Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On The Road - Cooking Up Trouble In Mexico

Well, not really, unless you count the night we spent teasing the Canadians before the Olympic hockey finals.  Then we tried to get the accordian player to go to their dinner table to play the Canadian National Anthem after their victory, really.  Unfortunately he didn't know the tune - oh well, they were having a fine time drinking dining without the accompaniment. 

This was my first foray into Mexico, actually it was the second if you include the four hours back in '88 we spent in Tijuana on our honeymoon (which was a complete letdown after having driven the entire coastline of California).  But you know what I mean, this was my first trip into inner Mexico (as opposed to border Mexico) where we could wear our Mizzou t-shirts and not worry about being thrown into the back of a car and driven to the nearest ATM with a gun to our heads.   Well maybe this could have happened and I was just too naive to realize it - I tried to ignore the jeep with the machine gun mounted on top at the Cancun airport.

We were doing a little research and development expedition with fellow restaurant owners Lisa and Richard Chamberlain into foods of the Americas, a food trend that just might follow meatballs.  And our little piece of all-inclusive Excellence heaven was located just down the beach from a small fishing village where we got a look at the various fish and fowl of the region.   The fresh fish market was a small concrete room with a window, when someone ordered something at the restaurant next door, the waiter would run to the market, buy the fish and then take it to the chef to cook.  No refrigeration, hell, no electricity.  Nor for the plucked chickens hanging from the front of another small mercado (I was riding a bike and couldn't shoot a picture at the same time).

Anyhow, I learned some pretty important things while down there - like choose an all-inclusive that serves the premium liquors and wines.   We laid down an extra dollar here and there, it was not necessary because great service came with the package, but it did go a long way towards making friends who were willing to accomodate our more outlandish requests.  And while not judging all resorts cuisine, I can point out the obvious that when in Mexico, don't eat French.  Or Asian.  Or Italian.  Eat Mexican. 

Our generous and lively attitudes, plus the fact that we quickly became "regulars", led to friendships amongst the two American chefs and their south of the border brothers in hospitality.  By the third night we enjoyed a specially-created-off-the-menu dinner on the terraza, drinking and eating guacamole, and laughing, laughing, laughing.    Sevy and Richard created the perfect cocktail and over the five days trained most of the staff how to make it, La Rana.  Just don't expect to win at Quiddler when you've had 6 or 7 of them.

LA RANA by the S & R Beverage Company
Glass with ice
Fill to 1/3 - 1/2 with Absolut Mandarin
Splash of orange juice
Splash cranberry juice
Squeeze 2 lime wedges
Fill with club soda

Whether or not you're in Cancun, a few of these will have you feeling feliz como una lombriz.

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