Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Isla Mujeres 2014-Day 5, Chuuk Kay



I was wrong, I thought I hadn’t missed another sunrise but there was nothing on my camera from this particular morning, so I must have.  Today was golf cart day! D researched and negotiated and got the best price for the version that has both seats facing forward and a big box on the back for our extra gear.  Here we are at Punta Sur.  This was where I would watch the sunrise on my first trip to Isla in 2005.


Isla Mujeres 2005 Pictures 002



The most beautiful sea colour that I have seen anywhere (in the world!)


Isla Mujeres 2005 Pictures 021




Daughter #2 and the Newbie enjoying the vista with us.


Rear view mirror shot.


As we zoomed along Sac Bajo, we had to stop and show the Newbie the floating island.  Before heading back to the casa we nipped into Centro because it was Rib Man day!


After lunch we were off to Chuuk Kay to see a set by Javier and his band with no name.  D had to make two trips and take us in batches.


Our niece “Legs” who was just laxin in the sun.


Our beautiful Daughter #1.  We ordered buckets of Sol to while away the afternoon.


Daughter #2 and the Newbie were engaged just before Christmas.  Don’t they make a gorgeous couple?


It is not hard to see where the Wee One gets her beauty.  Here are J1 and J2.


D and the Wee One (we think she’s going to be a dentist).


And Sister #3 and the Wee One.  Dona was joined by best friends and extended family too.  There were so many of us that we had to stretch over a couple of long tables.  Everyone joined together on the dance floor though, especially to dance the twist with the Wee One -“Shake it up baby, twist and shout!”


D and I wanted to share one of our fav little Colonia spots with the family and since we had the golf cart, decided to head over to Bastos for dinner.  We were surprised that we were the only table there and hope that they are staying busy enough to support their family.


D and I love the bright spin that Basto’s puts on everything.



At our end of the table, Legs and I were waffling between a couple of items so we decided to share the Burger and yummy fries and Garlic Shrimp.  Both dishes were as exceptional as I had remembered from the previous year.

The golf cart sputtered to death on the way home and so traipsing around the island was done for the evening.  The gang was departing the next day, so we assembled on the oceanside patio of the casa where we reflected over cocktails on the highlights of the week.

Kath’s quote: (From National Lampoon’s Family Vacation)

“Clark Griswold: Could I do your back, honey?

Ellen Griswold: I’ve already done my back.

Clark Griswold: Could I do your front?

Ellen Griswold: Go do your own front.”


Love-that is all.



Osborne Village Cafe


“You should not judge a book by its cover” as the saying goes, but I must confess, I was worried that I had shown up at the wrong place when I arrived at 160 Osborne St. to find that it was the Osborne Village Motor Hotel, a place I had always referred to as “the Zoo”.  I had made arrangements to get caught up with a friend at the Osborne Village Café and had imagined something altogether different.  To be honest, the décor is very modest (nay I say a bit on the shabby side) but I witnessed our server scrubbing the floors and scouring every other surface, near closing time and I can attest that the place is as clean as can be.  Besides, shabby is in, right?

The star of the show is definitely the food and we were not disappointed.  In fact, both of us were equally blown away perhaps because our expectations were low.   This as an error on our part as owner and Chef Leighton Fontaine has extensive restaurant experience and it shows.


There are occasions when diners choose spaghetti squash to obtain a healthier alternative to plain white pasta.  In this case, the spaghetti squash was not merely a stand in but an essential ingredient of the dish as a whole.  All the components including red wine mushrooms, red peppers and avocado, tasted sparkling fresh and each individual strong flavour was not overpowered by the seasoning of the tomato basil sauce.  The dish typically arrives with a topping of mozzarella but my acquaintance tries to go easy on dairy.  She was happy with her decision because she believed that the sensation would have been overwhelmed by gooey cheese.  Her highest compliment was that the dish was reminiscent of meals she had savoured while traveling in Italy-high praise, indeed.


Our server (the Chef’s sister) recommended the Perogies.  The hand-made dough is absolutely tender and when the enormous half circles were stuffed with maple poached bacon, potato, cheddar and dill, they reminded me of decadent gnocchi recipes which I have relished.  The plentiful crescents are topped with butter sautéed onions and sour cream.  Since I typically chose 0% BF sour cream, I declined and was so glad by my own determination as the delicate tastes would have been masked by rich cream.  Instead, my decadent treat was to enjoy a side of Winkler farmer sausage.  There is also a vegetarian version of the perogies available stuffed with celery root, potato, parsley, mozzarella and roasted parsnip. 

I may chose these next time, but then again, the server also recommended the Potato and Beet Latkes-crowned with two poached eggs, sautéed white wine spinach, brunoised red pepper and dill studded crème fraiche.  I have learned my lesson and will not judge this gem by its unpolished exterior.

Osborne Village Café on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.”Christopher Morley


Love-that is all.


Isla Mujeres 2014 Day 4-Date Night with the Wee One



After our late night of birthday celebration, I missed another sunrise.  I vowed to not make a habit of this and I don’t think that I missed another thereafter.  We ventured down to the beach before the day got too warm with the Wee One in tow.  I had already had a chance to introduce her to my Isla G.F.s- Jean and Jan, both Grandmas themselves (although it is hard to tell by their sexy figures in this photo).  Only other Isla-loving Grandmas could understand just how excited I was to be sharing the island with our first grandbaby and she with them. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with these ladies but they are good friends none the less.  We connect on Isla every year and by Facebook throughout the rest of the time. Say what you will about the evils of social media, I am grateful to be able to keep in touch with friends all over the world.


Do you know that the popsicle man who appears on North Beach has pulled his cart all the way from one of the south colonias?  When we were in the vicinity of Limon we saw where he parked his cart in the evening and many days we watched him push his cart past our apartment on the airport road.


Here’s a photo of him in 2013.


And another in 2012.


So too, I recognize this hard-working vendor from previous years.

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Here she is in 2012.


Ah North Beach, this image gets me through our long winters.


I love the wispy clouds in this shot.


I did eventually pull myself away from the beach, to stop and see how things were going with the Canadians playing the US in the Olympic hockey game (Dona, Sister #3 and Daughter #1 were there a head of me).


That evening, we had agreed to babysit for J1 and J2 who had postponed the celebration of their wedding anniversary until they could spend it together on Isla.  They chose Limon and Sergio had saved them a cozy table in the corner of the garden.


They started with what looks to me like bruschetta, toasted over an open fire, just like they prepare it in Italy.


Glazed pork.


I know that this was a decadent lobster dish and that they raved about absolutely everything they tasted but especially about Sergio’s stellar hospitality.


We could have had a little something at the casa but we thought, what the heck and walked into town for dinner with the Wee One at the Fisherman’s Co-op.  The sun was just setting as we arrived.


Although our dinners looked very similar, mine was parmesan fish


and D’s was almond crusted fish-both delish.

As we reflected on another lovely day on Isla, we felt very blessed that we could spend the evening with our precious granddaughter, while giving her hard-working and sleep-deprived parents a much needed break.

Kath’s quote: “Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.”- Welsh Proverb


The Wee One, hours after she was born. 

Love-that is all.

Jessie’s Kitchen Ukrainian Restaurant and Deli

 jessie1The residents of the apartment tower at 60 Whellams Lane are very fortunate indeed, especially throughout this past winter.  They didn’t even have to put on their winter boots to dine at one of the tastiest restaurant and delis in the Kildonans.  If you have never been to Jessie’s Kitchen before, you will need to pay close attention.  The restaurant is located in the lower level of an apartment block and you are required to buzz in and then follow a maze of hallways to  obtain a prized visit.


We were immediately greeted by a vivacious woman who I assumed was Jessie.  When we inquired, we were told that Jessie had moved out East but that we were still in good hands.  Jessie left her scrumptious recipes and the restaurant in the care of married couple Bruce and Margaret.  Not only had both worked at Jessie’s over the years but their daughter is married to Jessie’s son, so they are “kooms” (as such relationships are referred to in Ukrainian).


My lunch date appropriately started with a bowl of borscht.  The beet soup was only one of three offerings that day.  In fact, Margaret shared that in any given week they go through 30 L of soup “to go” on top of what is served up in the bright and pleasant surroundings. 


This was followed up with a Ukrainian Reuben (at my urging so that I could taste a bite).  Winnipeg Old Country Kolbassa is grilled on rye bread with mozzarella cheese, an unusual sauerkraut including carrot strips and a lively dressing.  The resulting sandwich is juicy and delectable.


I opted for another spin on an old favourite and chose the Potato Pancake Pizza.  The enormous pancake was scrumptious enough but made even more so when topped with kolbassa, sautéed onions and a cheese blend.  The tomato sauce made it closer to an authentic pizza, but I loved the other tastes so well, that I could have happily done without it.  Margaret noticed that I hadn’t used the accompanying sour cream.  I sheepishly responded that I was trying to reduce my calories and fat.  What a crazy notion, at a Ukrainian Kitchen!  Ukrainians have faced hard work and adversity throughout history and they needed this kind of sustenance to weather their hardships.


My companion ordered an enormous slice of strawberry/blueberry pie to go.  Margaret divulged that they had picked the strawberries themselves and kept them in the deep freeze.  She and Bruce utilize fresh local produce wherever possible and the sparkling tastes from their kitchen are confirmation of their philosophy.

Jessie's Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Kath’s quote: “You cannot fight fire with fire, so what makes you think you can overcome hatred with anything but love.”-Unknown


Love-that is all.

Isla Mujeres-2014 Day 3, Celebrate Good Times, Come On!



Table set under the palapa so we could dine el fresco.

I slept in on this morning.  I state this with disappointment because sunrise is my favourite time on Isla.  I had stayed up later than my 10 pm bedtime the night before, watching over the Wee One and D was exhausted from his day in Chichen Itza.


He actually does not recommend picking up the tour package on Isla.  They had to be on a 6:30 am ferry ride to Cancun and then after waiting at rendezvous points and collecting other tour members at their hotels it was 1 in the afternoon before they began their journey to the ancient site.  The reverse was true as well, they were the last to be dropped off at the port after all the hotel guests had been escorted home.  I do not know their exact arrival time back on the island but they were absolutely pooped by the heat and long and tedious day.

After a good night sleep, I was gung ho to get to Chedrui to start planning for the Frenchman’s (the Newbie’s) birthday.  I researched my recipes and made my grocery list, just like home, but got kind of stumped on a couple of items.  Lucky for me, I ran into Ziggy from Monchi’s and asked him for his assistance.  Turns out that baking soda is not available in the grocery aisles but in the pharmacy.  Even the staff members that tried to help me, did not know this.

After buying shrimp for Ceviche, chicken breasts for Coconut Chicken, fruit and chocolate sauce for fondue dessert and a selection of wine, beer and juices for cocktails, I spent about the same amount that I would have at home.  This surprised me.  I thought that because avocadoes, tomatoes and limes were so inexpensive that my over-all bill would be smaller.  You never know, until you live like a local.

Ziggy’s advice was opportune once again when I tried to figure out where to purchase a piñata.  He described the location perfectly-on the corner of the street that the restaurant supply store was located on (the name of the company escapes me right now).  I would never have known that they sold piñatas at this store, in fact, I didn’t even know that it was a store!

There were a number of paper mache characters and animals that could have been used for girl’s parties but I thought that I only had one choice for a male.  So, a Zebra accompanied me home in a cab.  Luckily I found a taxi that would take me to the shop and wait while I ran in to make my purchase.  Who knew that piñatas came without the treats inside?  Lucky for me Sister #3 was able to find exactly what we required in Centro.


This poor guy ended up getting his head knocked off later that evening.


I am struck over and over again by the beauty of this part of the island.  While I prepared my left over Fredy’s pork chop torta for lunch, I was able to gaze at the bay of Cancun through our living room window.  I was on my own for lunch because D and the gang had gone on a snorkelling tour with mixed reviews.  The boat ride was extremely rough and they were all a bit queasy from the journey (and the fun that was had the evening before).  Let me just put it this way: there was some extra fish food deposited over the edge of the boat on the trip to the snorkelling site. On a positive note, their included lunch was at Brisas Caribe and everyone agreed that the abundant fried fish was sensational!






Since I missed out on sunrise, I made a point of taking extra time to savour the sunset that evening.  In addition, it was one of the only times that I actually was not walking into Centro at sunset.

Back to our party plans: Sister #3 came through again by contributing her authentic guacamole.  She is also a whiz with pico de gallo and D poached the shrimp in a broth and mire proix.  We simply combined the two and enjoyed a fabulous ceviche.  Not authentically made, but very, very good.



No one else was staying at the hotel the evening of our party so we spread out and used the cement terrace for appetizers.


J1 set up the bar and manned the blender!


I thought that I was so resourceful by putting out the pink glass tea cups that were in the kitchens of Luna d’Miel.  This way guests could take a couple of scoops of both the quac and ceviche, throw in a couple of chips and they wouldn’t have to sit next to the appetizers the entire duration of Happy Hour.  The pink glass plates also made the dining table look lovely with the assistance of additional props from the kitchen of La Brisas.  The electric fry pan from the casa was also put to good use for the chicken that evening.

So the party had begun.  Does it look as if we had any fun?


Daughter #1 & 2 and the Wee One.


J1 and J2.


The Birthday Boy aka The Newbie, aka The Frenchman, aka our future Son-in-Law!


All the beauties of our family including our Niece, aka Legs.


So the table was awaiting us.  We supped on freshly baked baguette, rice pilaf, cauliflower topped with aioli and queso fresca, coconut chicken and mango salsa.


We improvised a little bit when we ran out of coconut.  Sister #3 held the tongs with the chicken and substituted with broken tortilla chips.  Both choices were absolutely fabulous.


You may think: “You were on vacation and surrounded with a bevy of amazing restaurants.  Why did you prepare all day for a supper when you could have just gone out to a restaurant?”  The answer: It was absolutely our pleasure (D, Sister #3 and I) because food=love and we LOVE The Frenchman and wanted him to know so.


Are you wondering about that piñata?  The warrior ensured that it lost his head and the treats came crashing down.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”-Craig Claiborne


Love-that is all.







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