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Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Piacere Restaurant and Beach Club

March4

Right off the bat, don’t let the label Beach Club fool you. This is not a place where Cancun day trippers spend the day. In fact, our cab driver didn’t know the exact location, as you have to walk through Maria’s Kan Kin to find it. Once at Piacere, there is a mix of the persons staying at the hotel, a family who arrived by boat and people like us to enjoy the benefits of a day.

Coincidently, I am reading a novel set in the village of Bella Piacere. “Bella Piacere” was named in the sixteenth century, or round about then, by and Englishwoman who spoke only a couple of words in Italian. Fortunately, though not grammatically quite correct, the two words expressed her emotions on first seeing the the lovely hamlet in the Tuscan hills-Bountiful Pleasure. And, anyhow, the name sounded better than “Bel Piacere.” Piacere on Isla Mujeres is also about beautiful pleasure.

It was explained by Simone, the Chef and Manager of the facility that there are two manners to enjoy the property. You can pay for a Day Pass and order from the snack menu or order from the more formal dining room menu and sit in the dining area.

We were blessed to experience the best of both worlds. We started with cocktails under umbrellas at the beach club-vodka & cranberry, Pink Panther (rum and passionfruit juice) and a margarita.

After which we switched to water, but knowing that there were more cocktails to be had!

Shrimp Tacos were chosen from the snack menu as well as fish and chips. The fish was so fresh that it prickled my tongue.

We had been briefed that Simone had worked Milan, Thailand, Australia, London and Dubai and we hadn’t yet, tasted his fare. We had spied a pizza oven on the way into the restaurant, so we ordered a couple of those to finish our late lunch. By this time, the shade had disappeared from the beach so we moved up to the pool area which also happened to be by one section of the dining room. We had a last round of cocktails as we enjoyed the authentic Italian style pizza with its flame kissed crust, light and uncomplicated sauce and just a smattering of cheese. Had we ordered the Marguerita Pizza we would have been in the Tuscan hills again.

Our server was Adrian who we had met at Amazona last year. We really enjoyed seeing him again. If you want to check their hours of operation or their menus, check out the mapchicks app. The best money you will ever spend.

We would love to visit the restaurant at sunset one day. I predict it would be stellar.

Kaths quote:  “Tuscany is the gentle embrace of beauty in every corner.”

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Features-Pizza Rock

February29

When I walked into Pizza Rock, I experienced two things, but I will share my second thought first: I had been there before. I truly did not recall being in the stylish well-appointed spot. But then I looked at the ceiling and remembered.

Pizza Rock has been on the island for 26 years years and was the island’s very first pizza restaurant! When I visited earlier it was more of a “pop in after the beach” feel. This sleek spot did not pull up memories of that sand on the floor feel.

After visiting the island for almost 20 years, I don’t expect to experience any firsts anymore but Pizza Rock provided me with two. I tried Mescal for my first time, albeit mixed with passionfruit which would make anything absolutely delicious. My Island Newbie had a Mango Margarita. Both drinks were beautifully garnished. I could have had mine rimmed with worm salt, had I chosen so. (ah…no thanks).

The second was that I had never had lobster pizza on Isla! In fact throughout my travels I have only ever had lagostino in the Cariibbean once before and that was in Cuba, many years ago. Being a Canadain, lobster is really something very different than the Caribbean species. I get to enjoy Nova Scotia lobster once a year at the restaurant that I consult for back home. Pizza Rock’s presentation was gorgeous with the meat pulled out and adorning the pizza and two glistening red shells crowning the dish. There was a lesser amount of cheese on the pizza so that the lobster taste would shine through, and it did. Do you know that in Italy it is a faux pas to ask for grated cheese on a seafood dish?

I miss Angelo’s on Isla Mujeres. There I have said it. If you are new to the island, Angelo’s was purchased by new orners last year. It was an annual visit for both fruitti de mare pizza and pasta. Pizza Rock’s Seafood Farfel was very different to Angelo’s but dare I say truer to an Italian recipe. Squid and octopus had been marinated for both thenderness and taste in white wine and olive oil. But it was the tomato based sauce where I tasted expertise and quality ingredients.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mentioned the appetizer that we commenced our dinner with. The spinach dip with pepper strips and toasted homemade bread (in fact everything is made from scratch) reminded me of this decadent treat back home. Their version was so rich that I had to stop myself from indulging before our decadent entrees.

The wine we chose for dinner was from their extensive list and was a healthy pour.

I mentioned two impressions when I first walked into Pizza Rock. The other was love. I met the owners who love their restaurant and their patrons-many more locals than tourists. There was a birthday party dinner at the next table. The little girl wore a tiara and was about nine or ten. Her parents were showing their love of her through food, which is obviously my “love language” too. Carlos the manager who was also our waiter, spoke of love as well. Love of his fiancé who also works there but is a dentist on the island. She is an Isleno, loving her island so much that she shares her educated skill. The restaurant itself is adorned with enormous lit up hearts (I gotta get me one for home).

Pizza Rock is on Hidalgo right next to Jenny Penny. There is a second entrance from the plaza behind, where you can have a quiet dinner away from the crowds of Hidalgo. For hours of operation and their full menu, check out the mapchicks app. The best money you will ever spend.

Kath’s quote: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore…”

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Dulzara Argentinian Bakery

February28

By Sister #3

Dulzara now serves 100 Pesos breakfast!

Four years ago we meet the loveliest couple of women, Marita and Gabriela, when the Argentinian duo opened Dulzura Bakery. Located on Juarez between Abasolo and Madero.  Up a mural filled staircase you’ll come upon their courtyard and bakery.

There are a few tables where you can sit and enjoy breakfast, one of their famous empanadas, or a coffee and sweet treat. 

Before we get to breakfast, let me first rave about the baked goods. What is on offer changes every day and there is plenty to choose from. I love their brownies and banana bread. And the cakes they have baked to celebrate family birthdays have been fabulous. Earlier this trip we had their carrot cake, and a vanilla cake with strawberry cream and dolce de leche. It was incredible.

Today I decided to take home a rogel, something I had never tried. It’s a stack of thin, salted cookies with dolce de leche and topped with meringue. As delicious as it is beautiful. 

But on to the purpose of today’s visit. The ladies are now serving breakfast Monday – Saturday from 9:00 – noon-ish.  Currently they offer one menu item; eggs any style, we had ours scrambled with chopped veggies, served with beans, guacamole, tortillas.

And best of all, toasted homemade thick cut bread, served with butter and jam or honey. All of this for only 100 pesos. A great value. Team member Lydia is the breakfast cook and makes yummy food. Additional options will be added down the road as they continue to develop the menu. 

The bakery has a tiny kitchen and is always a hive of activity. There are always creations in the making. Marita and Gabriela will welcome you with open arms and walk you through that days options. It’s a one stop shop. Enjoy a great breakfast, take home some empanadas and cake, pie, or cookies. You won’t be disappointed. 

Kath’s quote: “A true friend thinks you are a good egg, even when you are a little cracked.” -unknown

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Kokonuts/Sardinian Smile

February24

Written by Sister #3

I was joining my sister for dinner the other night and we decided to visit Kokonuts on Hidalgo as Sylvia of Sardinian Smile is now the new manager of Kokonuts. 

It’s a place I have always wanted to try and a favourite of my sister’s as it reminds her of her trips to Italy. I’m hoping to travel to Italy this year, and while I’m not likely to make it to the island of Sardinia, I’m anxious to soak up all things Italian as I dream about my trip. Owner Silvia shares her family’s traditional Sardinian dishes along with a variety of other selections that highlight the fresh products available on the island. 

Upon arrival we were greeted by Luciano who was a wonderful host. The set up of Kokonuts isn’t exactly the vibe you would expect for this fine Italian establishment. Inside feels like a bar with video screens and flashing lights. but we selected a table on the street to soak up the energy of Hidalgo.  The live music of Jesús Campuzano adding to our experience. We were grateful that Sylvia and her staff amalgamated with Kokonuts so we could still experience their food. 

We settled in with two-for-one mojitos that were a refreshing cocktail to start the evening.  We had a couple of appetizers recommended by Sylvia.

The crab cakes were crispy on the outside, tender inside and full of crab flavour. They didn’t need the tartar sauce but it was so yum that I ended up eating some of it with the cakes.

The pulpo a la gallega was amazing. A traditional dish from Galicia it reminded me of the tapas we ate in Spain. Tender chunks of locally caught octopus on tender potato slices, topped with olive oil and paprika. We added a kiss of salt to bring out its full flavour.

For our main we selected their lasagna, made with bolognese and béchamel sauces, it was rich and melt-in-your mouth.

But my favourite dish of the night was the ensalada Kokonuts, a romaine and cucumber salad with slices of crisp Granny Smith apple and chunks of mango. Topped with candied walnuts and perfectly seasoned shrimp. I will be back for that salad very soon. Served with scrumptious homemade buns it was simply perfection. 

If you need info about their hours, location and menu, please feel free to check out www.mapchicks.com

Kath’s quote: “This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel-nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.“-David Herbert Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, 1921

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Features-North Garden

February23

North Garden has long been on my favourite street in Centro-the street that leads to North Beach and perhaps that is one of the many reasons for their success. As you walk by, you can smell cinnamon buns and bagels being baked. That aroma sticks in your head but you are determined to get a prime spot on the beach (under a palm tree for shade), so you say to yourself  “On my way home, I am going to treat myself to lunch there” Then you may do, as I once did: I plunked myself in my chair from the hotel, but when the bottom fell out of it and I was splayed across the sand, I stood up and announced that I wasn’t going to stay anyway. I was on my way for breakfast at North Garden!

On this day, my brother and his wife joined me for breakfast. They had never been to North Garden and I love to get reactions to places from Newbies. They both admired the ambience of the garden. Don’t you just feel revitalized when you are surrounded by green? Instead of coffee, I opted for a green juice (chia, pineapple, cucumber, lime, orange and ginger) at which time I felt even more alive. Truth be told, I had recently shaken off the travel and settling in jags and had just started to be able to finish a sentence.

We commenced by sharing an amuse bouche of cinnamon roll French toast, with chocolate chips mixed right into the eggs. Chopped peacans garnished and enhanced the crunch. There was one each and it worked! My mouth was definitely amused and I was hungry for more. My husband D and I make a version of these at the Bread and Breakfast we sometimes help out at. I am going to suggest the B & B owners try the chocolate chips inclusion when I get home.

The breakfast menu is so extensive that I needed Brenda, one of the owners of the restaurant to guide us. She took the guess work out for us and we were delighted with her choices.

My brother had the Breakfast Bagel. Crispy bacon, orange yolked eggs, cheese, tomato, lettuce and chipotle mayonnaise on an in house baked bagel.

The bagels laid out in the window beside our table indicated all the varieties they bake. One of them could easily be breakfast itself on a future morning.

My sister-in-law was delighted when the eggs benedict were placed in front of her. It was exactly what she would have ordered if we had chosen ourselves. Their Pecana version, was expertly prepared (eggs were poached to still have a runny centre), as well as crispy bacon, spinach and tomato. They too were garnished with chopped pecans. She was slow to taste and savour, and you could definitely see that they were both enjoying their first visit to North Garden.

My breakfast plate was so laden with food that I could have shared it with at least one more person. The Hotcakes Trio came with lightly scrambled eggs as well as pancakes topped with bananas and Nutella! I honoured the kitchen by trying a couple of bites of the pancakes, but was really excited by the premise- made sausage that was also served. The chefs grilled a beautiful Argentinan style sausage made with brisket, garlic, chipotle and jalapeno chilies as well as mozzarella cheese, which deliciously bound the ingredients together. I am also a potato aficionado and the Garden’s breakfast potatoes are tossed in a delectable amount of olive oil and cooked until the inside is still sweet and the outside is crunchy. Perfecto.

Drop in anytime on your way to or from the beach!

For the hours, address and menu for North Garden check out www.mapchicks.com.

Kath’s quote: “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.” – A. A. Gill

These sea glass hearts were collected by my friend Ann, who I have known for years but only met IRL recently. She was also dining at North Garden that morning.

Love never fails.

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