Didn’t even come close to posting again yesterday, ah well. Even an exhibitionist like me has to hole up for a bit! Not to mention, it’s been a mite crazy around here these days, what with being away and having house guests and such. And Nathan and I are outta here again on Wednesday, this time to San Francisco, just the two of us. Way to over-schedule?! But what the heck, it’s been a long winter, spring is coming, and we can’t wait to fly the coop – yet again!
Speaking of Coop…my nephew Cooper’s 2nd birthday party yesterday was hilarious. Cooperstar, in his bow-tie, preppy J. Crew pants, and red Chuck Taylors, completely stole the show. He was the calmest, chillest kid in a group of, well, utter wildness. Screaming, jumping, laughing, crying kids, all under the age of 5, having the time of their lives…as my sister Etta said, Teenage Birth Control, oh yeah. Great to watch Cooper Coolness handle it all with aplomb, have my family all in one spot, eat killer chocolate birthday cake with buttercream icing, and watch Coop’s face while everyone sang Happy Birthday. Awwww, Cooper…priceless! And great job Mommy Stace and Daddy Bowen!
Speaking of cute, beyond-hip kids – check out this YouTube video of my friend Maud‘s nephews getting their first skateboards. (Their dad is having a pretty sweet time too…) Beautifully shot, it’s the essence of “kid” and will leave you smiling. And wishing you lived in California, sigh.
So…Mexico! Playa del Carmen, at the Fairmont Mayakoba, absolutely spectacular. Michelle and I had smooth-like-buttah flights (she from NYC), arriving at the same time. Since this was a work award trip for her, we had cocktail parties to attend most nights, but they were lovely and fun. Beyond that, we were totally on our own. Of course we hit the guacamole and margaritasimmediamente – every bit as fabulous as I had anticipated, if not better, especially while over-looking white sand and the turquoise-blue Caribbean, ahhh. As we kept saying, This Does Not Suck!
Our first full day, Thursday, we actually motivated for an activity – riding ATVs! What a dorky BLAST. We rode through the jungle, and alongside the beach, with stops to explore a cave, dip our toes into a crystal clear, freshwater oasis-pond, and splash in the ocean a bit. It was a pretty physical experience – we bumped and jerked over rocks and roots, and through twisty-turny brush. I’ve never been on an ATV before and I’ve concluded it’s not something I need to do every day, ha – they are hot, very loud, and scarily powerful. But for a one-day adventure, I loved it.
After that, we were all spa and beach, baby. Lunches beachside every day – to me, my very favorite part of the trip. We couldn’t get enough of the tomatillo gazpacho, spicy shrimp cocktail, or crab tostadas, rarrr… In fact, the food and scenery on the resort were so excellent and varied that we hardly needed to leave! But we did venture into Playa del Carmen for dinner Friday night. Strolling the festive cobblestone downtown and enjoying an incredible Maya-cuisine meal at Yaxche were definitely highlights, lovely. We shared several plates including shrimp, turkey, vegetable, and black bean dishes, seasoned with achiote, epazote, banana leaves, and bitter orange, among other Mexican/Caribbean flavors. Beyond delicious (and filling)! Definitely check out the restaurant’s website, they post simple, lovely recipes.
Saturday night, our last night, we had dinner on the resort, at the seaside Las Brisas. We opted for the tasting menu, paired with Mexican wines, and it was truly spectacular. Michelle and I giggled like school girls through pillo
wy goat cheese gnocchi in a pool of English pea cream, as well as bites of butter-tender braised short rib, served with adobo sauce, baby vegetables, and a teeny-tiny plantain gratin. With such beautiful food and gracious service, we felt like HRHs Michelle and Stephanie, Princesses of the Caribbean.
Just in time to head back to winter, sigh. Although I have to say, as usual, I’m really glad to be home. The heat + humidity + salty food + margaritas = Swollen Stephanie, seriously, I swelled up like a balloon. I’ve never experienced anything like it, even while pregnant! Ugh, it felt awful, awful. In my first two days home, I shed more than 10 pounds of water weight, despite entertaining and eating far afield of my usual diet. Turns out I’m not very well cut out for the Caribbean – I can’t take the sun, heat, or humidity. But I had an amazing time anyhow, seeing color, smelling flowers and salty air, feeling warmth. It was just what I needed to cure my winter blues and take the edge off my inner-bitch. (Although, like Michelle, it’s never too far away – we raised many toasts to the pleasures and benefits of being Occasional Bitches – cheers!) Ah, thank you so very, very much, my dear Mich!
And oh! Speaking of travel, one more YouTube video to check out, our friend Rudy Maxa waxing eloquent on his years of travel adventures and his recent work filming his new TV series, Rudy Maxa’s World. (And check out how gorgeous and chic Ana is looking in St. Petersburg!)
And oh again! Speaking of friends and their TV series (I’m starting to feel like everyone we know has a TV series! Who’s next, Suz?), John and I will be appearing on Andrew Zimmern’sBizarre Foods – Minnesota episode next Tuesday, March 25, 10 pm ET (9 pm CST). Filmed this past September, in part at Chef Lenny Russo’s Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul, we’re pretty excited to see how it all turned out! Did John and I make nothing but the cutting room floor? You (and we!) will have to tune in to find out… If nothing else, it will be hilarious to see Zim hold court at the State Fair (with his adorable three-year-old son, Noah?!) and sample lutefisk “up north” (check out some preview photos, here).