Savoring the Yucatan

By far, I will remember the foods of the Yucatan - the food is what might just bring me back.

With only a 5 day visit, I try my best to bring you the differences, the lessons and the savory appeal of this part of Mexico. It was a sneak peak of what this region has to offer; a slice of earthy-appeal that I’ll share with you.

Here are some beautiful flavors we found here and with some trial and error, why not try them yourself?

Seeds

Foods are influenced in the Yucatan with seeds for texture adding to the flavor like herbs. Seeds are used to marinate and mix. They’re grounded with chilis, added to marinades to withhold the sauces, and inspire you to broaden your horizons when it comes to cooking.

Catch of the day marinated with an annatto Yucatan seed sauce. Annato (spelled on the menu) is a food coloring seed from the achiote tree in Mexico.

Catch of the day marinated with an annatto Yucatan seed sauce. Annato (spelled on the menu) is a food coloring seed from the achiote tree in Mexico.

Seeds were grinded and blended with mole which is used to either marinade or topped right on your dish. Finding a particular seed that was used for their salsa was something different and nice to enjoy when traveling; something I’ve not known before.

I relished in the Mayan heritage here that I found surprisingly more kin to a Central American culture than a Mexican culture. How do you like that?

Chili’s

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And of course back at home in Los Angeles I found a new local restaurant with condiments such as their take on a chili flavoring but an old familiar take on what I experienced in the Yucatan.

Loqui, Culver City

On one of our first stops to rest from walking around in Playa Del Carmen was breakfast at La Cueva del Chango. After we sat they brought us salsas with one particular having Pumpkin seeds blended with roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion.

chilis

When ordering chilaquiles, which is basically enchiladas chopped and smothered in a red sauce covered in cheese just like an enchilada, I typically only find one red chili sauce to choose from here at home in Los Angeles.

If I’m in a nice restaurant, there might be two chili sauces to choose from; green and red.

However at this nice jungle setting with streams of water flowing between the tables, I had eight different chili’s to choose from that I had never even heard of.

I just liked how they highlighted each of their chili’s unique flavor which no one does here in the states but you can bet in the Yucatan, they want to highlight each of their chilis.

I just liked how they highlighted each of their chili’s unique flavor which no one does here in the states but you can bet in the Yucatan, they want to highlight each of their chilis.

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Yucatan Chilaquiles

“Chee-la-key-les”

You should experience different kinds of chili’s in Mexico because in the Yucatan, I found the chilis are earthy. Chili’s like Xcatic that are from the Yucatan and Morita peppers (a kind of chipotle pepper), are unique for the locale and a nice twist on a chilaquile dish - the choice between what kind of enchiladas you want.

When in Mexico, I’m really a stranger here. I may speak Spanish but the language here, even from how everyone eats their enchiladas can be really foreign to me and I like it!

Arugula

Vegan and vegetarian options are abundant in the Yucatan - heck I think it was one of places on the planet where it was created! I especially liked the Arugula salad with wide leaves rather than the thinner kind that is more popular in the states.

Tulum arugula

Maybe I’ve just never noticed before but the arugula salad that was served had a more licorice taste and when added with parmesan, it was as flavorful as I’m familiar with but was nice to have it served as big and fresh as any mixed salad I’ve had.

Juices

The juices were amazing and of course fresh with no added sugar. Like other countries the fruit is much more sweeter than sometimes what we have in California.

What I enjoyed the most is that quick fix of pure juice. These are what have been so capitalized here in California having been pressed, fresh squeezed, available in 20 different flavors and eventually pretty costly. However, hop on a short flight to Cancun from LAX and you can go to town with these all. day. long!!

The papaya is sweet and what I will remember as one of my favorites I couldn’t get enough of.

Again, I had this here in LA but it was quadruple the price. In Mexico, it’s like their hospitality drink!

Again, I had this here in LA but it was quadruple the price. In Mexico, it’s like their hospitality drink!

Smoothies, fresh pressed and mixed juices. Regardless if they have alcohol, fresh-squeezed juices of all kinds are among the most popular with their smoothie huts throughout town which, I have to add, are not your franchised run-of-the-mill juice huts too.

The juices I had in the Yucatan are more reminiscent of those fancy cocktails you have in a fancy place you don’t mind indulging and splurging on because you’re probably celebrating an occasion. Here, you pick one up as you stroll through the town, hydrate after being on the beach or have with your breakfast.

Drinks

I think Richard was jealous while we took a break at  Betulum  resort.

I think Richard was jealous while we took a break at Betulum resort.

1.      Tequila – I found a good smooth one called Tequila Santanera that paired perfectly with our appetizers at the Hyatt’s Casa Amate in Mayacoba. When in Mexico, tequila is such a nice aperitif. You don’t drink tequila? Awe, that’s too bad. The really good tequila here is as smooth as any of your best whiskey or scotch. Just don’t forget that when having it here you’re in Mexico and is mostly sipped. Yes, that’s right.

2.      Gin mixed with not only Tonic but with grilled rosemary at Trujillos in Playa del Carmen was an education. The grilling is what releases the oils into your tonic and is so fragrant when your nose hits the glass. It was sensational as our first stop for dinner after we landed on beautiful Calle 38 Nte in Playa del Carmen. What a beautiful street at night and with this fragrant cocktail to enjoy it on, I almost thought someone would come out of the bushes to bring me a lei!

3.    Other gin and tonic favorites are mint and cucumber so don’t order a Margarita - get adventurous and you’ll win. You just might like like it!

Prices

Most places prices were still relatively affordable but as usual, a nice dinner in Mexico has a cost upwards of $400 for two. Sp prepare for maybe some sticker shock.

Maybe we’re so enchanted, maybe too familiar with how it’s done, too unwilling to be tantalized to not have it ALL! Who knows. Our dinners in Mexico seem to have no limits to what we order. So far, Mexico is the only place we seem to indulge like this on dinner.

Here below is the dinner we had at Casa Amate in Mayacoba.

Even though we were given top recommendations to try, we still missed Tulum’s hottest restaurant and is considered one of the top 10 in the world. Hartford is the reason to return alone. When I returned home, I was asked if I had eaten there and of course it was only salt on the wound but definitely a not-to-miss expense.

Sure, you can’t drink the water but when you travel, just dive right in by using your best judgement. It’s like anywhere else you would venture off to.


And in the Yucatan, the discoveries of how foods are done was part of the adventure! Have you been? Do you have other suggestions you’d like to mention? Any questions?

Feel free to send me a note.

Thanks for reading,

Adios!