Thursday, June 30, 2011

Next Stop: Montreal

I know I just got back from Mexico and I haven't blogged the details about my whale shark adventure yet but it's coming. In the meantime, I'm off to Montreal to cover the world's largest jazz festival as well as dive into the European charm of this Canadian city. I'll be checking out the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit, the legendary Jean -Talon market, Old Montreal,  the view from Mount Royal above and the weekly Tam Tam festival as well as all the other sights, sounds and tastes that I can handle. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Mexican Menu

(Warning: do not read on an empty stomach.) Mexico's regional cuisine offers a rich and varied tasting experience, it goes way beyond tacos and Margaritas.  One focus of my visit to Playa Mujeres was to document the traditional foods and Villa Del Palmar supplied lots of examples.  The state of Quintana Roo, where Playa Mujeres is located, emphasizes seafood from the coast, Mayan cooking techniques and fresh produce.  My first sample was tasty Sierra fish tosadas, pictured above. The fish was fresh and the addition of lime and avacado added just the right flavor punch.

Above, mole en pollo features a rich chocolate sauce with chicken, queso quesadillas represent simplicity at its best and barbacoa tostadas provide a zesty version of Mexican barbecued pork.

This plate represents a sampling of all my favorite dishes, above. There's stuffed calabaza or pumpkin, chile relleno or stuffed poblano peppers  and pescado veracruzano or grilled fish from Veracruz, Mexico with special spices and sauce.

This is my favorite breakfast, plantano frito or fried plantains, chilliquiles or fried tortillas tossed with cheese, sour cream and a delectable red or green sauce and slices of carambola or starfruit. I drank the green drink juego verde above the plate, about three times a day.  It's a lovely blend of nopale a cactus juice, celery, chaya or greens, orange and pineapple juices.

Finally,  this drink was offered to me the first day I arrived and I'm afraid it's not really authentically Mexican but it is interesting. It's called Miami Vice and it's a deadly blend of strawberry daiquiri and pina colada. I didn't finish mine but the people who did seemed to be falling off their swings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Bed, A Beach and A Swing

I love the vibrancy of Mexican culture and whenever I visit, I always find a favorite spot to chill out and observe. Typically, it's a local cafe or a bench at a sprawling market. This time, thanks to the beauty of Playa Mujeres and the hospitality of Villa Del Palmar, my hang out was the bed above. Every morning, I sprawled on the cushions and observed the rolling waves  and the birds diving for fish. Does that sound a tad lazy?  Well, I'll have you know that I did get my exercise in. When I wasn't swimming or strolling the streets with the intense Mexican sun beating down on my head, I was flexing my muscles on a swing.

Yes, the beach Tiki Bar was adorned with swings and I made sure I took full advantage!  What's your favorite hang out during your travels?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Next Stop: Playa Mujeres, Mexico

This week I'll be exploring the pristine sands of Playa Mujeres, Mexico, courtesy of a media trip sponsored by Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort. I've visited this region of the Yucatan Peninsula many times before but I'm excited about trying a new adventure--swimming with whale sharks!  Look for my posts next week about the  sharks, food and culture.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hiking and biking through Kaua'i's Koloa Heritage Trail

Kaua'i is filled with so much history and culture that it can feel overwhelming. If you can look past the stunning vistas and awesome natural wonders, you'll discover the rich heritage of the Hawaiian people. With 10 miles and 5 million years of history, I knew that hiking the Koloa Heritage Trail would be a highlight of my Kaua'i visit. The sites are scattered over the island so it actually took me three days to see most of the monuments. The first was Spouting Horn Park, above. Early Hawaiians called blowhole puhis and an ancient legend chronicles the story of a giant lizard or mo'o that got caught in the puhi, shooting waves skyward as he struggled to escape. You can see the start of the spouting water in the photo above.

I biked to Prince Kuhio's Birthplace & Park, above.  The park is a lovely stretch of greenery accented with a pond and a bronze statue that marks Prince Kuhio's birthplace in Koloa.

The Pa'u a Laka or Moir Gardens is celebrated as one of the world's best tropical gardens. Brimming with vivid orchids and a lava rock pond covered with lilly pads, it literally looks like the garden of Eden.

I must admit, the uphill bike ride to  Makawehi and Pa'a Dunes was strenuous but well worth it.  I hiked to the top of  the lithified sand dunes and  absorbed the gorgeous panorama of the Kaua'i coastline.