Tag Archives: beach

The Casual Restaurant Critic at Crabster in Progreso

Crabster is the newest addition to the food scene in Progreso, which until now, has been made up entirely of plastic Coca Cola chairs, familial service (cousins and siblings doing the serving with no training whatsoever) and the same tired menus at each and every restaurant. Thankfully, they have taken the bar and raised it substantially, which means you can now have a great meal right on the malecon in Progreso!

A recent visit impressed the Critic – the menu is vast, the actual restaurant is beautiful and the service is professional. The food? Fantastic. Highly recommended when you want to take someone to a civilized lunch or dinner overlooking the waterfront and not be kicking dogs or cats under your table or getting your food as it comes out of the kitchen meaning everyone in your party eats at a different time.

Enjoy the photos and plan a trip to Progreso’s Crabster soon!

 

The End of the ‘Temporada’ in Yucatan

If you have lived in the Yucatan for any length of time, you know that every good Yucatecan looks forward to the summer vacations at the beach, known simply as “la temporada”. While the term “temporada” literally means ‘season’ a word that is of special significance to hunters when combined with the word rabbit, duck, deer or moose; or that special time of the year when those of us past a certain age used to play marbles. In the Yucatan, the word has a special meaning and that is: summer vacations. Plans for what one is going to do during the upcoming ‘temporada’ can be started as early as January, when looking at the upcoming year on the calendar; it is a big deal here.

And, at the end of August, when Sams Club and Costco in Merida have already set up displays with plastic made-in-China Santa Clauses and inflatable snowmen, the temporada comes to an end and the locals pack everything up and head back to the city.

No more afternoon sunset-watching, cool drink in hand, while the kids walk the beach for kilometers on end. No more afternoons of entertaining visitors from Merida or beyond with fresh fried fish from the local fishermen and junk food galore to snack on. No more morning jogs on the beach, lazy afternoons with the kids on a boat or pre-dawn wake up calls to go fishing. The beginning of another school year means that Moms – and the occasional enlightened Dad – will be lining up at Merida papelerias like Burrel to buy their school supplies and books if they haven’t already done so for their children and you can’t do those things if you are still at the beach.

For the well-off, who have vacationed in Chicxulub, Uaymitun, Telchac and points further out, jet-skis and motorized beach vehicles are hosed off (by the help of course) and stowed on trailers, to be towed back to Merida behind luxury pickup trucks and minivans where they will be stored in the garage until the next beach break, usually Easter in April the following year. Boats of all sizes are taken to marinas to be taken care of by someone else. Leftover food, alcohol, hammocks and clothing will be loaded into the aforementioned minivans by sullen muchachas to be unloaded by same once they arrive back in the city.

Here’s a socio-cultural aside: most muchachas hate the temporada as it means much more work than usual what with all the sand being tracked in on an hourly basis and the constant arrival and departure of relatives and friends. Plus they can’t get back to their pueblos as easily from the beach on their (few) days off and don’t enjoy any of the beach activities as these are completely foreign to them, never having learned to swim or to appreciate a good ceviche or pescado frito.

For the less economically blessed, plastic chairs, remaining food items and TV’s will be crammed into and onto smaller, less-luxurious vehicles and will, with their owners holding onto rooftop items with their fingertips, also be transported back to Merida.

Both socio-economic groups use the same garbage disposal system, which involves throwing supermarket bags of accumulated trash on to roadside temporary “dumps” which make for a delightful visual treat for many weeks to come.

At the beach, restaurants and businesses that had moved their operations to the coast for the duration will shutter doors, unplug refrigerators and return everything movable back to Merida. The futbolitos, those popular tables with little plastic soccer players that every Yucatecan teen and pre-teen spends an inordinate amount of time at during the evenings to flirt with the opposite sex will be packed up and moved to an upcoming fair or put in storage. Local businesses, the ones that are on the beach year-round, will reduce their staff and count the pesos they made during the temporada, which will probably be just enough (but not quite, they will assure you) to tide them over until the next group of vacationers – the notoriously frugal snowbirds from Canada and the northeastern states – arrive in the fall to spend their winters in warmer climes and spread around what little money they bring with them. Beach houses themselves are closed up in preparation for long term emptiness, unless they are on the rental market for the afore-mentioned snowbirds, in which case they are only partially stripped as a caretaker will probably remain on site to keep things up and running.

All that packing, storing, towing and hauling activity comes democratically together in a sea of vehicles on the Progreso-Merida highway, thankfully now 4 lanes wide most of the way.  Traffic to Merida, in the last daylight hours of the last Sunday of the last weekend of the temporada, is usually a nightmare, especially on the stretches from Uaymitun to Progreso and Chelem to the Progreso-Merida highway as there are only two lanes and one lane, respectively, as the upper class and the middle and lower classes converge. 23 years ago, when there was one lane out to Progreso and one lane back to Merida, this last day’s traffic was literally bumper to bumper for the entire 20 kilometer drive with exasperated drivers looking for free asphalt on shoulders and passing dangerously at every opportunity.

Upon arriving in Merida, temporadistas are welcomed by the flashing blue and red lights of many police patrol vehicles and face the final hurdle of getting into the city and home, where washing machines and empty refrigerators stand ready to process sand-encrusted towels and receive plastic containers of leftovers.

A sense of relief mixed with nostalgia washes over many. But, the temporada has officially ended and it’s time to get back to the regular routine of life in Merida.

Casual Restaurant Critic visits SOMA in Chelem for Brunch

After the last gushing review, the Critic and his Better Half had the persistent urge to revisit SOMA – for brunch. With the Mini-Critic along for extra chowing down power, the trio sat down for breakfast/lunch aka brunch.

The Critic was a little surprised to see that it was a buffet, all you can eat, kind of brunch which was unexpected but of course, the ingredients were all fresh as fresh can be and delicious. Fluffy scrambled eggs (real eggs, not instant) zesty chichen wings, puntas de filete beef, fish in a mustard sauce (extra good), plenty of crispy bacon, tasty ham and fresh fruit and even salad ingredients – all one could eat for a reasonable price.

But the Critic wanted something from the talented chef, so he ordered an omelette from the chalkboard menu. There were plenty of optional fillings to go with the cheddar cheese omelette.

“Would you like something else in that omelette” Linde asked.

The Critic replied “Yes, everything on that list”

And so, moments later the Critic got a gourmet cheddar cheese omelette with bacon, spinach, goat cheese, mushrooms and a few other goodies in there and it was fantastic. Served with some pastry bread and tiny fried potato cubes, the dish was both pretty to look at and tasty. Not to mention filling, but then the Critic had already had seconds on the buffet before the omelette arrived. (It’s a tough life, but someone has to try all this food for the 13 readers of this blog, right?)

To be completely objective, the Critic would have liked to see some interesting creations from the kitchen for the brunch menu a la Remixto, which wouldn’t be a stretch for the talented Chef and perhaps a little later cutoff time for the brunch but perhaps these items are on the regular breakfast menu, which the Critic hopes to try on another occasion.

Real coffee and delicious fresh squeezed orange juice rounded out the breakfast and the Critic, Better Half and MiniCritic rolled themselves out to their car and headed back home to Merida in groaningly satisfied silence.

 

What the Heck is a Beachstro Anyway?

It’s a cross between a bistro and a beach, that’s what!

So, as the Casual Restaurant Critic had far too much time on his hands and while surfing the internet for food porn he stopped by Facebook and read about a Beachstro and then read about homemade Rocky Road Ice Cream.

Rocky Road Ice Cream!

“Gotta have me some of that” thought the Critic and away he went.

Turns out this here beachstro is not really a bistro but it is on the beach (between Chuburna and Chelem to be exact) and by golly they have pizzas too so the Critic got hisself some of that as well. They bake ’em fresh right there in a big old pizza oven right there in their kitchen too! And the Critic did taste it and found it to be good. The Rocky Road Ice Cream was tasted and it too, passed the test with flying colors.

Now, Cil (or Sil) and Michael said their crust didn’t work out that well that day but you know what, the Critic’s gonna say it was pretty darn good. It’s hard to eat pizza and drive especially with all the new regulations about what y’all are supposed to and not supposed to be doing while you’re driving, but the Critic did pull it off. Also ice cream eatin’ is a challenge, but he’s got that down as well. It’s getting a Tweet in there between bites that’s real hard.

Here’s their Facebook info:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002413601305

Now there ain’t nowhere to set down and eat right there, but you can get it all to go. So if you are gettin’ just a little tired of eatin’ fried fish for the Nth time on your summer vacation at the beach, well you just go and order yourself some pizza and ice cream.

You can buy the house too, if you want. Ice cream not included.

Tulum is a Dream!

Wow. I admit I am out of the loop and the news that all those little eco-hotels and boutique-y palapa hotels in the Sian Kaan reserve at Tulum are gorgeous will come as no surprise to fans of Quintana Roo beaches, but I was impressed! The place is a fantasy island far removed from giant impersonal AI’s and the overbuilt and underwhelming Cancun hotel zone. I will never go to Cancun or the Riviera Maya again!

These are all iPhone photos; there are lots more on Facebook in an album with the original name of… Tulum.

More on the “happy finish” story

It seems the Diario de Yucatan is determined to get the word out about those massages on Progreso’s beach.

In an article on page 14 of todays’ Local section, the headline reads: “Critica la Iglesia un ‘final feliz’ (Church criticizes a ‘happy ending’). Apparently Progresos’ head church person heard about the story and called it a ‘vulgarity’ and stated that the citizens of Progreso have much more to offer than these types of ‘sexual attentions’.

Personally, I don’t know what he means; there’s precious little in Progreso to offer the cruise ship tourists besides beer, fried fish and tired handicrafts mass-produced elsewhere.

His closing remarks exhort people to ‘avoid’ these services (not abstain, avoid) to preserve their health and good morals.

I think it might actually be good for the Progreso economy and may result in some more money in the municipal coffers that could be used for say picking up the trash the good citizens of the port happily leave strewn about without a care.

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