Foodie Paradise at Taste of Playa 2013

Jorge and I don’t have the most “sophisticated palates” (a term for all the foodies out there). At our house, we eat a lot of quesadillas, sandwiches, cereal, fruit and salads. Our oven is used exclusively for storing tupperware. We (ok, “I”) spend a significant portion of our food budget on ordering sushi.

That being said, I know a good bagel when I try one, and Jorge can taste-test a beer with the best of ’em.

This past Sunday was our 4th year in a row attending Taste of Playa, an annual event in Playa del Carmen where the city’s best restaurants and bars set up stands to serve their favorite recipes. Taste of Playa gives Jorge and I the chance to be “foodies for a day”, pretending we know what we’re talking about as we feast on fancy french desserts, oh-so-trendy reinvented Mexican cuisine, artisanal chocolates, organic recipes, and some of the strongest alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had.

My favorite item were the macaroons by Café Antoinette! Jorge and I tried a maracuyá (passion fruit) flavored macaroon, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. We also split a jamaica macaroon (pronounced “ha-MY-ca”, it’s the Spanish word for a flavor taken from hibiscus flower… popular for Mexican drinks) which was pretty spectacular, too.

As for the rest, I’ll let the pics speak for themselves!

Playa del Carmen’s Bright Green Beaches

This week is Playa del Carmen Week here on the blog, and boy do I have tons of pictures for you guys!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Playa del Carmen (or “Playa”, as the locals call it) is located in the middle of the Riviera Maya, a 1 hour drive down the coastal highway from Cancun. The island of Cozumel, a popular dive destination, is set just off the coast of Playa del Carmen.

Jorge and I took the ADO bus down to Playa del Carmen on Friday evening for a 2-night stay with Xperience hotels, which was lovely! I’ll be blogging all about our trip throughout the week, with hotel reviews, restaurant reviews and more.

Let’s brighten up Monday with some beach photos, shall we?

 

Wah Wah Beach Club

We had lunch Saturday afternoon at Wah Wah Beach Club, located by the southern end of Playa’s main pedestrian street, Quinta Avenida. It was a bright and sunny day, but on the horizon there were heavy storm clouds over the island of Cozumel. In some of these shots, you can even see the curtains of rain way off in the distance.

(click to enlarge)

 

Mamita’s Beach Club

Jorge and I spent Sunday morning at Mamita’s, Playa del Carmen’s most well-known beach club, located at Calle 28 near the northern end of Quinta Avenida. It was a beautiful, beautiful day with tons of fluffy clouds!

squinting into the sun!

I love how green the water is in Playa. Cancun’s ocean has more of a turquoise blue that I love, but there’s something special about the bright emerald green!

So tell us … What’s your favorite beach?

Family Vacation Photos!

As I’ve mentioned, my cousin got married last week in the Riviera Maya, so Jorge and I have spent our evenings and weekends traveling down to Playa del Carmen to hang out with my family. My parents, oldest sister, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were here, and it was a BLAST.

We had countless dinners on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, and we spent all day Wednesday at a stunning All Inclusive resort. I’m really sad it’s all over!

To be honest I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, mainly because I forget about the camera when I’m having a good time. Still, I did manage to get a few in there.

I’ll share the wedding pictures later in the week, but for now here are a few of the family!

Jorge, my cousin Shayne, and my brother-in-law Michael at Tequila Barrel, PDC

My sister Noelle, my cousin's (new!) wife Joelle, her best friend Jillian, and me at Tequila Barrel

Jorge and I with the newlyweds and their friends at Blue Parrot nightclub

Jillian, Joelle and me after a few tequilas

Jorge the beach bum

Me and my sister Noelle

Me and my mom

Brother-in-law Michael, sister Noelle, parents, Jorge and me

Grandpa and Grandma dancing up a storm

We danced, we dined, we partied, we relaxed, we talked… and I miss them all so much right now. But oh man, what a week!

 

Family Dinner at Yaxche Mayan Restaurant

Even though my family and my in-laws speak different languages, they still have a fun time when they get together!

Tuesday night we all met up in Playa del Carmen for dinner. We decided on a restaurant serving Mayan/Yucatan cuisine. It had always attracted my attention, plus I thought it would be cool for my in-laws to be able to explain a little about the dishes to us.

Yaxche looks beautiful from the outside, with eye-catching modern style with a Mayan twist. Stepping inside was no different, with Mayan artwork all over the walls contrasting with contemporary light fixtures.

I was so excited looking through the menu, seeing all my local favorites. I had such a hard time deciding that I ordered two dishes!

Euxiquia (Xcatic chile and potato soup)... spicy and amazing!

If you've never heard of panuchos, you've never lived in the Yucatan.

Several people in our group got the Queso Relleno (stuffed cheese), with Edam cheese, ground pork, olives, capers and raisins, with a side of “Mayan rice”. Sorry for the bad picture:

My suegra said that the restaurant’s recipes had the same ingredients as the more traditional, homemade versions, but the presentation was quite different. Despite the unique twist on her old favorites, she still liked the food very much.

Jorge and I would like to come back to this restaurant on our own sometime. It would make a great date night, and there were so many dishes I didn’t get to try. The service was very friendly and helpful, and the price was about $350 pesos per person, including food, drinks and a 20% tip.

It was great for both families to spend some time together. My suegra is already planning a traditional Mexican dinner for my parents next time they’re in the area… complete with mariachis!

Have you ever had Mayan cuisine?

The Downside to Expat Life

My family came to visit this week.

My cousin got married yesterday in the Riviera Maya, so my parents and oldest sister have been staying in Playa del Carmen. We spent the whole weekend together, and I’ve been making the 1-hour bus ride from Cancun to Playa every night to have dinner with them. Yesterday at my cousin’s wedding, we got to spend the whole day at a luxury resort with many of my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. It has been a tiring but amazing week! (Yes, I will have lots of pictures and stories for you over the next few days!)

An unbelievably good-looking family! (minus the red-eye)

But yesterday I had to say goodbye. My parents return home today, and yesterday was the last chance I’d get to see the rest of the family before they head home later in the week. (I will still get to see my sister and a few cousins over the next week, though.)

Expat life is thrilling in so many ways… the cultural exchange, overcoming personal challenges, exploring a new country, transforming into a stronger person than you ever knew you could be.

But I miss my family.

Since I began working almost 3 years ago, I only get to see my family once or twice a year. I call my parents regularly and text a lot with my sisters, but it’s never quite the same as in person.

When I’m in Mexico, I miss my family. When I’m in the US, I miss my husband and my friends.

No matter where I am, I’m always missing somebody.

And that is the biggest downside to expat life.

 

What I've Been Up To

So the past few weekends I’ve taken tons of pictures to share with you guys! Things have been pretty busy at work, but I figure I’ll keep ya’ll updated. Here goes…

Last Weekend:

Went to my friend Dama's birthday party at Black Pub Friday night

Saturday: Went to another friend's birthday party, complete with palapa and a taco stand

My "gringas"... flour tortilla, pastor, onion, cilantro and pineapple

Saturday night: Burgers in a friend's backyard (it had very cool design, but I only managed to get a shot of this light-covered palm tree)

 

This Weekend:

On Saturday I bought this... I'll tell you why later!

Sunday afternoon: Puerto Morelos

Saturday night: Carnaval parade in Playa del Carmen (all pictures were either blurry or blocked by pedestrians, but the costumes were great!)

What did you do this weekend?

A Walk Along Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen

The past month has been one of my favorites since I moved to Mexico over 6 years ago. For three weekends in a row, we found great excuses to make the 1-hour drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. First we went to the Taste of Playa Food Festival, then the next weekend to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, then last weekend just to hang out! Because who doesn’t want to wake up to this…

The most famous area of Playa del Carmen is Fifth Avenue (or “La Quinta”, as the locals call it), a pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach. All along this avenue, you’ll find charming hotels, tons of restaurants, boutique shops, local artisanry, beautiful cafes and chic nightclubs right on the beach.

Coco Maya Beach and Night Club

A predominantly European destination, Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is ideal for people-watching. You’ll see everything from luxury travelers to backpackers all on one unique street.

My personal favorite part of Fifth Avenue is a small off-street called “Calle Corazon” (Heart Street). Calle Corazon is filled with twinkle lights, cafes and art galleries, and I lose myself in its magical atmosphere every time I walk by.

Calle Corazon

 

From Fifth Avenue, it’s just a one-block stroll down to the stunning Caribbean beach, where travelers can indulge in enticing meals right on the sand at oceanfront palapa restaurants. But to be honest, sometimes we don’t even make it to the beach! Our favorite thing to do is to simply walk up and down Fifth Avenue and talk about how much we want to move to Playa del Carmen.

"Jellyfish Lanterns"

What’s your favorite travel destination?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Yet Another Playa Weekend

So excited! Today after work we’re leaving for a short weekend in Playa del Carmen. The company my friend works for has a currently empty 2-bedroom apartment there, so we’re going to enjoy a couple’s weekend. It’s going to be chilly, but fun! Hope your weekend is awesome, too.