Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres 2014 Trip Report-Day 11, Part 1

July22

This day was our last full day on Isla.  On this and most last days on the island, we try to fit in all of the events that we haven’t experienced yet.  Most of the circumstances involve food or cocktails.  True to form, J2, her Mom and the Wee One picked us up at 7:30 am for breakfast at Mango.

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I love the food at Mango but I adore the décor just as much.

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We shared Coconut French Toast

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& Eggs Benedict.

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Both the Wee One’s Glammas took turns entertaining her while we ate.

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Can you see that she has her Poppas enormous blue eyes?

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J2, Glamma V and the Wee One headed for Punta Sur as D and I strolled home.

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And then just like that…the weather changed and a deluge began.

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The weather was so extreme that it felt totally like a new day had dawned.  But you know what they say?  Even a rainy day on Isla is better than most days anywhere else.  We coped the best we could by visiting family members to say our good-byes and having a few cocktails along the way…

Kath’s quote: “When we lose, I eat. When we win, I eat. I also eat when we’re rained out.” -Tommy Lasorda

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Love-that is all.

 

Isla Mujeres 2014 Trip Report-Day 9

July9

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The beginning of another glorious day on Isla.  I sit with my coffee and watch the day come alive and take picture after picture thinking “This will be the last one, the sky can’t possibly get more beautiful than this”.  And then it does and I take another.

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For the previous couple of days, I had watched this family assemble on the shore from their rented house a few doors to the south.  On this day, I went over and told them how beautiful they look in the sunlight and took this and a number of other photos for them.

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We don’t always walk into Colonias, sometimes we head to Centro but I still can’t leave my camera behind and just walk.  I MUST capture Isla so that I can relive that slow pace and the long shadows of the newly risen sun.

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I love this house and the artistry demonstrated in the painting of it.  I wish the lovely woman watering her plant had windows to see her beautiful island though.

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We finally arrive at our destination-Café Cito.  We miss Ziggy but still come for the pineapple/coconut/banana jam.

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and Mexican eggs

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and fried eggs with hash browns and their pretty good coffee.

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We set off again, deliberating over the idea of renting bikes for the day.  After waiting for places to open and then checking the condition and price of the rentals, we decide to pass.  I am not really sure why we were so easily dissuaded and then I find out later that a friend of ours who had rented a bicycle was cut off by a scooter and received fairly serious injuries when his bike crashed.  I guess our guardian angel was watching over us.

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So we make our way back home but not without a stop at our favourite spot for real fruit popsicles-this one mango.

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We spend the rest of the day luxuriating in our own little paradise.  We keep the great kitchen in our apartment at Luna d’Miel stocked with juices, fruit, snacks, beer, wine and enough key ingredients to make a sandwich to eat by the sea.

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The blues of the Caribe were particularly vibrant that day.

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When I am not lying in the hammock writing or reading one of the zillion books the I devour on Isla, I have a lovely pastime.

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I am a beachcomber, collecting heart shaped shells, coral & stones, beach glass-my favourite colour is the very pale sea-foam green and I am ecstatic when I find a turquoise piece.  I also search for the inside spiral of conch shells.  I bleach them and then glue a pin on them to give as gifts to my girlfriends.  The strip of the beach in front of Luna d’Miel is perfect for collecting and I go out bright and early each morning and stand in the surf and let the treasures just wash up and find me.

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When it was time for dinner we waited for Sister #3′s cab to pick us up on their way to Monchi’s.  Since every vehicle going north to south and vice versa on the island can only take one of two roads, there was a 50/50 chance that we would be successful.  With Facebook added to ensure that she request the east airport strip with her cab driver, the odds went up to 100%.

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The Wee One, J2 and Veektooria were also at Monchi’s, together with Doona’s entourage that we had traveled and dined with on other occasions.  When you add in Bro #3 and his wife, I think there were thirteen of us that evening.

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I can never decide whether or not I like Ziggy’s (he has since moved to Barlito’s, by the way) Coconut or Garlic Shrimp.  Lucky for me, Sister #3 was on the fence too, so we each ordered one and then swapped to ensure that we each had a combo.  Most everyone had shrimp of one description or another but orders of grilled chicken and enchiladas were also equally enjoyed.

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We stopped to appreciate the beautiful trees growing across from the restaurant before we walked back home.  We often end the day, the way we start it, sitting in our chairs at the water’s edge, sipping a glass of something and gazing at the sky.

Kath’s quote:Second star to the right…and straight on ’til morning“. -James Kirk

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Love-that is all.

Little South America-Winnipeg Exchange District Tour

June27

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a media preview of this new Exchange District Tour.  We assembled in Steven Juba Park across from Carnaval Brazilian Barbeque and I was hoping that it would be our first stop as I have enjoyed tapas in the lounge but had never been upstairs to check out the dining area.

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We walked past the huge rotisserie area as we made our way to our table and I stopped for a moment to see the cuts of meat and sausages and pineapple twirling around.

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When we are on Isla Mujeres my favourite taco is called “Taco al Pastor” where thinly sliced marinated pieces of pork are cooked on a vertical shishkabob while rotating next to an open flame.  The only time I had seen meat cooked in this manner was while I was travelling in the Middle East.  With research I discovered that indeed Lebanese immigrants to Mexico brought this technique for cooking lamb and the Mexicans adapted it for pork.  As a result, back in the 1960′s this same dish was called Tacos Arabes (Arab Tacos) but for some reason has been renamed.  Speculation is that the original use of lamb is the connecting nuance because ”pastor” means shepherd.  On Isla Mujeres the pork is often layered with rings of pineapple and sliced off the rotating skewer all at once so in my mind I have always associated ”Pastor” as having something to do with pineapple-boy, was I off.  Can you follow my musings here?  Carnaval cooks both pork and pineapple on their rotating skewers and so the taste reminded me of Mexico and the Middle East at the same time.

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In addition to the pork and pineapple, I also loved the skirt steak (there are 14 cuts of meat served in total).  There are also over a dozen sides on the menu and all the ones that we sampled were from the cold section.  Somehow almost every dish was empty by the time it arrived where I was sitting so that I missed out on the Chickpea Salad, the Hearts of Palm Salad and the Kale & Broccoli Salad.  What I thought must have been the Panzanella (sometimes called Tuscan bread Salad) made with Bononcini, croutons and tomatoes was also only tomatoes by the end of its rounds.  I express this disappointment because if they were anything like the Mixed Field Green Salad or the Arugula, Raisin and Pumpkin Seed Salad that I did get to sample, they would have been very fine indeed.  Without further delay I should mention the excellent Brazilian Cab Sav that accompanied our first courses.

Carnaval Brazilian BBQ on Urbanspoon

When we met up with owner Noel Bernier at our next stop, he explained that the location for Carnaval was obtained three years before it opened.  Noel wanted it to be a place where “original gauchos” could bring their style of cooking and eating to Winnipeg.  Noel’s fiancé from Brazil works at Carnaval as well as manager Fabio who we also had an opportunity to meet.

While we sipped another excellent wine at Hermanos, this one a full-bodied Stagnari Tannat from Uruguay (the tannat grape was originally imported from France but is now considered the national grape of Uruguay), Noel continued with his story: he puts the most importance on Hermanos because it was only through a labour of love that it reached its current success.  In fact, Noel’s mission was to “celebrate the heart of South American food”.  He does not want Hermanos to be considered an “ethnic” restaurant per se, but a South American fusion restaurant with a Canadian influence.

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Take the dish “Peru Meets Manitoba” for instance.  Noel suggests that it was the Peruvians that invented ceviche-the method of “cooking” fish and seafood in a lime marinade instead of over heat.  I am crazy about ceviche, eating it almost daily while on Isla Mujeres (hope that you can tolerate my Isla fixation) but had never been to a restaurant that was bold enough to attempt it on a local fish.  I thought that pickerel might be too delicate to hold its own against the lime juice but oh no-it is a perfect marriage, made better by the coupling.

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I also loved the sausage board where a chorizo style sausage was served with grilled bread and peppers declaring a bold taste statement.  Sausages are the perfect way to use every part of the animal.  Since Noel indicates that the South American culture is very “farm-focused”, this is not at all surprising.  Farmers are the most resourceful people in the world and in my opinion, if I am to be a carnivore, I think that using every possible part of the animal is respectful and ethical.

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The tenderized and breaded beef called Milanesa was also a multi-cultural phenomena.  Wikipedia indicates:

The milanesa was brought to the Southern Cone of South America by Italian immigrants during the mass emigration called the Italian diaspora between 1860-1920s. Its name probably reflecting an original Milanese preparation cotoletta alla milanese, which is similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel.

Who knew?

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Similarly, an empanada comes from the Spanish verb meaning empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.  I thought that Hermanos’ version was closer to a samosa which would also be authentic as Wikipedia (isn’t it a handy resource?) states:

Empanadas and the similar calzones are both believed to be derived from the Indian meat-filled pies, samosas.

I tasted both the beef and black bean variety as well as the chicken and sausage and could not decide which I like the best.  What I did know with certainty was that the Tannat held its own when swigged after each taste of beef and which is consistent with its Uruguay popularity because beef is consumed more extensively in South America than anywhere else in the world.

Hermano's on Urbanspoon

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Before the entourage departed for Corrientes Argentiene Pizzeria, Noel reminded us that these restaurants were never intended to be “chef-focused” but to be a home for persons from South America who wanted to showcase their talents.  Not surprisingly, we were greeted by another handsome South American when we arrived at the comfortable pizzeria.  Sylvio, who is a recent arrival to Canada was assisted by Cynthia who explained that the design of Corrientes was to replicate a popular neighbourhood in Buenos Airies (which Noel earlier declared was to him the most fascinating city on earth).  She also explained that there are many “Corriente” streets in various Argentiene communities.  The beautiful building which is home to the this third café is one of the oldest in the city having been built in 1882.

satour1I had sampled their excellent pizza on previous visits and had learned about the influx of Italians to Argentina after World War II.  A delicious hazelnut and chocolate dessert, called Gianduia was served.  I, who can typically resist desserts, lapped up every dollop and then sat back to savour an Argentiene Malbec-once again: stellar.

Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I hadn’t expected to be so impressed with the Exchange tour from both the perspective of the historical significance and what I learned and tasted in the way of food.  But more than anything, it was Noel Bernier’s passion for Winnipeg’s exchange district and the food that he loves that impressed me most.

Kath’s quote: “The best fertilizer is the footprint of the farmer.” anonymous

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Isla Mujeres Trip Report-Day 9 (Part 2)

June18

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It has been months since I wrote part one of this Day 9 Trip Report and what have I been busy with? We’ve lived through the most severe winter on the Canadian prairies in over a century; we’ve successfully renovated and sold my mother’s home of 58 years; we have opened up our little beach house for another season and the Wee One continues to grow and delight us.  We have already booked our time on Isla in 2015 and so I thought that it was high time to focus on getting my 2014 reports completed. We’ll see how this goes.

From Part 1: When our family is with us, we spend a lot of time in Centro but as soon as they depart, we find ourselves drawn to the Colonias for long walks through the neighbourhoods.  On this day, we actually walked into Colonias twice-once to reacquaint ourselves with the exact locale of Deysi & Raul’s and the next time to actually dine there.

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Overlooking one of the Salinas.

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Gorgeous blossoms were everywhere.

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I love the blue paint used on Isla-doors and windows duplicate the colour of the sea.

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There are explosions of colour everywhere, here at a local produce vendor.

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The painting of this stucco must have been pain-staking work.

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There is one specific place in the Colonias where you can see the sea to the west with Cancun in the distance

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while the Atlantic is just a glance to the east.

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This is the ocean view just steps away from some of the Colonia’s homes.

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More blossoms and more bright blue paint.  I can’t get enough of either.

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A tribute to motherhood in the zocolo.

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We walked back to our “home” on the airport strip, had a lunch of left overs, read and rested in the hammocks and then lapped up the exquisite sunset before venturing back to the Colonias again.

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Our long-awaited destination.

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The view from our table perch at this wonderful family restaurant.

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We started with chicken tortilla soup.

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Delicious sautéed veggies with the meat and cheese in the fajitas.

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You could literally make a meal of the fixings.

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Adorned with pico de gallo and one of many delicious sauces.

Kath’s quote: “Now shall I walk or shall I ride? ‘Ride,’ Pleasure said; ‘Walk,’ Joy replied.” ― W.H. Davies

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Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger-Sister #3 “Limon, Isla Mujeres”

May12

To say there are lots of dining options on Isla Mujeres would be a huge understatement. Trying to narrow down your selection is a challenge when you only have a two week stay. How do you try out the latest hot spot, that tiny little loncheria you have been wanting to try for years, and at the same time, visit your favourites?  There are places I love because of the atmosphere, places I love because of the staff, and places I love because of the food. Bring all three of those things together and you have Limón. 

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Located in the home of Sergio Cortreras Martinez and Charrissa Gillingham, going to dinner at Limón feels much like being invited to the home of friends for an elegant back yard barbeque.  We have always been fortunate to get a table in the courtyard and being we are often a party of 10 or more that is quite an accomplishment.  I always look forward to getting caught up with Sergio.  His hosting skills are not just about providing you with a lovely setting, great drinks and delicious food, but with fascinating stories of life in Mexico.  So great atmosphere, check, great people, check… now on to the food. 

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Our gang started the evening with a round of hibiscus margaritas.  Yes, that’s right, hibiscus is used in food and beverages in Mexico and adds a delightful floral note to everything it touches.

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On this visit I knew I had to try the tortilla soup.  My niece had it the previous year and spent the entire time between visits dreaming of this soup. Because our reservation at Limón was to take place after she left the island, we made a special trip to pick up a bowl to go that she and another niece enjoyed on their last day.  A base of tomato and juajillo chilli, this bowl of yumminess is chuck full of fried tortilla strips, cheese, chunks of avocado and ancho chilli rings. Creamy and hearty with just the right amount of heat.  I also had the vegetable tempura served with tartar sauce and wasabi.  Because Charrissa is a vegetarian, Limón has lots of meat free options to choose from.

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Another in our party looking for a lighter dinner selection had the tuna lettuce wraps followed by the impressive caprese tower.

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The meat lovers in the gang enjoyed the apricot and pineapple glazed pork tenderloin, cilantro chicken, and the rosemary kababs; a trio including skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp. The oohs and aahs around the table were a sure sign that no one was disappointed with their selection. 

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The seafood options we tried this visit included the coconut shrimp and the marinera, a perfect plate of pasta with shrimp, octopus, mussels and squid rings.  Definitely on my wish list for next year.

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Every plate was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat.  Little touches like the addition of a spring roll here and a bacon-wrapped chilli there bring the food to that next level.   It’s also fun to visit with Serg as he is preparing your meal on his grill just across the courtyard from our table. 

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We were all stuffed at the end of the meal but a few members of our table insisted we indulge in the grilled pineapple with banana ice cream for dessert.  So two orders and 9nine spoons were soon delivered to our table.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect evening.  Needless to say Limón is top of the list for every year to come. 

Kath’s quote: “To invite someone is to take charge of his happiness during the time he spends under your roof.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

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Love-that is all.

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