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Yucatan Holidays Sponsors Taste of Playa 2010

Hacienda Tres Rios

What’s better than relaxing on the white sand beaches of the Mexican Caribbean?  Only one thing: relaxing on white sand beaches while eating delicious international gourmet food at Taste of Playa, a community‐oriented culinary event featuring the diverse talents of chefs across the Riviera Maya.  Thanks to the support of Yucatan Holidays, we’re able to offer this extraordinary culinary event to the public for a second year in a row.

Sponsored by Yucatan Holidays, an established Mexican-owned travel and tourism company based in Cancun, this year’s Taste of Playa* is being held on Sunday, November 21st, in the continental town of Playa del Carmen at Parque Fundadores by the beach.  This Riviera Maya town offers the perfect venue for an international culinary event because of its strong multicultural influence and its reputation as a popular travel destination in Mexico.

With Yucatan Holidays’ significant contributions to the community through its sustainable tourism and environmental conservation programs in the region, the tourism company is a logical choice to sponsor this event.  In fact, this year’s celebrity host, Mark DeCarlo, who is a Travel and Food Expert and Travel Channel host of the television show, “Taste of America with Mark DeCarlo,” will stay at one of Yucatan Holiday’s affiliated resorts: the prestigious Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Spa & Nature Park in Playa del Carmen.

This sustainable tourism, 5-star resort is the first built of five resorts to be developed on 326 acres of nature reserve containing tropical rainforests, mangroves, rivers, caves, and coastal dunes.  Designed in a Spanish hacienda style, this eco-friendly resort is classy yet comfortable and provides Endless Luxury™, all-inclusive benefits that rival leading resorts worldwide, including exclusive nature park access for guests.  As one of the few truly sustainable resorts, Hacienda Tres Rios was developed and constructed exceeding environmental regulations.

As a strong proponent of sustainable tourism, Yucatan Holidays provides unique vacation packages that feature remarkable cultural and environmental education experiences for travelers.  They include authentic cultural vacations in the Yucatan Peninsula while supporting local communities, indigenous populations, and the natural environment.  In September 2010, Yucatan Holidays received the International Star Award for Quality (ISAQ) from Business Initiatives Directions (BID) for its commitment to quality and excellence.

* Proceeds from the event will be donated to a food education program of the Playa del Carmen Rotary Club to benefit the children and families of the Riviera Maya.


Meatless Mondays on the Riviera Maya

There a public campaign that mirrors World War I and World War II food campaigns that was breathed new life as an eco-initiative to decrease the amount of meat that is consumed in the North American diet.  For the past 7 or 8 years the popularity of this campaign has risen and it has turned into a healthy eco-friendly way to eat.

Mexico has a meat heavy diet.  The portions, albeit, are not as large as Northern American diets, but there is still a very heavy emphasis on meat, pork, chicken and beef.  Meatless Monday seems as important to people in Mexico as it does to our neighbors in the north.

Over the past few months, our Meatless Monday blog entries have consisted of local restaurant reviews that highlight vegetarian/meatless options, meatless recipes and food descriptions that educate locals and visitors about meatless options they can incorporate into their diets, on vacation or in their day to day lifestyle.  Dairy items on our Meatless Monday campaign have not been taken out. This omission would nearly collapse the Mexican recipe section! We are however trying to limit recipe options to those that require little milk or crema and only small portions of cheese.

If you are a vegetarian or just trying to reduce your intake of meat, we hope you are enjoying this segment of the Taste of Playa celebration of local chefs and their creations.  We hope we have been able to show that the Riviera Maya has many vegetarian options that will still provide you with an exemplary culinary experience, and enhance your knowledge of local and widely used foods in this region.

Here are some examples of Meatless Monday recipe and educational sites that can add to your list of Meatless Monday options for you and the family:

Women’s Day magazine has included Meatless Monday on their monthly recipe calendar since 2004.

Kim O’Donnel, a food journalist and trained cook, offered weekly Meatless Monday recipes in her Washington Post column “A Mighty Appetite”.

Articles regarding Meatless Monday have been published by several authors in The Huffington Post since April 2009.

Have any suggestions for Meatless Monday?  Please share your recipes and links in the Comments section.

Written by Nicola Inwood. Nicola is 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.

Grilled Salmon with Lime Habanero Butter

This recipe is for everybody, not only habanero lovers. Prepared properly, it’s not spicy.

I love using chiles in different dishes. I was afraid of habaneros for a long time, until I discovered that they have an extraordinary flavor when cleaned of the seeds and veins. This helps to curb the heat and bring out the true flavor of the pepper. Even Armando, who is Mexican and loves habaneros, was surprised at how flavorful they can be without those nasty seeds that carry all that heat. Remember the veins also carry lots of heat, so you’ll want to get rid of them too. I recommend that you use gloves when working with chiles.

The lime habanero butter is so addictive, you’ll probably find lots of uses for it as well.

I usually serve this salmon dish with a baked potato and some kind of salad, avocado salad goes great on the side. The butter is fantastic on the potato, so you might want to double the butter recipe and serve some on the side.

Many people think fish is difficult to cook and that salmon is expensive. Per kilo (pound) it’s a bit higher than other fish, but the portion you need in order to be satisfied is much smaller than with other fish. A whole fillet is really not necessary, only a slice about 1 ½ inches thick per person.

Also, salmon may be cooked rare, medium and well done, just like a steak. Rare is delicious!


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon seeded, deveined and minced habanero pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 (5 ounce) salmon steaks
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons seeded, deveined and minced habanero pepper
2 teaspoons grated lime zest


1. In a bowl, stir together vegetable oil, orange juice, 3 tablespoons lime juice, tequila, 1 tablespoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon habanero pepper, and garlic. Reserve a small amount to use as a basting sauce, and pour the remainder into a shallow baking dish. Place the salmon in the shallow dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, turning frequently.

2. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons habanero pepper, and 2 teaspoons lime zest. Cover, and refrigerate.

3. Preheat grill for medium heat. May also be sautéed in a hot skillet.

4. Lightly oil grill grate, and place salmon on the grill. Cook salmon for 5 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish can be easily flaked with a fork.

5. Transfer to a serving dish, top with habanero butter, and serve.

Serves 4 persons with 5-ounce portions
Calories per portion: 480


Originally published by Mexican Caribbean Today. Local News Coverage for the Mexican Caribbean Today and media content is written by Cynthia Nolan and Armando Elizalde, from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

The little guy doesn’t always come last in Playa del Carmen

As a second year sponsor for Taste of Playa, we can say that our support has helped us two fold while supporting the community and supporting the Riviera Maya.

The Abyss Dive Center opened in 1995 on the beaches of Playa del Carmen.  As the dive center grew, the coast of the Mayan Riviera grew and we are happy to say that we have stretched our business along the coast from Playa to Tulum in an effort to support the interest in the area.

When the Taste of Playa sponsorship opportunity came our way we jumped at it, as we think that supporting the Riviera Maya, the small businesses that have built the Riviera Maya and those who took the risk to set up shop in the early years, should all have an opportunity to shine and ‘shout about’ what they do and how well they do it.  Being a small business it is important to support our counterparts, in every way that we can.

The event day was spectacular and it was nice to see old faces, new faces, our customers, our staff and our friends gathered in one place.  Stories and food were shared, restaurants that we have supported for many years through client referrals, through their support of our dive events and through just sharing business experiences made this for us, a very special day.

For our dive instructors, they were able to taste some restaurants that they had never gone to, for my family we were able to taste and then plan where we wanted to go for our next family dinner.   It was a great way to learn about the new players in town and introduce ourselves as their neighbour and supporter.

Supporting the Taste of Playa was a great addition to our community events, and we hope to be there in 2010 with more of our customers, more of our friends and most of all, more tickets so we can have more tastes and food experiences!  Ask the committee how you can support as we, as a little guy, felt that our support had a huge impact!

Meatless Mondays at Era Ora, Bellisimo!

You have many options for Meatless Mondays at Era Ora, and will enjoy the Italian flavors.  Owned by an Italian and Swiss Couple, their focus is Italian Food with foodie slant on Pizza and Pasta.

The fettuccine is hand rolled and when combined with a light sauce of tomato and basil, you will be in heaven.  There is also the 3 cheese pasta and if you ask nicely I am sure you can request an easy olive oil and mixed vegetable pasta done al dente, siempre, and fresh ground pepper.

The pizzas are endless and if you don’t see the combination you want to have, or wish to delete the meat from a pizza, the chef is happy to comply.  Fresh cheese, thin crusts, great tomato sauce and wonderful herbs makes these pizzas one of the best in town!  Great care is taken to make the perfect crust and it is big enough to share with your dinner partner.  If you are really hungry, it is not unusual to eat their personal pan pizzas solo.

Located on 1 Av between 14th and 16th Street, you will find yourself in a quiet area of Playa with some dinner music and a second floor terrace that provides an ocean breeze.  The owners are lovely and will welcome you with open arms into their restaurant/home.


Written 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.

Meatless Mondays – Cocina 38

Gourmet Meatless Mondays?  It is possible and available here in Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya.  At Cocina 38, Chef Juan Diego can cook up an excellent meal made of veggies and salsas that will knock your socks off.

The printed menu is mainly fish and meat, so if you want to participate in Meatless Mondays, just ask the waiter and you will have a special meal or a meal off the menu adapted to your dietary needs.  A favorite starter is mixed greens with passion fruit, couscous, dices tomatoes and avocado, sauteed mushrooms and roasted asparagus with a jamaica  dressing.  For a main course there could be a roasted vegetable plate with shaved Parmesan or a vegetable lasagna with no pasta which is fabulous or a grilled mushroom risotto with truffle oil.

Meat will not be missed and the explosion of flavors will make you happy and full.  If you order a coffee or aperitif, you will find the meatless truffles to be a delicacy.  These are hand rolled dark chocolate truffles that are the signature after dinner treat that Cocina 38 serves up to all of its guests.

Cocina 38 rated in the top 3 on TripAdvisor and number 1 in many eyes of the Foodies here in Playa del Carmen, is open 6 days a week from 6 pm to 11 pm, and is a must visit while in Playa.

Written by Nicola Inwood. Nicola is 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.

Dragon Fruit (Pitaya) Muffins

From The Cozumel Chef for #FoodieFriday!

Part of my daily routine since I moved to Cozumel is going to the grocery store or the local market each morning to shop for my next culinary project (also known as that evenings dinner). The slow, go with the flow pace of life in Cozumel has changed the way I grocery shop. No longer dealing with the constant hustle and bustle of suburban mania at Wegman’s or Whole Foods my grocery shopping has become a more holistic experience. I no longer plan a weeks worth of meals or how I will manage getting through Wegman’s without running over a soccer mom with a grocery cart or backing into a fancy Mercedes in the over crowded parking lot (yes that actually happened). Instead, I write a brief list of the basic supplies that need replenishment (diet coke, yogurt, fruit & coffee) and the ingredients for a meal that inspires me that day.

The markets and local grocery store are filled with exotic and unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Even basic lettuce (lechuga) is exotic simply because the name is in Spanish and it sounds beautiful when it rolls off your tongue. I have even managed to communicate and ask for things in basic Spanish, though I am constantly stumbling upon proper pronunciation and I have much more to learn before I can actually have a “real” conversation.

Recently on one my daily shopping trips, this time for the ingredients for mushroom and onion lasagna, as I am starting to crave non-Mexican food (although I did manage to add chorizo to this dish), I was struck by a fruit that looked like it was on fire. This fruit was not only hot pink, but it had petal like spikes outlined in yellow that looked like flames. What made the fruit even more striking was the inside. Pure whiteness spotted with seeds likened to those of poppy seeds.  I had to buy it.

So I took two and jotted in my iPhone notes the word Pitaya. As soon as I got home I looked up my purchase and how it is used. Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit (it does look like a fireball from a dragon) is native to Mexico and South America. Pitaya is a fruit of a cactus and not only a typical cactus, but a cactus that only flowers at night. I tried looking up recipes, but my research was “fruitless” (sorry I had to say it). People described it as tasteless, or similar to the texture of a kiwi because of the little black seeds. Essentially the only interesting recipe I found was use it to make Dragon Fruit ice cream, but most results were either eat it alone or use it as an addition to a fruit salad. This was no good as one; I do not have an ice cream maker (hint hint hubby) and two I wanted to make something more interesting than fruit salad.

I did some thinking. It’s fruit right? Why not make muffins? I have been craving for some variety in my breakfast. Here is my recipe for golden brown top, moist Dragon Fruit Muffins:

Dragon Fruit Muffins Recipe

2 cups flour – sifted

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda (I didn’t have baking soda so I substituted 2 tsp of baking powder, this worked fine)

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ Drag Fruit – diced/ cut in small macédoine (0.5 cm cube) (See How to Eat Dragon Fruit to remove the edible part from the skin)

2 eggs

¾ cups oil (I used regular canola oil)

¾ cups milk (I used fat free milk)

Butter for greasing muffin pan

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a muffin pan (I used a pan for 6 large muffins, but this recipe can make up to 18 medium sized muffins). You can also use foil/paper liners if desired.

2. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl.

3. Beat eggs with handheld mixer or stand mixer. Add sugar and beat until pale yellow. Add oil and milk and mix thoroughly until frothy.

4. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Fold in Dragon Fruit.

5. Spoon mixture into muffin pan and bake for approximately 15 min or until tops of muffins are golden. Cool on a wire rack.

6. Serve lightly dusted with powder sugar and butter.

Submitted by Emily Egg – the “Cozumel Chef”. Emily is a classically trained French Chef. She has apprenticed at a number of French and New American restaurants in New York and New Jersey. Now on Cozumel Island, Emily is pursuing a passion for food and life. She is bringing a new spin to Mexican flavor and “home away from home” dining. Modernizing classic Mexican with a French technique flare Emily provides a unique culinary experience to remember on your vacation. Recipe originally published on the Cozumel Chef Blog.

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