Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Capricci Pizza-Isla Mujeres 2018

March16

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Pizza is like hamburgers…everyone has a favourite place to go and will valiantly defend their preferences. On Isla Mujeres, I know that many people love Oscar’s and Mike’s and Angelo’s. I have never had pizza at Oscar’s or Mike’s but I adore the frutti di mare pizza at Angelo’s. Recently, I sampled Capricci’s Pizza & Sfizi on Hidalgo and were so very impressed. By the way, in case you were wondering what “sfizi” means; it is a “whimsical” word in Italian that sometimes denotes a treat or special section of a menu.

The owner of the Capricci is a first generation Italian. He is hands on in the kitchen, preparing his dough from scratch. He shared with us that his pizza creations were Neapolitan, meaning from the area surrounding the city of Naples. This makes them especially authentic because that is where pizza is said to have been invented. My husband D has visited the particular Neopolitan restaurant and although I cannot claim as much, I have been to Naples on a couple of occasions and know that the best pizzas are always the simplest but utilizing the finest ingredients.

The Capricci owner also shared his dough recipe with us…flour, extra virgin olive oil and semolina flour to finish. He did not reveal the proportions of the ingredients or the time that the dough is kneaded and rested. The latter is what makes a pizza, a pizza! It is the art and knowledge of working the dough that produces the desired results. By the by, his pizza crust is award-winning. He laments the loss of genuine pizza making in his homeland because of the influx of other nationalities and cultures who believe that their improvements make for a superior pizza. I commiserated with him: why try to fix perfection?

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We chose the Dolomite pizza, so named for the mountain range located in northeastern Italy. It was topped with hand-made Italian sausage, mushrooms, rosemary, mozzarella and Gouda cheese.  In addition, was a humble and yet surprising ingredient-cubed baked potatoes!

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The toppings melded together perfectly and the crust was divine-thin and crispy with hints of char achieved with a high quality pizza oven.

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When we heard that Capricci also has fresh pasta on the menu, we couldn’t resist. They have two Carbonaras  to choose from and although we intended to order the decadent one with cream, egg and bacon, we accidentally ordered the vegetarian version. We could tell that the noodles were excellent and that exceptional quality oils and Parmesan cheese was used, but we have to admit that carrot ribbons couldn’t take the place of bacon, especially Italian bacon.

Kath’s quote: “Your life is like a pizza. It could be round, it could be square. But you’ll enjoy it most of all when it’s something that you share.” ― Jim Benton

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Javi’s Cantina, Isla Mujeres 2018

March14

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Seven of us recently enjoyed a dinner at Javi’s Cantina. As we were assembling and ordering drinks, I took the opportunity to have a little poke around. The décor of Javi’s is understated, yet vibrant. I loved the murals as we made our way to the back patio in addition to touches of turquoise and another favourite-twinkle lights.

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I had a little preview of the back patio when we visited Javi’s in 2017 and it was exciting to see how the hopes and dreams of Javi and his wife Marla were shaping up. If you have spent any time on the island, you likely know Javi or at least know of him from his years of evening gigs on Hidalgo. You will know that he is a great story teller and is passionate about everything he takes on. This tree, which is the focal point of the back terrace, once supported Javi’s childhood swing. The cantina stands on Javi’s family property. (Oh and he is wonderfully sentimental too).

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He refers to the families’ tree and then tells the story of his grandfather taking him out fishing. The punch line of the story was “shut up and fish” put I will leave it to Javi to tell it to you. The catch of the day had just come in. Javi shared the freshness of the fish with his guests that evening along with recounting the effort it takes to fish in a sustainable manner on the island.

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But ..to the food! Javi has made this asparagus dish famous on the island. When you mention Javi’s to Isla friends, they are likely to say “Have you tasted his tempura asparagus?” It is a unique signature dish served with crème fresh and is ever so tasty. Having grown up in the steakhouse business, wedge salads were not new to me. Javi’s version includes crunchy cucumbers and radishes which added a fresh taste. The peppery flavour from the radish offset the pungency of the blue cheese.

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Down at the other end of the table, these enormous onion rungs were served along with chips and salsa (utilizing his Grandma’s unique recipe). At this point in the evening he shared another dream of one day having a Javi’s brand for his families’ sauces. Given the tastiness of the one we sampled, they would be an immediate hit!

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If we had any doubt that this local guitar picking bundle of energy really knew his stuff, this appetizer that he created and asked us to sample, chased any doubts away. He had some ideas written on a paper napkin and the next thing we knew, this dish of beauty sat in front of us. Silky slices of yellow fin tuna were nestled between crunchy cucumber and lettuce. Also adorning the plate were surprizes of mint, chipotle dots and a sauce made of pineapple, ginger and red pepper. Black pepper completed the taste profile and we were absolutely awed by the dish. The dish was complex, yet fresh and clean tasting. Jav’s inventiveness puts him right up there with the island’s best trained chefs. Javi inquired what the rest of the table thought, as he was genuinely looking for feedback. Unfortunately, Sister #3 and I had to admit that we didn’t share it with the rest of the gang.

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At the other end of the table oohs and aahs were declared as dishes of shrimp, chicken and fish arrived. The exclamations were for the colourful plate presentations, first tastes and overwhelmingly for the garlic mashed potatoes that were being shared around.

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The power couple themselves.

In fact, Javi’s wife Marla was tucking into her own bowl just out of view of most customers. It was the first and only thing she had eaten that day. Even though this story has focused on Javi, do not discount Marla’s contribution to the success of Javi’s Cantina (and all their projects)! Marla brings the expertise and savvy to the businesses, which quite frankly a personality like Javi’s could not succeed without.

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The lovely veggie swirls were a delightful touch but kind of camouflaged the items themselves (this is not a criticism just an observation that Javi and Marla may want to look at). Sister #3 and I shared fresh langostino. Caribbean “lobster” is a sister to the north Atlantic lobster that we enjoy in Canada. Both have unique and sweet tastes if prepared correctly. My first taste of langostino was many years ago in Varadero Cuba. The fish had been split and grilled over an open flame. Javi’s version was more than equal to that first taste, that is carefully tucked away with other mountain-top culinary memories.

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Even though Sister #3 and I had shared our plates, we were more than satiated and then mention of Javi’s French toast bread pudding occurred. The pudding itself was rich and decadent, with the addition of whiskey sauce and praline bacon, the dessert inclusion, hit our dinner right out of the park!

I read recently read of someone saying that their dinner at Javi’s was “meh”. According to my restaurant and hospitality expertise and my years as a culinary writer, “meh” must be an abbreviation for mehgnificent!

Kath’s quote: “We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience, and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without cooks”.-Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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Love never fails.

 

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Fenix, Isla Mujeres 2018

March13

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In all my years visiting Isla Mujeres (since 2005), I had only had the pleasure of eating at Fenix, one previous time. Here is that post. With their move to Playa Sol and my love of both that location and their food, I was excited to dine again. They had the perfect table reserved for my brother, his wife and I (my husband D was not yet on the island).

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The first order of business was to sit back and enjoy an Isla sunset (with all the other folks who think that Fenix’s location is the perfect sunset viewing spot on the island).

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Since we are family and well accustomed to sharing our plates and our food, we chose a number of smalls plates. First up were enormous garlic shrimp with toasted baguette. These were perfectly cooked so that the flesh didn’t shrink and become too dense.

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We loved the Verde fish ceviche on tostados. Cucumber replaced the typical chopped tomato which made for a sparkling version of one of my favourite island treats. These were particularly “limey” enhanced by plenty of cilantro.

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We were so enamored with the goat cheese stuffed red peppers that I attempted to recreate them for a fiesta later in the week. The smokey peppers had been roasted and skinned and then served on crostini. The pungent cheese offset the sweet pepper beautifully.

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Coconut shrimp were presented on a skewer which made them easy to eat. Instead of tamarind or salsa these were served alongside a mango chutney. A lovely switch up.

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Tempura grouper skewers with wasabi mayo arrived last. Once again the bamboo skewer made them tidier to eat. The tempura batter was absolutely greaseless allowing the subtle tastes of the grouper to shine through.

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As we lingered and appreciated the extensive layout of the restaurant, we decided that it would be the perfect spot for a wedding or other special event.

Kath’s quote: “Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?’ ‘Hmm . . . What do you think, Harry?’ said Luna, looking thoughtful. ‘What? Isn’t there just a password?’ ‘Oh no, you’ve got to answer a question,’ said Luna. ‘What if you get it wrong?’‘Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right,’ said Luna. ‘That way you learn, you see?’ ‘Yeah . . . Trouble is, we can’t really afford to wait for anyone else, Luna.’‘No, I see what you mean,’ said Luna seriously. ‘Well then, I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning.’‘Well reasoned,’ said the voice, and the door swung open.” –JK Rowling, Harry Potter

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Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2017 Trip Report-Departure Day

January23

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On our final day we were up at 630 am for the sunrise. It did not fail to delight us.

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We took one last golf cart scoot into town and back again.

We had arranged to drop off the golf cart at 830 am where we were met by Eduardo who took us to a boat. We were being treated to AGI Tours VIP service. See the link here. It was a lovely ride over with 2 other couples (a Dentist married to a Dermitologist). We had our own van to the airport. Easy Peasy. And just like that we were home.

Kath’s quote: “Wow. I’ve never been a VIP before. I’ve never even been a IP“.Sophie Kinsella

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Love never fails.

 

Isla Mujeres 2017 Trip Report-Day 14

January22

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Our last day full day, what will it hold? We made plans as we basked in another gorgeous sunrise.

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We would soon miss “our” Isla home.

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D talked me into breakfast out even though I was concerned about eating all the left overs in our fridge. We went to Mango for stuffed poblano and coconut French toast (me). We absolutely love Mango’s.

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We took the golf cart there and back. We took some beautiful pics at the church across the street.

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We emptied our kitchen and dropped off a bunch of leftover goodies with Hortenzia. Then we spent a couple of hours at the beach, wading in the water, taking some last pictures and reading. D finished his 2nd book in 2 days.

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When we came “home” D confirmed arrangements at Sunset Grill as well as our VIP service in the morning. We sipped Kahlua while our bathing suits and my hair dried.

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I wrote all about our dinner at Sunset Grill in this link.

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We started watching the exquisite sunset from Sunset Grill

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and then carried on from our trusty golf cart.

We walked Hidalgo one last time and treated ourselves to Ferrero Roche gelato for dessert.

Kath’s quote: “It isn’t how much time you spend somewhere that makes it memorable: it’s how you spend the time”. -David Brenner

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Love never fails.

 

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