Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Hotel Viceroy Riviera Maya – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Viceroy Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo Mexico
(52) 984 877 3000

www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

After a slightly elongated trip, we rented a Smart Cabriolet (TINY!) and made a sun drenched bee-line to Playa del Carmen and the Hotel Viceroy to check out its design and have a quick lunch.  After so many months of eating in Bogota with its fear based cuisine, what a complete joy to arrive in Mexico, where the chefs are not afraid of flavor!!

The Viceroy hotel is quite fab, nestled within a lush garden and paths describing circuitous routes between palms and flowers. As we navigated our way, guided by the lovely Fernando, to the beach-front dining area, we saw a mid-size iguana and a basilisk (water-walking lizard) – though only very very briefly before it flicked out of existence! Each room is a private cabaña with a garden whirlpool, luxurious bed, and a quite ample bathroom, including both an indoor and outdoor showers.  The design is clean and poignant without being overbearing.  It allowed for a relaxing atmosphere;  you are the star of the show, not the hotel.  The spa is extremely organic and well appointed, complete with energy capturing spiral ha-mam and a brazier of copal, a highly fragrant per-coloumbian incense used by the Mayas.  The patio restaurant used for breakfast and lunch, is about twenty meters off the sea.  This was the perfect introduction to the fabled Mayan Riviera as we gazed into the blue blue waters and at the attractive clientele.

We started our first meal with two Michelada’s.  A Mexican favorite of beer poured with a house mix that always includes lemon juice and a salted rim.  Every bar-tender also makes their own special blend, with many being sort of a beer bloody-mary.  At the Viceroy, it was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco and a local condiment called Magi (though I’m still not exactly sure what Magi is!).  The Michelada is the perfect drink for hot weather, cool and refreshing; comforting and exotic!  Our rapidly condensing chilled mugs were accompanied by an order of Guacamole & lightly fried Totopos (Chips).  The guac had a bit of the soft white fresh cheese and the strong herb epazote.  It was mashed to a perfect consistently; creamy while maintaining some chunkiness and body.  Top place at the table was given to the picante: a beautiful roasted green tomatillo salsa that put the perfect tart-pepper touch onto the tongue.

We were then presented with 3 absolutely perfect fire-grilled fish tacos.  The fish, common to the Caribbean, was Robalo (Sea Bass) and felt very, very fresh.  Combined with mango, shallot and cabbage , while being served with habanero aioli,  the tacos proved perfect vessels for the other salsas.  Now, along with the fired tomatillo, we had a smooth non-spicy tomato based salsa along with another based on a chili called Xcatic.

Fish Taco
Fish Taco

Next came a true first in life:  Molcajete, a volcanic mortar that had been baked in the fiery wood burning oven in which is a stew is served.  We ordered the vegetarian version of this classic meat dish, and the translation was flawless, substituting a creamy, white panela cheese for the beef. The cheese was baked along with red, yellow & green bell peppers, cambray onion (that was first roasted over an open flame), tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, eggplant and once again the hearty nopal cactus. All of this was roasted in a tomato Gaujillo chili base that just made the flavors explode.

What a welcome to Mexico!!!

 

Molcajete

SPA
SPA

Balaboosta Restaurant – New York, NY

Balaboosta Restaurant  - New York, NYMint Lemonade

Balaboosta Restaurant

(1) 212 966-7366
214 Mulberry St
(Btw Spring – Prince Streets)
New York, NY 10012

www.balaboostanyc.com

OPEN HOURS:
LUNCH
12:00m – 3:00pm    Tuesday   –   Friday
DINNER
5:30pm – 11:00pm    Monday – Thursday
5:30pm – 11:30pm    Friday – Saturday5:30pm – 10:00pm   Sunday
BRUNCH
11:00am – 3:00pm    Saturday – Sunday

Continuing our culinary journey of the week, we made our way down the street to Balaboosta., with a top recommendation from the lovely May at Paulino’s.  Here we were lucky to have one of THE most impressive meals we’ve had since, well, last night.  Because truly, Paulino’s was excellent.

However, Balaboosta is a step beyond in refinement, taste, construction and delicacy.  Our third ‘small-plate’ was a truly world class gazpacho.  It featured a cantaloupe base and was embedded with Almond Brittle and Jicama-Mint relish. The mix of the sweetness of the cantaloupe combined with the fresh tomato and  hint of spice from the relish make this as flavorful as fresh garden with the lightness of a granita.  As we are wont to do, we ordered a second Gazpacho for dessert!

There is a varied selection of vegetarian appetizers and pizzas.  Standouts being the  Fried Olives with Organic Labne & Harissa Oil and the Smoked Eggplant Bruschetta accompanied by an Herb & Citrus Salad.  A treat is the the Humus, which is served mashed by hand in a Mortar with the pestle included so you can mash to your hearts content!

The dessert we chose, listed simply as Wild-Berry Crumble with Whipped Cream, was truly surprising in the most wonderful of ways. What was left out of this overly simplistic description in the menu was the custard créme at the bottom of the ramekin.  It added a beautiful sweetness that just made the entire body sing.  The mix of blueberries, strawberries with red & black raspberries put just enough tart into the dish to really excite you about the vanilla-bean laden sweet créme.  We plan on going returning to Balaboosta just for this dessert!

The brunch service is also quite creative – thank you for no Eggs Florentine or Normandy!  There is a delicious coconut french toast and Shakshouka – the Moroccan dish of Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato bell pepper sauce with Spinach. The green scrambled eggs with feta is another lovely palette for both the palate .  Let’s also not forget the grilled breakfast pizza with caramelized onions, spinach, zucchini and organic eggs. Yum!

Balaboosta Restaurant  - New York, NY Green Scrambled Eggs, Served with Quinoa Hash Brown, with Feta, Tomato, Feta and Arugula Salad
Balaboosta Restaurant  - New York, NY
Grilled Breakfast Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Zucchini, Two Sunny Side Eggs, Feta and Za’atar
Balaboosta Restaurant  - New York, NY
Shakshouka
fried olives(above photo ©Jeffrey Tastes)
Fried Olives & Organic Labne, Harissa Oil
Balaboosta Restaurant  - New York, NYMalabi custard, with nuts, and orange sauce

Cosmic Cantina – Burrito Bar – New York

Giant Chimichanga(above photo Giant Chimichanga © Ildar Sagdejev)

Cosmic Cantina

(1) 212 –  420  0975
101 3rd Avenue
(bet 12th & 13th Sts)
New York, NY, 10003

www.cosmiccantina.com

OPEN HOURS:
Unfortunately closed

At first you think ‘another college burrito bar’, and as Cosmic Cantina is nestled in the midst of a myriad of NYU dormitories, in a sense you would be right.  What sets Cosmic Cantina apart, is that all the ingredients are organic, the tortillas freshly made and everythnig is topped with a broad variety of fresh herbs.

The still warm tortillas come made with spelt, corn, whole wheat and white flour.  The menu is basically a mix-n-match type  as you create your own burrito or quesadilla from the extensive list of choices.  The mole sauce is delicious and any combination you choose has the wholesome feeling of what it is: Quality.

There are a handful of preselected combos on the menu, but the nice touch is that you can add your own personal creations to their database, making for easier ordering of your favorites when you surely return!  Combine all this with a nice selection of juices, beers and organic coffee, it is not surprising that Cosmic Cantina is a hit with many outside of the college crowd.

Another interesting item is that you can ask to see the accounting of the restaurant.  Taking open-source to the next level, the owner has opened his books for all to see.  Fare trade, Organic and transparent.  All this along with their late closing time, you can be sure to get an honest burrito fix when you need it most!