Imagine going on one of those fancy vacations to Mexico like they give away on Live With Kelly. I'm going to start playing that give-away game one of these days! Those vacations cost thousands of dollars! Then think about just getting to go to Mexico at all, at prices most of us can afford. That would be on a cruise. You can be as extravagant as you wish, or pretty plain and simple, and still enjoy places you never would have gotten to go to otherwise!
My sister, Janise, went on a cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman this past October, and when she wanted to go back I knew it must have been pretty nice! This time we went together with a friend to Cozumel and Yucatan, and y'all know I am all about the food, especially Mexican food! So let me share with you some of the great foodie experiences we had!
This is an excursion I took at Cozumel upon the recommendation of my sister who had taken the same excursion last year, and it was wonderful! It wasn't far from the port where our ship came in. This one is called "La Casa En La Playa - A Select Retreat. It features authentic Mexican food, drinks and beach time! What more could you ask for?
This was in a little house on the beach, and it included this kitchen and a little room for seating inside and seating on the porch that wrapped most of the way around the house. Our Chef demonstrated Chiltomate, one of the world's first cooked salsas, and it includes cooked tomatoes and habaneros, which means it is very hot, so use more or less peppers, seeds or no seeds, but handle the peppers carefully! Our Chef's recipe is made with roasted and ground pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, and he says that is what makes his recipe special! This is what he did. He toasted the pepitas in a dry pan on the stove, and then ground them in the molcajete. He had the vegetables prepped already and he roasted the tomatoes, onions, habaneros, and garlic in an iron skillet on the stove. Did you know that garlic is a vegetable? It is! Once the vegetables were evenly charred he put them, along with the ground, toasted pepitas, in a blender, added a good bit of cilantro, salt to taste, and blended it all up. Then he tossed it all back into the hot skillet to meld the flavors, for just a few seconds, and poured it into a beautiful molcajete (see the pretty stone bowls holding the salsa and chips? You've seen a molcajete if you've ever had guacamole made tableside at your favorite Mexican restaurant! The salsa was served with hot, fresh, fried corn tortilla chips! I was in heaven!!
We had a lot of beach time on this excursion, and while we were enjoying the water and sunshine, the leaders came by to take our lunch orders. When lunch was ready they set our tables up on the beach, in the shade of the beautiful palm trees, and brought us an appetizer of chips and fresh guacamole. More heaven! And then the heavens came down! It was only a 5-10 minute tropical storm, but our lunch was moved to the little house and the porch. Lunch was fabulous! Look at this!
How beautiful is that! We had chicken mole, and I believe that is mashed jicama with a carrot and squash garnish. The baked flounder was spiced with smoked paprika and baked with peppers and onions, and cooked on a banana leave. We were in the Western Caribbean, after all! Both dishes were served with cilantro rice. Sadly, we could not go back for seconds! They were both very memorable dishes!
Then we had a little more beach time and we had to go. It was a beautiful day, as you can see from the picture above, and everything was perfect, even the little storm.
Janise and a friend of ours, Kendall, decided to forego the excursion this trip and hailed a cab to a local Mexican restaurant and a tequila tasting. What could be more Mexican? Here are the pictures Janise took at their lunch!
This was on Wednesday, the third day of our cruise. That evening we sailed to the city of Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico. The pier was very long and the city ran buses from the ship's terminal to the beach, for just tips. There were other means of transportation that would carry you to Progreso and Merida, the capital of Yucatan, and it was only 20 minutes from Progreso. If I get to go back my goal is to visit Merida, even though there's not a beach there. Janise and I took the city bus to Progreso and enjoyed walking the streets. There are many, many vendors covering the streets and all of them are wanting your attention and your business. We were hailed to a local restaurant by one of those vendors and sat down to have lunch on tables set up on the street. It was delicious, too. The food looks familiar to most of you, I am sure!
And then we go back to the ship for a day at sea on our way back to New Orleans! Nothing can beat the experience of actually being in Mexico. Cozumel was beautiful, but my favorite part was walking the local streets in Progreso. We found out that most of Cozumel is actually owned by Carnival; therefore, it is pretty touristy with expensive shopping. Progreso has a different economy and the money spent there supports the local vendors, once you get off the pier. There is much, much more to see, so I would not hesitate to go back on this same cruise, with a different itinerary at the ports.
I still have lots of pictures of food served on the actual cruise ship, so stay tuned! I have started working on those but I'm about to go out of town again (and I will have more foodie pictures), so it will be a few days before I get back here.
Maybe my pictures will inspire you to try a cruise if you've never been on one, just so you can see these beautiful parts of the world. I know many of you are Mexican food junkies like me, too! Until next time, Friends!
Dished With Love - Denise
A place to share my favorite things...friends and food, dogs, college football, and my inspiration, Sawyer, the most beautiful little girl in the world!