Saturday, December 01, 2007

As the Stomach Turns....

I'm probably going to have to make a new blog just for this new telenovela (soap opera) that is all about where to have lunch and it happens about the same time every day.

Iguana Blanca
calle 7 no.72 x 6 y 8
colonias Garcia Gineres

This weeks episode starts with lunch with Suzanne and Keith at Iguana Blanca an Italian 'Cocina Economica' in a 60's suburb of Merida. The football game that the cook was watching when we came in was quickly switched to La Costes lounge music on the same TV, via SKY, and the sound bounced off the spotless white ceramic tiles and ubiquitous cement block walls until I finally asked for the owner to 'bajar el musica'. Lucas the owner is so nice and the place is so popular with expat's that I'm baffled as to why I don't "love" it. I've always liked what I've eaten here but I've never overwhelmed. Still if you must have lasagne it's usually on the menu here. I'll always remember this as the lunch where Suzanne confirmed that I had more venom than blood surging through my body. p.s. Lucas does catering

UPDATE: JUNE 11, 2008

Tio Will
calle 70 no. 506 x 65 y 63

Around the corner from my house. I'd never eaten here til yesterday. Josh's parents gave us 24 hours notice and popped in from San Diego. Yesterday on the menu were pork fajitas something I did not see anyone ordering and something else I'd never heard of. I'll have to go ask Tio Will what the spelling was. It was shereaded pork patties in a pasilla chile sauce that made my head spin and my heart patter. I'll probably go back to Tio's for breakfast this morning.

Update: Feb. 7, 2009

Tio Will seems to have disappeared yesterday and left the kids in charge of the kitchen. The first choice was enchiladas suiza which generally means we don't have anything in the house but some old tortillas, some inferior cheese and a can of green sauce. 2nd choice was breaded pork filet which means freezer to microwave to the breadcrumbs while the grease heats up. I went for the 3rd choice which may have been sitting around for a couple of days but was definately sitting around getting cold about the time Josh and Suzanne's pork hit the breadcrumbs. Tio Will get your ass back in the kitchen.


I eat lunch at this Japanese restaurant in Campestre at least once a week and sometimes we have dinner at the Colonial Mexico on Thursdays when the rolls are 1/2 price. When everything is 1/2 price it seems just like the place around the corner from "your" apartment in NY. This Thursday we had dinner there with Seamus and Abe right after their pilates class. Eric and Charles picked us up and we ran into Fritz & Werner who are always leaving a restaurant that we are arriving at. Hugs all around. I always order the Teka Maki and the Maguro Maki. Suzuki rolls made with fresh sea bass and tempura rolls when they are hot are divino.

El Cangrejito
calle 57 no.523 x 64 y66

Went here with Josephina who just got back from 4 months in Buenes Aires...She came to see my new house which was finished while she was gone. When I suggested we have lunch at Cangrejito she almost fainted. "No it cannot be" Turns out her parents used to have the Cangrejito come and make tacos around the pool at home when she was a kid. When she was married El Cangrejito was the favorite of her new Swiss husband and that was at about 35 years ago. So when we got there and it was the same and owner was alive we quickly ordered our cevezita's and got down to business. And recently I discovered that it was possible to eat 5 or 6 merengues after you think you could not put another thing in your mouth......

UPDATE: June 11, 2008

I am still eating lunch here almost every week. It has become a favorite of most of our guests at Urbano Rentals too. But lately there is a disturbing trend I've noticed when I ask for the bill and there is more than one blond at the table. They just make up the bill and when I ask for a printed copy of the bill it has dropped about 100-150 pesos. It does not keep me away but it is really annoying after all these years to be treated like a tourist....

UPDATE: Feb 7, 2008 Still loving Cangrejito and holding my breath when the bill comes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Last Night and Last Week on Paseo Montejo

We went to eat at one of my least favorite places in town, La Tratto. It started like this. Host: "Where would you like to sit" Me: "as far from the speakers as possible". That turned out to be no where so we sat at the extreme edge of the sidewalk where we'd be able to thrust ourselves into the oncoming traffic on Paseo Montejo if need be. It was 2x1 Carne night (Mondays) and that is what got us there in the first place. I don't know why you'd eat at this place if it wasn't 1/2 price. Beware of Wednesday's when it's 2x1 over cooked, over sauced, over priced pasta night served up with more insipid loud music. Any way the Cowboy Steak (ribeye) was excellent. Was served on a bed of overcooked veggies and the fries came for dessert. Steak Dinner for 4 with beer no appetiser no dessert was 1000 pesos. and that's half price.

At least it was edible. Last Week we were stuck on the other side of town because there was a parade from Paseo Montejo to the Zocalo for the anniversary of the revolution. We ended up driving to the Prolongation of Montejo and eating at La Parillia. It turned out to be just as vile as I remembered from 5 years ago. The ribeye here was indeed so vile that we brought it home intact for the dogs....and they loved it. Luckily it was not my ribeye that night. I had the posole which was actually good. Here we also sat on the sidewalk because of the noise inside.

So at 3am I was up with ... gas ... and found this blog written by Zora O'Neill. She writes for the Rough Guides. I usually rough it when I go to Tulum because I usually go with at least a couple of dogs. (for the record they love the steaks at the Argentine in Tulum). Any way she seems to get off the beaten path and her food blog is great..It must be it's 6 am and I'm still reading it....or is it the gas that's keeping me awake?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Skip Dessert

Where ever you're having lunch skip dessert and head over to cafe at the new Hotel San Angel. The owner is a former Olympic athlete who fell in love with Mexico back when they hosted the Olymics in 1968. Thank the gods she fell out of love with Mexico City and came to Merida a couple of years ago. She is the most gifted pastry chef in town and you can really loose yourself gazing into the vitirine of cakes and pies. Loose all sense of self control and order a plate of assorted cookies too. Go for breakfast and faint on the sofa in the corner from sugar shock. There is a book shop in the cafe and the best craft store in town. A Fonart. Not open on Sunday is about the worst thing I can say about this dreamy spot. She threatens to serve meals soon. So far there is only a sandwich menu. Home made breads to go and a few gourmet items for take out. San Angel is on calle 47 at Blvd. Montejo

Near Santa Lucia park where you can have a nice lunch at the Casa Santa Lucia and the lovely looking desserts suck you can hop over to the new chocolate shop ki-xocolatl. In the Mayan and the Nahuatl languages, the word Ki-xocolatl means: delectable chocolate. Indeed. This is the newest venture by the Belgian owners of L'Almandine chocolates. They don't have the assorted chocolates that they sell in their other two locations, fools, but they have several exotic bars of chocolate and chocolate milk. We went there with a couple of strollers full of 2 and 4 year olds and no one left unhappy. Calle 55 no 513 between 60 x 62

L'Almandine is owned by a young Belgian couple Mathieu and Stephanie Brees. We quickly befriended them and have them over for dinner all the time in hopes they will bring a big box of chocolate. Sometimes we order a special dessert from them and sometimes they make ice cream and that is when I regret that I ever left the Rue de Seine apartment in Paris. More about my Berthilon withdrawals later. They use the best organic chocolate from Tabasco and they have 5 generations of master chocolatiers to back them up. The play a mean game of petanque and I'm thinking of putting a petanque court in my new house just to lure them in. They are not easy to find as they are located in a neighborhood you'll never go to called Pensiones. They are behind the La Ceiba Clinic off Circuito Colonias. Calle 5-D #313 between 38 and 38-A Tel: 920-58-69.
They have another locataion which is in the North. Calle 49 no 215 colonias San Antonio Cucul. Alas there is no L'Almandine in Centro.

A Day or Two in the Country

So, Answering an ad in the paper a couple of weeks ago we went out to Oxkutzcab and saw a 500 acre property down a dirt road that was more mud than dirt. The guy showing us the property had bought the best bit but we bonded after we were stuck in the mud. So he agreed to show us more property. Starving at the end of the day we had lunch in the new (opened June 3 2007) location of El Principe Tutul Xui. The dining room is a giant palapa on the second floor and the food is just as good as Mani but he old locataion is much more charming. Still if your starving in Oxkutzcab....

Then a week later we went on another wild goose chase to see an abandoned hacienda. 3 miles down a worse road that was impassable by car because of the rain and on foot because of the brush. (Where is George Bush and his buzz saw when you need him?) So we dropped in at the Hacienda Santo Domingo de Yunku to see if we could catch the gardeners napping. So about 5pm we got around to having lunch at the nearby Hacienda Ochil. Now they offer a huge buffet of yucatecan cuisine or an a la carte menu. As we were late and they were taking down the buffet they offered to bring us a sample from the kitchen of everything on the buffet. We accepted. It was really great. If I could remember the name of the little deep fried masa balls filled with shreaded pork and achiote I would recomend them highly. alas I cannot.

So Ochil is a great place to have lunch after visiting the museum at Hacienda Yaxcopoil or on your way to Uxmal. And El Principe Tutul Xui is still the best place for Puc Chuc in the world. And I found an orchard 4 km. from Oxkutzcab where I want to build my art studio, weekend retreat and fox terrier spa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Autentica Comida Espanola

I'm renovating a house in the neighborhood of Mejorada for a bitchy NY artist and so find myself starving most everyday. Normally I have lunch at Cafe Club (calle 55 x 60 y 58). There I only ever order veggie soup and french fries with a picher of watermelon or papaya juice. Or sometimes I go for lebaneese food at Alemeda (calle 58 x 55 y 57). I used to go to the Templo (calle 59 x 52 y 50) but when I tried to go with my carpenter and his wife last week there was a sign on the door that said open 6pm til 2am. No great loss to lunch as it always took a millinium to get your food or even a drink at lunch time even if you were the only table there. As a result we decided to walk around the corner and go to Los Alemendras, perhaps the most famous restaurant in town (God only knows why). But as we rounded the corner I said let's try this place I went to 5 years ago that was not bad. But it was closed. after we passed the cook walked out and we asked if they were closed. Contrary to appearances they were open and we went in. Oh Joy divine.

It was the best meal I have had in Merida in years or maybe ever. I remember going through Spain a decade ago looking for a salad or a green bean and by the time I got down to Granada I thought I had scurvy. The food was so heavy and rich and hammish I thought I would explode. The first dish at Meson del Segoviano (calle 50-a no 433 x 59 y 57) gave me flashbacks. It was a roasted rib. The meat melted off the bone. I gulped down my Jamaica and ordered a beer. Soon we had a table full of Paella and an order of the freshest crispiest fried calamari I've ever had. (yours will no doubt be served half frozen and soggy). I was really in shock. The food is so mediocre in Merida for the most part that I am pretty much unshockable. But the best thing we had was a marinated octopus (end of the season now) with savory potato salad and red chile. The Segovain owner came out to see how we were and we were on the floor and the ceiling. We had exploded with the shock and awe of a perfect meal. So we had dessert. I don't remember what the others had a flan perhaps and a fried creamy thing. I was too deeply immersed in my Catalan custard. It was a rustic creme caramel that brought me back into my own body long enough to have a good strong expresso and pay the check. I was so happy I picked up the check even though I had balked at the prices. about double what you expect to pay for lunch in town.

On wednesday next the Working Gringos are coming over for a drink to see the new house and we are going to Meson del Segoviano. It was with them that I had my first meal there 5 years ago. Hopefully it will not be my last. And yes I am prepared to be disappointed. In fact I'll be shocked if it's any good at all.

UPDATE: Nov. 7, 2007

The Working Gringos' loved it too and so we went again last night for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. Each time we have been the only table in the restaurant. Hopefully it will survive to live through the upcoming season and prosper.

Meson del Segoviano
calle 50-a no 443 entre 59 y 57
Plaza de Mejorada / Centro
tel 999 924 0055


New address is not in centro it is in Colonias San Ramon Norte near Ki Xkolatil boutique.

calle 32 no. 219 Plaza 32 upstairs
col San Ramon Norte
glorieta del Pocito
Merida Yucatan 97117
tel 924 0055 cel 999 163 3196

Food still good. Atmosphere more hip and younger crowd. Lack's charm but the food is still very good.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Recent Experiences

Often, but not often enough, a new restaurant opens in Merida and closes with in 6 months. Some locations seem to absolutely jinxed. One such location is the old Jacques Dessange Salon where we used to have 2 or 3 mm trimmed from our coif about every 3 months. Now it's a 'confusion cuisine' dining room that opened with a bang in the Society pages of the local paper in September 2007. I print this date because I promise you it will not be there in 6 months time.

I went there for lunch with this reviewer's partner.

We were the only ones there for lunch that day. We ordered a platter of empanadas which he had tried on a previous visit. They were teeny, tiny and tastey. Then he had a caesar salad. I was going to order that damn it. Instead I had something called the nasi gehring. It was inedible. I took one bite and it was so salty I thought I'd just send it back immediately. But I did not want to embarrass my dining partner. I took a tiny bite and put my fork and knife down on my plate where they remained for 10 minutes. The waiter ignored me so we chatted about the blandess of the salad and whether or not we should keep our parking space and walk over to Burger King. Finally I hailed the waiter and asked for the check, sending back the offending dish. The service was fine. The place is nice enough. But the dish which sounded like a Thai Paella on the menu was nothing more than a dish or rice that had been cooked in soy sauce til it was reduced to pure salt with a few tiny shrimp tossed in way to soon to be considered edible on their own right.

So dear Cecil, I give you 6 months to survive and I won't be attending your funeral.