Monday, October 31, 2011

Isla Mujeres - September 2011 - Delicioso!!

Yes, it's true, I honestly believe that good food is an integral part of vacation. No calorie counting! Isla Mujeres has some of my favorite restaurants and chefs. I love to cook and love to eat and try new things.  I don't really like to deny myself pleasure -- especially on vacations. This blog post is all about the food porn, Baby.

WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE HUNGRY!!!!! Really, I'm not kidding, don't.

A 'Vivian Salad' from Qubano. The salad and the it's namesake are two of my favorite things on the island. A light and flavorful dressing enrobes romaine lettuce, avocado, chick peas, carrot ribbons, jicima, topped with toasted goat cheese medallions.
I should've taken more pics of Qubano food - I think we had lunch there three times this trip - but obviously I was too excited about eating the food to photograph it. Vivian is a wonderful hostess, as well as an incredible chef and dear friend. I like to share books and recipes with her, too. (okay..mostly she just gives me recipes so it's kind of a one way share, but I just love her) Everything at Qubano is delicious and I think I've tried it all.

Pizza in Mexico? Yes, please! A 'Marinara' pizza from Rolandi's downtown and a couple of glasses of wine make the perfect lunch. Shrimp, herbs, and mozzerella cheese all melty on a thin crust from a wood fired oven.

"I can eat a lot of ice cream at one setting" (extremely obscure Monty Python reference)

Lovely, quiet and relaxing dinner at Velasquez with Mr. Wonderful. Tables in the sand with the boats pulled up on the beach that probably brought our dinner. Complimentary guacamole topped with pico that was fantastic.
Velasquez is family owned and a very old Isla establishment. The family was all sitting around watching tv when we came in and Grandma was napping with her head up against a wall. was pretty late. We eat dinner very late on the island. Partly because we have to fit in happy hour, partly because we are living at such a slow and relaxed pace and partly because if I stretch out the day, I can eat more. :) 
This is the location (I'm told) where Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward danced and fell into the water in 'Against All Odds'.

Garlic Shrimp at Velasquez. With salad, fries, beans ( there might have been some rice under there, too) Huge portion, cooked to perfection for about $11 US. The margaritas were really good, too, and you know I'm picky about my margs. Oh, yeah....I'll still drink em if you are buying, but I definitely have my favorites. :)

Papaya Agua Fresca at Alexia y Giovanni- Good Morning, Sunshine!

Food Porn at it's finest -- Chilequiles at A & G. With chicken and green salsa. It's like breakfast nachos.

A pineapple pastry and an afternoon read. I like to hit the Supermercado and pick up a few pastries. This one was good, but the palmiers are my favorite.

Amuse Bouche - Eating at Lolo's is so much fun and there are always new tastes to try and new people to meet. Lolo is the rock star chef of the island and a good friend. I've never met anyone quite like Lolo. I stayed with her during a trip in February and had a blast. Her restaurant is unlike any other. A beautiful feast for all of the senses in an enchanted, bohemian setting.

Lolo's Asparagus with Hollandaise. Perfection!

One of my favorite Lolo entrees - Seafood Cassoulet.

The Lolo dessert assortment is always the piece de resistance of the meal for me. Chocolate mousse, assorted pastries, a candied grape, Oh, Baby...take me now!

Greek Salad with Sweet Spicy Shrimp at Comono. Fabulous!

Kbobs and hummus at Comono. Delicious!

I think these are called Enfrijoladas. You can just call them 'breakfast' at Casa Sirena. Scrambled eggs in tortillas smothered in a black bean sauce and topped with chorizo and avocado. They are wonderful!

Guacamole at Capitan Dulche Museum. Not so great. Didn't taste fresh. Steve said 'Costco'.

Quesadillas at Capitan Dulche. They were good, but nothing great. Someone in our party (Bev, I think) had soup which looked delicious and she said it was wonderful.

Fruit and yogurt crepes with granola at Casa Sirena. Yummy, creamy and cinnamonny. Is that a word?

Pineapple juice with chaya on the beach. Ahhhh....

A good book, guacamole (really good and fresh from Na Balam/Zacil Ha), pineapple juice with chaya and the beach. Another day in paradise? You bet!

Mixture of peanuts and pepitos from beach vendor. Yes, I do -- I eat all day long in Isla.

Barlito panini with meatballs that are made from homemade sausage. This was cheesy good deliciousness. I love everything I've had at Barlito. Their food is incredible and Brad and Tiffany are some of my favorite people on the island. I don't know how they have the energy to do all that they do.

Barlito Chocolate cupcake, filled with ganache and topped with meringue frosting. Tiffany's cupcakes are as fabulous as she is and that is saying a lot.

Mojito station at Lolo's. Yes, be jealous because we ate there two times during this week.

Porcini Mushroom Soup with black truffle oil

My favorite - Lover's Salad. Shaved carrots and conch in a garlic ginger dressing. So different and Lolo

Zucchini Souffle with Tzatziki Shot

Steamed Shrimp with Hollandaise Sauce and mashed potatoes. The shrimp were huge and absolutely divine.

Dessert! Creme Brulee, Chocolate Mousse, Strawberries, a yummy peach dessert. Oh, it's all too divine

Fresh Fruit at Casa Sirena. Swoon-worthy!

Huevos Divorciados (divorced eggs) at Casa Sirena. My favorite breakfast on the island.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

One more blog about cupcakes and I promise I'll get back to the last Isla trip.

These spicy little cupcakes are delicious and perfect for the holidays. In a rush? Cheat by using store bought whipped chocolate frosting. I won't tell.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
2 cups canned 100% pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 cup of oil
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin and sugars until sugar is dissolved. Add all other ingredients except for flour and whisk until mixed. Stir in flour, just until mixed. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. This also makes a good layer cake.
Fluffly chocolate frosting compliments the pumpkin cake
Semi Sweet Ganache Frosting

12 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup heavy cream

Melt chocolate in a saucepan over med/low heat, stirring almost continually. Remove from heat and add cream, stirring until it's glossy and smooth. Allow to cool completely, as it will thicken up. To get a whipped texture, use your mixer after it's cooled. You can even get fancy and pipe the ganache onto the cupcakes.
Decorate with Milano cookies (cut off the ends for small tombstones, write on them with edible pen), pumpkins and candy corn.

The cake batter is fragrant with spices
Nothing like some help from Ozzy to add to the Halloween spirit

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Apple Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 pkg (4 serving size) Jello French Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsly chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, eggs and oil in large bowl with electric mixer on low until blended. Gently stir in apples.

Pour into lined muffin/cupcake pans. (This also makes a fantastic Bundt cake, served with a drizzle of caramel topping and fresh whipped cream)
Bake for about 20 minutes or until done. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

 Caramel Frosting
3 Tbsp Butter (real!)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/8 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk, brown sugar and salt and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil for about a minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat to cool (keep stirring a little while cooling)
When cooled, transfer to a large bowl and add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix with electric mixer until it's a good consistancy. If it gets too thick, add a tiny amount of milk and blend. Too thin? Add a little more powdered sugar.

Garnish with sticks (I used plastic coffee stirrers - the wooden ones would've been cuter, but they didn't have any at the grocery store and I was in a hurry) and a candy corn if ya want to. Happy Halloween.
Finished frosting

The cake batter will look lumpy due to the apples

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Monday, October 17, 2011

Isla Mujeres - September 2011 - Random Pics Part 2

A breathtaking view at Punta Sur with the ruins of the Goddess Ixchel's temple in the distance
Buckets of flowers at Playa Media Luna for a wedding at Maria del Mar
Yes, the water really is this blue

The sunset from the East side of the island is pretty, too. The sky turns pink and vivid blue
Late afternoon fishermen

My friend Catz loves this blue wall. This old hotel was supposed to be torn down, but sometimes things in Mexico move slowly.

This orange and white kitty is so sweet and personable. She lives on the road by the cemetery on the way to Ixchel. My friend Christine loves her, so we refer to her as 'Christine's cat' and go by and feed her whenever we are on the island. Unlike some of the other stray cats, she isn't scared of people.
Mr. Crab had apparently lost his way while running errands downtown, so we gave him a lift back to the beach
Our view while dining at Velasquez. Gerald wouldn't get up and dance with me and fall into the water like Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward in 'Against All Odds' (that part was filmed here)

Beautiful bouginvilla on the walk to Playa Norte
Playa Norte morning. It looked like rain, but never really did
Beach rakers ready to go to work in the morning

A beautiful view across Playa Media Luna
Waves crash on Playa Media Luna
Well...hello there!
Moto Carpool at the elementary school

Seaglass Sirena
All dressed up for the upcoming holiday

A beautiful sunrise and the promise of another day in paradise
Sunrise at Playa Media Luna
Pick your poison. Good times at Casa Sirena experimenting with different drink tastes

Room #3 (half of it) at Casa Sirena. Gorgeous!!
Roses and a Mermaid Barbie!!!!

My Jewelry on Etsy

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Some of these entries are vintage travel reports and have been restored from a lost blog. I hope you enjoy them.