Rubens 2017

April3

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Our first breakfast on the island was….no big surprize-Rubens!

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Not only was our hotel just up the street, the outside tables were accessible for K AND let’s face it: D and I had been dreaming about Ruben’s shrimp omelet since our last trip to the island.

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We actually did spend some time reading Ruben’s menu, not because we couldn’t decide what to order but because we missed seeing Ruben on this visit and purusing his menu was like spending some time with him.

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We ordered rounds of papaya and orange juices along with Ruben’s delicious coffee. We were happy to just BE back on the island and to get our bearing again.

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Ruben’s efficient kitchen had our meals out in no time. Not only were the eggs tender and flavourful in the omelet but the shrimp (which I guess are seasoned and browned in butter), literally burst out of their wrappings. I like mine with a bit of the breakfast rice and do not even add a grain or salt or pepper because they are so perfectly seasoned.

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K is an eggs benedict aficionado and she loved Ruben’s!

Kath’s quote: Charlie Harper: Hey, Alan. Can you taste my hollandaise sauce?

Alan Harper: You made hollandaise sauce?

Charlie Harper: You tell me.

Alan Harper: [Tastes sauce] You did not make hollandaise sauce.

Charlie Harper: Damn you, eggs Benedict.

-Two and a Half Men

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Love never fails.

 

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Sunset Grill-Part 2

March31

Many years ago when I first visited Isla Mujeres I booked us into Villa Punta Sur. In those days there were no such thing as Facebook pages or Trip Advisor and I had no clue that we were not in the middle of the action. The villas were nice and peaceful but we typically like to be closer to Centro. We usually stay on the east side of the airport strip because as soon as you go out back by the ocean, you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere even though you are on one of the busiest roads on the island. I am constantly on the search for what I call “the best of both worlds”-walking distance to Centro but on the water with a private/isolated feel. My first choice is not always available for the dates that I want it so I am always on the lookout for an alternative.

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We visited the Sunset Grill in its new location for the first time this year and in speaking to Felipe, found out that they have two studio apartments for rent just above the restaurant.

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We didn’t get a direct look at them because they were occupied but we did familiarize ourselves with the area to the back of the property to find that it too has that remote feeling.

Felipe told us that the studios come complete with a spacious bathroom, one or two beds, AC, good cross ventilation, a fridge and coffee maker and are affordably priced.

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With their unique location on the island, you could watch the sunrise from your front door and see the sunset from your rear window.

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For an extra special occasion, arrange to watch the sunset from a private cruise of a 37′ sailing lot. The package includes:

– 2 hours PRIVATE sailing tour on the bay to enjoy sunset

– 4 hors de ouevres per person

– 1 bottle of wine for 2 persons from our selection of house wines.

– Soft drinks

– Us $250 for 2 guests

– Us $80 per extra person (maximum 8)

If you are in need of Cruise or Marina information, contact Felipe directly on his website http://sunsetgrill.com.mx/#!/Contact.

Kath’s quote: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”-Mark Twain

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Love never fails.

 

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AGI Tours-Isla Mujeres

March30

There are many styles to travel from lugging backpacks around and staying in hostels (which I have done) to the opposite extreme of first class all the way (which I have never experienced)… until now that is.

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This photo of my sisters and me on our first trip to Isla is so old that my hair is a different colour!

My relationship with AGI Tours goes back a number of years: from the very first time I spotted my name being held up by an AGI representative upon my first trip to Isla in 2005. In my experience, reliability is not always a guarantee when traveling in Mexico. You may have incorrectly assumed that the translation of “manana” was “tomorrow” but what it actually means is “in the indefinite future”. I kind of get a kick out of the easy-going Mexican “manana” philosophy unless I am doing one of two things: arriving or departing from Isla Mujeres. If I am arriving I am so anxious to get there, I can almost not stand it and when I am departing, I want to savour every last moment on the island and then get to the airport as efficiently as possible. AGI Tours has always provided that reliability for me.

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This year they did even more. I managed to secure a golf cart through AGI. Having a golf cart when you are staying on the airport strip is ideal. Sometimes we still made the walk into town (okay I will fess up, Doug still made the walk) for the exercise. We were able to fetch my sister-in-law and her sister to have them join us for breakfast at Luna d’Miel, we picked up our daughter and her husband for dinner one evening and then another time so that they could just hang with us and we were able to pick them and their luggage up on their departure day. Doug used  it to fetch his coffee and newspaper in the morning, to see if there were fresh tortas at the Supermercado and acquire the fresh orange juice that we love from our favourite market stall.

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But we also used it to dine in Colonias, chase the sunset

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and cool off on a warm evening by driving along the east side of Punta Sur. We felt so blessed by this convenience we were like little kids with a new toy.

AGI have joined forces with the “La Fortuna” cart company owned by a family member. Instead of having to be hailed by the golf cart guys at the ferry and select a company in the eeney meeney miney mo style, a new, well maintained cart was DELIVERED to our hotel! When we needed to gas up, we simply returned it to Adam (who gave us his cell # in case we had any concerns), he gassed it up and we were off again in a matter of minutes. When our time to leave the island had come, we called Adam and he told us exactly where and when to drop it off.

AGI is currently rolling out their new VIP Door to Door Service including a golf cart in their special package. Even more luxurious, were our return arrangements. Eduardo from AGI met us as we returned the golf cart

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and walked us (and my luggage) over to a dock near Mininoes. Waiting there were two other couples and we all were escorted aboard a beautiful boat and whisked across the Bay of Cancun. I have always gotten a kick out of the ferry but we did not have to stand in line, lug our own bags on board and scramble downstairs to get to our luggage before the guy hoping for a tip did. We simply sat back and visited with the other two couples as we skimmed across the turquoise waters that I love so dearly.

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On the Cancun side, we did not dock at Puerto Juarez so we did not have to endure the people and confusion there. When we were dropped off, our air conditioned vans were right there waiting for us.  The van ride seemed a tiny bit longer and the route was slightly differently and more enjoyable. AGI is constantly improving their services to all their clients but especially their loyal VIP clients. So far this treatment has been handled as a surprise to customers as they analyze operation costing and logistics. Check out their website for final details.

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Me enjoying every minute of the transfer.

We also experienced an unusual circumstance that sealed our faith in AGI Tours. My daughter accidently left her IPhone in the van when we arrived in Cancun. She asked me to contact AGI as soon as I could. When we arrived at our hotel and I connected to wifi, there was already a message waiting in my in box telling me that the phone had been found. I offered to cross back over to the Cancun side to fetch it, but AGI offered to deliver it to our Isla hotel! When they did so, my daughter was at the beach. They put her husband through some security questions to ensure that he was whom he claimed to be. We were so impressed with the reliability and trustworthiness of AGI Tours.

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There are lots of companies now on the transfer scene. I am not saying that they are inferior, I am simply saying that I have found AGI to be in a class of their own as far as service and dependability are concerned

Kath’s quote: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen”.- Benjamin Disraeli

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunset Grill-Isla Mujeres

March29

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Love was definitely in the air on our recent vacation to Isla Mujeres. There was a family wedding held on the island while we were there and the romantic and heartfelt betrothal set the tone for the rest of our vacation. When we arrived at The Sunset Grill’s new location (Rue Medina South), co-owner Margarita escorted us to a table for two set just outside the restaurant with a view of the marina and water.

Years’ prior I had my first taste of coconut shrimp at the original Sunset Grill on North Beach. On another occasion with my girls, my sister and her daughter, I recall having a late afternoon lunch at the Sunset Grill when a wedding was taking place. The bride arrived by boat to meet her groom as strains of “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones floated all around us. We all swooned and agreed at once that Isla Mujeres would be the perfect place to have a destination wedding.

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Suffice it to say, that memory stuck with me as I watched my beautiful niece wed her handsome man recently, but I digress. At that romantic table for two at the new Sunset Grill, D and I shared our last dinner together on the island. It was a special time in every way and we hoped that the food would complete a perfect holiday and evening.

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We commenced with frosty cold beers as it was still warm in the setting sun.

We consulted Sunset Grill owner Felipe as to what he might recommend. He read us perfectly and the shared appetizer, soup and entrée was the correct amount of food with both subtle and bold tastes.

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We started by splitting the most enormous shrimp (oxymoron?), that had been stuffed with hearty bacon pieces and a tart and silky cream cheese. D carved it into four bites and each was delicious and satisfying.

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Next up we shared a decadent seafood soup which is Felipe’s own recipe utilizing a splash of brandy. As chunky as a chowder, it tasted closer to Lobster Thermidor with tastes of heavy cream and butter. The abundance of seafood was a lovely surprise-every spoonful containing a piece of huge shrimp, baby shrimp and other fish. The creamy stock was so luxurious that I had wished we had some bread on the table so that we could have mopped up every dollop.

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The Sunset Grill is definitely a family affair as the next dish was a recipe of Felipe’s mother. Usually the dill sauce would adorn grouper but in this case it enhanced red snapper. Everything on the beautifully assembled plate was delicious.

Felipe added that next time we may want to try a dish such as his beef tenderloin in cherry wine, chicken livers and Dijon. In truth I spotted a number of dishes that I would love to try again including the Coconut Shrimp, which brings us back to the beginning of this story and

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our on-going love affair with Isla Mujeres and the Sunset Grill.

The Sunset Grill has much more to offer, stay tuned for the next installment.

Kath’s quote: “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There’s, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There’s pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich… That’s, that’s about it.”-Forrest Gump

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Love never fails.

 

 

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Olympia Diner

March27

We introduced our children to restaurant dining at an early age and now we enjoy doing the same with our grandchildren. Generally, family restaurants do the best job with accommodating kids. With research I knew that the Spiridakos family owned Olympia Diner (3253 Portage Ave.) so I thought we had gone to the right place.

Our cheerful waitress immediately grabbed the crayons and a colouring sheet so we were off to a good (read: peaceful) start. There was not a children’s section to the menu but we spied chicken fingers and fries and knew we would be able to appease both granddaughters. Glamma and Poppa had tastes of those chicken fingers and we were very impressed. A kid’s cup of chocolate milk was immediately delivered so we could determine and make the rest of our selections.

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I must admit that I was disappointed that they were out of moussakka but as pastia was pretty close with its béchamel topping, I was content. Truth be told, most of the pasta casserole went home with us as I filled up on Greek French fries. Imagine a Greek version of poutine with oregano liberally sprinkled onto freshly cut fries along with lots of crumbled feta.

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My husband chose a Greek Salad and we learned the difference between Greek salad which includes lettuce and a village or peasant salad which does not. The garlic toast was enjoyed by our youngest granddaughter along with her favourite dish-the ice from Poppa’s glass.

Even though we arrived before noon the diner was busy with patrons. Perhaps they too were drawn to wholesome Greek cooking or the distinctive Grecian blue décor.

The Olympia Diner is open Tuesday – Sunday at 11 am. They close Sunday-Thursday at 9 pm and Friday-Saturday at 10 pm. There are separate lunch and dinner menus available.  The diner is not wheelchair accessible from front door.

Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.

Olympia Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Eat and drink with your relatives; do business with strangers“.-Greek Proverb

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Love never fails.

 

 

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