Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Coco Jacquar- Isla Mujeres 2020

March21

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Even though it was only 9 am in the morning when we arrived at Coco Jaquar, it was already a hot one. This tall, cool drink was a blend of orange, celery, cucumber, pineapple and spinach and certainly hit the spot. It was tremendously thirst quenching and I felt healthier just sipping it!

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Hot chocolate is a staple in our home. The Wee Ones especially love it as a warm up after outdoor activities. To be honest, I think they love the marshmallows that typically float on top. This hot chocolate tasted to me like an adult version, with deep, rich, “real” tasting chocolate. Delish.

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Maria, the manager at Coco Jaguar suggested that we might want to try a few entrees off their menu. We were game, especially when this work of art arrived in front of us. Spicy (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg) premise made banana bread was kissed with a beaten egg to produce this divine French Toast creation. Equally delectable were the fruit displays-at the peak of freshness, thinly sliced. We couldn’t eat more than 1 shared piece because, well you should see what came along next.

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Our Rancheros came divorced egg style with both red and green sauce (you can chose just one sauce if you’d prefer). Under the perfectly cooked eggs were a surprise layer of refried beans and a tortilla.

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We suggested to Maria that extra tortillas be served because we could not come near to mopping up all that goodness.

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Last but not least, this came to the table-the Jaguar Burrito! On a normal day I would have split just this and been more than happy.

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Sister #3 (who was my breakfast date that morning) and I were craving a salad so it didn’t take long for us to devour this exceptional one made of apple and strawberries tossed with the crispiest lettuce I had tasted since I left home.

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The burrito was jam packed with ham, chorizo, avocado, spinach and beans. We shared one half and then I asked for a takeout container. Confession time: when my husband arrived to the island later that day and was looking for some sustenance, I told him that I saved the half burrito especially for him. That was mostly true-I had saved a piece of the banana bread French toast too but I scooped that up for myself before he had a chance to see inside the container!

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I didn’t take enough note of our breakfast dessert! I knew that it had Bailey’s, a shot of coffee and caramel sauce but there was also a liquor I had never heard of. They were a special treat provided by Maria. They were so, so good.

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Since the kitchen is on the main floor and the dining area is on the second there is always a lovely breeze in the restaurant. One morning we were there in the pouring rain and we were well sheltered from the shower.

I did wish I had enough time to go back in the evening but alas, Coco Jaguar will have to go on next year’s “must try” list. Portions are enormous so you may want to plan on sharing if you visit. And I hope you do.

Kath’s quote: Salad “freshens without enfeebling and fortifies without irritating.”-Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

1000 Tacos-Our New Home, Isla Mujeres 2020

March20

Shortly after arriving on Isla Mujeres, I was sampling my first taste of my new favourite treat. When I say “soon”, I mean within the hour! Yes I was hungry after travelling all day but I was also sensitive that 1000 Tacos does not keep extended hours like many tiendes on the island. In fact, if they haven’t had a customer in a while, they might just close up shop. This did happen on one occasion, but happily for us, when we entered their funky outdoor space, they fired up the grill again to make us feel welcomed.

On this first visit, I was also very thirsty and I was delighted that their variety of beer were ice cold. And what goes better with tacos than icy cold beer?

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Our friendly servers Brenda and Rosa told us that they were sold out of a couple of items. This, I get. They are a small business with new found success and they try to ensure that their ingredients are at the peak of freshness. If you come from the hospitality business, as I do, you know that the line between freshness and running out of menu items is tricky to walk. Instead of being miffed, this encouraged me to come back again to try missed items. And return I did, at least three times during my stay. But I digress.

They have two sections on their food menu-one entitled Mexican Stews and the other Seafood. With a bit of consideration I realized that the Mexican Stew section meant that the tortillas or tortas could be made with meat or chicken.

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We chose the Queso Relleno “stew” (pictured on the left), including ground pork seasoned with chunks of Edam cheese! The fried shrimp with Mexican sausage and

IMG_20200222_175334the Camaron Crunchy (in torta form)

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(and on another occasion on a flour tortilla).

All were perfectly prepared, piping hot and oh so delicious, especially when a squeeze of garlic or cilantro sauce was applied. The other two sauces which we were cautioned were “picante”, we left alone.

A good friend of mine from my home town joined me on this evening. When she couldn’t indulge en par with me, I felt badly that she was missing out on the tastes! We ordered the two tacos and one torta and I ended up taking half of the torta back to the hotel mini fridge. I ate the the torta for breakfast the next morning and the shrimp were still crunchy and the pico de gallo still fresh.

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The creamy Edam cheese showcased the ground pork and the spicy Mexican sausage was the perfect pair to the sautéed shrimp (on the right). You could choose between flour and corn tortillas. I selected the former on that first evening but corn thereafter.

But the secret weapon of the tacgueria  was the queso that was offered with every selection. Taco purists don’t typically have cheese on their tacos but this cheese had been grilled until crispy and elevated the already delicious taco to new heights.

You might say I am rambling on about very simple food and that is exactly the point. This is a small operation which serves very few items but every choice was A+!

As I said, I returned on a couple of occasions-once so my friends from Toronto could savour the fare (they loved the Fried Octopus Taco) and another time for my husband’s last meal on the island. We became more and more familiar to Brenda and Rosa who welcomed us warmly each time. I told every one who would listen about this special place.

They are located a bit off the main drag. Take Medina until Allende and turn left or Juarez and turn right at Allende. They also deliver. If you are on the island right now and they are still open-go. Do not hesitate, just go.

Kath’s quote: “In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.”-Curnonsky

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Sonny’s Pizza-Isla Mujeres 2020

March19

When I think about the things that shape my memories of childhood, food and music are in the forefront. I have a vivid memory of my mom in the kitchen of our Grand Beach rental, frying doughnuts while Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” blared over the radio.

Dave Bastin, owner of Sonny’s on Isla Mujeres, based his restaurant concept on his musical and culinary memories. Growing up in his Vancouver Canada home, his parents always played the music of the rat pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, et al.  And those are the tunes you’ll hear at Sonny’s as you tuck into the yummy food. Dave, himself a musician has chosen to feature this music as a tribute to his folks, who also taught him to cook.

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The night we dined at Sonny’s – a global inspired pizzeria, we sat out front at a picnic table, complete with red and white checkered table clothes. Just feet away from the town square of Centro, we were in direct line of the breeze coming off the malecon. A great location that Dave felt was too good not to take advantage of when he decided to buy the place that he had noticed on previous visits to the island and thought was sadly under-utilized.

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The menu features a couple of salads, a wide variety of classic pizzas, available in individual or family size. On this night we ordered from the exotic section where the only option is family size. And they are not kidding. These pizzas could easily feed a family of 4 or 5. Being that lobster season ended two weeks before our visit we were unable to sample the lobster pizza, instead selecting the Barcelonian, as recommended by Dave as well as our friendly waiter. The highlight of this pizza is the Spanish style octopus which is marinated for two hours before being braised to melt in your mouth perfection. Accompanied by tomato sauce, artichoke, mozzarella, goat cheese, red pepper, and green olives, this pizza packs a punch of flavour. Rich and decadent, two slices was all each of us could manage. If I had it again I would have one slice with a salad to lighten things up.

So those who love a hearty, loaded, thick crust pizza should surely check this place out. Sonny’s is closed every Wednesday. You can take in live music from 7:30 – 9:30 every Friday and may even catch boisterous owner Dave on his bongos.

Kath’s quote: “In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations — it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.” – James Stuart Keate

Thank you Sister #3 for penning this piece.

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Love never fails.

 

Mahaché – Restaurant, Bar, and Art Gallery, Isla Mujeres 2020

March18

When we took our seat at Mahaché and started to peruse the menu, it was obvious we where in for a delicious evening.  The six appetizers, four salads, and fourteen main selections are beautiful described and had us finding it hard to narrow it down. I was pleased to see two appealing options for the vegan diner. Something not so easy to find on Isla. The rest of the menu focuses on fish and seafood but also has chicken, beef, and pork offerings. 

We chose to dine alfresco at one of the two outdoor tables to watch island life go by and enjoy the cool breezes. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this beautifully appointed restaurant also features works of local artists and live music around 8:00 each evening. 

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Our cocktails of a pisco sour and sangria were simple and nicely presented.

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We were brought an amuse bouche of hummus and chips, which was a nice alternative to the usual pico. 

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We started with the octopus carpaccio. Typically served in paper thin lengths of meat, the limited octopus on hand caused the chef to be creative and instead thinly slice little circles of the tentacles. We had no idea that this was not the way it was intended as it was tender and tasty and made for a visually stunning presentation. The sesame oil and pink pepper provided a toasty, warm sensation on your palette. Just a hint of citrus and garlic created a delicate balance so that you could still taste the meat itself. 

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For our mains we chose the Mahaché shrimp which were wrapped in bacon and grilled, served in a mushroom cream sauce. Packed with flavour, they were accompanied by coconut rice and perfectly al dente broccoli, carrot, and zucchini which offset the richness of the shrimp.

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Our second entree was the pollo Oaxaca. Chicken breast stuffed with spinach and Oaxaca cheese was topped with a generous amount of delicious passion fruit sauce. Served with wedges of fried potato and the same combinations of perfectly cooked fresh vegetables.  

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Mario, co-owner and transplant from Veracruz has spent the past 10 years on Isla working in the restaurant business. His previous venture, Mi Latte Chocolate, has been a favourite coffee and pastry kiosk on Vicente Guerrero for a few years. We were disappointed to see it was closed this year, but delighted to find out we could still get the same delicious offerings just a few buildings down at Mahaché. 

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I would highly recommend Mahaché for its creative twist on the fresh ingredients available on Isla Mujeres. The atmosphere is lovely, the staff engaging, and overall a really nice dinning experience. 

Kath’s quote: “Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.”-M.F.K. Fisher

Thank you Sister # 3 who penned this piece.

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Love never fails.

 

Pizza and a More-Opening Night on Hidalgo 2020

March17

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One of the many things I (Sister #3) love about Isla Mujeres is how it attracts people from all over the world. This trip alone I have met people from Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Spain and of course plenty of Americans and Canadians. This international flavour not only floats through the air in a variety of languages of overheard conversation, it also shapes the restaurant scene and has for many years. From the nouvelle cuisine of Belgian born Lolo Laurena, to the gang making authentic Israeli food at the Green House. Restauranteurs from across the globe have made Isla home and brought their delicious recipes with them.

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One such transplant to the island is Mateo, owner of Pizza & a More. Originally from Rome, he, and his wife (from Milan), and his Mom and Dad serve the best food this side of Italy. On this night, we caught a glimpse of the newest addition to his family-a sweet faced little one carried in Mama’s arms.

Previously located on Carlos Lazo, just down from Poc Na hostel, Pizza & a More recently took over a location on Hidalgo which was until recently vacated by Nash’s Sports Bar. We visited on their first night open after the big move, and the food was superb. Mateo didn’t miss a beat. K and I shared a pizza and a fettuccine as suggested by Mateo.

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Our “primavera” pizza was simple with a tasty tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, rocket (arugula) salad and cherry tomatoes. The pizza crust was crisp, light and flavourful and the fresh tastes of the toppings were a good counterpoint to the rich pasta that we also shared.

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Freshly made fettuccine cooked to a perfect al dente and tossed with cream, blue cheese and a generous amount of speck (Italian smoked Serrano ham).

We also snapped a few photos of the food on our neighbours tables.

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Vivian, a Cuban transplant and former owner of Cubano restaurant, and her New York friends were enjoying a lovely salad served in a pizza crust bread bowl. The gentleman from the table declared: “I am from New York and this is the best pizza I have ever tasted”!

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The table to the other side of us happened to be our brother and his wife, true pizza lovers, enjoying the “Chorizo y Cebolla” pie, featuring Mateos Mother’s homemade Italian sausage and plenty of onions.

The menu currently only lists their pizza and calzones, but your server will tell you about the salad and pasta options which are new additions to the previous menu.

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You can also pick up Mateo’s thick crust variety of by the slice pizza on your way to the beach at his kiosk further down Carlos Lazo almost at North Beach. We had a couple of occasions to sample it and it was filling and deeply satisfying.

I’m so glad that such a diverse community of people call Isla home. Each of them bring the best from their country and further enhance this place that is already so full of rich traditions, culture, beautiful food, and wonderful people.

Kath’s quote: “When the moon hits your eye….”. You know the rest.

Thanks to Sister #3 who penned this piece.

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Pita hearts shot in Italy.

Love never fails.

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