Monthly Archives: September 2009

Merida Scenes II

Here’s an example of ‘optimistic’ advertising (I’d call it blatantly misleading but you all know me). Read the sign carefully, especially the part about how long it will take you to get there.

The Martí gym franchise Sport City was all set to come to the Yucatan and compete with Exersite (Altabrisa mall). You can still see where that was going to happen across from the Hacienda Xcanatun at the entrance to a residential area of the same name.

Turns out that the local owners couldn’t come to agree with the folks at Sport City and so that was the end of Sports City. Now, they’ve replaced the City part on all their signage with the word Center.

On this poster, plastered repeatedly on telephone posts in the charming hamlet of Chicxulub, Sport Center assures you that their gym is only 5 minutes away.

This is either a deliberate fat lie or they are so hurting for money that they recycled the signs that were originally going to be put somewhere near the Gran Plaza, which would have really been five minutes away!

All my best to Sport, um, Center.

Nectar – Merida, Yucatan

A quick note to my loyal readers… yesterday afternoon went for a late lunch/early dinner at Nectar, which has recently been ‘reinaugurated’ as they say in these parts.

The Casual Restaurant Critic is happy to report that the food is still excellent. Duck chimichangas, tzic de venado on a toston of fried bananas, tender sirloin steak with a roasted cranberry sauce, fettucine in a chipotle cream, and other goodies were had.

My only critique would be that they change their welcoming script. As the party was being seated and menus were presented, the head waiter informed the table that they were showing off their new, revamped menu. “Yes” he continued, “we took off the more expensive items and left the ones that are not so pricey.” Well the Critic knows enough not to go to Nectar to save money and so this comment was just dumb. It would have been better (ITCHO) to mention the new items on the menu and emphasize that a lot of the old favorites are still there.

Oh, and always, serve the ladies first. And fix the coffee machine.

3 appetizers, 4 main courses, a glass of red wine and 3 Perrier waters – $1400.

Merida Scenes

Here is a classic you will encounter when driving ahead. For local drivers, it is very important to not leave a space between you and the car in front of you, and if someone needs to get in, close that gap even further so as make it impossible.

Note the black BMW is trying to turn into the car lot. The white car in front of me has pulled ahead, effectively blocking the BMW’s path.


(sorry for the low quality photo, it’s all Steve Jobs fault)

Crime on Isla Mujeres

From this morning.

I hope this is not Canadian VISA rage; if so all of us Canadians are in trouble.


Canadian woman killed in Mexico

CBC News

A Montreal woman has been found stabbed to death in her Mexican apartment on an island off the Cancun coast.

Authorities found the 60-year-old woman on Thursday with multiple stab wounds and her throat cut.

The woman was in her apartment on the Isla Mujeres, about 13 kilometres northeast of Cancun, a popular resort town.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed a Canadian woman was killed there, but is giving no other details, citing privacy concerns.

A 24-year-old man has been arrested, according to local media reports.


Buda Wok

The Casual Restaurant Critic had been yearning for the opportunity to visit this imposing new restaurant on the Prolongación de Paseo de Montejo for some time. With it’s sleek, modern look, valet parking and a giant Buddha out front, it definitely looks promising!

So the Critic, Better Half and MiniCritic went for lunch last week. The restaurant is indeed beautiful: the decor, the finishes, the details are all absolutely fantastic. The personnel seemed a little casual and distracted but nevertheless, they were friendly enough upon arrival.

The Critic decided that a table in the regular section would be alright; opting not to sit in the Teppan Yaki show grill area.

From the menu, the appetizers:
Edamame – described as steamed Japanese peas. It should be noted that edamame is not a Japanese pea, but a soy bean. Oh well, no big deal.
Caesar Salad – a selection of different kinds of salad greens, with a Caesar dressing etc.
Scallops breaded with Parmesan Cheese

When the appetizers arrived, the Critic and Co. realized why they called the edamame ‘peas’. These were indeed peas, of the Chinese ‘snow pea’ variety. Not only were they not soy beans, they were not steamed either! Rather, they were stir fried with pork that tasted a lot like bacon! A vegetarian would have had a heart attack. Thinking there was a mixup, the Better Half asked the waitress if these were the edamame. She assured the table that they indeed were. The Caesar salad did not really have a selection of different greens and the scallops, while crispy did not have a hint of Parmesan cheese. They were served on a white sauce with some cooked greens which looked interesting enough but was nothing to write home about (or even on this blog about) in terms of taste. The MiniCritic asked the Critic what the sauce tasted like and the Critic replied “white”, which about sums it up.

For a main course, there was a Rib Eye for the Critic, a stuffed quail for the Better Half and a pasta for the MC. The pasta was fine, the stuffed quail featured a very tasty sour-y sauce but the Rib Eye was not a real Rib Eye, in the Critics’ Humble Opinion. It’s texture and taste was much more along the lines of a thick yet bland arrachera, in that rubbery, marinated, ham-tasting kind of way. Not good. And the accompanying Thai rice was… cold. Ugh.

Desserts were not had.

The Critic would not could not (in a box) recommend this restaurant in good faith, unless perhaps someone could put in a good word for their Teppan Yaki area or just to have drinks. The actual room, as mentioned above, is over-the-top beautiful, the service is just so-so and the food is really quite bad, considering the investment in the actual building. What are the investors thinking? Maybe it’s a money laundering operation; that would make sense.

Happy eating!

Sara Brightman’s Screw Global Warming Tour

Yes, that’s Sara, no ‘h’, as the newspaper put it this morning.

Our hallowed Instituto of Cultura, captained merrily once again by Jorge Esma, a local politician we just can’t seem to get enough of, is presenting Sarah Brightman in concert, at the Chichen Itzá archeological site. Our friend Jorge was of course the guy who brought us Pavarotti and Domingo as well, thereby consolidating his position as artistic überpromoter and cultural go-to guy in the state. He has had some reasonably good ideas in the past but continuing to milk Chichen Itzá for profit seems to me a lousy one.

Call me a cynic but isn’t this promoting concerts and charging exorbitant amounts for tickets (up to $8000 pesos or $600 USD in the so-called VIP area) the job of private capitalism? Should we really be paying taxes (the few of us that actually pay them) to organize and pay for this kind of event under the thin guise of ‘promotion’ for the state’s touristic wonders? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tax pesos used to destroy more threatened Yucatecan fauna to make way for FOUR ADDITIONAL parking lots near Chichen Itzá. Or to DOUBLE the size of the ‘abandoned’ airport, which will mean paving over more jungle. See his interview in today’s Por Esto newspaper.

Why not call this the Sarah Brightman Screw Global Warming Tour?

Promotion? Give me a break.

Let’s face it: this event (and the upcoming concert with Elton John) will benefit Jorge and anyone on his good side involved in the planning and organization only. Promotion? Everyone in the world already knows where Chichen Itzá is!! And those that don’t, also don’t know or care about this Sarah Brightman person.

What are they promoting besides the lining of their own pockets? Nothing.

And how is it that neighboring Campeche state can bring in Il Divo, which must be charging an arm and a leg these days for a show, to celebrate their anniversary or whatever, and have the concert be completely FREE? Everyone makes fun of Campeche and their funny ways; boy are they ever stupid to offer a concert to everyone FREE when there is so much money to be made!

This sucks. I hope she gets laryngitis and has to cancel.

Before they cement over more jungle.

Cell Phones on Airplanes

“Following” people on Twitter can provide you with nuggets of information it seems. Jorgito, an occasional reader of this blog and the one written by the neurotic Casual Restaurant Critic, noted on Twitter that the use of cell phones was now permitted on airplanes.

It was published today in the Diario de Yucatan newspaper, the bible for many Yucatecans and so the story MUST be true.

A quick check on the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) website in the united states doesn’t seem to have anything new on the subject – the last post is dated May 30, 2006. You’d think the subject would be on the front page if they had approved this.

So does this mean that you can only use cellular phones in Mexican airspace? I’m confused.