Memories and Food: Cancun and Playa del Carmen

Mexico’s Cancun and Playa Del Carmen were the perfect places to induce a healthy appreciate and appetite for comida, agua and vida. We could not ask for more from the idyllic environment of powder soft sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and inexpensive, fresh eats.

I would definitely be back to transfer to PDC and ferry over to Cozumel for some scuba diving. I am not sure why, but whenever I think of PDC, I think of Colombian born Juanes‘s haunting tune La Camisa Negra.

I could not stop eating the fresh fish tacos every chance I could. I especially loved the tacos with a side of spicy green salsa and pico. The freshly grilled pieces of fish were tender and lightly seasoned. Beads of sweat ran down my forehead and would encourage intensive beverage consumption of Sol, a light beer.

While shopping for masks, marketplace businessmen would aggressively approach us and want to show us their wares. They kept offering special prices and would run lists of items they had in their stalls,  jewelry, clothing, leather goods, even Viagra.

Children playing tag in the plaza area

According to the sign, the future of Mexico is in agave. 

Throughout the visit at Chichen Itza, adorable, but persistent tan children were selling their wares, water and souvenirs for a few dollars.

Homemade tortillas

 Zapatas

We stopped by several galleries in PDC and this piece with the  food table and whimsical chairs we discovered at Galeria Corazon.

Boats on the beach at Playa del Carmen

My favorite drink on earth, Coco Friyo, coconut water from a frozen coconut.

The red, white and green banners along the walk in PDC. Loved the mariachi music in the background and late night shopping.

Izzoz Tacos, Soco, Austin

Izzoz Tacos is the Spanish equivalent for mellizo or fraternal twins and is located next to Gourdough’s. Izzoz serves tortas, tostadas and is popular for garlic fries. Izzoz tacos are more traditional fillings, the straight up classic tacos you initially think of.

The escobar taco ($3) had carne guisada, pico de gallo and cilantro. The stewed meat and a soft texture and was quite hearty.

The Del Mar taco ($4) with blackened tilapia, slaw, pickled red onion and chipotle aioli. The aioli flavor with red onion went well with the fish.

Izzoz Tacos on Urbanspoon

Zocalo Cocina Mexicana, Back Bay, Boston

Zocalo has become one of my standard go to for Mexican fare. As a result, this will be my third review, second visit in a group, but fifth time patroning. The service is consistently attentive, the manager/owner is always present and the restaurant seems to be full every evening I have been there. The menu features tortilla soup and ensaladas, corn masa items including tamales and flautas.

The dining space has artwork, dangling lights, silver orbs and sleek, wooden planks on the ceiling. The atmosphere is very colorful, eye-catching and I especially like the Latin music.

Zocalo Margarita and the neon green lit bar

On the brick walls rest several colorful little pigs. For the holidays, red santa hats adorn their heads.A grapefruit juice with a twist of lime and a Zocalo Margarita El Jimador Silver Tequila, Fresh Lime Juice and Citronge by Patron for $9.25.The fresh made guacamole with avocado, lime, tomato, onion, cilantro and spices are served with crispy corn tortillas and is a must get for $9.90. It definitely is made with love. I spotted one of the preparers dancing with passion to the music as he was mixing the guacamole. The complimentary salsa is also pretty tasty. I couldn’t stop eating it and I’m pretty sure our group asked for several refills. The guacamole is smooth, lightly spiced and flavorful.I had the Baja-style tacos with beer-battered fish or shrimp tacos, with pickled cabbage, cilantro pesto, chipotle mayonnaise, toasted black sesame seeds on handmade corn tortillas for $9.95. I liked the lightly sweet green salsa dipping sauce and the mayo and pesto on top of the tacos. I would get these again.I tried the Quesadillas Mexicana at Ole Mexican Grill, Somerville and could not help but get the Mexico City-style corn masa turnovers, stuffed with chile poblano, pickled jalapenos, and Oaxaca cheese. The quesadillas were served with refried beans and chile pasilla for $9.95. The pocket of crispy masa is filled with a great warm chili cheese f illing and the Oaxaca cheese and jalapeno is just to addictive. This is my favorite dish by far at Ole and Zocalo.I also enjoy Zocalo’s chile rellenos, roasted poblano chiles: one stuffed with mixed Mexican cheeses, spinach, raisins and toasted almonds; the other with braised pork. The chiles are served on a roasted tomato sauce with plantains and Mexican rice for $19.95. The plantains were caramelized and creamy, I loved them.

The cheese and spinach oozed out with every bite.

Two guys in our party enjoyed the Chicken Tacos al carbon, ‘fajita style’ tacos. Soft flour or corn tortillas, cheese stuffed poblano peppers, two salsas, frijoles charros, guacamole and sour cream, chicken breast with chile guajillo adobo marinade and grilled onions for $22.95.

Finally for dessert, we all tried the tres leches. The milk soaked cake with lightly sweetened whip cream and fruit was tasty, but something seemed missing, maybe more liqueur?

Overall, a great dining experience.  I definitely would like to try the three queso fundido, enchiladas and I’ll have to come back for the Mexican style quesadilla turnovers.Zocalo Cocina Mexicana on Urbanspoon

Ole Mexican Grill Revisited, Cambridge

The last time we went to Ole Mexican, was in a huge group and we tried margaritas, desserts and a tequila flight. So it was timely that we returned to Ole Mexican for proper meal with appetizers and entrees. Inman Square is somewhat of a trek, but since the previous visit was a good preview we wanted to come back.

The parking lot next to the restaurant was completely full, so we needed to circle the lot for approximately 15 minutes for a patron to exit. Fortunately, we eventually got a spot. The parking cost us $4.00 and was the most frustrating aspect of our dinner meal.

The restaurant was pretty busy on a Wednesday evening. I am glad we made reservations in advance.

Various Mexican tapestries and colorful decor

Although we didn’t order the fresh, made to order guacamole, it looked really tempting. Almost every table around us ordered the guacamole. The chips and salsa were very fresh. The salsa had a tomato pepper flavor and the chips were warm and crispy.

I ordered the chile relleno con queso, a fresh farmer cheese stuffed in poblano pepper with ranchera salsa, cotija cheese, epazote and parsley and a side fresh corn tortillas for $10. I thought the dish was pretty lackluster, but maybe it is because I am too accustomed to the breaded, fried pepper with oozing cheese. There wasn’t much flavor, spicy or seasoning, so for me it was as if I ate a plain roasted pepper with a little dusting of cheese on the inside.

The Elote con Chili, street vendor style corn with crema, chile-lime salt was $5. There was a wonderfully excessive amount of mayonnaise and cheese enrobing the corn. I liked how the corn was on a skewer, a smart way to serve elote.

The tacos de pescado, beer battered haddock, handmade corn tortilla, cabbage slaw, cilantro pesto, chipolte mayo and black sesame seeds was a hit for $9. It had a crispy, fluffy batter and the slaw was fresh and crisp. I really liked the pesto and mayo combination. If I am ever in Inman again, I would stop by for the fish taco.

Our server forgot the shrimp tacos we ordered and so we put in a order of fish tacos instead.

The Quesadilla Mexicana was the best serendipitous addition to my Mexican dish repertoire. I ordered this app on whim because of the description, a Mexico City style quesadilla, corn masa pockets, stuffed with poblano peppers, on black beans, crema and grated cotija cheese for $8. The corn pocket was warm and crispy, like an arepa. The bean, cheese and pepper filling was so zesty and gooey. I wish my supermarket or Trader Joe’s would have a version of this in the freezer section so I could have them right now.

The scallops al ajillo, sea scallops sauteed in olive oil, chile aribol, roasted garlic, served with homemade tortillas  was too salty and nothing memorable $10. We wouldn’t try this again.

Olé Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon