Food Musings

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

La Bruja & Angelo’s-Isla Mujeres, Day 4

January16

I certainly get my monies’ worth from a trip to Isla (even when we go at high season and the plane fare costs a small fortune) because I savour the anticipation and recounting of a trip just as much as I love the time actually spent there.  On this day, here on the Canadian prairies, it has snowed overnight and and the promise of frigid weather is ahead.  But I am warm and cozy, still in my housecoat, having shared a pot of coffee and the weekend paper with D.  He is meeting a friend for coffee, Daughter #2 is at work and the house is quiet.  I can prepare for this blog post by reading my travel journal and sorting through pictures and all of a sudden-I am on Isla again.  I am smelling the fragrance of mornings there, tasting the freshness of food, feeling the early sun on my skin and listening to the sounds of the breeze and scooters and the friendly greetings of the islanders.

Day 4 was golf cart day-one of my favourite days on Isla.  We always select the carts where all the seats face forward because I feel so ridiculous sitting on the back of one of those things with this big silly, self-conscious grin on my face looking into the windshields of the taxi-drivers or few vehicles on the island.  We always pack up lots of stuff for the day too, so we wait for a cart that has a storage compartment on the back.  We take books, chairs, snacks and beverages, just in case we get the urge to plunk somewhere on the eastern shore.

We started by heading up the west road all the way to the Garrafon look out.  Along the way I was able to show the Newbie where I stayed my first year on Isla and the route to my early morning walks to punta sur and the cliffs of the east shore.

We have spent some special time in Italy and even though I love the soft gellato colours that the houses are painted in Positano and Cinque Terre, I am crazy about the rainbow of bright colours that islanders paint their homes.  We are so concerned about long-range things like “re-sale” values in Canada that we wouldn’t dare pull off such a daring colour scheme.  But the islanders live for the day and for the joy that a vibrant dash of paint induces. 

When it was time for lunch, D wanted to find the little place that we had discovered a year previously.  It had no name and we kind of had the feeling that the family was operating a lunch stop out of their living room.  D knew exactly which house it was and went to investigate.  Sure enough, it was someone’s living room and the industrious folk had converted it back to their family home.

I was on the search for Monchi’s, but when we couldn’t find it easily and we knew exactly where La Bruja was from previous visits, we opted for there instead.   

Our Newbie couldn’t believe that her 3 chicken tacos only cost her 150 pesos.  She couldn’t finish them and took leftovers home to our son who was under the weather and back at the hotel.

Daughter #1 ordered chicken fajitas and

D chose beef fajitas.

I had garlic fish and was hoping to substitute their homemade French fries for the rice.  I got both and “carb-lover” that I am, both were delicious.  We love this family restaurant for their simple but oh-so-delicious food and caring service.

We made a stop at the Ladies Bead Co-op on the way back to Centro and met these young apprentices who were learning the trade from their Moms.  We are guessing that this was because it was Christmas break from school.

We headed back to Centro and I whipped up homemade guacamole because the avocados from the market were at their ripest.  D made nachos with just a bit of manchego cheese and cilantro.  We also got to witness this gorgeous sunset from our balcony.

Someone expressed a hankering for pizza and so it was Angelo’s for dinner! 

Angelo’s has a wood-burning oven and this delightful puffed up flatbread is the first treat served from it.  They serve it with a fine balsamic and olive oil reminiscent of our lovely and memorable meals of Italy.

Because we clung to the west coast of Italy, I ordered fruite de mare pizza (and pasta) wherever I could and the redition that Isla’s chef’s serve at Angelos (and Brisa Caribe) are just as splendid.  And a trip to Isla is so much less expensive than one to Italy (when the middle of Canada is your commencement point). 

Everyone loved their choices and there were leftovers to eat around the pool in the future.   

Penne with asparagus, garlic, white wine and cream.

Shrimp in an exceptional tomato sauce.

Carbonara on bow-ties.  With every dish, you get to select your choice of pasta noodles.

Ham, Italian sausage and artichoke pizza.

At Angelo’s and the other places that set up tables on Hidalgo, it is always so much fun who you will see on the sidewalk.  In February, it is often the many fellow travellers that  have become good friends, that we see passing by.  During Carnivale it may be one of the colourful and skilled dance ensembles, sometimes it a troupe dressed in ancient Mayan garb but on this day it was…

Santa!  He was accompanied by the old man of 2011 and the baby representing 2012.  They sang Feliz Navidad and collected coins from the diners.

 Some in the family saved room for a sweet taste and we stopped at the newest gelato shop at the corner of Hidalgo at the zocalo, where coconut, pistachio and nutella flavours were sampled and enjoyed. 

We walked off a portion of these calories with time along the seawall where a strong breeze was coming off the water.  Another day had drawn to a close on our precious Isla.

 Kath’s quote: “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”-Federico Fellini

 

PocChuc & Bally Hoo-Isla Mujeres Day 3

January13

Before sunrise

We started the day with our usual routine and then D and I took a very long walk to the shelling beach. 

I find the most amazing treasures on this shore

My preference is to stay at a place on the airport strip so that I can be close to this beach

Daughter #1 parked herself at the seawall to read and the son and the newbie headed back to the beach for the day.  When hunger struck, Daughter #1 treated us to the Poc Chuc loncheria (two down from Alexia & Giovanni’s).  We have never had disappointing food at any of the loncherias that we have visited.  The food was served piping hot and very efficiently (and the tall strapping waiter was very handsome).  We sampled their special nachos with pork, chicken, cheese, guacamole, salsa and beans (I can’t believe that my photo didn’t turn out because they were gorgeous). 

 

We also shared pork tacos

and shrimp empanadas.  With 2 beer and a coke the total bill was $21! 

Afterwards, I ventured to my favourite stall at the market for cilantro, avacadoes, pineapple and freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. 

After watching the sunset from the sidewalk in front of our hotel, we got the evening off to a fun start by playing a game at happy hour around the pool.  Once a winner was declared we strolled to Bally Hoo for mango margaritas, calamari, chips and salsa, fish and chips and a shrimp fajita.

Fish and chips are an appetizer on the Bally Hoo menu.  We’re crazy about this fish-the batter is so crispy and because the pieces are small, they are really quickly fried.  When we first started ordering this dish years ago, the fries were homemade-oh my.

Another beautiful day on the island.

 Kath’s quotes: “Anyone who eats three meals a day should understand why cookbooks outsell sex books three to one.”-L. M. Boyd

Sancochos-Isla Mujeres Day 2

January12

I am always so excited to be on Isla again, that on my first full day I wake up before the sun.  I love this time of day- the birds are singing their little hearts out and Islanders meander to the ferry or to their place of work.  

These were all taken before the sun came up-to the east

 

The car ferry goes by

To the north

ta da….sunrise on Isla

D likes to put on a pot a coffee and then head out to buy fresh tortas (buns) from the Supermercado and provisions for the day.  While he’s away I write, read and get my daily suduko fix in (gotta keep the brain young-dontcha know).  Upon his return, we drank up the coffee pot on our balcony and counted the blessings which had been strung together so that we could enjoy another piece of time on the island.  

Above the palms

These guys blow crazy little whistles, ensuring that we don’t sleep the morning away

We have a very interesting vantage from our balcony-looking down upon the palms and being next door to the Naval Base makes for lots of interesting goings on.  From our perch we can also hear the “paper man” shouting out “La Pressa”.  D picks up his USA Today from the docks in the early morning and ensures that he has booked time in the hammock to read up before our day begins.

Once the rest of the gang is up and about, we have a quick breakfast of yoghurt and trail mix and get organized for the beach.

 We were very sad when Sergio’s closed and were really wondering what the beach would hold for us.  We headed to the Caribbean Queen which was just to the south of Sergio’s and arrived before the day-trippers.  We were immediately greeted by a young and friendly waiter by the name of Hasiel.  He helped us get settled under a palapa and we pretty much stayed put for the rest of the day.  This beach club has the same guidelines as the others and there was no charge for chairs if we ordered our drinks from them.  

No worries, because buckets of iced cold beer on Playa Sol is one of the many pleasures of spending vacation time on Isla.

 

Do you think the Newbie looks content?

How about now?

What about Daughter #1?

How about D?

We enjoyed a picnic lunch of manchego cheese, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and lime mayo on those fresh tortas.  By 3:30 or so we figure that we should take it easy on our first day in the sun, so we head back to the hotel for happy hour. On route the guys stop at the taco table set up on the zocolo.  We share these accompanied by drinks around the pool.

We strategically chose a dinner location so that the guys can get caught up on the NFL footballs games and scores.  We recognized Sancochos from previous visits and were delighted to be plunked in front of their big screen while we perused their huge menu.  We all ended up ordering soups to start:

Azteca

Chicken & Lime

Chicken Vegetable

Then Daughter #1 and I shared a seafood marinara pasta.

Our Newbie had this chicken dish.

The Son tucked into this kebab.

And D enjoyed his fresh fish with herbs and flowers.

Their 2 for one beverages were much appreciated too.  By our calculation they served the cheapest beer on Hidalgo.  The place appears to be run by a Mom and her daughters.  The service was expert and we knew that we would return.

We meandered Hidalgo and then headed home to our books and reflections on the day.  

Kath’s quote: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
Groucho Marx

 

Fredy’s-Isla Mujeres Day 1

January11

This will be my first post regarding our recent trip to Isla Mujeres and will also double as my trip report. 

Arrival Day

We enjoyed a pretty smooth travel day although it was a bit lengthier than when are lucky enough to get a reasonably priced direct flight.  We had a quick plane change in Chicago.  In Cancun, our bags, Best Day transfer and the ferry all arrived without a hitch. 

Our daughter-in-law is an Isla Newbie

I have so many memories of my days on Isla but I still so clearly remember my very first ferry crossing years ago.  I was absolutely startled by the colour of the turquoise water about half way across and I have been fixated by the colour ever since.

First sunset through the screen of our hotel room

When we arrived at our hotel, we were warmly greeted by Don Salome and had just enough time to drop off our bags and dress for Christmas dinner. 

 

Fredy’s Pork Chop is legendary-Please don’t ask if I ate it all

D was delighted with his sauteed spinach-but I should have had him spin his plate around for a better view of these gorgeous shrimp

Mexican plate featuring Fredy’s bean casserole (Sister #3 is crazy about them)

Fredy was waiting for us but he was the only one from his family there and so was very busy.  D and I were treating  (it was Christmas dinner after all) and were prepared to blow the proverbial wad.  In the end the 5 of us stuffed ourselves with pork chops, Fredy’s shrimp and Mexican Platters and had our fill of his fabulous free-poured lime margaritas and vino tinto- the bill was less than $100. 

Crispy crepes

Churros being made right before our eyes-slow food at its finest

Plantain chips on the top, potato chips on the bottom

After supper we strolled Medina for banana nutella crepes and then wandered over to the zocalo for churros and home made potato chips.  It wasn’t Christmas pudding but we were in our favourite place in the world and dessert and our first day was delicious.

Kath’s quote: “Oh!  All that steam!  The pudding had just been taken out of the cauldron.  Oh!  That smell!  The same as the one which prevailed on washing day!  It is that of the cloth which wraps the pudding.  Now, one would imagine oneself in a restaurant and in a confectioner’s at the same time, with a laundry nest door.  Thirty seconds later, Mrs.  Cratchit entered, her face crimson, but smiling proudly, with the pudding resembling a cannon ball, all speckled, very firm, sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre.  Oh!  The marvelous pudding!”-Charles Dickens

Eating Lighter in January

January10

If you are trying to shed a couple of pounds after the indulgence of Christmas, you may want to sample one of The Keg’s lunch salads.  On this day I was at the Keg Southside location.  I often chose the Santa Fe salad but on this occasion I was coaxed into the Cobb Salad.  The selection was chock full of high protein items like chicken, hard-cooked egg and bleu cheese (and some crumbled bacon), romaine, arugula, tomato, avocado and a light dressing.  As far as salads go, this one is very hearty.

I have often been confused that Cobb salads don’t contain corn but I found out that it is named for Robert H. Cobbe who was an American Restauranteur in the 1970s.

Other dieters, reduce their calories by limiting their protein intake.  That would be a delicious choice in this portobello mushroom burger.  The meaty grilled mushroom is served upon a toasted bun and then topped with pesto aioli, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese and arugula.  You can have it served with fries if you intend to go to the gym or with a salad to further lighten up your fare.

If you have a sweet tooth, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice dessert.  The Keg sells mini dessert portions.  We ordered this butter tart and each had a forkful-yum.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar - Southside on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Larry: I think I am just going to get a Cobb Salad. I’d like to make a few substitutions, if that’s OK. I’ll get… no bacon. No eggs. Bleu cheese on the side.
Cliff Cobb: Are you sure you want a Cobb Salad? Do you do that every time you order that salad?
Larry: Do you have a problem with it?
Cliff Cobb: It’s my grandfather’s salad. I’m a Cobb of Cobb salad fame.”-from “Curb your Enthusiasm”

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