The Only Margaritas I’ve Ever Loved and Scallops with Bacon Beurre Blanc de Tocino and Cilantro

01.3.12

In 1993 I discovered margaritas. One week later my boyfriend, my gay travel-mate and I were spilling a pitcher of margaritas on a pool table in a crappy bar in the middle of a Colorado Winter. A few hours later I found out that my boyfriend was curious about kissing my gay friend and were I not retching I might have cared. That was the one and only week of the margaritas.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor…. as the saying goes.

Almost twenty years later I was able to enjoy a margarita again. During my trip to Gran Velas Riviera Nayarit we sampled dozens of margaritas (sampled folks… it was like one sip of each) and learned to make a few dishes. Chef Claudio Hotter is the executive Chef at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, he spent a day cooking with all of us and shared these recipes.

Scallops with Bacon Beurre Blanc de Tocino and Cilantro

4 portions

Ingredients

12 pieces Scallops (vieras)
150 gr. Champignons (mushrooms) (approx 1/3 pound)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

Beurre Blanc

200 gr. Butter (1 3/4 sticks)
60 gr. Shallot (2 oz)
200 ml. red wine vinegar (3/4 cup)
Salt, pepper
100 gr. Smoked bacon (3.5 ounces)
30 gr. Fine chopped parsley (a sprinkling)

Décor
05 gr. coriander
02 gr. chives
02 gr. Dill
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

Preparation:
Clean all ingredients
Cut the champignons into quarters sauté them in olive oil and season with salt and
pepper.
Sautee the shallot and smoked bacon then add the red wine vinegar and the butter.
Fine chopped parley in our sauce.

Grill the scallops on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
Heat up the champignon and serve it with scallops over it and lastly add the buerre blanc over the grilled scallops.

Garnish with fresh coriander and chives, drop some olive oil over it and
Bon appetite

And to accompany it try this amazing margarita.

Tamarind Mint Margarita

1.5 oz Tamarind Concentrate
4 Fresh Mint Leaves
1.5 oz Tequila
½ oz Controy (Mexican Orange Liqueur)
Dash of Lemon Juice
Dash of Simple Syrup

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously and serve in salt-rimmed frosted glass.

I did notice that all the fine dining restaurants in Riviera Nayarit the salts were complex and the margaritas were served in martini glasses. Some of the salts were sweet, others were tart (I loved those) and still others were spicy. I’m not sure where to get all those fabulous salts here in the US, but I’m going to figure it out.

Sayulita: The hippie enclave you MUST visit in Mexico

12.13.11

While staying at Gran Velas in Riviera Nayarit we took a few trips around the region.

My favorite day was spent exploring this tiny little town called Sayulita. It was about a twenty minute scenic drive through the mountains from Riviera Nayarit to Sayulita. The roads weren’t particularly well maintained but the forest was stunning and the slow drive down the mountain where the green canopies parted to reveal azure blue seas.

The town is a typical seaside town. The homes are small and low slung, the streets are cobblestoned and crooked. Children try to sell you string bracelets for just a peso or two and pharmacies do brisk business with American housewives looking for Ritalin and Xanax.

What makes Sayulita unusual is the artisanal community that has sprung up. When we arrived there was a farmer’s market in full force with organic and gluten free offerings.

sayulita farmers market

sayulita farmers market gluten free

Captain Pablo and his wife live in a beautiful casita right on the beach (you can see it’s gate on the top left of the frame). They are from Portland, Oregon and have two sons who are professional surfers.

sayulita surf lessons

There’s a little campground there that looks like a lot of fun for young adults (but not me) as well as quite a few rental homes. When you’re there look for the tortilla factory, if your back is to the ocean it’s up the hill and to the right. Buy a bag of fresh tortilla chips, they are a treat not to be missed.

The Hotel Des Artistes is NOT TO BE MISSED. The art gallery is amazing. You could stay there and spend your days lounging in Sayulita. I haven’t seen the rooms at the Hotel Des Artistes but I’ll give you a little glimpse at our lunch. Take a look at how they serve dessert for large parties.

On our way back to Gran Velas we stopped to watch a Polo Match with the La Patrona team. The horses were beautiful and it was fascinating as I was sitting next to a journalist who happens to be associated with a thoroughbred rescue. She was explaining to me how polo can be deadly for horses and how it’s not a sport that she’d support. But while watching the horses really didn’t corner that quickly (which is how they break legs and lose their lives) and the riders seemed very cognizant of the safety of the horses.

So we sipped fruity cocktails and enjoyed it guilt free.

Polo Grounds

The Conversations I’ve Had Today

12.2.11

I just got off the phone with some guys from Veep. 10 days ago I get an email from them that said:

I’ll keep this email as short as humanly possible. Watch the brief video below, and if you have interest, I’d love for you to use VEEP free of charge. That’s it.

Folks, what you see above is what is known as the perfect pitch. I said sure and I started with Veep Saturday. If you were grading me on this food plan I’d probably get a C, maybe a C-. After a phone call today I sort of know how to use the website. In case you’re wondering I’ve lost two pounds in six days.

Makes no sense to me either.

We went to the party with Nick Cannon and Ingrid Hoffmann last night and I was so glad we went. It was hosted by SKYY vodka and it was a tiny party. Maybe 20 people? Anna and I monopolized Ingrid because we are tacky that way. Here’s a ceviche recipe as told in just a few seconds.

What she didn’t mention was that she’d finished the ceviche off with a dash of cherry infused vodka and it was ahhhhhmazing. There was also a splash of cherry infused vodka in the chocolate mousse. I like drinking vodka but I’ve got to say I really like it in food too.

So after we left the SKYY appetizer party we headed to Mr. Chow for dinner and the chef came out to show how they make the noodles. So fun.

This week I’ve had dinner out with two girlfriends for absolutely no reason at all. If you haven’t connected with a girlfriend this week my challenge to all of you is to grab one friend and go for dinner. You don’t need an agenda or a reason, just do it. It’s good for your soul.

Of course I have about five posts brewing about my incredible trip to Riviera Nayarit. My friend George is headed to Sayulita for a wedding and I’m ridiculously excited for everyone in that wedding party as Sayulita was a charming little enclave that I hope to visit again soon.

As I’m writing a post telling you about a press trip, a small celebrity party and a food plan that was made available to me because of blogging I get a phone call from a marketer friend who wants to talk about the Momfia and how she is sick to death of bloggers complaining about getting pitched. I completely agreed with her. But then if a blogger was on the phone with me I’d completely agree with the blogger. Mostly though I understand that bloggers just bitch and moan too much and we all need better about me pages.

And then we talked about the fact that blogs get popular and the opportunities and the products take over the content.

And then I looked in the mirror.

Shit.

So, I’m asking you, my readers, to please hang tight. I have to tell you about Riviera Nayarit and some surrounding areas in Mexico because the trip was so spectacular you’ll want to add it to your vacation plans.

Riviera Nayarit and the Gourmet Festival

11.28.11

Mr G and I had the incredible luxury of staying in Riviera Nayarit for the annual Gourmet Festival. I wasn’t really sure where Riviera Nayarit was other than the fact that it’s a few minutes away from Puerto Vallarta and a short plane ride from Los Angeles.

Get ready because I’m going to deluge you with a series of posts about the food, spa and sightseeing in and around Riviera Nayarit.

We stayed at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Take everything you think you know about All Inclusive Resorts and throw it out the window. The Grand Velas is a AAA five diamond property with a handful of four diamond restaurants on site. After touring the property I’m quite sure I could check in there without asking for a second room. This is the most standard room, it’s not a room, it’s a suite, but again it’s the most modest room.

riviera-maya-mexico-resort-suites-grand velas

I couldn’t help myself, I took a video of the Presidential Suite. I don’t recall how much it costs, but it’s definitely in the range of, “If you have to ask you can’t afford it”. I was shocked that the larger suites were all in very high demand. What recession?

We were there very specifically for the Gourmet Food Festival, which occurs in the area every November. There are visiting chefs and special menus that should not be missed. Every dish was a work of art and I fell in love with fresh sardines. If, like me, you grew up on canned sardines give the fresh ones a try, they are delightful and the absolute opposite of whatever happens in that can.

This week I’ll give you a recap of the trip, including almost all of the restaurants (I think there were about 20 of them and I’m sure I’ll forget one) and some special places that I absolutely must return to.

Mostly though, I was a victim of watching 24 hour news shows. Mexico is really really really dangerous if you’re part of a drug cartel… you know, like Los Angeles can be dangerous for gang members.

Festival Gourmet International: and the Story of How I Became Your Fat Friend

11.21.11

Mr. G. and I were just hosted on fabulous trip to Riviera Nayarit. The trip was centered around the Gourmet Festival. To call it incredible would be a gross understatement.

This is a trip that every foodie should take. If you love meeting new people, all the better. We had just one progressive dinner but they feature them three times a week during the ten day festival. Our progressive dinner had us visiting five restaurants for eight courses and eight wine pairings (except dessert which was a cocktail pairing and a wine pairing).

The food was out of this world and deserves a better post than this one, but I’m tired, I’m behind on my housework and my cherished bottle of hibiscus liqueur exploded in my luggage so I have to buy Mr. G. new shoes so that he can go to work tomorrow without looking like a child in tennis shoes and slacks.

I found out that I really don’t tequila as a drink, but a sip is good for me. There was one truly spectacular cilantro margarita and I promise to get you the recipe. In the interim here are some images from the trip.

grand velas resort dinner plate piaf restaurant

grand velas resort view of the beach

Sayulita church