Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Casa de los Suenos-Isla Mujeres

April13

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The setting at Casa de los Suenos is beautiful and one that we gravitate to over and over again.

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On this evening it was overcast and there was no sunset to view. I would guess that it would be beautiful from there.  We settled in with cervesas and glasses of vino tinto.

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I decided upon a veggie platter. Delicious- especially with the rice, plantain and corn bread.

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D selected the margarita grilled shrimp and loved them.

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Bro K selected a combo of baby back ribs and local sausage.

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Sis L decided on the pulled pork sandwich.

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The service was helpful and cordial. The dishes came out of the kitchen lickety-split. We were going to forego dessert, when we found out that they had pecan pie on the menu. Each couple ordered a slice of to share. It was not quite as good as D’s Mom’s recipe but was a lovely treat.

Kath’s quote: I don’t think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while.”-John Gould

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Love never fails.

 

Isla Mujeres 2016-Breakfast at Lola Valentina’s

March22

On our most recent visit to Isla Mujeres, we noticed that many restaurant owners are extending their spaces and hours of operation in order to capitalizie on more business per square foot. We watched from across the street at Fredy’s with eager excitement as Lola Valentina’s was constructed on Hidalgo a number of years ago. Since then we have had the pleasure of dining at Lola Valentina’s on many occaissions in the evening but never for breakfast. So we were thrilled when restaurant creator Lori Drumm invited us in to sample their morning fare. We love her excellent Fusion/Mexican offerings and were quite sure that we would be well fed.

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What we did not know is how delightful our breakfast selections would be to the eye.

The stars of Lola Valentina’s morning menu are the French Toast and the Stuffed Poblano Chile. Both dishes were recommended by our server. If they sound familiar to you, you may be thinking about Mango Café, where Lori was once the Executive Chef. I wouldn’t be tempted to compare recipes as the whole Hidalgo experience is vastly different from the one in the Colonias.

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D was delighted by the Tres Leche Coconut French Toast. He declared that the bananas tasted like the classic dessert Bananas Foster which is one of his favourites. The toast was made with conchas (Mexican sweet bread) pastry and caramelized almonds. Then mango syrup, with just a touch of rosemary, puts the dish over the top.

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I was content to simply stare at the work of food art a.k.a. known as the stuffed chile. When I did eventually get my fork working I was very impressed with the guacamole, sour cream, green salsa, corn and black beans that the pablano came nestled in. The crunchy tortilla ribbons adorning the top were a lovely surprize and the extra crunch was more than satisfying. At this point I realized that I had not even tucked into the chile!

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The creamy scrambled eggs were delicious in themselves, extraordinary with Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. Oh the bacon! The chile was packed with the most amazing smoky bacon.  When the plate arrived, I concluded that I could never eat it all. But it was so savoury with the combination of tastes and textures that I could not stop eating; much to D’s chagrin. His breakfast was not as substantial as mine and he may have wanted to help me out.

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We were protected from the sun and there was a lovely breeze to cool us as we lingered over the endless coffee and tea supply.

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Before and after eating, we were absolutely content to people watch from our perch on Hidalgo. At the same time we took in the changes that Lori has made to the abundant space in the restaurant. There is now a little bistro within the larger restaurant space that is called Lolita’s Cafe & Sweet Shop boasting a 100% plant based gluten free kitchen. They offer tea, coffee and smoothies for a mini Lola experience.

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We also spied what we thought might be an all female wedding party who wanted a separate space to be together. The restaurant accommodated them easily with their outdoor patio found to the south of the main restaurant.

As we have gone back and forth with FB messages, I have gotten to know Lori a bit better and I admire her brain for business and her culinary creativity. Both are working in perfect harmony in the space dubbed Lola Valentina’s.

Kath’s quote: “Life is too short, so live, love, break, be happy, cry, laugh, eat, work and learn”.-Anonymous

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Love never fails.

 

 

Isla Mujeres 2016-Breakfast at Ruben’s

March18

Ruben the man is as fascinating and Ruben the cook.

Ruben invited us for breakfast at his restaurant bearing his name, because he knew we were foodies (he was my most loyal follower when we traveled to Tuscany) and wanted our unbiased opinion of his food. When we arrived he immediately sat down with us and indicated that it was his first time back to work after completing radiation treatment (for stomach cancer) in Mexico City. He said that he was supposed to stay in bed for a week or two but that he is happiest when he is working and giving back to others.

He shared his journey with us. He is originally from Mexico City but left Mexico for the US, California specifically, to work for a better life. He fibbed to get his first job in a northern California restaurant and the owner gave him 15 days to learn how to prepare all the items on the menu. From there he worked at a variety of kitchens in California and Nevada. He received no formal or family training. Things went amiss for him in California and he was actually kidnapped until his family cleared out his life savings to free him.

He was encouraged to leave the US and returned to Mexico City, but set off again. A friend accompanied him to the bus station and floated him 500 pesos for a ticket elsewhere. He saw Cancun on one of the destination boards and had enough money to get there. Learning that Isla Mujeres was a smaller and less expensive destination, he arrived on the island. Soon after, he was depositing what was left of his money and the bank teller asked him if he wanted to apply for a credit card. He never dreamed he would be approved but says (as he glanced skywards) that someone was looking out for him. With that money he found a small house that he renovated. He went back to the bank, got a cash advance and bought all the fixings for the restaurant that he soon opened.

When we first visited he had a simple menu that he has greatly expanded since then. He is hoping that we can taste his pasta in the future. He loves everything about food and hospitality and recognizes that we do too.

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Ruben suggested that we compare and contrast his two most popular eggs benedicts-the Classic and the special lobster benedict with poblano sauce. Both were sensational and we couldn’t decide on our preference. The accompanying oj, coffee and breakfast potatoes were excellent too and we were so impressed that a self trained cook could prepare dishes with such depth. We only wish we could have returned for his pasta but there are so many places to sample when we are on the island.

Kath’s quote: “Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life”. -Maya Angelou

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Love never fails.

Villas San Miguel-Isla Mujeres

March16

From the moment we set our feet onto the dock at Isla Mujeres, we knew that our home for the week was the perfect choice. We were hooking up with friends that we had met the previous year as it was their last day on the island. We would normally have been torn between going straight over to our rendezvous point of Bally Hoo or dropping our luggage of at the villa. Since the Acapulco Suite at Villas San Miquel is literally up the hill from the ferry, we were able to drop our bags and still get back to Bally Hoo in plenty of time. The central location of the villas is one of its primary advantages.

After some lunch and a wonderful visit, we had most of the afternoon still ahead of us. My husband enjoyed a quick nap on the huge, comfortable bed before we crossed the square to pick up some of our essentials at the Supermercado including yoghurt, cheese, lime mayo, ham, eggs, bread and butter as well as cervesa and vino tinto.

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The Acapulco villa’s kitchen was better equipped than any place we have stayed on the island (and this was my 13th visit). With a full size fridge, a microwave, blender, toaster and coffee maker, we could have eaten every single meal at the villa had we desired. But part of the pleasure of our annual sojourn to the island is sampling its varied fare. That night we set off for Abuelo’s, a short walk directly down the street. After supping on shrimp and lobster-stuffed fish, we still had time to walk north beach and stroll Hidalgo.

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The next morning we found a spot to watch the sunrise as it was not visible from our main floor apartment. We did have a fun view of the busy square making us feel like islanders and not tourists. Our bedroom had a view of the pool.

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As we sipped our coffee in our comfy spot, we realized we must be taking someone else’s sunrise perch. Our neighbours were enjoying their last sunrise before they had to catch their ferry for the trek home. We hit it off so well, that we ended up walking them to the ferry dock. I was anxious to spend time in the kitchen of the Acapulco Villa, so we whipped up a huge ham and egg breakfast.

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There was a full set of cutlery as well as 6 place settings of dishes AND stemmed wine glasses. We love our wine and think that it tastes best from a real wine glass. There as a full set of kitchen utensils as well as a wine opener and a couple of good sharp knives. A full set of pots and pans including a fry pan and colander were also in place. Coffee, tea, sweetener and sugar were all provided as well as rolls of paper towel, dish detergent and Kleenex boxes. There were even a number of beer glass insulators that we guessed were left by a former renter.

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We enjoyed a lovely time reading around the pool before heading out for north beach to meet old friends. En route “home” we stopped at our favourite market stall, for fresh produce-bananas, cilantro, limes and mangos. That evening we hosted 14 adults and five kids for dinner. The afternoon prep was a breeze since the open kitchen was so spacious. We had more than enough space when everyone arrived. We put our dinner out on the granite peninsula and we had enough seats for everyone. The kids sat on the floor around the coffee table and some of the adults preferred to sit at the dining table. When we enquired the next morning, none of our neighbours heard our hilarity as the temperature was comfortable enough to keep the doors and windows closed.

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There are shutters between the spacious living room and bedroom so we closed them up while company was over to hide our disarray. Once we were alone, we re-opened the shutters to let the breeze flow from front to the back of the villa, we never needed the AC. We also never turned on the flat screen tv that was provided.

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The bathroom was so spacious that there was room for a rattan shelving unit where we were able to put away all of our toiletries. The water pressure was terrific and hot water plentiful (which isn’t always the case on the island). There were lots of extra hooks in the bathroom to hang wet bathing suits. Beach towels as well as bath towels were in good supply. There was even a full sized hairdryer provided in the bathroom. The bedroom had a large armoire where we could hang and place our clothes as well as night tables and reading lamps. There was a large bench which we used to place our cases when we unpacked and then a big empty closet in the hall where we could store them when empty.

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In the open concept living space there were plenty of outlets to plug in our devices and wi fi was easy to access and worked as well, if not better, than other areas of the island. The living furniture was perfectly comfortable and we made note of the fact that with a full size futon and a love seat futon, another couple and one or two kids would be quite comfortable in the space. Right outside the sliding glass door was a table and chairs for poolside dining as well as plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas for comfort around the pretty pool. The water was crystal clear and refreshingly cool after a hot walk from the beach.

The pre-trip arrangements that we made with the owner of the villas was streamlined and thorough and we didn’t have a single problem during our stay. He also graciously accommodated a change of our check out day. The price was more than we usually spend on Isla but worth every single penny. In fact, when you calculate the number of cabs that we hire to and from where we typically stay on the airport strip, it would likely turn out to cost less than our usual budget accommodation.

The staff are lovely and accommodating people who make you feel right at home. The villas are absolutely spotless and exceptionally well maintained.

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All of the villas surround an enclosed area where the pool is located. Big wooden gates to the malecon can be locked from the inside at the end of the day so that the space is private and secure. Surprisingly, even though a couple of the units are street side, there was no unpleasant traffic noise. The solid construction of the villas ensures this, in addition to keeping tropical insects at bay.

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Approximately midway of our stay at Villas San Miquel, we moved from the street side Acapulco to the upstairs sea view unit dubbed Xalapa. Although this unit had a smaller footprint the space was very well planned out. The trade off for the smaller space was the breathtaking view. I could stare at those turquoise waters forever! Even though the kitchen, bathroom and living space were more compact, we still had enough storage to place all of our stuff out of sight. People were not able to drop in on us, as there is no access to Xalapa from the street, but this ensures greater privacy for a couple or small family. One of the units was occupied by a woman on her own and she felt absolutely safe and secure in doing so.

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What Xalapa does have that Acapulco did not, was a private terrace overlooking the malecon and the sea. This provided us with the additional luxury of drinking coffee while waiting for the sunrise and a spot to gaze at the cruise ships on the horizon of the ocean over a late night glass of wine. On a rainy day, we were still able to sit outside and watch the storm go through.

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There was not a walled bedroom in Xalapa but the enormous bed was positioned in an alcove producing a “loft-style” floor plan. The number of furniture items was less (minus the dining table and chairs and the love-seat futon was switched out to a single one).

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Vibrant hand-carved chairs and a number of pottery and glass artifacts adorned both units adding a decorative touch that you would not normally enjoy in rental unit. There was even a fresh flower arrangement to greet us upon check in of both units. The owner of Villas San Miquel thought of absolutely everything!

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We just returned last evening and this morning on Facebook, I see that the complex is scheduled to more than double in size. Stay tuned for more Villa San Miguel Announcements.

Kath’s quote: “After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea    

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Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres Trip Report-Departure Day

February27

I was up early so that I could enjoy my last Isla sunrise.

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And then before I knew it, the time had come to leave the island. There were friends waiting for me at the ferry dock to wish me well.

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Sister #3 had prepared my lunch to eat on the plane complete with the little notes that she likes to stick into loved one’s lunches.

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She also wrote one that said “Relax, close your eyes, and remember Isla”. I have been doing just that and these blog posts have brought it all back to life for me.

We leave for Isla again in 4 1/2 sleeps. I am so excited that I am having a hard time concentrating. We are very much looking forward to staying in Centro at Villas San Miguel. Pictures will be plentiful. Stay tuned.

Kath’s quote: “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”. -Joseph Campbell

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Love never fails.

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