues-Sun 10 am- 3 pm., Wed-Sat 10 am – 2 pm then reopen from 5 pm – 8 pm. On Fri & Sat they close at 9 pm. They are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food”. -Paul Prudhomme

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Love never fails.

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Mango Grill-Isla Mujeres 2017

June14

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On one of our final days on the island, D declared that we had not yet visited Mango Cafe. I love Mango but because I knew we had all kinds of fixings in our fridge and cupboard and because our departure was fast approaching, I was hesitant to go. I simply cannot waste food. Doug had a great suggestion as to what to do with it, so I agreed knowing that the food fixings would be going to a good home.

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We have two favourites that we ordered each year-the stuffed poblano and the coconut French toast.

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We have always marvelled as to how the stuffed chilies are made-does the filling go in already cooked to simply be reheated when plunged into the deep fat fryer? This is our best guess.

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I try very hard to eat these with the fruit and not the syrup. The syrup takes it from hearty breakfast to decadent dessert!

We love the varied colours of the cozy restaurant and always feel at home. Perhaps it is the décor, perhaps it is the staff that are as cordial as the restaurant’s owner. We befriended Polo a number of years ago and are so excited to see his lovely little family expand.

Kath’s quote:  “I will stop loving you when an apple grows from a mango tree on the 30th of February”.-author unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Dinner at the Garry St. Keg-40 Years in the Making

June12

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Many of us remember our first paying job. In truth I often forget mine because I only lasted 3 days at a egg grading station and my pay was 50 cents an hour! I think that I have successfully purged the image from my brain. After that first venture, I worked at the book department at Eaton’s which I quite enjoyed because we could loan a book off the shelves and if we were very careful while we read it, we could do so for free and return the book to the shelf. But the job that I think was most important in my late teens was the job that introduced me to my husband and many life long friends. Nobody knew a whole lot about The Keg ‘n Cleaver (as it was called in those days) when it started to renovate the former Hudson Bay Livery Stables at 115 Garry.  The way it was described to me was as a “copy” of the locally owned Butcher Block restaurant. I learned later that the copying was actually the other way around. No matter, I turned up at the Garry St. restaurant for an interview and a few days later, climbed into a full length skirt to be a hostess on their opening evening. I remember the line up being out the door and spilled onto the front sidewalk. Being a hostess was fun because you stood with the guests at the back of the line and took their name on a clipboard and then waited for the next group to join the back of the line. I thought I had it made in the shade as I just chatted to people all night long and was not only paid an hourly salary but also a share of the tips!

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In those days the simple menu was printed on a wooden platter and when the “hunky” guys (don’t laugh- it was a compliment!) were done taking orders at a table, they would slide the menu boards down the back of their pants en route to the waiter station. I remember one waiter in particular, he would come up to the hostess stand and say to me: “Load me up and keep them coming. I will take tables for other servers if they don’t want them. Don’t take me off the clock, I will stay and pick up all the late night diners.” This guy was a serving machine. His name was Tommy Lau.

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Fast forward 40 years-yep that is not a typo. We were reuniting with Tom and a couple of Keggers from that time, who had been there at the beginning and still lived in Winnipeg. Tom had brought his wife and two grown sons back to Winnipeg with him. He wanted them to see the city and meet the people that he remembered so fondly.

He left Winnipeg in 1977 and went to study at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. From there he went to New York to spend some time with his Mom on Long Island. Then he returned home to Hong Kong. His first job was working at a Hong Kong TV station as a producer. He moved to another station and married Clara in 1988. In the spring of 1990 he returned to Long Island hoping to spend more time with his mother and brother. TV careers were hard to come by and a year later he as recruited to set up a Cable TV station in Bangkok, Thailand. In 1993 he set up his own TV program distribution business in Hong Kong which he still runs. In 1995 he took up studying Fengshui with a local Master and in 1996 became the Master’s disciple. His sons were born in 1992 and 1995. The eldest has his masters degree in Forsenic Toxicology (hey, that might make a good TV show!) and his youngest is working on his degree in physiotherapy.

When we met Clara, I was struck by how petite and quiet she was-the exact opposite of her husband! Their sons had the most perfect manners and delighted in every little detail that we shared about the time we spent with his Dad.

The owner of the Kegs in Winnipeg who worked with us all those years ago was our host that evening. We sat in a “T” in the room with the most privacy. It is not that we wanted to be left alone, it was the noisy din we created with sharing our crazy stories and memories.

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Dinner that evening was stellar. I sampled an item new to the menu-a grilled cauliflower steak which I loved.

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I  noticed that Tom order steak and lobster just like the old days (except for the price of course).

A wonderful evening with wonderful friends. Time stood still and we were bag in the 70’s.

Kath’s quote: “I love everything that’s old, – old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.”  -Oliver Goldsmith

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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