Our concierge at the hotel arranged for Raul, a taxi driver with a fair command of English, to drive us around the island. We originally decided that a 5 hour excursion would be fine but as it turned out we added another hour at the end because the water at Playa Corona was so great.
We started going north on the coastal road and then turned east along the center road that runs east-west across the island. We turned off for six kilometers along a not-so-great road to San Gervasio, the best preserved Mayan ruins on Cozumel. There were six different cruise ships docked in Cozumel and on the road we were passed by people racing in jeeps along the dirt road. As we arrived at the ruins tour buses were also pulling up disgorging hordes of tourists. I guess next week we will be part of the hordes if we do any excursions off our cruise ship.
Compared to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Chetzen Itza the site here was smaller and far less well preserved. But we still took about 70 minutes to walk around the site.
The most important temple left there was dedicated to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel. According to the handout written by Ric Hajovsky, she was associated with the moon, sex, childbirth, disease, beekeeping, planting, water, writing, and weaving. Obviously a woman of many interests- actually rather like me – except for the disease and beekeeping – although as a retired doctor I suppose disease would have also been considered one of my interests. Hmmm...
This 7 day visit to Cozumel was not originally on my travel agenda for 2012. My travel plans for the first six months of the year were aimed more at making up for the year of ballroom dance that I had lost with my severe back pain that culminated in emergency spine surgery. So I had planned to start the New Year in the South Pacific taking a dance cruise on the Ocean Princess. Shortly after getting back from that, I had to head off to New York for an exciting family event - and the added bonus of a theatre and restaurant blitz.
But a chance call from the timeshare exchange that I use, offering a great priced cruise and resort deal, caught me in a reckless moment and before I knew it I was signed up for a 7 day stay at a resort in Cozumel, to be followed by a 7 night Caribbean cruise.
Although I have stayed in Cancun and several times in Playa del Carmen, I had never stayed on the island of Cozumel. The map shows the beaches of Cozumel as well as San Gervasio, the local Mayan ruins. The hotel we were booked into was located at Playa La Ceiba - and called El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel.
205 West 43rd Street,
New York, NY
Ph: (212) -398 9810 or Reserve Online
Haru is so conveniently located for pre-theatre meals, particularly round the Times Square theatre district, that on this trip I actually dined there twice.
On the first visit we were seated at a table in the window alcove. I liked that as it was a bit secluded from the main activity in the restaurant.
We had just come from seeing Bob, a SITI Company production, and after dinner we were going to see Mary Poppins just around the corner at the New Amsterdam Theatre. With seeing two such different genres of theatre in one day there was so much food for thought that real food initially took second place to conversation.
620 8th Avenue,
New York, NY
Ph: (212) 354-2195 or Reserve Online
This was my first day in Manhattan on this trip, having arrived really late the previous evening. I met my son to get a number of shopping tasks done. On our way from my hotel we passed Inakaya, and decided to stop in for lunch. The place was full but there was room at the sushi bar.
I liked the design of the restaurant. It is open with high ceilings and an unusually wide and comfortable sushi bar. As you can the chef has to use a paddle to hand dishes or a bottle of sake across to the patron.
Since this restaurant's specialty is Robata, Japanese barbecue, we had to try one of their Robata dishes so we chose to share one of their specials for the day: the US Kobe Beef duo featuring sirloin and tenderloin on skewers. The meat was incredibly tender and the dish came with grilled vegetables.
46-42 Vernon Blvd,
Long Island City, NY
Ph: (718) 752-6000 or Reserve Online
After finishing up our shopping in Manhattan we caught the 7 train across to Long Island City. For dinner we decided to try one of the nearby restaurants that had been on my son's "to visit list."
We decided to share a salad, and then also share a large charcuterie and large cheese platter.
After some debate we decided to try the evening's special salad of grilled octopus with shaved lardon on a bed of arugula with pine nuts and a malt vinegar and olive oil dressing. We enjoyed the salad though the dressing was not especially exciting.
One food experience we did not want to miss was a visit to Les Roulottes – the Papeete Food Night Market. Street food dining has taken on a new flavour so to speak, in many cities including Vancouver. From the days when street food meant only hotdogs, pizza or pretzels, the street cart program at least in Vancouver has encouraged a varied “gourmet” street dining experience with carts at different locations throughout the city (Vancouver Foodie Tours Tastes Curbside Kitchen Food).
Papeete has its Roulottes. These are like the street carts we see in Vancouver but they are located in a large market area near the cruise terminal. There are tables to sit at and enjoy your meal. The vendor who was recommended to us was said to serve "restaurant quality" foods.
801 West Georgia St.,
Ph: (604) 673 - 7000 or Reserve Online
Before going to see La Cage aux Folles at the Vancouver Playhouse, I was invited to dinner at Hawksworth. Although it had been on my "must visit" list for a while, this was my first opportunity to dine here and I was looking forward to it.
We both decided on appetizers and an entree, self-righteously planning on not having dessert. Although that plan did not last much past our first look at the dessert menu.
Eating out with a hungry toddler and pre-schooler can be challenging but in the many mini-cities of south Orange County there are plenty of diners where a "terrible-two's" unpredictable behaviour raises no eyebrows. On this short trip I had occasion to try out two kid friendly places; Ruby's Diner, a regular favorite for the kids, and Deemer's American Grill, to which we had never previously been.
Generally on my visits to Orange County my culinary explorations with my family tend to be limited to places suitable for taking young children. Unlike my usual dining choices therefore, in California my eating out tends much more toward casual or fast food dining.
So with the children at school and my son having a rare day off work, we took the opportunity to go for lunch to try some of the finer fare of Orange County.
As one who loves word play, while looking through the array of options for restaurants in this area, my attention was first caught by the name, Watermarc. I was therefore not surprised to read that the chef-owner is Marc Cohen, of the group that operates OPAH and 230 Forest Avenue.
We decided to go for a brisk walk in Laguna Beach followed by lunch at Watermarc which was a few minutes walk up from the beach area. It proved to be an excellent choice. The menu offered a range of dishes from interesting grazing plates to flatbread, burgers or full entrees. My only disappointment was that the foie gras brulee that had caught my eye on the online menu did not seem to be offered at lunch. I would have liked to compare it with the foie gras sundae I had at Ensemble in Vancouver.
Oysters, Cheese and Sauces - who knew these things but chefs, fishmongers and dairy people?
Cheese: Our recent tasting of Soft-ripened Bloomy Rind Cheeses prompted questions from our tasters like "how are Camembert and Brie different anyway?" It was a question that had frequently flitted across my mind, but one that I had never seriously set out to research. So now was the time.
So here goes with some foodie trivia: Without any books on cheeses in my library, my first visit was the web - but as usual I found conflicting information but this is what I gleaned from my reading.
The modern day form of both Brie and Camembert that we get in North American s similar in that both are soft ripened and often made with similar bacterial cultures. The original French Brie has a long history, and was often required as a tribute by the French Kings. Camembert is named after the 18th century Norman village of Camembert, where its originator Marie Harel lived. The name was given to this cheese after Napoleon had enjoyed a sample presented to him by one of Marie's daughters in 1855.