Sunday, November 15, 2009

"these are the good times that you'll miss"

the food: Mexico, part 1
the song: "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar" Jens Lekman

It is hard for me to imagine that this time last week we were on a beach in Mexico. We had an amazing trip, rounded out by a few unexpected moments. There's a lot of travel food to cover over the last week, so I'm going to break this into two sections. Let's call it "The Sweet" and "The Sour" (although the sour has a very satisfying finish.)

To refresh, we left for Cabo San Lucas last Thursday morning to attend a family wedding. In reality, we were staying in the small fishing town of Los Barilles, which is about an hour drive from the airport. The bride and groom-to-be rented the Hotel Agave for their closest friends and family, and we headed there first to say hello and get our barrings.

Our resort was just a ways up the road in the "town" of Los Barilles. I put town in parenthesis because this wasn't the cheesy tourist town of high school senior trip fame. While walking the 20 blocks of Los Barrilles, we never once encountered a "One Tequilla, Two Tequilla, Three Tequilla, Floor" shirt (don't fret, there's no shortage). In fact, we didn't have the internet or phone service. But we were expecting (and looking forward) to a quiet get away. Everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful, and although we were quite secluded we felt very relaxed and safe.

After settling in, we hiked up the beach (and I do mean hiked...the walk was at least a mile in deep sand) back to the Hotel Agave where the groom was preparing a huge Mexican meal to feed 25+ people. This should give you some idea of what a cool dude he is...and he's the one joining our family--yay! We feasted on poblano quesadillas, freshly made salsa, 20 avocado guacamole, and fresh fish tacos. My husband who swore off fish more than a year ago even ate is hard to resist fish caught the day before in the ocean you are looking at. I can't imagine a warmer welcome to Mexcio.

Friday morning after watching the sunrise on the beach, we headed over to check out the food at our hotel. I was hugely impressed with the service, the view, and the food. We both ordered Huevos Rancheros that was the most savory, oozy, spicy plate I've eaten in a long time. It was absolutely wonderful...fresh made salsa (more like Texas pico de gallo), fried eggs, and salty hash browns.
After swimming, walking on the beach, and good family time, we headed over to Tio Pablos, which was an exception to the rule in Los Barriles--the prices were in American dollars, there was a vegetarian section to the menu, and the restaurant has a website. I was excited to know what I was ordering didn't have bacon in the beans, but I was a little skeptical that we weren't getting the authentic thing. I was pleasantly surprised by our meals. I had the bean burrito, and it was amazing. Tortillas in Mexico are a whole different breed than what we're used to here (and we have some good tortillas!). I'm not sure what the difference guess was butter with higher milkfat content gives the tortillas have that flakey, crisp quality. The husband guessed lard. I like my answer better, but his is probably more likely.

What else is there to do after lunch in Mexico but a siesta? We didn't eat many appetizers at the rehearsal dinner at Smokey's bar that night, but the margaritas were free flowing, and I did try something new--smoked marlin, which had a texture and taste almost like turkey. We shut down the best bar in Los walked back to our room on the beach.

Saturday I left the husband and father-in-law at the poolside bar and went up the beach to a ladies brunch at an amazing restaurant overlooking (what else?) the ocean. After all the eggs and salsa and cheese, I was desperately seeking something green, so I ordered the house specialty salad. Organic lettuce, oranges, pecans, red onion, blue cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette. Yum. Rarely is this girl satisfied by a salad, but this one was quite good and left me feeling happy. As we were eating, my mother-in-law and I pondered an interesting question: Why can you not drink the water in Mexico, but you can eat leafy produce grown in Mexico? (spoiler can't!) I fearlessly continued chowing down on my salad.

Saturday afternoon was the main event, which was one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever attended. Much to my husband and father-in-law's delight, there was a mariachi band that serenaded us throughout the evening. Besides the unbeatable location, the bride and groom were glowy, food and drink were free flowing, and all in attendance were blissful. It was everything a wedding should be. I felt very blessed to be a part of a family made up of such neat and diverse people.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, these mariachis are not our family members.

We went back to our that hotel and looked at stars on the beach before heading off to bed. And that, my friends, is where the 'sweet' part of this trip concludes. I'll begin the second half of the vacation at 4 a.m. when I awoke with thoughts of the greasy chile relleno I'd eaten at the wedding and a funny feeling in my tummy.


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