The inviting coffee service in the lobby of the Fairmont Mayakoba barely saved me from weeping at our 5:15 a.m. departure this morning. I’m really not ready to return home.
Our stay in Mexico has been nothing short of wonderful. And we were so fortunate to experience two very different regions of the country during our visit. Riveria Maya was described by my children as “the fancy part” of our spring break vacation. Mayakoba, the resort area where we stayed, is certainly what I would consider the Gold Coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s a mecca for tropical holiday seekers who want relaxed, family-friendly luxury in a gorgeous setting. The cuisine and beverages are not too shabby either.
Here are my memorable culinary moments from Riviera Maya:
Café con leche – The coffee in Mexico is outstanding. It’s dark and strong and always served with a side of piping hot, steamed milk. Our waiter one morning told me they crush their roasted beans rather than grind them. They clearly have their crushing and brewing process down to a science as the coffee was never bitter, just perfectly delicious.
Mezcal Mule – I can always be talked into trying a Cócteles de Especialidad and this was my favorite discovery during our stay in Mayakoba. Mezcal is an acquired taste. It’s smoky, complex flavor is not for everyone, but I’m a huge fan. I think it tastes like the smoke from an expensive Cuban cigar. The Mezcal Mule has secured it’s position as my numero uno cocktail. Mix it at home with Mezcal Bruxo Espadín (or your favorite mezcal), jugo de limón (lemon juice), néctar de agave (agave nectar) and cerveza de jengibre (ginger beer). Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and slices of lime.
Fresh juice – It was such a treat to sample a variety of fresh juices at breakfast each morning. They were so refreshing and beautifully presented. The green juice was the one I kept returning to as the combination of flavors was the tastiest, in my humble opinion. It was an elixir of cactus, pineapple, orange, spinach and celery. The pink juice, consisting of guava, passion fruit and apple, was the runner-up.
Huevos Rancheros – I could easily eat these traditional “ranch-style eggs” for breakfast every morning of my life. The chef prepared the dish by spreading a layer of refried black beans between two corn tortillas, in essence creating three small black bean sope cakes. Each was topped with a perfectly fried egg, smothered with a spicy red ranchero sauce and garnished with queso fresco, fresh cilantro, sliced tomatoes and pickled red onion. I really loved the pop of tangy sweetness from the pickled onion and how it complimented the spiciness of the ranchero sauce.
Sala Vive Brut – This sparkling wine, from the Querétaro region of Mexico, was a very pleasant surprise. Querétaro is an ecologically diverse region with wide contrasts in climate and vegetation. The grapes mature in what could be considered extreme conditions with temperatures ranging from 32℉ to 77℉. The result is a fresh, crisp, fruity Mexican sparkler.
Isla Holbox and Riviera Maya were delightfully different in many ways. However, there was also a common thread that ran through both regions…a vibrant food culture with bold, sometimes surprising flavors, supported by locals who take great pride in their culinary traditions. And the cocktails, enjoyed beachside under a palm tree, were pretty unforgettable.