Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Breakfast at the Mango Cafe, Isla Mujeres-Guest Blogger Sister #3

April10
Breakfast at Mango Cafe is a delight.  This popular restaurant, found in Colonia Meterorologico on Isla Mujeres, has patrons waiting at the door as they open at 8:00 a.m.  When I arrived for breakfast around 9:00 the place is packed with a dozen people waiting.  Thankfully I see a table of friends from Minnesota that I had meet a few nights earlier.  They have an extra seat and ask me to join them. There are lots of things I love about Mango.  The place is bright with lots of open windows.  The staff are attentive and owner Polo is very welcoming making a point to visit every table and talk to every guest. The coffee is awesome, an organic Mexican style with just a hint of cinnamon.  It sits in giant urns next to the the kitchen and is self serve.  No waiting for a refill; what could be better?  This also adds to the “make yourself at home” attitude of your morning visit. 
 
 
My friends order: hotcakes that come with bacon and scrambled egg,
 
 
Mayan scramble filled with veggies served on a croissant and topped with pepita (pumpkin seed) sauce and Mango’s eggs Benedict (more on that later). 

I opt for the world famous French toast.  Probably the most delicious thing I have ever eaten for breakfast, it could just as easily be served for dessert. 

They use conchas (a sweet bun sold in Mexican bakeries) and coat them in coconut and almonds.  It was cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside but melt in your mouth tender on the inside and surprisingly not overly sweet.

I left Mango totally satisfied and barely needed to eat for the rest of the day.  However, I awoke the next morning with thoughts of Mango’s eggs Benedict stuck in my head. So I headed back to try this interesting rendition of a classic.  The perfectly poached eggs are served atop croissants and fried portobella mushroom, onion and chaya (a Mexican supper food, similar to spinach) topped with hollandaise sauce with just a hint of curry, crispy crumbled bacon and served with yummy fried potatoes.  Well worth the encore visit. 

As I was dining alone that morning, owner Polo asked if he could join me to enjoy his morning coffee. We enjoyed some impromptu music and a lovely conversation.  Talk about hospitality. 

Mango is a short cab ride or a health morning walk along the Caribbean side of the island.  Well worth the trip.

Kath’s quote: “I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”-Steven Wright

 

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A Trip to the Beach-Melinda & Robert Blanchard Part 2

April5

Continuing in the Island adventures of living the dream and opening their own restaurant on their beloved Island:

Chapter 6: “Six o’clock on opening night.  Our staff was in high gear.  A bond had developed among everyone; in just a short time, the common goal of creating and building this restaurant had brought us all together.  The first day of unloading containers with the Davis brothers was history now, as were the long, hot days of construction, the endless testing of recipes, and the unnerving search for ingredients.  Opening night was the culmination of what had become a collective dream, and each member of our staff had played their part.  Blanchard’s was their restaurant now as much as ours.

In the kitchen everyone was in clean, starched chefs jackets and ready to cook.  Garrilin washed the bush, as she called it, for salads.  Shabby had the grill hot and ready to go , and the rest of us nervously waited for our first order.

The wait staff bustled about, looking strikingly handsome with their crisp white dress shirts contrasting their smooth black skin.  They were proud of their Blanchard’s logo embroidered over the pocket.  With meticulous care the stemware had been polished until it sparkled, and each glass was held up to the light, ensuring that no smudges or spots remained.  the mahogany bar top was burnished to a glowing sheen, and bottles were straightened repeatedly on the back bar until each was where it belonged.  The bar refrigerator was stocked with freshly squeezed orange juice for rum punch, ice cold Heinekens, Caribs, sodas, and Perrier.  The ice bin was full, and in it, bottles of sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley chilled next to Chardonnay from Sonoma, ready to be poured by the glass.

Lowell, Miquel, and Alwyn checked the dining room with Bob again and again, straightening place settings, moving glasses an inch to the left, then to the right, then back to the left.  They recited the table numbers and reviewed the menu and the wine list for the umpteenth time.

We had arranged flowers in bud vases for the tables, picking blossoms from the garden.  Some had green furls made from a leaf, a brilliant yellow allamanda tucked in the middle, and a tiny dot of red in the center from a firecracker plant.  Others had log, leggy green shoots-almost Japanese in nature-and pink hibiscus floating in the center.

Bob and I stood in the middle of the dining room and looked around in awe.  Floor to ceiling teal shutters were flung open, and beyond them the garden s twinkled as a gentle breeze shifted the plants and flowers that were illuminated from below.  The fountains shimmered as the underwater lights bounced off the water columns dancing in the air.  Beyond the gardens the sea crashed against Mead’s Bay; our stone path, lit softl;y on each side, meandered towards the waves.  In the dining room, potted palms rustled under lazily spinning ceiling fans.  The white rattan chairs sat ready to be broken in and our dishes,silver and hand-blown crystal flickered in the candlelight,  The sound of Vivaldi filled the room.  I felt a rush of excitement ripple through my body, and I squeezed Bob’s hand.  It was like waiting for the curtain to go up on Broadway.”

They served these on opening night:

“Banana Cabanas (makes two):

Put 1/2 c Coco Lopez into a blender.  Add 1/2 c Bailey’s Irish Cream, 2 ripe bananas, 2 c ice cubes, and, if you like, 2 oz white rum. It’s great with or without the rum.  Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.”

Kath’s quote: “To be always intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it — this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed.”-Sir Walter Scott

Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Limon-Isla Mujeres by Guest Blogger: Sister #3

March28
 
Walking into Limón, located on the main floor of the home of Sergio Contreras Martinez and Charissa Gillingham’s, feels like arriving for dinner at a friend’s. Formal enough to feel special, yet casual enough to feel welcoming, this new addition to the Isla Mujeres restaurant scene is unique.  Sergio, Charissa and their 4 year-old Max, sit at a corner table enjoying their nightly meal together while still keeping an eye open to ensure their guests get the utmost attention.
 
 
We request a table in the garden and are very pleased with the ambience of the place. We are delighted with the Chef’s surprise amuse bouche of fish and shrimp dip with chips which we enjoy with a glass of Chilean red wine in honour of my dinner companion’s country of origin. 
 
 
For our mains we order the Arrachera – tender grilled flank steak served with bean and chillies and a delicious sauce with just the right heat.
 
 
We also chose the Tikin Xic – fresh fish done in a saucy rendition of this Isla classic. 
 
 
 
The only thing I thought would have made our meals perfect would have been a little potato to accompany the beef.

I loved sitting across from the BB-Q and watching the chef grill the meals to order. We enjoyed our conversation with the chef who told us lots about the varying cuisine found across Mexico. 

Earlier this year when the beach club at Playa Sol closed with no plan to reopen, I was sad to see it go and wondered what operator Sergio would do next. Well like a Phoenix, Limón has risen and Sergio looks healthier and happier than ever. It was great to see him in this location, where he can be close to his family and even tuck Max into bed everynight  

We had a really good visit with Sergio. We could see the passion he has for this place as he showed us photos of various menu items. The menu features some classics but also gets inventive featuring things like hibiscus tacos and offering a wide range of vegetarian items.

Limón is located on calle Lizeta just up the hill from the Super Epress in las Gloria.

Kath’s quote: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” –Voltaire

Isla 2005 Revisited-Day 2

February17

I thought that because it was my second sleep in a new bed that I’d sleep like a rock, but no. I was up for the long sunrise and a short walk around the Punta Sur road.

When the weather turned out to be overcast and iffy again, we made sandwiches and packed for both the beach and other adventures. I do need to describe these sandwiches because they packed really well for the beach and were delicious. We bought buns at the big Supermarket that were brushed with something sweet-we thought honey. At the same place we bought this mild white Mexican cheese that tasted really buttery. The final touch was the Lime Mayo (Light no less)-highly recommended.

We decided to rent a golf cart and tour the island. We found Hortencia’s and when we bought so many dresses, tops, purses and beads she gave us all little gifts in thanks. We stopped by Playa Sol and had a picnic that included another favourite –“pepitas” which were salted and roasted pumpkin seeds with a squeeze of lime. The beach vendor that we bought them from was named Maria I think. We loved her-she was so warm and affectionate with us.

With the golf cart, we ended up at a Zama’s Beach Lounge on Sac Bajo. We ordered $5 margaritas and Sister #2 tipped another $5 so we thought that we were safe in occupying their lounge chairs for a while. They were setting up for a private wedding reception so we knew that we did not have long. What a beautiful place for a wedding. We loved this part of the island so much that we accidentally caused bodily injury to Sister #3. Sister #2 was driving and I was supposed to be navigating for speed bumps. We were both distracted by a beautiful private home that we hit a speed bump at full speed and poor Sister #3 who was sitting in the rear, hurt her back.

We made a quick change for dinner and decided since we still had the golf cart to head into town for dinner. We watched the sunset from the pier at Sergio’s-exquisite as promised.

Went to Picus for “mixted” (as stated on the menu) ceviche & fresh fish. The ceviche was fabulous-even better I thought than when I ordered later in the week at Casa O’s. We sat right in the sand by the water’s edge. Everyone around us was drinking cokes so we did the same (it was an election day). Then we walked around the town square and purchased some beautiful silver pieces from the shop right on the corner of the square.

Lessons learned that day-Sister #2: sunsets are beautiful many places, Me: saw the both the sunrise and sunset and knew that it was good and Sister #3: rewrote a Madonna song-

Tropical the island breeze
All of nature wild & free
This is where I long to be
La Isla Mujeres

 Kath’s quote: “What a friend we have in cheeses!
For no food more subtly pleases,
Nor plays so grand a gastronomic part;
Cheese imported – not domestic –
For we all get indigestic
From all the pasteurizer’s Kraft and sodden art.”-
William Cole

 

Isla Mujeres 2005 Revisited-Day 1

February15

By 9:30 am I had already seen the sunrise, walked and explored for 2 hours and had coffee with my sisters on the veranda.

My first impression is that this is an island of contrasts: the coral cliffs and the garbage dump, the resort homes and the Colonias, the vast ocean and the locked beaches.

We had a wonderful breakfast of oatmeal, mango, banana, pineapple, Brazil nut yogurt and slices of fresh pineapple. We had thought that we would go to Garrafon but the wind brought in clouds & drizzle so we headed into town instead.

Our plan that first day worked so well we repeated it every other day-walking downhill to Lancheros to catch the bus and cabbing it home when we were full of margaritas and had groceries and shopping to carry.

We met the most wonderful couple from France via New York. This was their sixth year to Isla and each year they stay a week longer. When I saw this beautiful woman again it was at the Fat Tuesday event-she greeted me like I was an old friend.

This picture is with Sister #3 from a subsequent trip to Isla.  The gorgeous Betty in this photo now lives in Isla Heaven.

We shopped and then went to the Sunset Grill for lunch. We shared all the board recommendations (Julie’s board in those days): Coconut Shrimp (even though it is not usually served at lunch) were huge, lovely and sweet, Nuke Nachos and Chicken Chimichangas. I’d never tasted them before but Sister #3 said that they were the best she had ever tried. We even loved their chips and salsa but actually we loved them every Isla restaurant that we went to. We had Strawberry Margaritas that knocked us on our butts. The waiter got us beach chairs and Sisters #2 & 3 had siestas, while I walked the beach.

 

Upon return it started to rain (pour in fact) but we had brellies and walked to the big Supermarket to buy more groceries. We were getting the hang of Centro by then but still had not found the Navy store or Hortencia’s. Because of the rain, we cabbed back to the villa for books and siestas.

That evening we found out that the rumour was true-there is nothing happening on the south end at night. We tried the lounge at the Spa-closed and then thought that they must have a bar at the Castile… Instead we walked home for another villa night.

But we learned that day-Sister #1: that Mexican cats don’t look like North American cats and Me: that no matter how much you wish and hope, you cannot control the weather.

Kath’s quote: “It isn’t so much what’s on the table that matters, as what’s on the chairs.”-W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan

 

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