Wednesday, May 27, 2009

paradise on earth . . . cabo san lucas

Well, I did it. After hem-hawing, maybe yes, maybe no, should I, shouldn't I, I went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico earlier this month. I made the right decision--I knew it immediately when I stepped off the plane (24 passengers on a 196 seater) and there was a certain welcoming, like we are so glad you are here, we are OK. And they were. Not a single sniffle in sight.

So imagine a flashback to a Cabo of an earlier time--quiet streets, cafes with open seating, the marina with just a few strolling couples, and wide open white beach with not a cruise ship in sight and you have a beautiful, if a little eerie, vision of Cabo past.

Of course the food is always memorable. One of the best and most famous of quaint spots is Mama's Royal Cafe at Hildago and Zapata downtown. We ate there twice--the first time for the
outstanding breakfast. I ordered a green chili frittata that comes with guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and fresh fruit. Warm flour or corn tortillas on the side. I like to build a taco out of my breakfast--warm tortilla topped with a hunk of the frittata, beans, guacamole, sour cream and salsa--and I roll that up into a breakfast taco. Delicious, every bite!

It is wrong to really call their beans "refried." They are really a garlicky, simmered, chunky pinto bean much different from the smoother variation we are used to. Mama's is also known for their salsa bar, with about 30 varieties that vary from as simple as pico de gallo and roasted habanero, to cucumber crema and garlic jalapeno.

At dinner, they feature one of the most famous dishes of mexican haute cuisine, "Chiles en Nogada", which is a beautiful poblano chili stuffed with ground pork or beef, batter dipped and fried in a relleno style and smothered in a walnut cream sauce studded with pomegranate seeds.
The results are mouth watering. If you have ever eaten at Guaymas in Tiberon, you may have had this dish.

Around the corner from Mama's, by the pool at the Siesta Suites Hotel, (a charming hotel with just a little seediness,) is Salvatore's, a little Italian transplant for when you are craving something other than Mexican.

This romantic outdoor space is the property of a Portland, Oregon family that fell in love with Cabo, named it for their grandfather and feature his family recipes as well. Please go with a big appetite, because everything at Salvatore's, besides being delicious, is HUGE. The crispy calamari rings come with an unusual spicy berry aioli. The caesar salad is perfect to share with full leaves of romaine lightly dressed, not gloppy, shaved parmesan and very crisp garlic crostini. The house specialty, lasagna, is served Wednesday and Friday and is not to be missed! It is a five inch high mountain of pasta layered with ricotta, herb infused bolognese sauce, and chunky italian sausage.

They only do two desserts--one of which is tiramusu--literally the best I have ever had, light as air genoise, delicate coffee flavored cream, and a touch of chocolate and liqueur. This warm night now a pleasant memory.

Eat well dear food lover, and please visit Mexico again in the near future, it really is a paradise on earth.