Food Musings

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

Abuelo-Isla Mujeres 2018

March29

I have always loved my dinner experiences at Abuelo:

This year was no exception. There were five of us and then we were joined later in the evening by Sister #3 and Dona who had been at a Isla Scholarship reception earlier.

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We were kind of boring as we all ordered coconut shrimp. That is with one exception. Rudy ordered chicken schnitzel and was very impressed but I neglected to get a good shot of his plate. I may prefer Abuelo’s coconut shrimp version to all the rest as I love their over abundance of long strands of sweet coconut. They also do a great job of grilled veggies, baguette and a vegetable rice.

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Dona has enjoyed Abuelo’s green enchiladas in the past and did so again when she and Sister #3 finally arrived for a late dinner. Do you know what makes this sauce green? It is the tomatillo which is also known as the Mexican husk tomato and is a staple in Mexican cuisine. They have a slightly herbal taste, and are somewhat fruity and tart in flavour. I tasted green enchiladas again at Basto’s the following week and was blown away.

Later that evening we stopped for ice cream and churros purchased on the square.

Kath’s quote: “The food was delicious, the wine even better, as elemental and earthy as the wild hills where the grapes grew. They finished with sips of chocolate-infused port and cinnamon churros. ” ― Susan Wiggs, The Beekeeper’s Ball

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Qubano’s -Isla Mujeres 2018

March28

People have long told me that Vivien of Qubano makes the very best Cuban sandwiches on Isla Mujeres and that made sense to me since there are not an over abundance of Cuban restaurants on the island. My entourage had headed to Captain Dulce’s for the day. Since it was my last day staying in Centro before I moved to the airport strip, I wanted to take advantage of North Beach and eating on Hidalgo.

Just when my hungered peaked I found myself at Qubano. There was a lovely table in the shade and I snagged it.

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It was tough to make a decision from the extensive menu but as soon as I saw that Vivien makes her own French fries, I ordered something that would be accompanied by fries.

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I don’t actually expect exceptional burgers on Isla but I have been proven wrong now at Madera, Basto’s and Qubano. Look at this gorgeous patty complete with sauteed onions!

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I cut it in half since I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it into my mouth, at which time the gorgeous creamy goat cheese that had been placed inside the patty, began to ooze out in the most delicious manner. Now this was my kind of burger! The goat cheese added moisture, richness and an amazingly complementary taste. Who knew?

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The burger was a mess to eat and I loved every moment. Since I was in my swim suit I thought that I would let the crystal blue waters at North Beach take care of that. I was so enraptured by the burger that I had completely forgotten my motivation for ordering it-the fries! There are two places I go for the fries on Isla: Basto’s, La Lomita and now a third-Vivien’s fries were fabulous.

Sometimes the best places are right there under your nose and you don’t even notice. Kudos to Qubano’s Stuffed Goat Cheese Burger and Fries!

Kath’s quote: “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”- John Scully

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Love never fails.

 

 

North Garden Restaurant-Isla Mujeres 2018

March27

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In Portugal this January.

When I am on Isla Mujeres, D is typically at my side. This year though, he was only able to be on the island with me for one week. This was because we had already traveled to Phoenix and Portugal this winter. I don’t mind dining alone. In fact it gives me an opportunity to observe the restaurant without distraction. I watch the servers and their interactions with guests. I also observe their delight at tasting and consuming their food. In this case breakfast.

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I had been on the beach early that day but my lawn chair unexpectedly broke and so I made my way back to my hotel. I decided to stop en route to see if North Garden had a table. Every other time I had walked by, the place was jammed and there were line ups of people waiting to get in. On this day though, there was only one larger party ahead of me. Breakfast became my consolation prize for having to cut short my beach time.

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The name of the restaurant became very obvious when I was sat down in the cool shade of this beautiful tree. This variety also creates a natural umbrella at Luna D’ Miel where we often stay. In addition to offering up its shade, it drops leaves on you periodically to ensure that you are awake.

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I started with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. I was one thirsty girl, haven finished my water bottle on the beach at least an hour before.

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Since the restaurant was busy, I had lots of time to make my selection from their extensive menu.

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Pecan Eggs Benedict was my choice and I was delighted when they appeared so beautifully in front of me. Notice the inclusion of pecans and crispy strips of side bacon as opposed to the typical back bacon.

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I always cut into my Benedict right away to ensure the desired doneness of the poached eggs. One side was perfect and the egg yolk intermingled with the hollandaise sauce. Unfortunately the other side was too hard to do the same. In spite of my personal preference, the entire dish was delicious. I was anxious to visit North Garden again for lunch but did not have the opportunity. They are already on the “must try again” list for our next visit.

Kath’s quote:“In the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves – nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them – the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end… there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air.”― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Ana’s Breakfast at Fredy’s-Isla Mujeres 2018

March26

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Many cooks have a specialty they are known for. In our family D has his chocolate fudge sauce, Sister #2 her eggs Benedict, Sister #3 her chocolate lava cakes and me my lemon oregano chicken. Ana, wife of Fredy has her sopes. We first tasted them when she set up a breakfast restaurant call Mel and Alda’s in Colonias.

A sope is a traditional Mexican dish originating in the central and southern parts of Mexico, where it was sometimes first known as pellizcadas. It is an antojito which at first sight looks like an unusually thick tortilla with vegetables and meat toppings. The base is made from a circle of fried masa (ground maize soaked in lime, also used as the basis for tamales and tortillas) with pinched sides. Sometimes other ingredients (mostly meat) are also added to create different tastes and styles of sopes.

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Ana’s sopes are tender and full of flavour even before her delectable toppings are added.

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Since I can never get enough of potatoes, I chose to have them scrambled with eggs. There were beautifully fresh and seasoned perfectly. The crunchy bacon accompaniment was an added bonus.

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There are a couple of Canadian treats hat I enjoy when I am traveling, one is crispy bacon and the other is a good cup of coffee. Ana serves both.

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Fredy perched himself at the end of our table while Ana flew around the kitchen. She did come out to say hi and make sure that we were happy with everything. It was at this opportune moment that I captured them here.

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We are not coaxed out of our breakfast routine very often, (that is yoghurt and fresh fruit in our hotel), so we cannot advise on any other offerings from Ana’s extensive breakfast menu. But we can tell you that everything we have sampled on this and the previous occasion has been top notch.

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She also had this sandwich board out on Hidalgo while we were on the island. I think her breakfast and lunch offerings are only served during high season. Drop in and see what they are cooking up the next time you are strolling Hidalgo.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is love made visible.” -unknown

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Love never fails.

 

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Topaz, Isla Mujeres 2018

March23

We like many visitors to Isla watched with interest when the Isla 33 Condos were built on the south east end of the island. We are “out of that league” as far as owning or even renting there. But we can dream, can’t we? One way to play along with that fantasy is to dine at Topaz -the main floor bar, restaurant and patio. The night we dined with good friends, no one could pick us out as renters from the airport strip. Or could they?

Upon arrival, we were sat at a lovely table on the patio. In fact that evening, everyone who was dining was doing so el fresco.

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We started the evening by sharing Mango Ceviche. This great variation on traditional ceviche tossed mango, white fish, cucumber, red onion and cilantro together and then marinated them in lime juice. I could detect another ingredient and when I checked the menu I found that there was also a splash of tequila in the dish. I couldn’t discern what kind of white fish was used in the recipe.

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We also shared coconut shrimp- a dish which finds its way onto many Isla menus. We make these at home when we are missing the island. A trick I utilize is creating a slit down the back of the shrimp to “butterfly” it and then press the increased surface into the coconut mixture. Topaz’s version didn’t do this so they were big and extra plump. I appreciated the innovative way they adhered them to the plate with a vegetable puree.

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I knew exactly what I was ordering as soon as I spotted this dish on Topaz’s extensive menu. The lobster mac and cheese included lovely chunks of lobster amidst a creamy cheese sauce and pasta. The dish was light on the promised truffle oil or perhaps I assumed it was light because I am addicted to the taste and crave it often. I did appreciate how the dish had been heated under a salamander broiler to caramelize the top layer. I ate every single rich morsel.

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D considered prime rib or lamb because he thought it was unusual to find these of an Isla menu but in the end wanted something lighter. He settled upon grilled tuna and enjoyed it immensely.

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One of our companions enjoyed these crunchy fish tacos.

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While the other tucked in to these beef tacos. She thought that the kitchen may utilize prime rib in this recipe and she appreciated the extra tenderness and flavour.

Our service could not possibly have been more attentive or caring. The staff are well trained and highly professional.

The moon was out that evening and from our vantage point on the patio we could see it glimmering on the sea. We lingered over our beverages imagining ourselves as permanent residents there.

Kath’s quote: “Aim higher in case you fall short.”  ― Suzanne Collins

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Love never fails.

 

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