Veggie Boy Goes To Mexico
By Benjamin Leatherman
A spectacular view of the crystal blue Caribbean Sea from Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula (photo by Jenna Leatherman).
Despite having an ultra-hectic schedule these days, I was fortunate enough to be able to slip off to Cancun with friends and family a few weeks ago for a nice little vacay. Since my sojourn was during the resort town's fall off-season, the hotels and beaches were free of the usual douchebags who flock there during Spring Break and the summertime. As such, we were able to soak up the sun and lounge on the white sands without getting distracted by drunken frat boy antics.
I also brought along my camera and snagged some photos of the some of meat-free dining options I enjoyed while south of the border. (I'm sure I confused the locals when I started photographing my food instead of the usual sand and surf stuff). Here's some food porn-like shots of what I saw (and ate) during my vacay:
The place I was staying at (the Royal Resorts) featured an ample evening buffet with a serious selection of fruits and veggies in addition to the usual Mexican dishes (chicken mole, fajitas, et al.). The one dish I particularly enjoyed was this exotic fruit salad consisting of freshly diced mango, papaya, pineapple, figs, and other delights.
Another standout was this salad made from sliced-up strips of marinated and grilled cactus mixed with red peppers, tomatoes, and chunks of Oaxaca cheese. It was quite spectacular and I'm currently hunting down a restaurant in Phoenix that serves this dish.
Here's a recipe for an awesome salad: Combine sliced and diced cucumber, zuchini, and green apples into one bowl with a fresh vinaigrette. In the background is a somewhat mustard potato salad.
We also visited Xcaret (pronounced ish-car-et), which is a zoo, water park, ecological reserve, and archeological site all rolled into one. Besides swimming through cenotes along an underground river and watching a spectacular and action-packed evening show of folklorico dancing and Mayan history, we also dined at one of the many cafes and buffets at the park. And no, the parrots were not on the menu. (photo by Jenna Leatherman)
Cheese lovers such as myself would totally dig this "queso bar" available at one buffet. It was various spicy and pepered cream cheeses, as well as Oaxaca, tenate, fresco, and criollo varitations. Assorted crackers, fresh breads, and guava candies were also nearby.
While this photo's a little blurry, it shows of some delicious cheese empanadas that I tried at the Xcaret buffet.
Also from the "interesting dishes you can make with cactus" department are these candied cactus fruit bits, which came from a prickly pear (I think).
For desert, I sampled more than my fair share of these sumptuous fried plantains. The buffet also offered a side dip of a rather sugary syrup that you could dip them into.
I also couldn't get enough of the clay pot coffee (a.k.a. Mexican coffee) which had a rather smoky taste to it.
Captain's Cove, a touristy restaurant across the street from our resort, is situated next to a large lake/lagoon filled with crocodiles. This fella right here is named Pancho (or Willy, I forget which) and feeds on meat that patrons on the outdoor pation throw down into the water. Unfortunately, he wasn't that interested in the linguini alfredo that I ordered. (photo by Jenna Leatherman)
The restaurant also offered some "flaming coffee" for desert made with flamable liquers. The waiters were also calling it "sexy coffee." It was definitely "hot," to say the least (wokka, wokka).