Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Lola Valentina’s Breakfast 2020

July28

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My husband D doesn’t like to accompany me on my Isla restaurant visits. He is not able to stay as long as I do on the Island (he is younger than me and still working full time) and when he is here, he has his own lists of favourite restaurants to visit. One of a very few exceptions is Lola Valentina’s!

D adores Lola V’s coffee so that was the first order of business. I had already had my coffee quota so I enjoyed a smoothie instead. I can’t specifically remember all the fresh ingredients but I do recall green apple, celery and pineapple juice. If this is also one of your favourite smoothies, let me know what the other ingredients are.

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Lola Valentina’s plates photograph like works of art!

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Every single layer of Lola Valentina’s Avacado Toast was fabulous starting at the bottom with the homemade gluten free toast. Guacamole, poached eggs, hollandaise and pickled red onions were stacked high and accompanied by arugula spinach and cherry tomatoes. The creaminess of the guacamole and the poached egg were offset by the pickled red onions and cherry tomatoes creating the perfect combination of textures and tastes!

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D chose Lola’s Gourmet Chilaquiles and was well pleased. Lola’s soak their tortilla chips in adobo sauce then they are sprinkled with cotija cheese. I don’t typically like Chilaquiles because the tortilla chips are too crunchy but these were tender and full of the acidic, sweet and spicy flavours of the adobo sauce. These were served with perfectly fried eggs and a juicy & tender beef tenderloin. You may notice that my husband ordered this menu item, but I tasted it. In fact, D and I split most of our meals. When he thinks something is really exceptional, I get a bite. Such was the case with his Chilaquiles.

“Morning” Abel was our server that morning. His exuberance for the food and  all things Lola Valentina overflows from Abel. He is more than attentive, he is someone you would like to invite to sit down with you. Covid note: I hope “Morning” and “Evening” Abel and the exceptional staff at Lola Valentina’s fared well when the island was shut down and I am sure that visitors to the island are delighted that they have reopened!

Kath’s quote: “When you  wake up in the morning said Piglet at last, what’s the first thing you say to yourself.  What’s for breakfast? said Pooh. What do you say piglet? I say, I wonder what ‘s going to happen exciting today, said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully, it’s the same thing he said.”-A.A. Milne

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Love never fails.

 

El Patio Isla Mujeres 2020

July10

We had made friends with Jacob at El Patio a couple of years ago and it became our Isla hangout for a nightcap. But El Patio also has excellent food and we were in for a treat that evening.

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We started with a cucumber and basil mojito and a traditional frozen margarita. Signature cocktails are relatively new to the island (last 5 years or so) and El Patio has some of the best.

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Our libations were accompanied by both Buffalo Shrimp and Coconut shrimp. We liked the latter best but both were piping hot and made from plump and firm shrimp.

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I had been craving a salad for a long time on the island and this take on a Greek Salad was a refreshing surprise. The dressing was balsamic and complimented the addition of creamy avocado perfectly.

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We also loved the shared concoction of a pineapple margarita with mescal. The glass was rimmed with a special ingredient- agave worm salt! Not my cup of tea but I found a way to sip the delicious margarita without hitting the salt.

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At entrée time, we were encouraged to try three unique taco concoctions. The first was poblano rajas, where the poblano chile is roasted and then sliced into thin strips or rajas. The chicken tinga incorporated another pepper, this time chipotle in an adobo sauce. When I have cooked with the these on a previous occasion they were too spicy for me but this version was less firery and delicious. The final taco of the trio- chorizo and potato was my favourite as I am affectionate called the Potato Princess by my husband. To mix the potatoes with chirizo was a beautiful way to add subtle smokiness.

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Our waiter explained that the chef has a very high standard with their fresh fish policy. Unlike some restaurants (it wasn’t shared who) if you request grouper and they are out  of it, they will not substitute an alternate but come back to the table and indicate that you are out of luck. With this explanation, D ordered the octopus for his main knowing it would be deliciously fresh. It came in a ajillo sauce. There are a variety of ways to make ajillo depending upon what Spanish country you are in. In Mexico it combines oil infused with quajillo chili peppers and a smoky paprika.

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By this time, the sun had set and the lights of the bar were sparkling. If you think El Patio is just about the live entertainment and bar atmosphere, think again they are a great dinner choice too.

Kath’s quote:“Chipotles, which are dried jalapeno peppers, give out a terrific smoky flavour – they’re warm, earthy and usually not too spicy.” –Yotam Ottolenghi

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Mayan Beach Club Isla Mujeres 2020

June26

I have visited the Mayan Beach Club a couple of times since they have occupied the space when The Sunset Grill moved up island. The visits weren’t stellar, but all that has changed. I don’t know what came first: the arrival of Gustavo or the all Mayan kitchen team? Suffice it to say that both the ambience and the food were flawless!

Gustavo explained to us that the Mayan Beach Club had the goal of not just serving dinner, but an experience. This is why they meticulously select the best local providers for fresh ingredients. Not to mention their diverse wine list of 45+ wines from 10+ different countries.

I was accompanied that evening by my long time friend and her husband. We don’t live in the same Canadian city so try to visit the island at the same time each year. If I couldn’t have D to share the evening with, these dear friends were the next best thing.

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As the sun set and created a gorgeous pastel sky, the first course was served.

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Mussels had been sautéed in white wine and then placed in this cauldron that kept the dish piping hot. Spanish chorizo, spinach and cheese were perfect enhancements. R did the honours of serving us.

On each of our plates R placed the mussels and a tomato fettuccine served with premise made bread. The dish was a decadently gooey taste of the sea.

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A salad course came next and was appreciated for its lightness and flavour. An intact romaine (with leaves still attached to the core of the plant) had been topped with a premise made Caesar dressing and ribbons of parmesan. A perfect parmesan cup came filled with triangular croutons. Every bite was a success.

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This avalanche of Caribbean octopus arrived next. Perhaps it was the roasted potatoes that captured my heart. But it could have also been the red onions, spinach leaves and balsamic drizzle. I know one definitive thing, the decadent cream sauce was sublime!

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Perhaps with this wider shot you can determine why the dish was called octopus on the rock.

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I had never eaten Osco Buco on the island but wasn’t surprized when it was placed in front of us. Only the top restaurants with expert chefs who can coddle a veal shank in the oven for over five hours, deserve to serve this dish. The three chilies sauce that the tender roast was served with, created a perfectly fused dish of Italian and Mexican cultures.

Somewhere prior to this dish we received another surprize- a beautiful soprano with a voice to match, wandered amongst the tables to serenade us throughout the evening. Her repertoire was an endless array of international selections sung with passion and skill.

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At this point Gustavo visited us to tell us about the Mayan Beach Club’s wine dinners: a country is highlighted with 7-9 courses and corresponding award-winning wines as well as live operatic music selected from the country as well.

I long to attend one of these wine dinners or perhaps another option: their Family or Large Group Dinners. These consist of a spread of the freshest caught sea and farm products they can source. The traditional and local dishes are served family-style in a creative and inventive manner.

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A tasting of premise-made Italian gellati garnished with fresh and juicy strawberries arrived next. The unusual carrot cake and sweet & crunchy crumbs were the perfect accompaniment for the luscious gellati.

The evening will always remain in my memory, for the many reasons why I love Isla and her people. Perfection in every sense of the word.

Kath’s quote: “This is an evening of wonders, indeed!”-Jane Austen

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Sesso Locos-Isla Mujeres 2020

June24

On the evening Sister #3 and her friend (now my friend too) arrived on the island, I asked that they join me in visiting Sesso Locos. See this link for my last Sesso Loco visit: 2019

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We were immediately created by Sesso himself (his nick name not his real name), who could tell that we were thirsty. I decided to try a sangria. Even though the recipe may not have been authentic, it was the best sangria that I tasted on the island.

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Coconut shrimp is a “must try” in our books. There were a round half dozen of these that were not “shrimp” but the size of a toddler’s fist! They were perfectly cooked and had a great mango sauce to accompany. These were very much enjoyed by sister #3 and I .

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Fish (sea bream) prepared in mango sauce was a lovely treat.

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Our favourite though was the El Pastor Pizza. This medium fed three of us with enough left overs for two more lunches. The crunchy pork belly was beautifully offset by both the pineapple and the unusual addition of cilantro.

As always Sesso’s staff were friendly and efficient and his restaurant well maintained and lovely. Sesso Loco’s is always on our “must visit” list.

Kath’s quote: “Anyway like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbeque it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh shrimp kebobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp , coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That-that’s about it.”

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres 2020

June23

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We were given our choice of table just as the sun was setting at the casually elegant dining room at Villa Rolandi-Le Metissage. Our first decision was easy-it was a glorious evening so we requested to be sat outside. Our second decision perched us in the perfect spot to enjoy the setting sun.

Metissage is the biological and cultural encounter of different ethnic groups, in which these are mixed, giving birth to new ethnic groups.

I can’t take credit for writing this eloquent definition, it was written on the inside of the menu shared with us that evening. The format is a fixed price tasting menu with seven courses and is offered nightly (except Tuesday) for hotel guests and visitors. I understand that the offerings rotate daily so if you stayed a week you would not have the same menu twice.

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We were welcomed with a sumptuous cocktail blended of Malibu rum, blue curacao, vodka and pineapple juice. I LOVED it and am determined to have them made at home for our next special occasion.

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Before we settled in to have a preview of our dining adventure, we were introduced to Chef Itzell.

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I was glad of this because whenever we looked for her during the course of the evening, she was hunched over her prep table, meticulously plating and garnishing her lovely creations. Chef Itzell had obvious pride and passion for her work, her staff and the guests.

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Two gentlemen approached our table next. One asked us what kind of water we would prefer as the other swung this tray in front of us so that we could select a citrus enhancement for our water.

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A large slate arrived at the table thereafter. Three different butters were displayed including my favourite of the three-a honey butter as well as a course sea salt. I am a bread lover to begin with; the butters made it very tempting not to gobble down the entire bread basket!

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An amuse -bouche of peach soup spiced with cloves and garnished with a parmesan crisp was so delectable that I was sure that this evening would be a mountain-top dining experience.

Next up was a salmon marinated in ponzu (an Asian marinade delicious with fish). Chef had enhanced the appetizer with mandarin, peppermint, coriander and rouille sauce. Here is where Mexican and French cuisine fuse as the latter sauce is a Provençale staple. The mound of complex tastes came a top a toasted corn tostada. So, so good.

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A meat course came next. Pork belly is one of my favourite meats although I usually don’t admit it. These were enhanced by mole and crème fresh and then crowned with arugula. The pork melted in your mouth with the peppery arugula and sauces complementing the flavour.

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The evening light had changed by our next fish course and I didn’t switch cameras quickly enough. This dish was far more beautiful than depicted here. Cauliflower puree, tomato salad, spring onion and fresh coriander worked beautifully to showcase this fried fish filet.

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Mango sherbet was served as a palatte cleanser and readied us for the piece de resistance. Coming from central Canada, we have an abundance of excellent beef choices but this Angus Top Sirloin was equal to any I have ever tasted. The medallions were perfectly cooked and could have been served unenhanced it was so good. The white bean puree, asparagus risotto and chili marinade knocked the dish right out of the park! Stellar!

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An unusual take on another of my favourites (strawberry shortcake) arrived for the dessert first course. A strawberry cake and a honey cake were married together and then covered with strawberry Chantilly, goat cheese Crème Brule and ice cream. Simple yet decadent and sublime!

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Mignardises is from an old French word meaning pretty or delicate. It is the perfect word to describe what I call a second dessert. It allowed us to extend the pleasure of the evening even longer.

We were absolutely god-smacked by how perfect the evening had been. One of those special times that we will remember always.

Kath’s quote: The discovery of a new dish does more the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. -Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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Love never fails.

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