Browsing: Restaurant Features

Lola Valentina Isla Mujeres 2020

July29

We have enjoyed Lola Valentina’s for many years. On my visit and subsequent blog post last year http://foodmusings.ca/restaurants/lola-valentina-isla-mujeres-2019/, I linked to a number of other wonderful dining occasions.

On this visit we started with a sampling of their artisan cocktails.

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In the red tiki glass was a Classic Mai Tai concocted of Bacardi Blanco rum, Bacardi Anejo rum, Captain Morgan rum, orange liquer, orange juice, pineapple juice and lime juice. It was stellar!

Not to be outdone in the accompanying green tiki glass came an Aloha Isla, made from Captain Morgan rum, Malibu rum, Licor 43, lychee and passion fruit. I couldn’t decide which one I loved more.

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We started food service with guacamole garnished with green apple, bacon goat cheese balls! The apple provided sweet crunch, the bacon savoury saltiness and the cheese ball a creamy pungent hit. OMGoodness! We hoped the rest of the evening was going to be this delicious.

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I enjoyed a second cocktail of an avocado martini. Since avocados are supposed to be good for you, I pledged to drink one a day (JK).

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One of the first dishes we sampled was from the “Bowl” section of the menu. The Mexican Bowl was chock full of rice, corn, cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, green salsa and sour cream. The hanger steak which occupied a quadrant of the bowl was so tender and perfectly prepared. Lorena who was a part of our gang LOVED IT!

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We also enjoyed tempura cauliflower tacos that were a sensational vegan choice. Meat? Who needs meat! They were accompanied by yummy cole slaw, guava/chipotle sauce and guacamole.

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Another tempura taco choice was Lola Valentina’s shrimp tacos. The shrimp were enormous and snapped when you took a bite-my barometer that they were fresh and perfectly cooked.

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The first time I ever saw Lola Valentina’s Pablano Fish it was on the table of a diner next to me. I was so enthralled by the dish and how he avidly dived into it, that I asked him how it tasted. Well he oohed and awed and I knew that I just had to order it. Unfortunately by the time it was set down in front of me, I was too full to make a dent in the dish. I did appreciate the creamy stew with shrimp and vegetables crowning amazing mashed potatoes. But the sauce-the poblano sauce was simply divine! Lucky for me I had some family members sitting close by who agreed to help me eat the dish because I absolutely refuse to waste food.

Lola Valentina’s consistently delivers exceptionally well prepared food. Whether you are taken care of “Morning Abel” or “Evening Abel” you will be in very good hands.

Kath’s quote: “You cannot make everybody happy. You are not a taco.” -unknown

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Love never fails.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Tusany 2019-Dinner at Ristorante Acqua Borra

January20

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We were so in love with the extensive patio at our villa outside of Sienna that as I have already said, it was very difficult to inspire us out for dinner. The other reason why it was difficult to move us was because we got pretty darned good and assembling our own charcuterie.

But after a whole lot of deliberation, we found ourselves at Ristorante Acqua Borra which through the help of Google, I understand was once a thermal park.

The magnificent walls of the building had been beautifully restored and we were comfortably set near a large window. If it had been day time, we were quite sure that we could have seen our villa from there.

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D ordered a scrumptious Vino Nobile to acknowledge a birthday that we had missed marking together at home. We hoped it would celebrate how very special person was to us and our delightful time together.

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D and J3 shared a Florentine Steak that we had heard so much about back home. It was 2 1/2 fingers deep and arrived already sliced.

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D2 was still on her quest for the perfect Carbonara,

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As unusual as this dish looks, it was pretty good-marinated pork filet with caramelized onions and pear soaked in wine. It could have received higher marks in my book if the sauce had not been quite so salty (and I typically love salt)!

Deciding against dessert we made the short way home where rumours were floating around about a hot tub being fired up.

Kath’s quote: “You and me, we are more than friends. We are like a small travel gang!”-Unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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