In March 2015, we set off on our very first CCKS Culinary Tour to Mexico. We met at the airport in Cancun and then set off on our adventure. After stopping to get some chips in flavors that can only be found in Mexico, we arrived at Casa Marlene in Valladolid, where Rosalini, the daughter of the owner, greeted us. We settled in and then sat by the pool to enjoy some fresh guacamole, watermelon juice (one of our favorites, we drank it every day), and some cold beer. We relaxed for a bit before getting ready to walk to the town center for dinner.
We walked into the center of town, where there is a beautiful park surrounded by a yellow wall and has benches and couples’ chairs throughout where you can stop and watch the other park-goers. The park was speckled with vendors selling various treats, mostly sweets.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner at a local restaurant with chaya (the Yucatan version of spinach or kale, but with a much sweeter flavor) margaritas and refreshers. We then took a walk back through the park and stopped for marquesitas, which are crepes filled with nutella, caramel, cheese, or a combination. They are rolled up into a cigar shape and they harden, so they are crunchy and the perfect after dinner treat!
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast at Casa Marlene. Breakfast always started with Mayan coffee, a plate of fresh fruit, and some sort of fresh fruit juice (it was melon juice this time). They would then make us a delicious savory breakfast, this usually consisted of a variation of eggs with some beans, tortillas, vegetables and hot sauce.
After breakfast we packed up the car and started on our way to Hacienda Temozon, part of the Starwood Luxury Resort Collection. We stopped for lunch at Haceinda Teya, which is an event space with a restaurant attached. With stunning grounds, it wasn’t difficult to see why it is such a popular location for weddings and parties. While eating lunch we were able to see a few of the many peacocks they have on the property, they would roam around outside of the windows of the dining room. After lunch we explored the grounds a little more before getting back on the road towards Merida.
|Ice cold hibiscus tea.|
|A great place to play backgammon.|
|Chef Contos with Cesar the general manager of Hacienda Temozon.|
|A taste of the luxury accommodations at Hacienda Temozon.|
We arrived at Hacienda Temozon, where we were greeted by hibiscus tea and massages from the staff. We were then shown to our rooms, which were decorated with beautiful fresh flowers (they put fresh ones out each morning) and each had a hammock. We relaxed for afternoon, before getting dinner. We then took a moonlit swim in the private presidential pool and enjoyed some margaritas while playing dominoes.
|Fish market in Merida.|
|Local cinnamon at the Merida market.|
|Chef Contos on break at Los Dos.|
|Liz-Tastic, David Sterling, and Chef Contos at Los Dos.|
|The dining room at Los Dos.|
|Liz-tastic making panchos at Los Dos.|
We made our way back to Hacienda Temozon just as the sun was setting. We ended the night with a moonlit swim before we snuggled into bed after a long day of cooking and eating.
In the morning we relaxed by the pool, had time to take a run/walk around the grounds, and visit the spa (located in a cenote). In the afternoon we left to make our way to Hacienda Santa Rosa, another Starwood Luxury Collection Resort. Santa Rosa is a beautiful property located deep in the country, when we arrived we were greeted with tamarind refreshers. We were then lead through the gardens to our rooms. The rooms opened out to a beautiful backyard pool, where we swam and enjoyed some snacks before our cooking class.
|Checking in at Hacienda Santa Rosa.|
|Liz-tastic making handmade tortillas for us.|
That evening we took a class with the chef of the Starwood Resort Collection, he taught us how to cook in a pib, which is an underground pit where they slow-roast meat. We prepared a whole pig to put in the pib, when we finished preparing it they had one that had been cooking overnight for us. In the Yucatan, it is a tradition to prepare this dish on a Saturday night to enjoy after church on Sunday morning. We prepared it fresh out of the pib with homemade tortillas.
We then made our way to the dining room where we were served an incredible meal, which was topped off by the signature chili ice cream of the Haciendas. Sundown meant it was time for another moonlit swim and playing dominoes.
We woke up the next morning and packed our things to continue on our journey. We made our way to Hacienda Yaxcopoil for a private lunch. Hacienda Yaxcopoil is a privately owned hacienda, the family that owns it rents it out for us as an event space and it open for tours to the public. We had a private lunch prepared by the family chef, took a tour of the grounds, took in a local baseball game, and swam for hours in the pool that was filled by underground pump system specially for us.
|The pool at Hacienda Yaxcopoil|
|The original dining room.|
|Catching some shade.|
|We caught a baseball game during our afternoon at Hacienda Yaxcopoil|
After a short drive, we arrived back at Hacienda Temozon were we enjoyed dinner and margaritas before a relaxing evening. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast by the pool and took in some vitamin-D. After packing up our things, we made our way back to Valladolid to Casa Marlene.
|Learning from one of the best tamales makers!|
|Working with fresh picked banana leaves was amazing!|
|Making chaya tamales.|
The next morning we had our last breakfast at Casa Marlene before we made our trip back to the Cancun airport to fly back to Vermont after a whirlwind, dreamlike trip to Mexico. Until next time.
CHEF CONTOS CULINARY TOUR
2015 10/27 - 11/2