Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Worthwhile Cause – Emergency Medical Spanish

If you are reading this you have likely read it on another post as well. But for that small portion of readers who don’t read all the other blogs out there, here’s an interesting item that I read on my friend Debi’s blog regarding an Emergency Spanish dictionary where you can apparently find the words to express how you feel. This may sound romantic, but believe me, when you are doubled over in pain in a hospital with a 360 degree circle of Mexican nurses and doctors people asking you things the term ‘expressing how you feel’ takes on an entirely new meaning.

The book is here.

Debi’s post on the subject is on her blog.

Have a terrific Friday, everyone and enjoy the hot weather. Find a cenote, or a beach with few people. Actually, at this time of the year, stay home. It will be more peaceful.

Pasta with Baked Salmon Cream Sauce

Since the Diario de Yucatan reports that Jorge Esma from Cultur is not saying a word about how the financial situation is after the Elton John concert, I thought I would post something completely unrelated and different. Even unexpected. It’s my recipe for the lunch I made at home today – spaghetti topped with salmon and cream.

Cook as much pasta as you want (this recipe is idea for 2-3 people) al dente or however soft or hard you like. There was this lady who used to keep leftover pasta in a Tupperware container in her fridge, soaking in water. Really. Whenever she felt like pasta, there it was! Just reheat and serve. If you do this also, take it out of the fridge and throw it away, for gods sake and make some up fresh!!

As the pasta is cooking, finely chop half an onion and two garlic cloves. If you are lazy like me you can now buy chopped garlic at an upscale supermarket like Superama where only the salchichoneria staff are as unfriendly and overly familiar as they are in any other supermarket. The rest of the staff is more or less friendly and helpful.

Throw the chopped onions and garlic into some olive oil in a pan and simmer over low heat. In the Yucatan, you are using a gas stove instead of one of those horrendous electric jobs they sell you in Canada or the USA; gas is the way to go if you want better control over your heat. Unless of course the brand is Mabe, which in my house is synonymous with absolute crap; if you turn the flame down to simmer those onions and garlic, you will be driven mad by the ‘tick tick tick’ sound it will continually make until the heat is back up to full power. That’s the spark/igniter doing it’s thing and, well these aren’t Viking stoves, people.

While the pasta and the onions are doing their thing, get some of those great Kalamata olives you can now find at Costco, already pitted and full of real flavor. Use about a handful, and chop ’em up and throw those in with the garlic and onions. Check the pasta while you’re at it.

Two tomatoes, also chopped, can then be added to the sauteing goodness in that pan. Stir it up a little to mix everything and ensure nothing is burning.

Remember that salmon you made yesterday? The one from Costco, a whole half fresh salmon. You roasted it in the oven at 180 degrees (C) with Montreal Steak Seasoning on it and didn’t finish it, remember? Well take a chunk of that from your fridge; about the size of a large hand, and with a fork or whatever’s handy, break off bite size pieces and throw them and all those little pieces that break off, in the onion/garlic/olive/tomato mixture and continue over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Don’t over cook that pasta. Strain ‘n’ Drain when ready and cover while you finish the sauce.

To the simmering salmon, add a half container of fresh cream. By fresh I mean not the canned variety. Alpura makes the best dairy products, from yogurt (also spelled here as yoghurt, yoghur, yoghurth, yogurth, among others) to milk to butter to cream. Speaking of dairy products, one of my favorite awful names for cheese is a brand called Gonela. What does THAT name conjure up in your mind? Anyway, stir it up until it mixes nicely and acquires some consistency. Add salt if you wish.

Serve pasta in bowls and spoon over the salmon cream mixture. Enjoy!

Hacienda Misne, Indigo Hotel

The Casual Restaurant Critic wanted to try something completely off the beaten path and since reading a decent review of a breakfast had by fellow neurotic blogger Gorbman, he thought he would take his Better Half for dinner there.

The hacienda is beautiful, from what one could see at night; completely at odds with the surrounding area, near to where you leave Merida for Cancun, which could optimistically be described using the local term ‘popular’.

Every staff member the Critic and BH came into contact with was extremely friendly, courteous and helpful, not only parking the car but escorting the two to the restaurant.

A little of everything was ordered in order to sample the most of a modest menu (compared to the myriad offerings from the Da Vinci restaurant review previously, this one is bare-bones!) and unfortunately, in spite of being hungry, the food was not particularly good. It looks like someone is trying to create some interesting food in the kitchen, without really being able to get the final results to have any flavor!

The mushrooms could have benefited from an additional dash of salt or a dollop of minced garlic or something to bring out their flavor. The BH ordered the Ensalada del Patrón (The Bosses Salad) which she enjoyed while the Critic ate a Caesar Salad which, although better than the Trotters version which has nothing to do with a real Caesar Salad, lacked the anchovies and garlic that a good Caesar salad should have. Or don’t call it a Caesar.

For the main course, BH ordered ‘stuffed bananas’ and the Critic Rollo Campesina. The banana dish was not hot and was sent back with no complaints from the service staff which were most accommodating. It’s taste was rather lackluster as was the stuffed chicken whose saving grace was that it was bacon-wrapped and everyone knows that anything can taste better when you add bacon.  BH thought that the sliced, cooked bananas over the ground meat underneath were a little under-ripe and took away from the dish.

The Critic thinks this would be a decent place for breakfast and will try it again, in the morning. This will also give him a good chance to check out the grounds around this tree-filled oasis. For dinner however (and lunch, it’s the same menu) the Critic would recommend staying away until some changes are announced in the kitchen.

The austere dining room at the Hacienda Misne

Sauteed mushroom appetizer

Caesar Salad

Platanos Rellenos entree

Stuffed Chicken Breast entree

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

Ahh yes. Sir Elton John is at Chichen Itzá tonight.

I didn’t go – and I am thinking that I should have gone, to get a first hand account of what goes on at one of these fund-raising events – to what will undoubtedly be a very interesting night, for various reasons:

1. I have had the fortune to see Elton John in concert up close and personal in Vegas, where he was filling in for Celine Dion when she went on a month-long break from her stint at Caesar’s Palace. He is a great performer and with all those hits, you can’t go wrong. So I didn’t need to actually see him again.

2. The prices were through the roof, IMHO.

3. The whole Chichen Itzá as a Sala de Fiestas concept, which I am not a fan of. Besides the possible damage (or not) caused to the site by all those trampling feet and the vibrations or whatever some people are saying, the fact that the site is being used for commercial purposes like this one when there is no benefit to the Yucatecan taxpayer or average citizen.

4. The idea that Elton can come and play and the story about the Mayan elders who can not perform their ceremonies there, probably because no one can make a buck off of them. Seems a little strange to this neurotic foreigner.

5. An abhorrence for crowds and dubious organizational skills as relayed to me by a friend who was at the Sarah Brightman concert. I guess all those volunteers who were recruited a week before the concert didn’t really have the training to handle crowds of this size.

So I am not going. But I look forward to the comments that will surely appear in tomorrow’s papers!