Archive for June, 2010

Wine Wednesday – A Tour of L.A. Cetto Winery on You Tube

For this week’s edition of Wine Wednesday, a virtual tour of the L.A. Cetto Winery in the fertile Valle de Guadalupe and more photos from this beautiful region, Baja, Mexico.

Happy #WineWednesday!


Meatless Mondays Fresh Guacamole Recipe on Video!

There is something about fresh guacamole that is delicious and irreplaceable to any store made guac!

Chef tip:  If you don’t want your guacamole to go brown leave a few of the avocado pits in the guacamole.  Don’t ask why, it is just a known fact that if you do this then your guac will not go brown.

Happy #MeatlessMonday!!

Submitted by Nicola Inwood , the Executive Chairperson of Taste of Playa 2010.  She writes for numerous blogs, one being and is the owner of various businesses in the Riviera Maya.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment.

10 Great Breakfast Places in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has over 700 ‘eateries’ and it can be overwhelming for visitors when trying to pick a place to eat.  You can walk the streets forever, see a ton of interesting places to sit down and chow but the choice is overwhelming.  Everyone has their favorites, and everyone has an opinion, which makes it sometimes even worse.  It really depends on what you are looking for and what type of breakfast you really want; fresh, a bit greasy (yes people want that) cultural, something like home, dietary based, and the list goes on.

We have some great options that will give you a good starting point.  There are more than 10 places to have breakfast in Playa, and I am sure there are people who would say yea or nay to these choices, but if you want a variety of choices and don’t want to be disappointed, here is our list.

1.  El Nativo. Av. 30 and Av. Constituyentes.  This continues to be a Playa favorite as you have a choice of fresh, small, large, cultural and homey.  yes, if you want the grease, they have that too, but all in all there are a ton of option.  Large fresh juices that are delicious, great eggs done as omelets and any style, chiliquiles, a Mexican favorite that would serve the same purpose as fried eggs, bacon and potatoes.  Inexpensive and a nice small Mexican style restaurant.

2.  El Bistro Av 10 between 12th and 14th.  They have a great deal for breakfast, many international options and nice staff.  you can sit by the street or by the pool, the pool always being my option.  The coffee is good, the options good and I have never had a bad meal.  the only thing is have to say is that on Sunday it can be busy, so go early or be prepared to wait a bit.

3.  La Sasta  La Quinta between 10th and 8th.  This is a super coffee place and is a long standing Playa coffee house, if not the first to arrive on the scene way back in the early 90’s.  If you are looking for a European breakfast of coffee and sweet breads or an American breakfast of bagels and muffins you have come to the right place.  Their outdoor patio faces 5th Av so it is a great place to people watch.  The women who work that are nice, funny and they have great coffee.  Lattes, cappuccino, Americano, brewed, and frozen lattes…

4.  Fusion 6th Av on the beach.  Fusion does a lot of things well, but there is nothing like, crawling out of bed and rolling down to the beach for a nice breakfast, a view, chill music and beach chairs right there that are just waiting for you.  Fusion is chill, no nonsense and a great deal.  The food is good, simple and eclectic, some Mexican dishes, some north american dishes and really something to please everyone.  Give it a try and tell us what you think.

5.  The Fruit Ladies At the Cozumel Ferry Pier at Juarez.  Oh the fruit ladies, a Playa favorite and a great walk in the morning.  This has been a ritual of ours to go for an early walk, see the ocean, grab some fruit from the fruit ladies, mixed fruit or mango, coconut or watermelon, melon or Mayan plums.  I discovered about 5 years ago, the greatness of lime and chili powder sprinkled on your fruit.  Yuck you say, no YUM we say.  Yes it sounds strange, but it is the best combo I have ever had.  My favorite is mango with chili or jicama with chili (white root vegetable that is fab), or oranges with chili.  for 15 pesos, 1.10 usd it is a great breakfast.

6.  DiVino La Quinta on the corner of 12th.  This is a long time favorite for brunch and a big breakfast.  I am not a fan of buffets, but when there are chefs making omelets in the minute for you, fresh fruit galore, cereal, coffee, potatoes, you name it they have it, all for you to choose, I am not going to shun it.  They do a great job, it is great value and as always the service is super!

7.  Empanandas Many locations throughout Playa Ohhhh empanada’s, my nemesis, my love, my devil, my habit.  I had a year that i call my empanada year, I loved empanadas, (and i still do) i could not go a day without empanadas, i dreamed about empanadas and it was my motivator…sad but true.  But then i had to put things into perspective.  Empanadas are a great treat, they are not a staple meal and they are to be had once a month, not 30 times a month.  Do i love life, yes, do i love empanada, yes, but i love life more so now they are a treat.  Empanadas are deep fried taco, stuffed with either cheese, or chicken or sausage and potatoes, or beef.  You put on top of them, spicy salsa, marinated cabbage, cream, and marinated onions.  Oh how i love thee…but they are deep fried.  BUT they are a mexican tradition…there are a few places i would recommend for a treat and a great Mexican experience.  the corner of 4th Ave and 20th, a little road side cart that is with a tiny palapa and a ton of people eating empanadas.  A little tiny eatery on Juarez on the south side between 35th and 40th..these are made with LOVE and fresh fresh fresh.  on Juarez between 25th and 20th, though a funny little place, if you get them fresh they are good..and finally on 10th ave near the corner of 1st street  on the beach side..they have a few stools and been there for over 10 years..delicious..

8.  La Vagabunda La Quinta between 24th and 26th.  Again a favorite with locals and tourists…and they have a well priced breakfast with lots of choices..

9.  La Cueva de Chango la Quinta and 38th street.  Oh the monkey cave, which is the translation in English.  Not only is this one of  the first restaurants in Playa, it has a really nice setting, very cool decor, super nice staff and a menu based on Mayan ingredients and Mexican flavours.  Many a breakfast have started early and then somehow turned into a late lunch as you are relaxed, are loving the atmosphere, loving the food and all the choices.  People come for a nice quiet breakfast and just chat and enjoy and all of a sudden, it is time for lunch…and you are ready to dig in again..

10 Tacos by the Pier La Quinta at Juarez There are about 7 taco stands in the morning at the small church by the pier, and  if the crowd is any indication, i believe and have heard that they are great.  there is not one better than another.  and some of the guys and gals have Cochinita Pibil, the very famous roasted Mayan pig that is marinated, slowly braised and a fine delicacy.  these are served as sandwiches in large buns and though admittedly I am a vegetarian, the feedback from reliable meat eating sources, say, these are great places to eat!

So these are our suggestions, not a be all, end all list, but some great places to get you started.  If you have any comments, place your suggestions in the comments section for everyone to see and share.  What we love about Playa is the diversity and the choices that includes every budget, every flavor, and every wish….

By Nicola Inwood – Nicola is the Chair of Taste of Playa 2010.  She writes for numerous blogs, one being and is the owner of various businesses in the Riviera Maya.

Notes on Napkins – L.A. Cetto Fume Blanc 2008

Fume Blanc? Any idea what it is exactly? I didn’t until just a few years ago. In a nutshell, Fume Blanc is a marketing term conceived of and utilized by the late great Robert Mondavi to sell a rather fine batch of Sauvignon Blanc, a grape much maligned in the United States until the 1970’s. Despite the fact that wine lovers had been buying and loving Loire Valley Pouilly Fume for decades (made from the exact same varietal) attempts to successfully market and sell this particular grape had fallen flat.  A clever play on Sauvignon Blanc and Pouilly Fume, this “new” wine, Fume Blanc, was an immediate hit in the wine world and Mr. Mondavi had a  home run with his first bottling, way back in 1968!

Today, there are many wineries that have labeled their wines Fume Blanc. Certain winemakers put out wines labeled Fume Blanc and use the term to differentiate a wine style or aging method used in the production process.  Often this means that the wine has seen some time in toasted French oak barrels giving it hints of smoke and vanilla. What is of particular interest to me is that this Mexican producer has adopted the name although the wine is fermented 100% in stainless steel. Perhaps they too see the value in this masterful marketing devise.

Wine:                    L.A. Cetto Fume Blanc
Producer:            L.A. Cetto
Vintage:               2008
Varietals:             100% Sauvignon Blanc
Country:              Mexico
Region:                 Baja, Valle Guadalupe

Michele’s Notes: The grapes for this Fume Blanc are grown at common latitude and in similar terroire to its French cousins in the Loire Valley, but that is where the similarity ends. The color is a very pale yellow straw with traces of green and excellent clarity. The nose is crisp and bright with notes pineapple, grapefruit and freshly cut grass.  This wine has a strong attack on the front palate with flavors of green papaya, melon, pineapple and citrus predominating. This elegant, light bodied vintage sees no time in wood nor is it aged in the bottle. It is meant to be drunk immediately and will not benefit from time on the rack. The acidity is quite pronounced with a long finish making it perfect for rich creamy sauces, grilled fatty fish and shellfish.  Like the Monte Xanic “Vina Kristel” that we tasted last week, the labeling and bottle color has been changed from the last vintage I tasted (2005) and it is a nice improvement in packaging. I am impressed that these wineries are paying as much attention to the presentation as they are to the wine itself. This is a cheerful, easy to drink wine, priced to drink every day. If you are a fan of Chilean and most Californian Sauvignon Blanc, you will enjoy this bottling. Try it with raw oysters.

Purchased at Chedraui, Playa del Carmen, Price – 77 pesos.

“Notes on Napkins” is written by Michele Kinnon, Marketing Chairperson for Taste of Playa 2010 and owner of Buy Playa Real Estate Advisors in Playa del Carmen.

Meatless Monday – Susan’s Queso Fundido

Queso fundido is a traditional Mexican antojito or snack that consists mostly of melted cheese. Can’t get much more delicious than that! Served with tortillas or tortilla chips for dipping. You can usually order it with chorizo or other ingredients like mushrooms for extra flavoring!
Now, I love melted cheese as much as anyone else but what I do not like was the fact that when the lovely cheese comes out it is warm and stringy then turns to a more solid form as it cools. So I came up with my own version that remains spreadable longer and is a hit everywhere I serve it! In fact I have had so many requests for this recipe by my wonderful clients I decided to share it with you all…

1 package cream cheese
1 cup grated cheese *I like using Manchego
1/4 cup extra grated cheese for topping
1/4 cup mayonaise or sour cream
1/2 glove garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno or a few dashes of hot sauce
Salt to taste

Mix together and place in oven proof baking dish and top with remainder grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with tortilla chips or for a healthier version chop fresh veggies in sticks for delicious dipping!

Add other ingredients such as chopped, seeded fresh chopped tomato, chorizo, mushrooms or beans.
Substitute light versions of cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise to make it healthier.

Be sure to make enough as it always disappears fast!

Susan de Lima is the Operations Chairperson for Taste of Playa 2010. She owns and operates a local catering and concierge business Latido de Mexico,

Meatless Monday recipes are posted weekly in support of an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat consumption by 15% (the equivalent of one day a week) lessens the risk of chronic preventable illness and has a strong positive impact on the environment.

A Yucatecan Delight: Black Bean and Pork Stew (Frijoles con Puerco)

Anybody that has spent a lot of time in Mexico can tell you about Frijoles con Puerco. This rich pork stew is simply glorious! Frijoles con Puerco are typically served on Mondays in “cocinas economicas” the Mexican version of American diners, where locals go for home cooked meals.

There is something about the combination of black beans, pork, chorizo sausage and cumin that is out of this world and highly addictive. Just mention this dish to a Mexican or American savvy in authentic Mexican food and you’ll see eyes light up with the memory of the last frijoles con Puerco that was eaten.

Don’t forget that black beans are some of the healthiest beans you can eat, and studies have shown that eating black beans improve intelligence. So get smart and get in the kitchen to make your Mexican Black Bean and Pork Stew! I love to serve this dish with good old American cornbread. Yum!


• 1 pound of pork butt or shoulder, cut in 1-inch cubes
• 1 or 2 chorizo sausages, casings removed and crumbled
• Oil
• 1 medium sized onion, chopped
• 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, minced, seeds and veins may be removed if you don’t like it hot
• 2 tablespoons of ground coriander
• 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
• 4 cups of cooked black beans
• 2 cups of chicken broth or wáter
• 1 sprig of epazote (optional)
• Salt and pepper — to taste.

NOTE: Add the salt towards the end due to the saltiness of some chorizo.


1. Heat the oil in a large stew pot. Working in portions so as not to crowd the meat, add the pork one handful at a time and brown. Remove the pork as it browns and reserve in a bowl.

2. Add a little more oil to the pot and sauté the onions, chiles, coriander and cumin until the onions are soft but not browned.

3. Return the pork to the pot and and the remaining ingredients except the radishes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer slowly for 1 to 2 hours, adding water or stock as necessary to keep the stew from drying out.

4. Adjust seasoning and serve garnished with one or more of the following garnishes.


• Radishes are a typical garnish in the Yucatan for frijoles con puerco, along with a salsa made with chopped red onion, some lime juice, a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar and another splash of oil and chopped habanero (cleaned of seeds and veins!!) You could also garnish with chopped scallions, cilantro or crumbled queso fresco.

Serves 4 to 6 persons

Originally published by Mexican Caribbean Today. Media content is written by Cynthia Nolan and Armando Elizalde, from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

Notes on Napkins – Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Confession: I am a cork dork. I love wine. I love drinking it, I love reading about it and (often to the dismay of my friends) I love talking about it. In a previous life, I had the great pleasure of working for a very discriminating wine importer and distributor in New York. I had the opportunity to visit vineyards, meet with wine makers and taste some of the finest wines in the world. I have been spoiled.

When we moved to Mexico, nearly six years ago, it was a culinary culture shock to my system. No longer could I pop into my favorite wine shop and spend hours selecting just the right bottle for dinner. There were no lovely counters filled with exotic imported cheeses to sample and select. The few wines available to me at Chedraui, at the time our most viable shopping option, were mostly Chilean and Argentinean. None of the wine producers were familiar to me. I was despondent. I learned to love beer and tequila.

Fast forward six years and Playa del Carmen has really come around in the wine world. I can now choose from half a dozen good wine shops and even our major grocery stores are expanding their options. I have attended proper wine tastings hosted by knowledgeable sommeliers and been introduced to some excellent bottles, many of which have come from Mexican winemakers. This is truly something to celebrate!

This series, “Notes on Napkins”, will be published regularly and document my wine finds here in Playa del Carmen. My focus will be on Mexican producers but I will also be tasting and reviewing many of the other wines that are readily available in this area. I will try to hit on all wine styles, varietals and price points. I invite your comments and questions.


Wine: Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc “Vina Kristel”
Producer: Monte Xanic
Vintage: 2008
Varietals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Country: Mexico
Region: Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada

Michele’s Notes: This is a Bordeaux styled Sauvignon Blanc with similar attributes to its French cousins. The color is pale yellow, moving to green. Clarity is excellent. The nose is earthy with melon with notes of leather.  Strong on the mid palate, the flavors over apple and melon predominate with a bit of pineapple. Good depth and character are derived from 21 days in French oak. The acidity is moderate making it a nice match for oily fish like salmon but flexible enough for chicken and pork as long as the sauce is not too rich or very spicy. The labeling has been changed from the last vintage I tasted (2006) makes a huge improvement in packaging. The new elegant label is matched well to the wine. This is a crisp, easy to drink wine for every day. Lovers of White Bordeaux will find this a good alternative at a good price. Recommended.

Purchased at Chedraui, Playa del Carmen, Price – 130 pesos.

“Notes on Napkins” is written by Michele Kinnon, Marketing Chairperson for Taste of Playa 2010 and owner of Buy Playa Real Estate Advisors in Playa del Carmen.

Ticket Sales for the 2010 Event

Blog Stats

  • 46,986 hits

Previous Posts

Countdown Clock

June 2010
« Nov   Jul »

Taste of Playa on Twitter