It’s been a while since my last post because life interrupted routine. The whole holiday season was a mad house with ailing parents. But then, in January, hubby and I got away to Mexico. This was the first “real” vacation we have had in 16 years of marriage. An adult get away with a few of my siblings and their spouses to my sister’s lovely home in Puerto Vallarta. It was two weeks of relaxing with the ocean waves pounding outside our window and eating some of the most incredible local cuisine.
We had a combined birthday party for one of my brothers and one of my sisters. For that we had a spectacular roof-top dining experience at Café des Artistes. I’m just a down-home Alaska girl, and it was definitely a night to remember, not only for the fact that I spent it with a bunch of my family I don’t get to see nearly enough, but the food was a taste explosion I can’t even begin to describe. Café des Artistes is a 5-star restaurant, definitely the best in Puerto Vallarta.
The Chef designed a meal just for us off his restaurant’s menu – a 4 course meal in which every bite was nearly orgasmic. Yes, I just said that!
The appetizer was “Burrata” Cheese with varieties of organic tomatoes in a pistacho vinaigrette and cilantro and basil pesto with a cute little flowerpot of choux bread.
Then came the mouth-watering inducing Chef Thierry’s traditional prawn and pumpkin soup. This is not like any pumpkin soup I’ve ever experienced! It was much more, to me, like a seafood bisque.
We had a choice of Roasted Sea Bass fillet with “Potatoes Cafe des Artistes”, which sat on a confit turnip perfumed with aniseed, and had this really amazing spinach custard and fine herb sauce. I ordered that, and my hubby got the Short Rib and Beef Petals with camembert cheese and chipotle chili sauce, confit shallot, potato terrine with bacon and cauliflower mousseline. We shared each other’s main coarse. The steak petals were so tender a knife wasn’t needed, and the crispy potato scallops on top of the succulent bass were simply amazing!
There’s just not enough words to describe the total enjoyment of the meal. And to round it off, platters of desserts were laid out on the table that included: passion fruit sorbet and fresh raspberries, passion fruit sorbet and fresh raspberries caramelized hazelnuts, lemon cream and citrus reduction, bitter chocolate tart with pink peppers and red fruits, milk caramel crème brûlée, Super Moka Coupe (coffee ice cream, chocolate crumble, whipped cream, espresso shot and moka-pecan meringue) along with fresh fruit purees and the most lovely chocolate and spun sugar.
To top off the evening, the owner and Executive Chef Thierry Blouet joined us for the last hour of the meal and visited with all of us. A lovely French chef who expected my hubby and I to speak French since we were Canadian. I told him “West Coast Canadian – All English!”
So the evening at Cafe des Artistes is a night to remember, but everyday was a feast for the senses. From the salty sea air, to the scent of the street vendors along the Malecon, to the lovely smells cooked up in my own sister’s kitchen. I even began to…I won’t say “like”…but tolerate cilantro. You kind of have to, since it goes into everything there.
The next night, a very good friend of my sister and brother-in-law hosted a dinner party at his place for the family. I do not have pictures of the food, because it was at night, on the beach. But here’s a pre-dinner photo of the lovely table and sunset. The food, I promise, was out of this world. Lasagna to start – I looked at my husband after the first bite and said, “I’m sad. I’ll never cook this good.” then an octopus and jicama salad, and then sea bass, topped off by tiny cheesecakes and the best coffee I think I’ve ever tasted – but let’s not forget the lovely red wine with dinner!
One day a small group of us took a bus tour. We were introduced to some of the history, a couple of beautiful Catholic Churches, Tequila tasting at Don Tedaeo Tequilera, and lunch at this out-of-the way restaruant in the rain forest. There, hubby and I shared a seafood platter. Yep, another new experience of having red snapper served whole, head still on, but my oh my! the flavors. Two grilled red snappers, two giant prawn wrapped in bacon in a pineapple sauce, two more giant prawn grilled, and two local lobsters done up on the grill. YUM!
Another day, one of my brothers, his wife, hubby and I just walked around Old Town and grabbed a “snack” at a local taco place. We were expected back at my sister’s for a big turkey dinner (she was celebrating Christmas with the family even though it was January) so we just needed “a little something”. I ordered what I thought would be small and light, an avocado salad. It filled a platter and was delicious! Shrimp and avocado along with celery and shredded lettuce in a light mayo sauce. Thank goodness dinner at sister’s was running behind schedule and we didn’t need to eat for a few hours! And let me tell you, that was a turkey and sides the likes of which I’d never experienced, but almost couldn’t get enough. Cheese and peppers in the potatoes, cinnamon and apples in the gravy. Oh, it was just lovely!
There were small groups of us that would go out some days for walks on the beach – From my sister’s you could walk down the beach into Old Town – and we’d grab lunch. This was the first one we did. Those are a few of my siblings and their Mexican foods. I actually ate a club sandwich that day because the heat was getting to me, and eating a heavy hot meal was not looking good to me. I can honestly say every meal we ate was delicious. Being from Alaska, and even here in British Columbia, eating on a patio right off the street was a newer experience, and one I really enjoyed.
I am sorry to say that I didn’t take many pictures of the foods we ate at my sister’s. My sister’s housekeeper/cook is amazing and frankly when meals were served we were all so busy eating, there wasn’t much time for pictures! This was probably my favorite light lunch she served, though. Homemade taquitoes and a salad topped with fresh guacamole. We ate a lot of chicken soup, which was surprisingly nice, since when at home I don’t make soups during the hotter days. Then one night Erika (my sister’s cook) made Carne en su Jugo and she even shared her recipe with me, so when I make it, I’ll write a post about it. I refer to it as Mexican Pho because you make your soup base with flank steak, and then you serve it with side dishes of rice, beans, chopped veggies, etc that you add to your own bowl. The flavors are out of this world!
And then there was the dinner at La Langosta Feliz (The Happy Lobster) with one of my brothers, his wife, and her parents. We ate a huge seafood dinner, where I ordered a “Mariner’s Salad” – silly me, thinking it would be a “salad”! It was a platter of ceviche with shrimp, scallops, mahi mahi, oysters and clams. The “salad” part was a pretty display of sliced cucumbers. My brother go shrimp fajitas, and his in-laws shared a 2lb lobster tail (Maine lobster, which I found a little funny!) My hubby had had some oral surgery just the day before, so he stuck to chicken, but even that had been grilled with lots of local spices. Then there was dessert. My hubby and brother had flan (not a fan myself) but I shared a Mexican Coffee with my brother’s mother-in-law that they make at the table side and set it on fire. Way super cool! There’s about 2 oz of actual coffee with all the liquors, and a blop of fresh vanilla ice cream to top it off. Then the waiter brought us all Kahlua and cream on the house to end the lovely meal. It was a really fun night!
This was a trip of a lifetime, but it won’t be the last. By day three we were already planning next year’s trip, and now I have lots of ideas for new meals to try making at home to bring back the awesome memories of two weeks in Puerto Vallarta.