Capricci Pizza-Isla Mujeres 2018



Pizza is like hamburgers…everyone has a favourite place to go and will valiantly defend their preferences. On Isla Mujeres, I know that many people love Oscar’s and Mike’s and Angelo’s. I have never had pizza at Oscar’s or Mike’s but I adore the frutti di mare pizza at Angelo’s. Recently, I sampled Capricci’s Pizza & Sfizi on Hidalgo and were so very impressed. By the way, in case you were wondering what “sfizi” means; it is a “whimsical” word in Italian that sometimes denotes a treat or special section of a menu.

The owner of the Capricci is a first generation Italian. He is hands on in the kitchen, preparing his dough from scratch. He shared with us that his pizza creations were Neapolitan, meaning from the area surrounding the city of Naples. This makes them especially authentic because that is where pizza is said to have been invented. My husband D has visited the particular Neopolitan restaurant and although I cannot claim as much, I have been to Naples on a couple of occasions and know that the best pizzas are always the simplest but utilizing the finest ingredients.

The Capricci owner also shared his dough recipe with us…flour, extra virgin olive oil and semolina flour to finish. He did not reveal the proportions of the ingredients or the time that the dough is kneaded and rested. The latter is what makes a pizza, a pizza! It is the art and knowledge of working the dough that produces the desired results. By the by, his pizza crust is award-winning. He laments the loss of genuine pizza making in his homeland because of the influx of other nationalities and cultures who believe that their improvements make for a superior pizza. I commiserated with him: why try to fix perfection?


We chose the Dolomite pizza, so named for the mountain range located in northeastern Italy. It was topped with hand-made Italian sausage, mushrooms, rosemary, mozzarella and Gouda cheese.  In addition, was a humble and yet surprising ingredient-cubed baked potatoes!


The toppings melded together perfectly and the crust was divine-thin and crispy with hints of char achieved with a high quality pizza oven.


When we heard that Capricci also has fresh pasta on the menu, we couldn’t resist. They have two Carbonaras  to choose from and although we intended to order the decadent one with cream, egg and bacon, we accidentally ordered the vegetarian version. We could tell that the noodles were excellent and that exceptional quality oils and Parmesan cheese was used, but we have to admit that carrot ribbons couldn’t take the place of bacon, especially Italian bacon.

Kath’s quote: “Your life is like a pizza. It could be round, it could be square. But you’ll enjoy it most of all when it’s something that you share.” ― Jim Benton


Love never fails.





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Javi’s Cantina, Isla Mujeres 2018


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Seven of us recently enjoyed a dinner at Javi’s Cantina. As we were assembling and ordering drinks, I took the opportunity to have a little poke around. The décor of Javi’s is understated, yet vibrant. I loved the murals as we made our way to the back patio in addition to touches of turquoise and another favourite-twinkle lights.


I had a little preview of the back patio when we visited Javi’s in 2017 and it was exciting to see how the hopes and dreams of Javi and his wife Marla were shaping up. If you have spent any time on the island, you likely know Javi or at least know of him from his years of evening gigs on Hidalgo. You will know that he is a great story teller and is passionate about everything he takes on. This tree, which is the focal point of the back terrace, once supported Javi’s childhood swing. The cantina stands on Javi’s family property. (Oh and he is wonderfully sentimental too).


He refers to the families’ tree and then tells the story of his grandfather taking him out fishing. The punch line of the story was “shut up and fish” put I will leave it to Javi to tell it to you. The catch of the day had just come in. Javi shared the freshness of the fish with his guests that evening along with recounting the effort it takes to fish in a sustainable manner on the island.


But the food! Javi has made this asparagus dish famous on the island. When you mention Javi’s to Isla friends, they are likely to say “Have you tasted his tempura asparagus?” It is a unique signature dish served with crème fresh and is ever so tasty. Having grown up in the steakhouse business, wedge salads were not new to me. Javi’s version includes crunchy cucumbers and radishes which added a fresh taste. The peppery flavour from the radish offset the pungency of the blue cheese.


Down at the other end of the table, these enormous onion rungs were served along with chips and salsa (utilizing his Grandma’s unique recipe). At this point in the evening he shared another dream of one day having a Javi’s brand for his families’ sauces. Given the tastiness of the one we sampled, they would be an immediate hit!


If we had any doubt that this local guitar picking bundle of energy really knew his stuff, this appetizer that he created and asked us to sample, chased any doubts away. He had some ideas written on a paper napkin and the next thing we knew, this dish of beauty sat in front of us. Silky slices of yellow fin tuna were nestled between crunchy cucumber and lettuce. Also adorning the plate were surprizes of mint, chipotle dots and a sauce made of pineapple, ginger and red pepper. Black pepper completed the taste profile and we were absolutely awed by the dish. The dish was complex, yet fresh and clean tasting. Jav’s inventiveness puts him right up there with the island’s best trained chefs. Javi inquired what the rest of the table thought, as he was genuinely looking for feedback. Unfortunately, Sister #3 and I had to admit that we didn’t share it with the rest of the gang.



At the other end of the table oohs and aahs were declared as dishes of shrimp, chicken and fish arrived. The exclamations were for the colourful plate presentations, first tastes and overwhelmingly for the garlic mashed potatoes that were being shared around.

Javi and Marla

The power couple themselves.

In fact, Javi’s wife Marla was tucking into her own bowl just out of view of most customers. It was the first and only thing she had eaten that day. Even though this story has focused on Javi, do not discount Marla’s contribution to the success of Javi’s Cantina (and all their projects)! Marla brings the expertise and savvy to the businesses, which quite frankly a personality like Javi’s could not succeed without.



The lovely veggie swirls were a delightful touch but kind of camouflaged the items themselves (this is not a criticism just an observation that Javi and Marla may want to look at). Sister #3 and I shared fresh langostino. Caribbean “lobster” is a sister to the north Atlantic lobster that we enjoy in Canada. Both have unique and sweet tastes if prepared correctly. My first taste of langostino was many years ago in Varadero Cuba. The fish had been split and grilled over an open flame. Javi’s version was more than equal to that first taste, that is carefully tucked away with other mountain-top culinary memories.


Even though Sister #3 and I had shared our plates, we were more than satiated and then mention of Javi’s French toast bread pudding occurred. The pudding itself was rich and decadent, with the addition of whiskey sauce and praline bacon, the dessert inclusion, hit our dinner right out of the park!

I read recently read of someone saying that their dinner at Javi’s was “meh”. According to my restaurant and hospitality expertise and my years as a culinary writer, “meh” must be an abbreviation for mehgnificent!

Kath’s quote: “We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without cooks”.-Edward Bulwer-Lytton


Love never fails.


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Fenix, Isla Mujeres 2018



In all my years visiting Isla Mujeres (since 2005), I had only had the pleasure of eating at Fenix, one previous time. Here is that post. With their move to Playa Sol and my love of both that location and their food, I was excited to dine again. They had the perfect table reserved for my brother, his wife and I (my husband D was not yet on the island).


The first order of business was to sit back and enjoy an Isla sunset (with all the other folks who think that Fenix’s location is the perfect sunset viewing spot on the island).


Since we are family and well accustomed to sharing our plates and our food, we chose a number of smalls plates. First up were enormous garlic shrimp with toasted baguette. These were perfectly cooked so that the flesh didn’t shrink and become too dense.


We loved the Verde fish ceviche on tostados. Cucumber replaced the typical chopped tomato which made for a sparkling version of one of my favourite island treats. These were particularly “limey” enhanced by plenty of cilantro.


We were so enamored with the goat cheese stuffed red peppers that I attempted to recreate them for a fiesta later in the week. The smokey peppers had been roasted and skinned and then served on crostini. The pungent cheese offset the sweet pepper beautifully.


Coconut shrimp were presented on a skewer which made them easy to eat. Instead of tamarind or salsa these were served alongside a mango chutney. A lovely switch up.


Tempura grouper skewers with wasabi mayo arrived last. Once again the bamboo skewer made them tidier to eat. The tempura batter was absolutely greaseless allowing the subtle tastes of the grouper to shine through.


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As we lingered and appreciated the extensive layout of the restaurant, we decided that it would be the perfect spot for a wedding or other special event.

Kath’s quote: “Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?’ ‘Hmm . . . What do you think, Harry?’ said Luna, looking thoughtful. ‘What? Isn’t there just a password?’ ‘Oh no, you’ve got to answer a question,’ said Luna. ‘What if you get it wrong?’‘Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right,’ said Luna. ‘That way you learn, you see?’ ‘Yeah . . . Trouble is, we can’t really afford to wait for anyone else, Luna.’‘No, I see what you mean,’ said Luna seriously. ‘Well then, I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning.’‘Well reasoned,’ said the voice, and the door swung open.” -JK Rowling, Harry Potter


Love never fails.

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Leaving the Algarve-Highlight on the Pestana Dom João II Beach Resort


We were absolutely delighted with our hotel.


Smack on Alvor Beach, the location of the Pestana Dom João II Beach Resort was perfect for us. As was the hotel itself.


We spent many hours on the elevator lobby of our floor, as did many other groups, especially golfers from the United kingdom.


The cozy spot was perfect to catch the setting sun.


We also spent a lot of time on our balcony which had a southeast view of the ocean.


Some days we enjoyed the sunrise and others like this day, the mist rising off the cliffs.


I loved the bathroom and not just because it was my favourite colour! It had a big soaker tub as well as rain shower and if you wanted to leave the blind up between the bathroom and the bedroom, you could see the ocean from the shower.


In addition to the comfy beds there was a chaise where we would read, write and share a sandwich or a glass of wine.


This was the outdoor bar/dining room when the weather was warmer. BTW we quite enjoyed the moderate weather, but remember we travelled from the centre of Canada and escaped -50 wind chills.


On rainy or chilly days, the lounge was often filled with readers, card-players and beer drinkers.


The green grounds were well taken care of and absolutely lovely.


I have already written in detail about how much we enjoyed the breakfast buffet each morning.


The front lobby was stylish and spacious and the front desk staff spoke perfect English and were extremely helpful.


If I had to pick my favourite place on the property, it would be here-with the beach house in the foreground, one of 3 swimming pools to the right and the most beautiful beach I think I have ever been on.

I took many of these photos on the morning of our departure. We were picked up by a comfortable shuttle, whisked off to Faro, where we connected to Lisbon. We had enough time to head into Lisbon for the afternoon. Stay tuned for my last post.

Kath’s quote: “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart”. -Mahatma Gandhi


Love never fails.




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Alvor Trip Report


The day we returned from Seville, we were kind of pooped so we had a very early dinner in town at Ciao Baby.


D’s pizza was pretty good.


My seafood pasta as compared to the version that I loved at the Windsurfer right on the beach was okay. Our server who was also the owner’s son was exceptional.


The next morning we realised that time was escaping us very quickly, so we took advantage of the sun for a couple of hours, then drove to Portimao. For me the town was a lovely surprise. I had only heard other hotel guests say that it had a shopping mall which I wasn’t interested in quite frankly.



The streets in the old city were cobblestoned and narrow.



We walked until we could find the church and the town square as that is typically where all the action is (but not on this day).


We circled back and discovered many locals enjoying the sun by the harbour.


We hadn’t yet found a place to savour one of our favourite drinks back home-sangria!


The trip was winding down and we sat and reflected about the wonderful time we had together.


Upon our return to Alvor, the sun was still brightly shining so we had one last beach/sunset walk.




The evening was lovely and quiet as we strolled along enjoying this new place (to us) in the world.





We lingered until the very last moment, and then begrudgingly went and packed our bags, as our wonderful last evening was still ahead.

During our busy time in and around Alvor, we would be in daily contact with Canadian friends Jana and Kristy. They had recommended a Tascado Taberna Restaurante to us and we had such a lovely dinner, we wanted to return for our last supper.

We had a designated time to meet at the hotel and walk with them to the restaurant. A little past the appointed time, one of the women dashes into the hotel to tell us that they were still at their 4 pm spa appointment. We went on ahead of them and they joined us later. The crazy thing about this spa was that it was so affordable and the staff came in on their day off to take care of services. Amazing hospitality in Portugal!


When we arrived, we scooped up the last table that had not been designated for a reservation. The restaurant was certainly busier than the Sunday previously.


We were content to share some wine while we waited for our new friends. But there came a point where we decided we had better something into our tummies as we were certainly feeling the effects of the wine.


We started by sharing Shrimp Vol au Vent which was lovely and rich and so delicious when mopped up with the bread from the basket.


Clams in a garlicky broth were named after Bulhao Pato, a 19th century Portuguese poet. They too were amazing.


When the girls finally did arrive, they quickly caught up to our wine consumption and added grilled chorizo to the tappas selections. There were others but I neglected to get their picture.


D opted for a grilled tuna steak with salsa verde which he enjoyed very much. I can’t for the life of me remember if I ordered my own entrée.


I do know that one of our friends selected the house specialty -Shrimp Atascado. All dishes were piping hot and perfectly prepared.


They were oohhss and aahhss when we all tasted the brownie with chocolate ice cream. We also imbibed in our first tastes of Port along with a treat from the server -fire water with honey. The combination of all of the above, made me very happy that we were walking home.

Kath’s quote: “The great thing about new friends is that they bring new energy to your soul”.-Shanna Rodriguez


Love never fails.






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