Cooling Off

The heat and humidity of summer, you can't forgo something refreshing like ice cream. On the road to the beach you'll find a number of restaurants, hostels and businesses. Amongst these is a quaint food truck. If you're whizzing by on a bicycle or in a car you may miss it but it is definitely not to be missed. This food truck is a family owned and operated vegan ice cream business called Helado Buena Estrella (formerly Instant Ice Cream).

Opening January of this year, their all-natural coconut milk based flavors are simply delectable. Choose from fresh tropical fruit, herbs like mint or basil, Chamoy (a condiment of savory, sweet and sour which is popular here in Mexico) or  You can combine your choice of flavors which are blended with coconut milk then poured onto a non-griddle, metal plate that then becomes cold as it's mixed with metal paddles. The metal plate gets as cold as -30C.  In a few minutes you have "instant" ice cream made right before your eyes! They are knowledgeable, kind and helpful so don't hesitate to ask them for suggestions if you're undecided. 

The story behind their business is inspiring. The owner, Alfonso, moved to Playa Del Carmen a few years from Mexico City where he began working in a restaurant. This was quite a contrast from the film industry he had previously worked in. He found much satisfaction from seeing the immediate reaction of a customer when they were eating. His idea about having an ice cream business was something he had thought about for years. Tulum was the best location. Given that the ice cream is vegan it made sense. Whether you have a dietary restriction or just want to have something dairy-free it's a good pick.

 The food truck itself came by way of Miami into Mexico and then they purchased the ice cream machine and the supplies. With the help of his parents they make ice cream that is not only vegan but depending on the flavors you get could have a subtle elegance, brightness or an otherworldly  brilliance. 

They recently underwent some change in business by expanding and changing their name. You can find them on Facebook also. Stop by, enjoy some helado and cool off!

Who Doesn't Love Brunch?

The concept of brunch and its growth have caught on like a wildfire. But, did you know that the term 'brunch', was first printed in the late 19th century  when it was suggested as an alternative to heavy post-church lunches on Sunday. Nowadays, whether it's in London, New York City, Melbourne or here in Tulum, brunch is everywhere. Special occasions like Mother's Day brunch have become a part of a normal culinary experience. Below are my suggestions for a scrumptious brunch.


Del Cielo

A cute café in the beginning of Tulum Pueblo, they serve fresh juices, smoothies, baked goods, tartines, salads and sandwiches. My favorite is the avocado tartine. Breakfast items are served with either guacamole or salsa and salad. The bread is delicious and the flavors of avocado mash, onions and cilantro balances perfectly. The coffee is here is nice and strong. I prefer strong coffee which I still have a hard time finding even in NYC.

Cenzontle Jardín

Located amongst the eco-chic hotels and boutiques is a divine "garden". A restaurant that made such an impact on me during my first visit to Tulum, my friends and I went back the following night and is what sparked my return. Brunch started just a couple months ago but it can almost rival its dinner with an eggs benedict to die for. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's the eggs they use here but the hollandaise on it is unreal. Additionally, the ambience during the day is almost worthwhile in itself. Brunch cocktails such as a bloody marys and mimosa are available as well. The Bloody Mary I had was savory, strong and exactly what I needed. Before your brunch items are served you receive a basket of bread baked in-house with rosemary butter. On my visit the bread had specks of pink from the beet and was garnished with orange peel.


El Pez

Part of the Colibri Boutique Hotel Group, El Pez is located a short way down the Boca Paila road. The property includes hotel rooms and is very private as there are no neighboring hotels (directly anyway). It sits on a small cove and is right in front of a nice beach.

The ambience of the restaurant is superb. Open and breezy, you sit under a huge palapa at a table which has a great view. I've had lunch here a couple times and really enjoyed the level of service. It is attentive but not overwhelming. More recently I tried their Sunday Brunch. The occasion was Mother's Day (May 8th in the U.S.) and I ordered an poached eggs served on top of rye bread with roasted beets, caramelized onions and Chaya (spinach-like vegetable) and a touch of bacon. It was absolutely scrumptious. It was more like a luxurious version of a tartine. I liked the rye bread as it added both flavor and fiber. A healthier alternative to wheat bread. My mother ordered a smoked marlin eggs benedict which looked delicious. While I didn't order a cocktail, they serve mimosas and blood marys.

I highly recommend El Pez for your next meal. I'm still eager to try their dinner.

Buon provecho everyone!

Airy and bright interior at El Pez

Stunning view at El Pez

El Pez

Smoked Marlin Benedict at El Pez

Cenzotle

House baked bread with beet, hibiscus & garnished with orange peel

Mezcal based Blood Mary= Heaven

Brunch sandwich at Cenzotle

Eggs Benedict with bacon and fried fish


Yucatecan Must

I'm certain you've had your share of Mexican food. And if you haven't, I suggest you have more or try it if you've never had it.

One thing that I've always loved about Mexican food, is how satisfying it was to eat after I'd go to the beach on Maui- particularly after surfing. Something about the mix of spices, beans, rice and guacamole whether it was nachos, a burrito, chimichanga (fried burrito), or enchiladas. Add a side of agua fresca of horchata or jamaica (pronounced a "Ha" sound and not a "J" like the country) and I was beyond happy. Food bliss as I knew it before I ever worked in the food industry.

Since my teenage years my understanding and love of Mexican cuisine has evolved to include more dishes and flavors. I also find it to be satisfying no matter what time of day. Food you find abroad, like many cuisines, doesn't reflect the nuances and regional differences of a cuisine. Mexico has traditional dishes that vary with each region. A burrito or chimichanga will be found in certain regions of Mexico and not others.

In the Riviera Maya and Yucatán Peninsula there's one dish that's particularly unique to the region: Cochinita Pibil.  Cochinita Pibil is a slow roasted pork dish flavored with spices including achiote or annatto. The marinated pork is wrapped in banana leaves, roasted underground for several hours. The roasted meat comes out having immense flavor while being delicately tender. The Cochinita Pibil is served on tortillas, often garnished with chopped and slightly pickled (with citrus juices) red onion. You can then top it with various salsas as you please.

One the most recommended places for Cochinita Pibil here in Tulum is Taqueria Honorio (on Satellite Sur between Andromeda Ote and Calle Sol Ote). It was highly recommended to me by a Mexican chef who has a restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and a local staff member of a hotel. Taqueria Honorio is a family-run restaurant that's been around You can order either a torta (sandwich) or taco with different meats. I've tried the Lechon, Negro Relleno also but I like the Cochinita best. If you have a decent appetite I suggest ordering three tacos to start. The clientele is a mix of tourists and locals and the staff speaks minimal English so if you can, order in Spanish. However, Spanish isn't your forte then I'm sure a nearby customer will help you out. The places in town that serve Cochinita Pibil open early and close in the early afternoon so either look into the hours or get there on the early side.



Cochinita Pibil tacos






C'est fini!

I finished my ten day cleanse! I'm so happy. I feel incredible! It's nice to have accomplished something that can be difficult for many. But it's more about challenging myself.

I'm on day two of easing into eating so-called "real" food. Fruit, soup, salad and anything light. Like I mentioned before I feel completely renewed. My head isn't fuzzy and waking up in the morning doesn't require caffeine etc... just the morning light and knowing how great this day will be.

Eating for the first time after ten days yesterday was great. I made a broth the night before and it was so tasty. Also, the texture of vegetables are mesmerizing. I had an orange juice as well and the pulp and flavor made me think I'd never tasted anything so wonderful (in terms of OJ anyway).

Anyhow, this cleanse has made me appreciate food even more and though I've always maintained a vegetarian and healthy diet I would like to significantly limit certain foods because without them I've noticed my skin is more radiant and I feel healthier overall.. I'm also more motivated to exercise and maintain my health in that sense because it always takes a second (or third) to other things.

In other news, I have a lot happening as this month goes on. I enjoy living in my new place where I can walk to the ocean, there are more activities and people around and so much food haha! I guess my childhood home is so much more country- even on this small island.

Alright, I promised pictures so I'll get on top of that. I'm off for a couple more days and I'm really hoping I don't work Easter Sunday but who knows :/

Hope you're all well. Have a wonderful day!!

Sights and tastes of 2011

Just wanted to share a few things from this month and year. As I mentioned before 'osechi ryori' is a traditional meal you eat at New Years here. Here's one part of the 'osechi ryori' I had the delight in eating. This dish is 'kamaboko' or fish cake with shiso (known sometimes as the Japanese basil) and ikura or salmon-roe. I really liked the blend of textures and flavors. The firm, sweet fish cake combined with the savory flavor of the ikura with a finishing hint of shiso taste and aroma.


About a week after New Years is 'Ebisu-sann' or Ebisu festival. This is when many people go to shrines where Ebisu, a god known for business and prosperity.

Making my way to the shrine

I


I wish I had more to share but the first half of January has been quiet. Things will change, maybe drastically from here on out. Hope you are all enjoying food and sights that you love.

秋 a.k.a. Autumn

Temperatures have begun to drop slowly over the last week or so. Some days it's warmer than other but once it gets dark it is all pretty much the same. My mother was visiting from Hawaii from mid-October to mid-November and during that time we went out and about and ate some delicious food and traveled up to Tokyo and also Nagano. Rather than me going on about the experiences I thought that pictures would be more appealing. So here you go, Japanese food and pictures of fall foliage on various occasions:)

Soba in Nagano
Beautiful Nagano
'Kaisen-don' or Seafood bowl with sakura ebi (shrimp) which is famous in a this town in Shizuoka Prefecture

Kamo River, Kyoto
Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto
Ginkakuji, Kyoto



Fall foliage in Kobe
View of Kobe
Monument near Venus bridge which is a place where couples place locks and throw away the key as a symbol of everlasting love

Past years' locks melted to make this

Hokkaido

So, yes another couple weeks have gone by and I haven't written anything. When I think about how infrequently I write in this blog I realize how lazy I am. However, I'm thinking that in order to have things to update about, other than food and such, I may start posting pictures of street fashion as well as events that I attend.

The rainy season is upon us here which means warmer temperatures and more humidity. Not so great. Anyway, after my trip to the States I spent a couple days in Hokkaido (northern most island of Japan). Although it was the end of April it was still like late winter in some places and temperatures were far cooler than this area of Japan. Here are some pictures. Hokkaido is known, at least in terms of food, for ramen-specifically soy sauce, seafood and its dairy products. All are very delicious. It was my third time visiting Hokkaido. Couldn't partake in ramen eating because I do not eat meat and therefore can't have the broth, but the seafood is amazing-particularly sea urchin, crab, scallops,salmon and salmon roe- and cheese/milk/butter are also fantastic.












breakfast at the early morning seafood market



U.S.A.

I've been horrible about updating this. I guess it's because posting a lot of pictures seems sort of daunting and therefore I procrastinate and time flies by and I've yet to have done it.

So here it is. Pictures from my much needed and enjoyable vacation in the States. Two coasts (mostly the Bay area and NYC) about a week and half each and so much fun!

View of the Rockies






Park in the West Village


Little Italy


Chinatown




Flatiron building







Beautiful fruit carving








Central coast of California


delectable morsel from Easter brunch


Dinner at Chez Panisse

Pics via iPhone

Just thought I'd post some pictures I've taken recently on my iPhone as I sit on the train from Kobe to Osaka.
The temperature was a very high 20 degrees Celsius( about 70 degrees Farenheit) yesterday. Today I also sunny and warm- though not ad warm as yesterday. It's a three-day weekend here so there a lot of people out and about. Yesterday in Shinsaibashi it was almost overwhelming.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Guess I can't post pictures from my iPhone so I'll post them later:)

Here are a few from the last couples weeks.

From bottom to top: Takashimaya Department store in Namba, Mitarashi dango- mochi with a more sweet but also savory sauce, Cherry trees are blossoming, A beautiful day last Friday in Osaka, and Another tree with pretty blossoms.












Pictures

It's already March! Time flies by!

Here are some pictures I've been meaning to post. Some from the weekend when my senpai visited with his friends and also from the Kobe Collection.


View from my seat during the second stage



Kobe collection. LOTS of people!



Starbucks in Kitano. So nice on a lovely day.



Sunset from Suma beach


Night view from Kitano of Kobe. Kobe has one of the top three nights views in Japan- the other two being Nagasaki and Hakodate.




Kobe beef. My friends wanted to try it on their visit here. I'm a vegetarian so I didn't partake but they were quite pleased.

That's all for now. I'm off to have some Mediterranean food with my close friend and her mother. It's going to be a fun night:)