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 Features-North Garden


North Garden has long been on my favourite street in Centro-the street that leads to North Beach and perhaps that is one of the many reasons for their success. As you walk by, you can smell cinnamon buns and bagels being baked. That aroma sticks in your head but you are determined to get a prime spot on the beach (under a palm tree for shade), so you say to yourself  “On my way home, I am going to treat myself to lunch there” Then you may do, as I once did: I plunked myself in my chair from the hotel, but when the bottom fell out of it and I was splayed across the sand, I stood up and announced that I wasn’t going to stay anyway. I was on my way for breakfast at North Garden!

On this day, my brother and his wife joined me for breakfast. They had never been to North Garden and I love to get reactions to places from Newbies. They both admired the ambience of the garden. Don’t you just feel revitalized when you are surrounded by green? Instead of coffee, I opted for a green juice (chia, pineapple, cucumber, lime, orange and ginger) at which time I felt even more alive. Truth be told, I had recently shaken off the travel and settling in jags and had just started to be able to finish a sentence.

We commenced by sharing an amuse bouche of cinnamon roll French toast, with chocolate chips mixed right into the eggs. Chopped peacans garnished and enhanced the crunch. There was one each and it worked! My mouth was definitely amused and I was hungry for more. My husband D and I make a version of these at the Bread and Breakfast we sometimes help out at. I am going to suggest the B & B owners try the chocolate chips inclusion when I get home.

The breakfast menu is so extensive that I needed Brenda, one of the owners of the restaurant to guide us. She took the guess work out for us and we were delighted with her choices.

My brother had the Breakfast Bagel. Crispy bacon, orange yolked eggs, cheese, tomato, lettuce and chipotle mayonnaise on an in house baked bagel.

The bagels laid out in the window beside our table indicated all the varieties they bake. One of them could easily be breakfast itself on a future morning.

My sister-in-law was delighted when the eggs benedict were placed in front of her. It was exactly what she would have ordered if we had chosen ourselves. Their Pecana version, was expertly prepared (eggs were poached to still have a runny centre), as well as crispy bacon, spinach and tomato. They too were garnished with chopped pecans. She was slow to taste and savour, and you could definitely see that they were both enjoying their first visit to North Garden.

My breakfast plate was so laden with food that I could have shared it with at least one more person. The Hotcakes Trio came with lightly scrambled eggs as well as pancakes topped with bananas and Nutella! I honoured the kitchen by trying a couple of bites of the pancakes, but was really excited by the premise- made sausage that was also served. The chefs grilled a beautiful Argentinan style sausage made with brisket, garlic, chipotle and jalapeno chilies as well as mozzarella cheese, which deliciously bound the ingredients together. I am also a potato aficionado and the Garden’s breakfast potatoes are tossed in a delectable amount of olive oil and cooked until the inside is still sweet and the outside is crunchy. Perfecto.

Drop in anytime on your way to or from the beach!

For the hours, address and menu for North Garden check out

Kath’s quote: “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.” – A. A. Gill

These sea glass hearts were collected by my friend Ann, who I have known for years but only met IRL recently. She was also dining at North Garden that morning.

Love never fails.

2024 Isla Mujeres Restaurant Features-The Point (Punto Norte)

Donna and I, ready for dinner.

Upon our arrival at The Point, we were greeted at the door by a couple of handsome gentlemen who pointed out that we might want to sit in the garden instead of at the bar. It was the perfect suggestion as it was cooler and less noisy. Their names were Axel and Axael, of all things.

I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the beautiful garden setting. The restaurant is between Grill Garden and North Garden, and is in the vicinity of the pool of one of the nearby hotels.

Special martinis were suggested as a place to start our lovely evening. We chose the pina colada martini with a generous garnish of sweetened coconut and once we had shared it, selected another tropical one with natural secretions from watermelon and pineapple. Could you imagine the patience required to create a libation from juice secretions? This would be the task of beautiful Natalie the mixologist.

Our food service commenced with the house guacamole. I was intrigued by the refreshing taste and learned from Axel (the manager/server) that it was made with a secret ingredient. A graduate of Tourism and Hospitality Management, he elaborated: “not everyone likes the taste of cilantro”. I know this for a fact because even though I love it, I know of people who not only dislike it, they abhor it! The secret ingredient? Fresh mint!

When it came time to order dinner we needed assistance. We knew we wanted fish. They had fresh grouper in the house. Alex explained their commitment to fresh fish and the lengths that they will go to ensure that it is served at its peak taste. Chef Lalo can do a variety of ceviche dishes but because they spoke so highly about their grouper, we tried grouper ceviche. That is the dish photographed above. It is made with julienned strips of cucumber, red onion and cucumber but what put the dish over the top were the ribbons of mango. The grouper had been cut into the same delicate strips. I coaxed my friend to try it, and although she is not a ceviche fan, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed it. Me, on the other hand, loved everything about the recipe and heartedly scooped it up with the generous supply of tortilla strips. (I finished eating the dish last evening as my late night supper and it was just as great).

We also requested a cooked order of the grouper. The fish absolutely sparkled in our mouths. Simply prepared in butter, pepper corns and capers, it was perched upon a medley of grilled sweet peppers. The chef finished the dish with a squeeze of lime which I would normally have appreciated, except the taste came too close to the ceviche. The leftovers are waiting in my apartment fridge for my sister in law who has been on the island for a week and has not yet eaten fresh fish.

The staff were diligent in asking us if we would like more libations. We actually turned down their offerings of tequila shots!

To ice the cake of our evening, we were offered a grilled fruit. We chose the pineapple and after they had skewered it and put it over a flame, it was carved at our table. There was a simple sprinkling of cinnamon and it did not encumber our walk home as some final dishes do.

If you get a chance to look for and visit The Point, do so. I come to the island for fresh, simply prepared, food. It is an art for a chef to have the knowledge of when enough is enough (with cooking, seasoning and ingredients) and Chef Lalo and his team more than delivered!

If you would like more details about hours, location and menu check out checkout

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all“. – Harriet van Horne

Love never fails.

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.

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