The back and forth with the weather has everyone looking for an ideal winter escape, and lucky for us in Dallas, Mexico is just a two hour plane ride away to get to the stunning blue waters of Cancun that beg to be enjoyed year round. Today on The Broadcast I talked about a few of my favorite reasons to visit Mexico this season based on a recent trip I took, traveling as a guest of the JW Marriott, Cancun. Check out a link to the segment here, follow the jump for more details.
The top reason to visit Cancun – The sunshine, the beautiful blue waters and endless beaches of Cancun.
A picture is definitely worth a thousands words here….and these beaches are beautiful.
The History – about 2 hours outside of Cancun is the walled city of Tulum, thought to have once been the capital city of the Mayans in the region and a place where ceremonies of the ruling class were performed, dating back to 1200 and discovered in 1518 by the Spanish. The town is quite spiritual when standing in the center of it, maintaining the integrity of the buildings, thought to be temples to the Gods the Mayans believed in. It is also quite astounding that seaside structures continue to stand without falling into ruin after all of these years. Though it is a bit of a drive from Cancun, it is worth it to see this history.
The food – Authentic, spicy and rich, featuring local ingredients caught fresh from the sea, gathered from their land and celebrating their cultures. Fresh ceviche made with fish, shrimp and scallops, whole grilled Amberjack fish made on the plancha with spices dating back to the Mayans, thick, spicy and delicious tortilla soup.
Rock Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado Cream
2 pounds fresh rock shrimp, boiled until just pink in a spicy shrimp/crab boil (your favorite) and cooled. Or, add 1 sliced lemon, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon black pepper and 1 tablespoon salt to a 3 qt pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes (until just barely pink), drain and set aside.
1 mango, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced
2 Roma tomatos, seeds removed and diced
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Juice and zest of 2 lemons + 1 tablespoon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup fresh lump crap
3 large, ripe avocados (but not over ripe, you want them to be bright green)
2 tablespoons cream or fat-free half and half
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped fine (for garnish)
Combine the fruit, veggies, 1 tablespoon cilantro, jalapeno, 1/2 of 1 avocado (diced), garlic, ginger and spices together with the wine, zest and juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons in a medium size, non-reactive bowl. Stir to mix well together. Fold in the cooled shrimp. Gently fold in the lump crab meat, distributing throughout the ceviche. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together. Meanwhile add the remaining avocados, cream, wasabi powder, remaining lemon juice and cilantro to a bowl. Using an immersion blender or a whisk, blend the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in the fridge until ready to use. To plate, add a spoonful of avocado cream to the bottom of your serving dish, generously scoop the ceviche on top of the cream and serve. Garnish with a bit of freshly chopped chives, optional.
The cocktails – They range from sweet to spicy and are filled with their beloved national spirit – tequila. From floral and fresh silver tequilas, usually the base for a traditional to inventive margaritas, to aged Reposado – my favorite, especially when added to grapefruit soda with lime for a Paloma, to incredible, rich and robust Anejo, best enjoyed on its own or paired with a shot of Sangrita, a tomato, pepper and spice infused chaser served on the side. The Tequila Herradura museum in Cancun hosts tequila classes both at their museum or they can be arranged at your hotel for a group of visitors.
The Original Margarita
2 oz. Blanco tequila, like Avion or Casa Noble
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lime juice
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Shake and strain into a Margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and salt.
Anejo Tequila and Sangrita
Recipe courtesy of Omar López, Bar Manager at JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa.
1 part freshly squeezed orange juice
2 parts freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of tabasco
To prepare, mix all of the ingredients together in a container and let stand a few minutes; cooling is recommended. Serve in a shot glass straight up on the side of a shot of your favorite Anejo tequila….I love Herradura…
And for the show, a special cocktail as we get ready for National Margarita day, an Anchorita made with a new product from William Grant & Sons, Ancho Reyes made with ancho chile peppers macerated for 6 months with a sugar cane based spirit for a spicy, yet also aromatic flavor filled with orange blossom, tamarind, baking spice and of course, pepper. Married with Milagro Reposado 100% blue agave tequila aged 6 months in American oak barrels. A splash of Cointreau is also included as the original margarita, named after Dallas socialite, Margarita Sames, included tequila and Cointreau with lime.
¾ part Ancho Reyes
1½ parts Milagro Reposado Tequila
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
½ part Agave Nectar
Preparation: Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of an old fashioned glass, salt it, and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, and double strain over fresh ice into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Not in the mood for a cocktail, the Chelada or Michelada beer will cool you off during any heat wave, mixing fresh lime juice and salt with an ice cold Mexican beer. Refreshing and tasty.
Salt, for rimming the glasses
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 medium limes), rinds reserved
1 1/2 cups light Mexican beer, such as Tecate, Modelo or Sol
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper and quartered limes, for garnish
Preparation: Place enough salt in a wide, shallow dish to cover the bottom. Rub the rims of two glasses with the reserved lime rinds and dip the glasses into the salt. Fill the glasses with ice and set aside. Place the lime juice, beer, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce in a pitcher and mix to combine. Pour into the prepared glasses, top with a few grinds of pepper, and serve.
*A Chelada is simply the lime, salt and beer…Michelada tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary without the tomato juice.
The stay – everyone loves a little pampering, and the JW Marriott is the ideal place to have this. Infinity pools look out onto the beach and out to the ocean from any angle, large balconies off comfortable rooms overlook the various pool areas, and the relaxing spa, one of the largest in Mexico, invites guests to plunge into tranquility with one of their many specialty treatments.