Monthly Archives: February 2015

Overpacking for conditions (= overpacking idiots)

These photos show a classic case of overpacking. These folks were staying in rural Mexico for about 10 days. From what I could tell from my vantage point above them here, they had about 6 suitcases. SIX! For two people. You can see the hand-working staff here at the rental units carrying their luggage to the water taxi.image


People, pack light!

We were gone for over a MONTH this time and each of us had only one carry-on size backpack. And this was including the croquet whites that we needed for the tournament.

Here is what I packed:
– 5 pairs of underwear
– 3 bras
– 2 pair socks
– white pants that roll up to capris (for croquet, and for travel)
– white skort (croquet)
– white golf shirt (ditto)
– white T-shirt (ditto)
– 4 other T shirts (2 of them quick-dry)
– 2 tank tops
– 3 skirts (one can also be worn as a dress)
– 3 dresses
– 1 pair leggings (for travel and buggy evenings)
– 3 lightweight long-sleeve shirts
– 2 swimsuits
– 1 rain jacket
– 1 hat
– 1 sarong
– flip flops
– sandals
– Keens
– microfiber pack towel (for the beach)

Yes, this all fits in a carry-on (although I am obviously wearing some it while traveling), along with toiletries, hairbands, books, sunglasses.

If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t be like these bad travellers, making people carry around your excess crap.


Cooking with Chef Diki

I had the privilege to step into the kitchen at Yelapa’s Tacos y Mas restaurant to watch Chef Diki prepare one of her specials — linguine with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scallops in a light white wine cream sauce.

This dish was chock-full of seafood and the sauce was a creamy perfection. Diki assured me it was easy and fast. Watching her do it, I now believe it!

Diki starts with some olive and heats it up in a small skillet over a pretty high heat. She adds the clams and mussels and sautes them a bit. Next was a generous pour of white wine (sauvignon blanc), a little more time for the shellfish to open, and then a big clove of garlic was pressed into the mix.image

imageAfter cooking that a little bit (still the high heat), butterflied shrimp, calamari (small whole ones and sliced larger ones) and scallops were added. A quick toss and then additions of fresh chopped basil and parsley. And the cream. At this point the seafood was almost done. Diki moved the mixture to one part of the skillet and added cooked pasta. She mixed everything quickly and then plated the dish.

imageimageimageA big thanks to Diki for letting me watch and learn!!

And if you see this on the menu at Tacos and Mas and don’t order it, you will miss out on a great meal! (And, as my husband would say, you’re a dumbass.)image


February 18, 2015

I find the interaction between ocean and river to be a source of great fascination while staying in Yelapa.  Each day, I take a picture from our rental unit.  Here are a few.

Also endlessly fascinating is watching people cross the channel.  We watched a really drunk guy stagger through the other day. When he was done, some beach-goers applauded.  Smart people watch the waves for a while to time their crossing appropriately.imageimageimage


Dining in Puerto Vallarta – Romatic Zone

So lots of people come to Mexico and try to get the cheapest of everying — dollar beer, dollar taco, whatever. That’s one way to go. I’d rather spend what might be “a lot” in Mexico and get a really good meal, and somtetimes a fine dining experience. We had some good food in Puerto Vallarta and here is the roundup.

The grill at Cafe de Olla

The grill at Cafe de Olla

Restaurante Trio — our hotel couldn’t get us in on the night we wanted, but an ex-pat from a local happy hour hooked us up. He and the matre’d, Jose Luis, go way back, evidently. We have eaten at this restaurant on two prior trips and were not disappointed this time. Our ex-pat friend recommended an unlikely-sounding combination – a sea bass over mashed potatoes and house-made saurkraut… with a sauce and some carmelized grapes. Yeah, sounds weird. The salty, sour, savory, sweet combo was a winner, however. I had the house-made ravioli, ricotta and sun dried tomato. And we shared the sauteed calimari in a tomato-jalepeno sauce. Aside from the great food and interesting decor, the service here is lovely. Much better than we are used to in our college town in the Pacific NW. Your water is never empty, the waiter fills your wine glass when it gets low, and the staff seems to knonw the menu. Prices? We had two entrees, an appetizer, and a bottle of wine for about $60US.

Calamari appetizer at Trio - tender with a spicy broth

Calamari appetizer at Trio – tender with a spicy broth

No Way Jose — yeah, maybe a kitchy name but it’s another fine dining experience. It’s on kind of a sketchy street; last year, we watched a drunk gringo sleeping on the curb, getting rousted by the cops. So maybe you don’t want a seat with a “view,” but you should definitely sit on second floor. You can see into the kitchen from there and often these is live music. Pomegranite margarita? Tart and delicious. My chiles Nogado — savory and satisfying. I had the vegetarian version which are stuffted with spinach and mushrooms and cheese. And smothered with a cheesy almond sauce that I adore. Some shaved almonds and pomegranite seeds are a garnish. Fresh rolls with a choice of butter and a chipotle-peanut butter-cream cheese spread. Again, service – welcoming, polite, attentive.

Cafe de Olla — a PV standard. Mexican standards at a great price in a fun atmosphere right in the heart of the Romantic Zone. Right on the street is a huge grill where meats and seafood are grilled, with some stuffed potatoes and veggies. A line forms out front for seating and you can order a drink while you stand in line. If you want a table faster, you can agree to be seated with some other folks at a large table. We have always found this quite enjoyable — best to vet the folks while you are in line though to be sure you don’t mind visiting with them over a meal. There are special seafood or surf and turf platters that serve two or more, hot off the grill. Chiles rellenos are my favorite here. I can also vouch for the cheese enchiladas and the tender octopus. You might also enjoy the giant margaritas.image

Figueroa’s — need a quick “California style” burrito lunch or dinner? This small mom-and-pop place is the one. No liquor license, so have your beer before or after. Instead, order one of the agua frescas. Jamaica (promounded, I think, huh-mike-uh) is my favorite; I hear it’s made from hibiscus flowers. Veggie burrito will fill you up and there is a variety of sauces to choose from. I saw some local construction workers turcking into big bowls of a meaty soup. You might want to try that if it’s your thing. Flan for dessert? Porque no?