Creating Cuisine in Sayulita on the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

What is it about Sayulita on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico that keeps drawing us back? Located just north of Puerto Vallarta it’s a world removed from the “typical” tourist destination.

Is it because it’s a sleepy little fishing village with a laid back, surfer vibe that caters to our inner child of just being free to explore the ocean, the beach, and the Mexican culture of years gone by?

Is it that it’s a village that defies the temptation of becoming overly commercialized which in turn would destroy the warmth and charm of a hidden gem?

Is it the sandy beachfront with a long, gentle surf break with warm, clear water?

We believe it is all of the above and the “Sayulita Good Vibes” is really a state of mind that all visitors experience… and we are continually drawn back.

Establish a Base Camp

This article focuses on eating… plain and simple… since most everything you eat here is fresh, locally sourced, and reasonably priced.

Sayulita is an epicurean delight with exceptional dining options from “street food” to full gourmet restaurants.

We usually select the road-less-traveled and find vacation rentals that boast a well-equipped chef’s kitchen.

Once again Sayulita Life (sayulitalife.com) becomes the go-to site. They represent over 400 vacation rental options and we usually find the “perfect” place.

We love to cook and on this trip we lured two other couples with like minds to join us. Looking for a place for three couples to share brings the price point for the more expensive properties into a much more reasonable price range, too.

A Cornucopia of Fresh Ingredients

Sayulita and other surrounding villages have organized and scheduled many fresh air farmers markets that stress organic options, offering local fruits and vegetables.

One of our favorite markets was a short drive south of Sayulita in the La Cruz Marina Fish Market on Banderas Bay where you can purchase freshly caught fish, shrimp, lobsters, oysters and other assorted seafood all for great prices.

Fish markets have been a staple in Banderas Bay for generations, in fact many of the restaurants, personal chefs and caterers in the area shop here daily for their seafood.

In addition, the Sunday market features handmade items by locals as well as from the indigenous tribes in the area… each vendor can only sell what they personally made… now that is local pride.

Eating IN… The Personal Chef Option

For a special treat we hired three professional chefs on three different evenings to share their talent and treat us to their regional cooking from their respective heritages.

Justifying the decision to hire a personal chef for three couples that love to cook themselves was not difficult considering the alternatives.

Imagine if you will dining in the comfort of your vacation rental, and the only thing you have to do is to enjoy the cooking demonstration (if you want to), savor a refreshing beverage and anticipate the fabulous cuisine being made expressly for you and your taste preferences.

There is no shopping for the ingredients, no prepping, no plating, and best of all… no cleaning up. Everything takes place like magic… and for less than the cost of a similar meal at an outside restaurant.

You owe it to yourself to try it at least once for a special date or event and besides you are all on vacation… so create a memory!

The following are three unique chefs with their own style and specialties… all waiting for your call.

Chef Laura

We were introduced to Laura as our housekeeper at “Villa Sol Blau” and were told she is an excellent cook having prepared meals for numerous guests.

What we discovered is that Laura uses family recipes matched with local fresh ingredients and treats her dining patrons like “family” as she lavishes the warmth and grace of her heritage… we enjoyed a traditional meal and Laura’s charming personality… “Mom” was in the kitchen!

Laura prepared an authentic regional meal consisting of Green Chile Enchiladas and traditional slow cooked black beans followed with Chile Relleno with a poblano sauce and Mexican rice all based on a family recipe. Her Flan dessert was of course homemade and was delicate as well as creamy.

Chef Sofia Silva Sanchez

We “found” Chef Sofia on the Sayulita Life site and she also has her own webpage (sayulitachef.com). After reading the glowing reviews as well as her extensive menu options we made a date for dinner.

Sofia is a vibrant, effervescent, and a very personable individual and as a chef her wide range of cooking skills extend from traditional Mexican cuisine to menus offering Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Vegetarian and Vegan options.

Her excellent dessert reputation is definitely understated!

The meal began with Cucumber cups stuffed with Shrimp Ceviche, followed by an
salad of organic greens topped with chipotle dressing. The main entree consisted of tender pieces of baked chicken in a poblano sauce with Mexican rice and her dessert was homemade Key Lime Pie topped with strawberries and mint.

Chef Daniel Murillo

Chef Daniel is the consummate professional and performs his cooking with a flair… literally he lights up the room! Can you say… Flambe!

Daniel owns the restaurant “Mexotix” in the neighboring town of San Pancho which is a short drive north of Sayulita. He offers his catering and cooking services in Sayulita and we have enjoyed his exceptional “Mexican-Fusion with an Asian Twist” style on numerous occasions. (sayulitalife.com/mexotik)

Chef Daniel works with his Sous Chef Juan to create amazing food. He started with Seared Tuna with sesame crust served over tostini with cucumber noodles & alfalfa sprouts dressed with balsamic reduction.

Followed with handmade from scratch Empanadas stuffed with shrimp sautéed in citrus Mexican salsa & melted panela cheese.

With a bit of flash and fire Daniel sauteed an Octopus in orange reduction with hibiscus & chipotle served with grilled veggies & coconut rice… tender and delicious.

Eating IN… Prepare a Dining Experience Yourself

The three couples set up a friendly competition and over the course of three nights it was game-on! But our first stop was a trip to La Cruz Fish Market followed by visiting a variety of in-town markets and one more stop at the excellent fish market just over the bridge into town.

We started with the Team Challenge: Jumbo Blue Shrimp cooked three ways.

One Team prepared Seared Mahi-Mahi with organic greens and avocados.

One Team grilled two very large Spiny Lobsters with a lot of melted butter on the side.

One Team grilled two Sushi Grade Yellow Tail Tuna Steaks about two pounds each.

We all showed off our cooking skills, sampled exceptional wines from Chile and Mexico, and most of all enjoyed the experience.

Summary

Creating cuisine in a village with a cadre of personal chefs, fresh seafood, organic farmers markets and local vendors offering all of the ingredients that you need to make unforgettable gastronomical experiences… all set in a semi-tropical locale… is simply very special.

The “Sayulita Good Vibes” is really a state of mind that all visitors experience… and we are continually drawn back!

Viva Mexico… Viva Sayulita!

After all, what is the hurry… be inspired…

Fun Activities You Can Do by Booking Hotels Near Northlands Park

If you are visiting Edmonton, you are in for one exciting trip. This is referred to as Canada’s festival capital because throughout the year, there is something always happening. One of the focal points of your visit should be Northlands Park because it is the epicenter of fun in the city. There’s so much happening around and to get the best out of your visit, it is advisable to book accommodation around here.

If you are planning a trip to the city, booking a hotel near Northlands Park gives you a wide range of activities and attractions to visit. You will never endure a dull moment because of the many fun activities you can participate in just a short distance from your hotel. Take a look:

  1. Segway Tours of the River Valley

There is nothing as thrilling as a Segway tour of the popular River Valley. You will go through a short training session on handling the bike. It is an ideal family activity and you will enjoy the fresh air as you savour the scenery and learn new things about the history of the area.

  1. See a performance at the at the Winspear Centre

This is without doubt one of the most amazing experiences you will have in Edmonton whether you love theatre or not. The Francis Winspear Centre for Music is majestic and the concerts are fantastic. The sound quality is pristine and performers including the great symphony orchestra are terrific. It is a first class experience from the door to your seat.

  1. Rexall Place

From The Who at 50, Bruno Mars, Cold Play to Chris Stapleton, Lionel Richie, Rise Against, Boney M, Nickelback, Steve Earle and the Dukes to The Weekend, there is no dearth of great performances at the Rexall Place. Thisremains one of the top attractions around here. There is also hockey action for most of the year and it is a good place to wind up the evening.

  1. High Level Bridge Streetcar

This is a creative way to see a big part of the area and it is always a thrill when you have your family. The streetcar runs from Old Strathcona to downtown and back. It is only $6 and the forty minutes are worth it especially when crossing the high level bridge.Other incredible fun activities you will enjoy when staying at a hotel near Northlands Park include watching the game or show at Commonwealth Stadium, learning some history at the Alberta Legislature Building, discovering nature at the Muttart Conservatory, exploring beautiful art at the Art Gallery of Alberta, marvelling at aviation history at the Aviation Museum and much more.

Go on and find the best accommodation in the area during your stay and start exploring this exciting destination.

10 Things to Do in Atlanta on a Budget

If you’re visiting Atlanta in the summer, the very first thing you’ll feel is the great humidity, but that’s no reason to stay inside. There are hundreds of activities and places to explore outdoors, including the Atlanta Beltline. It’s one of the newest outdoor amenities in Atlanta, featuring 22 miles of reclaimed abandoned railroad tracks and connecting people and communities throughout the city’s neighborhoods. If New York’s High Line Park impressed you, Beltline will absolutely leave you, and it’s 1.3 million visitors, breathless. Not only is it a great, pet and family-friendly outdoor spaces, but there’s also public art installations, restaurants, and cafes right along the Belt

Looking for a park with even more nature? Head to Stone Mountain Park, a 3,200-acre park built around the world’s largest slab of exposed granite. There, you can take a panoramic ride to the top of the rock, view the Atlanta cityscape, ride their Scenic Railroad, hike the numerous trails, or have a picnic by one of the park’s lakes. It’s a full day adventure, but feel free to spread it over two days so you won’t feel rushed.

Still want to experience nature, but also need to spend some time inside? Grab tickets for the Atlanta Movie Tours, where tour guides will tell you behind-the-scenes stories about the over 700 movies and dozens of television shows filmed in Atlanta over the decades. Whether you’re a film buff or only see the summer blockbusters, you’ll walk away from the tours with new insight into the area’s rich film history and why the city’s a beloved filming location.

What about wildlife? Well you don’t need to leave Atlanta to see some amazing animals. Not only is Zoo Atlanta one of the four zoos in the United States who have giant pandas, but Zoo Atlanta is home to America’s only twin giant pandas, Ya Lun and Xi Lun!

Atlanta, despite being landlocked, also isn’t lacking fish and sea creatures. With over 10 million gallons of water and about 120,000 sea animals, including whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins, and beluga whales, the 12-year old Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Best of all, it’s only a 13-minute drive away from Zoo Atlanta, so you can visit both in one perfect day visit.

Still in the mood for nature and animals? The perfect stop to round out your visit is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Not only will you be able to explore the state’s geologic history played out in exhibitions (including NatureQuest, an award-winning immersive experience) on limestone tiles which feature Jurassic-era fossils, a 900-gallon saltwater aquarium and a rich rose garden, you’ll see the world’s largest dinosaur fossil, Argentinosaurus, which weighs over 100 tons and measures 123-feet long.

Arriving in the spring? You’re just in time for baseball. Catch an Atlanta Braves game in their new SunTrust Park stadium, take a tour of Turner Field, or just relax in the stands and enjoy watching one of the most popular major league teams engage in America’s favorite pastime. If you’re not a fan of baseball, you can also watch a WNBA or NBA game at the Philips Arena, or see the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome for some live football. Racing and auto fans are also in for a treat with the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta.

And smack-dab in the heart of downtown Atlanta, you have the urban oasis that is Centennial Olympic Park. In addition to being near many of the other locations on this list, Centennial plays host to annual festivals and music events, a child-friendly interactive fountain, and an audio walking tour for anyone interested in the wealth of architectural and general history of the space.

In the mood for something unusual? Try the Center for Puppetry Arts It’s one of the world’s few puppet museums and featuring a behind-the-scenes tour and a glimpse of puppets from throughout the world and human history. You’ll also find an interactive exhibit specifically highlighting Jim Henson’s work and collection.

Finally, what would a trip to Atlanta be without the obligatory visit to the World of Soda? With a variety of special ticket offers and a low-cost general admission, there aren’t many reasons you should miss this, whether you’re a Soda fan or not. The dozen multimedia exhibits, hundreds of artifacts, and 100+ beverages will fill your trip with red-and-white splashed memories.

Alleppey – Where the Backwaters Stare Down the Arabian Sea

As you gaze around standing on the quaint wharfs of Alleppey, you see this as a sleepy small town to shed your city-slick poses and refurbish in the lap of brackish lagoons. But Alleppey begins to gesticulate wildly & springs awake to a whirlpool of activities when the boat race season and the fascinating Ambalappuzha Temple Fest knock at the door. And the sweetness of the legendary Ambalappuzha Palpayasam permeates a touch of it to everything in Alleppey.

Waves of holidaymakers and soul searchers are being drawn to Alleppey by its promise of tremendous greenery and the embrace of eco-tourism. Home to a hundred shades of green and a thousand sounds of tranquility, Alleppey spills with fairytale creation of stone-walled brasseries and expansive carpets of lush green paddy fields juxtaposed against confusing crisscross of water highways. Slumbering ‘Kettuvalloms’ (houseboats) are tethered to the shores and bob serenely in rhythm. Little hamlets thatched with coconut leaf are dotted here and there. Everything there seems to compete for the attention of palm-flanked backwaters.

A houseboat cruise is must. Sailing along the pristine backwaters it gives an otherworldly impression of Alleppey’s dizzying mix of farm life, trading & the general hustle. Listen… the Chinese fishing nets fastened on the shore glisten lazily in the sun as if to relate the story of how it reached here. Flocks of multihued ducks swimming close to the banks nearly deafen you with their quacking in chorus.

If your houseboat captain asks if you’d like to try fresh seafood prepared on board, jump at the chance to experience the magic of alfresco dining in the boat. Every ingredient like spices, fish, prawns etc can be purchased from the fishermen canoeing around. Wait till the appetizing aroma fills the air and soon you’ll be gorging on a typical Alleppey lunch seasoned with Kerala spices to the core! Perhaps one of these local fishermen may arrange a trip to Pathiramanal Island for you. Bang in the middle of the beautiful Vembanad Lake near Kumarakom, this isle on the backwaters is a pet haven of thousands of rare migrant birds from all over the world.

Hit the scenic beach of Alleppey complete with a sprawling shore-garden. The crowds at the century-old pier including magicians, fortune tellers, peanut sellers and many more can spark your interest and keep it lit till the end of the day. Vijaya Park and Sea View Park adjacent to the beach have enough rides and amusements to keep the crankiest child occupied for hours.

Alleppey hopping during the harvest time will present you an intrinsic experience of witnessing lines of ladies yanking up the paddies by hand and bashing them in a funny way, humming to some long-ago formed folk song. Heading back to your resort at sunset, the red-tile roofed houses seem to emit a fiery crimson against the backdrop of the pearly waters and palm groves. As the sun sinks down the horizon, the breeze freshens slightly as other people too hurry home to join the evening prayers.