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 2024 Restaurant Feature-El Mexicana (formerly the Raw Bar)


Since we visited and wrote this post, the restaurant has been wisely renamed and is now El Mexicana.

While visiting Philadelphia one year to attend a Food Bloggers conference, I had the opportunity to eat at a restaurant called “Raw” and that is exactly what you got-recipes that had been prepared without heat being a part of the process. The restaurant owners professed that it was a purer way to eat. I absolutely love carpaccio since travelling to Italy and it is one of the most popular crudos (raw food) in the world.

So when I had the opportunity to dine at Raw Bar on Isla Mujeres, I knew what I was getting myself in for. Or did I? Unlike that Philadelphia restaurant, Isla’s Raw Bar serves mostly cooked items. Fried chicken anyone?

When I invited three family members to join me for lunch, my brother actually hesitated because of the name of the restaurant. Good thing he changed his mind because we were in for a wonderful surprise. Danny and Alex did an exceptional job of taking care of us.

For libations, we started with house specials of Lychee and Mango Martinis. If you are adventurous with your martinis, you will love these.

We started by sharing a delicious sushi dish called Saoko-with fresh tuna, onion, chives and cucumber. They were garnished with a dab of a very spicy sauce and tobiko (black fish roe) which is like caviar but from flying fish, not sturgeon. Sister #3 had the first bite and cautioned us about the heat, so I begrudgingly scraped mine to the side. I say “begrudgingly” because I love black fish eggs! The sushi was tasty and perfectly prepared but what put the dish over the top was the beautifully created garnish plate with pickled ginger, marinated cucumber, wasabi and a spicy red sauce.

When it was time for our next dish, Alex had his hands full with transferring the lava stone mortar bowl to the table top-it was that hot! This was the piece de resistance -Molcajetes Mixto! Surrounding a tasty guacamole, was fried cheese, superlative sausages, rib eye steak, sauteed chicken and grilled onion bulbs. Each protein was exceptionally prepared and absolutely delectable. When accompanied by the sauce of beans, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and serrano chilies, it was the perfect bowl for 4 to share for a tasty lunch. The martajada sauce itself was beautifully balanced and so savoury that I would have loved it on top of a mound of Mexican rice. Black corn (only grown in the Chiapas region) tortillas escalated the bowl ingredients to a complete meal.

If you are a raw afficiando, fear not. There was a great selection of Shashimi and Poke Bowls as well as juices and smoothies at breakfast.

The moral of the story is-don’t judge a restaurant’s menu by its name. You too might fall in love with the Molcajetas Mixto!

For exact location, hours, and menus, please check out The best investment you will ever make.

Kath’s quote: “Life is too short to not eat raw food and even shorter if you don’t!” – So says the raw organic food lovers.

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Relax at Jax by Sister #3


Regulars to Isla Mujeres will be very familiar with Jax, a place considered a cornerstone of the community. Located at the tip of Medina and Lopes Mateo, across from the round-about, facing the lovely fisherman memorial statue, it has long been, (22 years to be exact), a gathering place. You may find yourself at Jax for Island Worship on a Sunday morning or enjoying a sporting event on their big screens. Stopping for snacks after a fishing tournament or taking advantage of Hump day happy hour, followed by live music every Wednesday. Spend any time on the island and you’re likely to visit Jax. But I would highly recommend also making it a dinner destination, on a less busy day and enjoying the great food and service, taking in the lovely view and ambiance. 

The evening we visited, Sister #1 had just arrived to the island on a late day ferry. We literally dropped her cases at her apartment and were off to see our friend Jackie, the owner of Jax. To say that Jackie is overflowing with southern hospitality would be an understatement. 

We settled into a table on the second floor, to enjoy the view of the palms and a cool breeze. After a cocktail to toast our time on the island, we decided it was chilly enough to have soup for our first course.

The soup was a bit of comfort, after a long travel day. The seafood soup was incredible! The fish broth with onion, tomato and peppers, was so tasty and it was chuck-full of conch and octopus with plenty of plump shrimp. Each bowl of soup is made to order so the seafood is fresh and delicious. We especially enjoyed crumbling our tortillas into it, as they do with most soups here in Mexico. This in itself is a meal, but it had been a long day with not much to eat, so we moved on to the mains. 

A dish of three Baja style fish tacos featured tender fresh grouper in a light tempura batter along with sopero cheese, cabbage and crema. The fish at Jax is always excellent. For their fish and chips, fish tacos, etc. they only use grouper or mahi-mahi and work with local fisherman who will fish a bit further a field when necessary to bring home the catch. On the rare occasion that this caliber of fish isn’t available, they will just pull it from the menu for the day rather than serve an inferior product. 

Jax also offers ahi grade tuna. We had the pepper grilled version that was served with rice and fresh vegetables, accompanied by wasabi, soy, and pickled ginger. 

Talk about a cheeseburger in paradise, we indulged in the Original Jax Burger piled high with all the fixings. Ours had onion, tomato, lettuce, fried mushrooms, jalapeños, avocado, pickles, and American cheese! Served with piping hot French fries, this half pound ground sirloin burger is all meat-cooked on the grill with pepper and a particular seasoning blend.  This seasoning is a testament to Jackie’s commitment to good ingredients. When this spice mix was nowhere to be found on the island she made a trip to Texas to purchase it, along with a couple of other impossible to find items. She tells us that her apartment now looks like a bodega. 

The avocado shrimp salad was lovely and refreshing. Chopped greens with slices of perfect avocado were topped with giant poached shrimp (8 of them!) and served with a remoulade sauce, whose flavour brought out the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly. It’s easy to understand why this is a crowd favourite. 

Jackie is proud of the drinks and food they have created at Jax, but she shared that the thing she is most proud of is her incredible staff. Many have been with her since shortly after opening. A testament to the fine and generous soul she is. 

Kath’s quote: “You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food“.-Kurt Vonnegut

Love never fails.

When two Cultures Come Together-Sister #3


Spending time on Isla Mujeres every winter, I have tried to learning about the history of her people and of course their food. Years ago I took a cooking class in Puerto Morelos.

The chef taught us what foods are indigenous to Mexico like corn, beans, squash, turkey, and chocolate, and what foods were introduced through colonization. It was fascinating to learn how the people incorporated these new foods, that are now staples of the cuisine, such as rice, wheat, chicken, beef, pork, and herbs and spices like cinnamon and cilantro. Of course there is much more to colonization than the introduction of new foods.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to the Mayan World Museum in Merida to learn more about the tragic history of how the Spanish tried to erase the Mayan people and culture. 

The story is similar in my home country of Canada. The Scottish, English, and French tricked the indigenous people into surrendering their land and later tried to destroy their culture all together. 

At first, relationship was a beneficial partnership. With the two cultures coming together the Métis nation was born. My mother’s family is Métis. A mix of indigenous and European blood. Like the Mayans, the Métis too took the food that was brought by the colonizers and incorporated it into the cuisine. 

Today, February 19th is Louis Riel Day in my home province of Manitoba. Riel was a strong (and a bit crazy) Métis leader who helped create our province. So I thought I would celebrate him and Métis history by making some fry bread while I’m down in here in Mexico.

Fry bread is a version of Bannock, a staple of Métis cuisine. A play on the British scone, it became popular because the ingredients traveled well and it could be made over a camp fire. Fry bread is a decent fried version of bannock. I apologize in advance if you become obsessed with this bread. Here’s the recipe. 

Fry bread

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk 

1/4 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in milk and mix using a rubber spatula. Turn out dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top and knead five to six times. Form into ball, return to bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Mix together sugar and cinnamon for topping. 

When dough is ready, heat in inch of oil in a cast iron frypan to 350 degrees. Roll out dough, I just use my hands, into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Cut dough into four portions. Take each portion and ensure it is consistent thickness. Cut a small hole in the middle of each portion. This will help the bread stay flat while frying. When oil is ready, cook one piece at a time for approximately 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Be sure to place in the dough away from you to avoid splashing oil. Remove from oil and while still hot sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve hot. 

Kath’s quote: “We are Métis.  We are neither First Nations nor Inuit, nor are we European immigrants to this land. Instead, we are the middle-ground between camps; the compromise between differences and the dawn that separates night and day. We are not half-breeds, but the children born of a marriage between two very different worlds…. To be Métis is to be blessed with the best fruit of not one, but two family trees. We are not “half” of anything, but doubled. Being twice blessed, we are likewise proud, strong and determined.”

-Terry St. Amant

Love never fails.

The Day of Love and Friendship-Sister #3


I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. In most of North America it’s a very commercial event focused on romantic love. It’s a day where you pay twice as much for roses than other days and it’s impossible to get a dinner reservation at a decent restaurant.

Most years on February 14th I am in Mexico, where they celebrate “dia del amor y la amistad”, the day of love and friendship. A much more inclusive recognition, that makes me very happy.

Last year, my sister and brother-in-law were on the island and bought me flowers.

Doug made dinner for Kath and I and it was a fabulous day. There are so many kinds of love, and I appreciate that in Mexico they value friendship as well as romantic love. 

Of course one of my love languages is food. And a favourite dessert of mine, and everyone I’ve made it for, is chocolate lava cake. I think it’s the epitome of love. 

Chocolate Lava Cake


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

10 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened coco powder


Place the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water over low heat (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water).  Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts; remove from the heat.  

When the chocolate is smooth, stir in the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and has a thick, mousse-like consistency, about 5 minutes.

Fill six ramekins 1/2 full and cover each with plastic wrap.  Freeze for at least 3 hours.  NOTE: The ramekins can be filled and frozen up to 3 days in advance.

Just before serving time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the frozen desserts until the outer edges of the tops are set, but the centers are still moist and shiny, usually 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven.

To serve, invert each hot portion onto a serving plate and serve warm. I like to serve with raspberry coulis and good quality vanilla ice cream. 

Raspberry coulis


½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons water or orange juice

12 ounces frozen raspberries thawed

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)


Combine sugar and water (or orange juice) in a 1 cup (or larger) microwave-safe cup or bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture will be very thick.

Cook in the microwave on high power for two minutes. Stir for 5-10 seconds to ensure that the sugar crystals are dissolved.

Combine the raspberries and hot syrup in a blender container. Blend until the mixture is smooth and pureed.

Pour puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium-size bowl. Stir and push on the solids with the back of a rubber spatula until all of the liquid has been extracted. This will take several minutes as the mixture will be thick.

Discard the seeds. Add the liqueur, if using and stir to combine

Makes 6 servings

Kath’s quote: “More like a chocolate molten lava cake. A dessert so sinful, so luscious, so filled with inner heat it made a girl want to lick each and every crumb right off the plate.“-Julie James

Love never fails.

Cooking at home in Mexico-Sister #3


You guys know I am passionate about food.

I love to cook. It’s my happy place. It’s where I find my Zen. So it only makes sense that some of my favourite time spent on my winter vacation is in the kitchen. This year I am staying in two different places, for a month each. They both have small kitchenettes. They are pretty basic.  They both feature full size fridges, microwaves, coffee makers, plates, glasses, and cutlery. That’s it for one of the kitchens, the other also has a double gas burner, toaster, blender, pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Over the years we have accumulated a few supplies that allow me to cook in either location.  It can be tricky to cook for a big gang with limited tools, but somehow I’ve managed.

Another favourite way to spend my time is food shopping.

The open air markets are full of fresh produce native to the area.  I’ve gotten to know the Mexican products pretty well and know enough Spanish that I can manage to find what I’m looking for. (Unlike our trip to Prague where my sisters and I came home with buttermilk for our coffee). Because our budget is tight, we eat at home a lot. We often start the day with fruit, yogurt and toast but for a treat, I like to whip up omelets or French toast with tropical toppings.  We usually pack a lunch and snacks for the beach. So far this trip I have made most of our dinners at home.  

Recently I made lime chicken with Mexican oregano, rice and carrots. A play on a lemon chicken dish I often make at home.  Its nice to have home cooked food, and the fresh ingredients make everything delicious.  

Lime Chicken


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 tbsp flour                 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt

1 tbsp oregano             3 tbsp oil

Juice from 1/2 a lime


Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Mix together seasoning salt and flour.  Toss chicken in seasoned flour.  Heat oil over high heat. Shake off excess flour off chicken and add to hot pan. Turn element down to medium-high.  Brown all sides of chicken and cook through, about 4 minutes.  When chicken is finished cooking, squeeze lemon juice over top and let reduce and coat chicken for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.  

Kath’s quote: “To me, food is as much about the moment, the occasion, the location, and the company as it is about the taste.” – Heston Blumenthal

Love never fails.

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