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Posts Tagged ‘Cancun dining’

This blog post should have been a follow-up to my previous post about Becoming a Mexican. I have been working on it since last week and it is called “A Survivors Guide to Becoming a Mexican Citizen” Essentially it deals with the nitty gritty of submitting your citizenship application with helpful tips so that others will hopefully have a much smoother experience than I did. BUT…..Life happened (as it so often does) before I could complete that post.

So tonight’s post is about seizing the day or carpe diem! I am all about sucking the marrow out of life whenever I can and I especially believe in spontaneity. These types of opportunities seem to present themselves less and less as the sands of time seem to slip away faster and faster. Today; however, was one of those glorious days when an unexpected opportunity fell squarely in our laps.

A lot of my work deals with social media marketing and today while I was scrolling through my Facebook updates I came across a post by Grupo Cenacolo saying that the first person who sent a message via inbox to reserve a table for Monday (tonight) would receive a free degustation of their new menu (drinks not included ). Of course, I jumped at the opportunity….it was a foodies dream come true. Miraculously we won (I never win anything)! After several messages back and forth with Daniela, the social media manager for Grupo Cenacolo, we booked a table.

Hubby at Cenacolo Mare

From the get go we had a wonderful experience. Daniela, in advance had advised the restaurant that we were coming, so we avoided the potentially uncomfortable situation of having to explain that we there because we won a free meal. We were greeted warmly by Karina (the hostess-it was her second night on the job). She took us to a table lagoon-side and introduced us to Israel, who would be our server for the night. We were thoroughly impressed with the décor of the restaurant. The lighting was soft and inviting and as we were seated we caught the remnants of another beautiful Cancun sunset. We ordered a bottle of wine…recommended by Javier…the wine expert and sat back with eager anticipation for what was to come.

View of the restaurant from our lagoon-side table

What came next was a true foodie extravaganza! Six small plates of exquisite seafood dishes that included lobster, seared tuna wrapped in prosciutto, squid, white fish bathed in black squid ink, and Carpaccio. Then two dishes of succulent meat prepared two ways. One of which was covered in a silky, pale yellow, rich, melted cheese. Oh my!!! Thank God we didn’t skip our Pilates class today! Then Chef, Mauro Amati, stopped by our table and graciously sent us a divine glass of red wine to accompany our meat dishes.

Seared tuna wrapped in proscuitto and white fish bathed in black squid ink

Our final dish provided a perfect ending to a marvellous meal. A martini glass filled with a mixture of assorted fresh berries folded into an impossibly smooth mascarpone cream. Truly a dessert fit for the gods. We washed it all down with a sweet anise and ordered the bill. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening especially since our plan for Monday night had been to work –out and then channel surf. It was an unexpected, spontaneous night and it reminded me that though my life may seem more ordered and tame these days that there are and still will be many more surprises in my future!

The view form our table–we just missed the sunset

**** I would like to thank all of those responsible for making tonight possible—Daniela (Social Media Manager), Karina (hostess), Israel (our server), Javier (wine expert) and Chef Mauro Amati. GRACIAS!!! And I almost forget to mention the freshly baked Foccacia bread….amazing!!!

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Several months ago we tried a new place that had just opened up at the Ibis Hotel in downtown Cancun and after that 1st meal I was hooked! I enjoyed everything about our dining experience that in just a few short months we have been at least half a dozen times already. Piola, which means, “Meeting Place” in an ancient Italian dialect  was started over 20 years ago by two brothers from Treviso, Italy and can now be found in Italy, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Turkey and Honduras.

Piola

Piola has a varied menu that features simple Italian food at great prices in a colourful setting, with great music and very friendly service. Hubby and I have been making our way through the menu and so far we haven’t been disappointed in any of the dishes. From the “vacio” that melts in your mouth (similar to rib-eye) served with salad and pasta, to the beef Carpaccio and various pasta dishes each and every meal has been satisfying, tasty and a reasonable price .

Picanha-Argentinian cut of beef

We have gotten to know the staff and we are always greeted warmly when we arrive for dinner or lunch and the place is always abuzz with people which is rare in Cancun.  They have inside and outside dining on a pleasant semi-enclosed patio and space for large groups. Be sure to order their house speciality-frozen basil martinis- a real refreshing treat! After, six visits we still have a long way to go before we have tried everything so if you see us there be sure to say hi and Buen Provecho!

Pasta!

What is your favourite neighborhood restaurant?

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Thai Combo

I apologize in advance to all of my non-food obsessed readers. I had planned to write about our recent trip to the Yucatan and not food again but since hubby and I just came from dinner at Dragon Chi-Thai I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to promote this great little downtown restaurant while the dining experience was still fresh in my mind. This was our second visit to Chi-Thai and we were not disappointed. They have a varied menu that features Chinese food as well as some Thai dishes and their speciality is duck with 7 different styles to choose from like Cantonese, Mandarin and the ever popular Peking duck.

Cantonese Duck

The food is paired with classic Chinese restaurant decor of brightly painted walls, Chinese lanterns, umbrellas, fans and the odd Buddha and elephant. They have comfortable seating both inside and out and a friendly staff, as well as a Chinese chef ,which is always a good sign when you choose to eat Chinese food. On both occasions we started off with a cold beer while we discussed which dishes to order.

On our first visit we ordered the shrimp Vietnamese rolls to start, which though very tasty were rather bulky and not as nicely rolled as I am accustomed to in Vancouver, and  then we shared a steaming hot bowl of  Mandarin soup which was very similar to one of my favourites—Hot and Sour Soup. We then ordered the Cantonese duck which was tender and moist and served on a bed of sautéed vegetables. The sticky sweet sauce had us licking our lips long after we had finished. Our friend, who had joined us, opted for one of their very reasonably priced combos. She chose a Thai combo of chicken in a tangy garlic ginger sauce accompanied by jasmine rice and a roll.

Tonight hubby and I started off with fried wontons stuffed with minced  shrimp and then we ordered a mixed chow mein and Mongolian chicken. Both dishes arrived piping hot and with two bowls of fried rice. We quickly realized that our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs. After eating less than half we asked our waiter to wrap up the rest to go and while we waited the chef came to our table with a furrowed brow and asked us if we had enjoyed our food since we hadn’t finished it all. We quickly assured him that everything had been delicious and I pulled out the folded take-out/home delivery menu from inside my purse, that we had requested from our waiter, to further convince him that we had enjoyed his food and planned to come again.

Chi-Thai is a great choice if you are looking for reasonably priced food and craving something with an Asian influence. It isn’t the most authentic tasting Chinese and Thai food that I have eaten to but then again I hail from Vancouver ,where you can find some of the best ethnic restaurants around, so I am a little biased especially when it comes to reviewing Asian food;however, it will definitely satisfy your Chinese food cravings.

Mandarin Soup

*Dragon Chi-Thai is located on Bonampak Ave. across from SEAT Car Dealership tel: 252 2259

**** I wrote this review a few days ago. I would like to add that we ordered home delivery on Sunday from Chi-Thai and unfortunately we were very disappointed in the food. We ordered 2 combos that arrived cold and several of the dishes were absolutely devoid of any flavour whatsoever.My husband ordered a Thai dish that supposedly comes with jasmine rice but he received regular rice instead. We had to throw out half of the food because it was inedible. The only reason that we could think of for such a difference in food quality was that perhaps the chef was off that day and his helper was on his own.We were also very disappointed that when we called the restaurant to voice our concerns over the food the woman who answered had nothing to say to us. We will try them again one day but we definitely won’t be ordering home delivery next time.

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A late breakfast on Friday, at Marakame Cafe, kicked off my Mom’s birthday weekend which was followed by a much deserved day of pampering at  Arenas Day Spa . I had pre-booked a treatment room that could accommodate the both of us so that we could spend the day together while we enjoyed a relaxing massage and then a facial that used ultrasound technology. The service and staff were great and they have special prices for Cancunenses which guarantees that this particular spa junkie will be booking more treatments there in the future.

Yummy Snails!

After a relaxing afternoon we went home to get ready for my Mom’s special birthday dinner at Du Mexique, a french restaurant downtown, owned and operated by Chef Alain Grimond. I had been following their facebook page for a while and drooling over Sonja’s (the chef’s wife)  daily posts, which never fail to make my stomach grumble ,so since my Mom loves anything french and I love trying new places it seemed like the ideal place to celebrate. When we arrived we were greeted by Chef Alain and taken to our beautifully decorated table surrounded by colourful contemporary art  hung on the walls. The restaurant is set up to serve no more than 20 people at a time and it has a lovely garden as well as a small lounge outdoors.

Duck magret

As my Mom perused the wine menu I smiled to myself because we had already spoken with Chef Alain the night before and informed him that we would like a bottle of  Verve Clicquot brought to the table as a surprise, a generous gift from my Dad, so my Mom ordered a bottle of white wine but was pleasantly taken aback when the champagne arrived on ice. We toasted my Mom and nibbled on some pate as we discussed the menu. Du Mexique’s menu changes often as Chef Alain chooses  only the freshest ingredients available at any given time of the year. We chose the classic escargot bourguignon dish as our appetizer and we were not disappointed. The tender snails cooked in a delectable garlic-butter sauce went great with the champagne and were quickly devoured.

Rack lamb

Next, we ordered our main meal, Cesar and my Mom chose the rack of lamb with  honey syrup made from the agave plant and I chose the duck magret in a citrus sauce. Both meals were excellent! The duck was perfectly paired with the tangy sauce and the rack of lamb was tender and cooked to perfection. Both meals were accompanied by delicate french beans, a small roasted potato,  carrot and a tomato Provencal. After our meal we retired to the lounge area for a change of scenery and to finish off our champagne.

The birthday girl!

We returned to the dining area as Chef Alain brought my Mom’s final surprise of the evening to the table…chocolate profiteroles filled with creamy mascarpone cheese encased in a cookie cake crust and adorned with fresh berries all on a plate with “Happy Birthday Sheilan” written in powdered cacao. WOW!!! A dessert truly fit for the gods. We oohed and aahed as we swallowed each divine morsel until we could eat no more. Finally, it was time to go and we thanked Chef Alain for a truly special evening.

Divine Dessert

It had been an amazing day full of surprises for my Mom and a mouth-watering meal that I will not soon forget. We headed home to get a good night’s rest because on  Saturday we  celebrated my Mom’s actual birthday with a party at her house. Another great evening that finished off my Mom’s birthday with a bang!

Birthday party

Are you a foodie? What is one of your favourite dishes or restaurants in Cancun?

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Cheese glorious cheeses how I love thee so.  I wait with anticipation as you melt into a gooey consistency until the ideal moment when you are ready for a perfectly toasted piece of day old bread to be dunked into your bubbling mass. Then I eagerly scoop you up with bread that has been speared with a 2 pronged fork and gingerly place you into my mouth all the while anticipating your creamy, delicate flavour. I am never disappointed and Voila!Les Fondues Restaurant, which boasts 15 different cheese fondue combinations, enables this girl’s monthly indulgence in creamy, gooey cheese.

Curry Fondue

 Paco Alcalde, who has 27 years in the restaurant business, opened Voila! with his wife because he wanted to offer the people of Cancun something different. Aside from an impressive fondue menu that tempts you with tantalizing  flavours such as curry, honey-mustard, artichoke and dark beer they also offer salads, beef or shrimp Bourguignonne, Parisian sandwiches, pate and a large variety of specials as well as desserts and a well-stocked wine cellar.

House Pate

Hubby and I have had the pleasure of dining at Voila, located in Plaza Solare,  twice now and we have sampled their curry and also their flor de calabaza (zucchini flower) fondue as well as their to-die-for house pate with caramelized red onion. We chose to sit outside but they have a comfortable inside dining area with soft music and interesting art work adorning the walls.

Inside Voila!

So, if you are a cheese lover like me or you are just looking for somewhere new to try in Cancun be sure to visit Voila! for a pleasant evening with your significant other or a group of friends.

Fondue Menu

What is your favourite type of fondue?

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It’s been a while since my last restaurant review and not because we haven’t been eating out lately but because I started to notice that for some time the majority of my blog posts were about food. Now don’t get me wrong I love to write about food especially when it is great tasting food but I also enjoy writing about other things as well specifically our little adventures.But tonight, I am going to tell you about a wonderful little spot in Puerto Juarez, right on the beach ,which isn’t exactly off the beaten path, but it is a place where you won’t find many tourists and some locals  might even turn their noses up since it is  more of a changarro rather than restaurant.

The entrance

Hubby and I first happened upon El Sol Naciente a few months ago when we were going to Rescate Malix for their monthly Dog Wash event and we decided to make a quick stop for something to eat along the way. We had often passed by the many small, thrown together restaurants on the beach but this was the first time that we decided to stop. We chose El Sol Naciente for two reasons, A) they had a spot for us to park in and B) I liked the big shark sign out front. Not the best criteria for choosing a restaurant I know but nonetheless that is why we ended up there.Once we parked an eager waiter with a friendly face (Luis) ushered us to our table in front of the water’s edge and after a great meal we knew that we would be back again soon.

Hog Fish/Boquinete

Last weekend we took my in-laws and my Mom there for a late Saturday lunch and at first we were worried about how they would react to such a place but we hoped that once the food was served that they would love it too.Now, let me explain El Sol Naciente doesn’t have any plumbing or electricity and the over head tarp look like they  salvaged it from a garbage bin but they do their best with what they have on hand. A bucket with clean water has a small plastic faucet inserted at the bottom so that clients can wash their hands. They also have a women’s and men’s bathroom, which is clean, but since they don’t have any plumbing there is a huge bucket outside and after you are done you simply fill a smaller bucket with some water and return to the bathroom to pour the water into the toilet to make it “flush”. A tad primitive but let me assure you that they were much cleaner than any port-a-potty that I have been in before.

Pelican and birds

Luis was our server again and once my Mom and mother-in law had made their way through the sand in their high heels to our table we ordered a round of drinks and discussed the menu. My Mom ordered a mixed ceviche and we ordered 2 whole  boquinetes (hog fish) fried with lots of garlic. All of their seafood is delivered fresh from the ocean that same day and you can pick out the fish that you want to eat. They also have live lobster, crab and other types of fish depending on the day.The price per kilo for fish is $130 pesos (about $10.50 CDN/kilo) and for a small ceviche that is 95%  seafood the cost is $90 pesos. They have a full bar and drinks are  very reasonable as well. Our fish was served with all the  cabbage salad, rice and marinated onions that you want and of course tortillas.

Birds

Once again the food was excellent! The fish was cooked just right. It was moist, flavourful and it easily flaked off the bones as we hungrily devoured it.After we had finished our meal we sat back and enjoyed the free entertainment that unfolded before us. While we had been eating a pelican had joined the flock of birds on the beach and children were throwing scraps of food for them and several fights had broken out as they all scrambled for the small pieces of food.I took several photos and I was particularly fascinated by the way that the smaller birds all seemed to point in one direction whether  perched on the small fishing boats tied up along the shoreline or on the beach.

The Gang

As the afternoon came to an end we ordered our bill but before we left  we saved Luis’s cell number as he had a “lobster connection”…a direct line to a fisherman who could sell us  live lobster, conch and fish at an incredibly reasonable rate…Oh joy! What an afternoon…great food, company and entertainment to boot.

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My husband and I absolutely love food. We are dedicated foodies.

 

Foodie:  an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news.[1] Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.

Excerpt taken from Wikipedia

Mi Casa, private room

Last week we were invited by two of our friends  to join them at Mi Casa, an amazing restaurant just off Acanceh Ave.,for a degustacion (tasting) that consisted of 7 dishes.We eagerly accepted and at 8pm we promptly arrived at Mi Casa, which literally means my house and this particular restaurant is actually a house that has been converted into a restaurant.Cool! We were shown to a private room where a large table, covered with a pristine white table-cloth sat in the center, surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine and the odd painting.

Kobe Beef Carpaccio

Our waiter brought us our menus and that is when our true culinary adventure began. We were told to pick 3 appetizers, 3 main courses and 1 dessert.They would provide us with the wine pairings. What was a girl to do with so many tantalizing choices before her? After quizzing the chef endlessly about each dish I finally made my choices but at that moment I knew that I would be back again and again until I had eaten my way through their entire menu.

 

Callo de almeja

We started off with a kobe beef carpaccio marinated in a balsamic reduction sauce sprinkled with sal de gusano (worm salt) and placed on a bed of peppery argula and mounted on crispy toasts that were lightly dressed with a  mustard vinagrette.WOW!! The meat was so tender that it melted in our mouths. It was paired with a flavourful Pinot noir.Next we had callo de almeja (small scallops) that had been “cooked “by marinating them in lime juice, served with oh-so-sweet cantaloupe balls, cherry tomatoes,cilantro and Serrano chiles. The freshness of the scallops and the sharp citrus taste of the lime juice went wonderfully with the sweet melon and chardonnay wine. So far we were thoroughly impressed. We asked the waiter to slow our food service down so that we could truly enjoy and discuss each dish as it came and to give our stomachs time to adjust to each new meal. We were handed a remote control that acted as an electric bell that would sound in the kitchen to let the chef  know when we were ready for our next course. Now that is VIP service!

Salmon Tartare

Next up salmon tartare with foi gras, fennel and avocado,  topped with crispy fried seaweed. Absolutely divine. The delicate flavour of the salmon blended exquisitely with the foi gras. More wine was served! That dish signaled the end of our appetizers. We took a short break and enjoyed each other’s company for a while. Our spirits were soaring partly due to such extraordinary food but also because our waiter was generously plying us with glass after glass of wine. 🙂

Lamb

Our first main course was duck confit sautéed with leaks and arbol chile,accompanied with tender shallots, green beans and potatoes in an epazote butter sauce. The duck fell apart and dissolved in my mouth.Hubby proclaimed, between mouthfuls, that so far this was his favourite dish. By now we were starting to get pretty full and I must confess also a little tipsy.Our next course was  rack of lamb that had been cooked to perfection and served with al dente vegetables and a small lightly battered ball  of pureed potato and cream. Once again the chef had hit another home run. I groaned as our last main course  was served -caramelized sea bass with a spinach risotto. It was almost painful to eat another bite but I pushed on. The risotto was creamy and soft as silk and the fish flaked apart at the slightest touch of my fork.I was barely able to finish the last course.

Duck

Dessert was next. We had originally ordered creme brulee with a mamey fruit sauce but we realized that we would have to forego any more food. There simply wasn’t anymore room. We asked our waiter if we could substitute our dessert course with a glass of Licor 43,a liquer with 43 “secret” ingredients from Spain,that I have often touted as drink fit for the gods. He graciously complied and as we sipped on our drinks with full bellies I  couldn’t help but exclaim ” I have died and gone to culinary heaven!”

Caramelized Sea Bass

Our dinner lasted 2.5 hours and was one of the most pleasurable evenings I have ever experienced. The company was great, the service was first-rate and the food was exceptional. I am often disappointed with the service , food quality and lack of originality in Cancun’s restaurants but our  experience at Mi Casa can only be described as sheer heaven. Our meal came to $750 pesos each plus 15% tip, just over $85 CDN.  We don’t often splurge like that on our meals but in this case it was worth every peso.

*Mi Casa offers regular dining options as well on their menu. Their prices are quite reasonable and comparable to other restaurants of the same calibre but in this foodie’s opinion their food surpasses anything that I have yet to sample here.

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