Sayulita, Mexico (A Canadian Winter Getaway)
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Hola!  We Just got back from the beach in beautiful Sayulita, Mexico.  Buckarooken and I had a fantastic time.  It was a completely unsponsored trip so naturally I decided to blog about it because I can say whatever I want, which is rather fun.  The Sayulita businesses really want you to add Trip Advisor comments, but we don’t really read those or write reviews that way.  If I have negative thoughts about anything, I simply won’t mention the location or business name in this post.

 

We arrived Saturday evening in the middle of a heavy rain.  Sayulita is a hilly little sea side town made of sand and dirt.  The roads become rivers in the rain and since most normal tourists walk everywhere, you can expect to get completely soaked.  And we did.  The Casa we were staying at (more on that later) recommended a charming, out of the way restaurant outside of the main tourist area.  So we threw on our rain coats and some semi-water proof shoes and ran through the deluge to Don Juan’s .  Avoiding the raging road rivers as best we could.  Completely soaked.  But a fun 5 minute run.

Don Juan’s - We loved our first meal there.  So much so we ate here a total of 5 times!  Favourites- Arrachera (steak done in an amazing Mexican style); Tortilla Soup (super filling as a meal on its own); Gaucamole (giant portion with pico & homemade extra crispy corn tortilla chips); Stuffed chile (delicious) and breakfast is great too.  We liked the relaxed vibe and super polite servers.  For context- some of the yummy restaurants downtown have hip young staff which always comes with a different vibe.

Coffee on the Corner - Really liked the coffee here (expresso drinks) and the owner/operator.  It’s a locally owned place with a nice hint of sophistication.  Breakfast was super here as well.  We also bought some ground beans from the owner as we had packed the aeropress.  I really need coffee first thing in the morning.

Ally Cat Sailing Adventures  – Honestly, we had signed up elsewhere for a sailing trip and some fun adventures ensued.  On the morning of the trip we showed up at the appointed time and No One was waiting for us at the shop.  Luckily the owner of the shop (whom we had not yet met) happened by outside and was aghast that we had not been contacted.  So he said- “Come with me, I’m going to get you on Ally Cat sailing this morning”.  Like many Sayulita residents, this guy is an American transplant who showed up in Sayulita one day and simply never left.  So we walk with this complete stranger and we think he is simply taking us to the other outfitter.  Nope.  Next thing we know he is opening up the doors to his beat up old vehicle and Ken and I just go with it and get in the strangers car.  And he starts driving us to the dock near Bucerias (another town through the jungle and at least 30 minutes away).  Meanwhile he is on the phone with his sister arranging our placement, his adorable dog is snuggled up in my lap and he proceeds to tell us every single detail of his life story (which is interesting and of course filled with some hard living).  Any thoughts I had that we had just placed ourselves in a dangerous place dissipated quickly as our new friend was unfailingly charming and honest.  So we go to the dock and get on a much fancier boat and it turns out, we had the time of our lives.  Ally Cat staff are pro’s.  It’s a booze cruise.  With a trip to the Las Marietas Islands, snorkelling (well sort of- as the government insists visitors wear life jackets at all times now. This is a smart conservation move to protect the area from souvenir greedy tourists.)  Mexico is far behind Canada and the US in protecting natural environments so any step in the right direction is positive in my view.  You can read all about the trip here .  We loved the entire experience.The actual sailing portion on the way back was super fun and our crew had the entire boat dancing on the trip.  We appreciate the other boat owners great customer service as well.

Surfing!  - Ken took a surf lesson early in the trip when the waves were still nice and big from the storm.  He had a great time.  Maybe his instructor wasn’t really great.  There are a ton of places to take a surf lesson from.  If you have had a good experience- share it in the comments please!

Kayak Fishing  We are a couple who likes adventurous things.  No big old fishing boat for us.  Instead we hired guide Jorge (Popperman) to take us fishing on the ocean in Kayaks.  We both have some kayak experience so this wasn’t a problem (though launching off shore through surf caused me some concern before hand- it’s not a problem).  Jorge has great stable ocean fishing kayaks and all the best fishing gear so you start off with an advantage.  The plan for our our 4 1/2 hour trip was- catch some smaller fish for bait and then head out a bit further in the ocean to try and catch mahi mahi.  Seriously.  It takes about an hour to exhaust a mahi mahi so I admit I was scared of catching one.  Alas, we had trouble with the bait part of the trip.  This happens when you are fishing.  They don’t always bite right away.  Well I did have a bite early on but whatever I hooked simply ate and swam away with my jig.  ha!  As we are fairly new to fishing, we loved learning casting and jigging techniques from Jorge.  I had a few that got away and in the end we ended up with a lovely Red Snapper and a Spanish Mackerel for dinner.  Jorge hooked the Mackerel but let me reel it in which was great experience for future fishing.  We paddled around all morning trying new spots and techniques and we were rewarded with a sighting of a whale, a flying sting ray, a large sea turtle and tons of fish sightings.  You will need plenty of sunscreen, long pants, long sleeves and a hat if you are fair skinned Canadians like us.  It was a super fun and very active morning.

Margaritas – The best margaritas are available – EVERYWHERE.  One of our favs was at this little bar downtown that has a couple of wooden swings to sit on at the bar.  One night the owner served us drinks and on our last night bartender Vanessa served up margaritas with spicy chili rims.  So good.

 

Accommodations- we stayed in a lovely house up a hill, not to far from the main square.  We had a pool to use (shared with two other suites on the other floors), and we enjoyed our nearly completely outdoor apartment (the bedroom and bath were “inside”).  The property manager Nara was super helpful with any questions we had and a bonus is she is the owner of the best yoga studio in town if you are a yoga fan!  Special shout out to Sam on the first floor for lending Ken his surfboard and joining us out for an evening.  The house was lovely.  Our suite was adequate.  A better kitchen, bathroom and a slight upgrade in the decor would be required for me to return however.  We are too old for bare bones accommodation.  It was a great price though, so If you want further info feel free to write and ask me.

 

Sayulita is a small town, filled with big hearted people.  Everyone is polite so we tried our best to be polite as well.  When hawkers try to sell you something here, you only need a quick “no, gracias” to move them along.  All the food is delicious but as is the way- head to the places you see filled and more importantly, filled with locals.  The city centre is buzzing with activity everyday and night and there is a main square that has something musical or exciting in the evenings.  Prices range from cheap to reasonable with a few high end places.  The weather was sunny and warm for the remainder of our trip.  The ocean temperature is 29 degrees celsius.  So nice. Mountain biking, hiking and road biking are also popular activities.

 

Bad parts- oh the usual.  Garbage in the streets; no recycling options; bottled water for drinking and don’t put your toilet paper in the toilet! oh the unusual- Our suite on the top floor was open to the noises all around town.  Lots of loud music, loudspeakers, fireworks, construction noises, motorcycles, and ROOSTERS, CHICKENS and DOGS. Roosters start at 4:30 am and don’t stop until dark.  You get used it.

 

And that was our little trip!  We are very relaxed, we had fun at every moment (well except for the hangover parts).

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Chipotle-kiwi & grilled corn BBQ Chicken Pizza
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I know your saying whaat?  Kiwi? well, it’s what I had on hand.  And let me tell you this is the best pizza ever!

Ingredients-

2 uncooked chicken breasts sliced into thin slices

2 small thin crust pizza shells uncooked- (I get mine Gluten Free from Bigstar)

2 ears of corn, husked

1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, grated

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

marinade- see below

raw tomato sauce- see below

 

Marinade for Chicken Ingredients-

3/4 cup kiwi, peeled and chopped until very soft

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with some sauce, chopped until very fine

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 Tbsp canola oil

tsp sea salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions for marinade-

1. Combine all of your marinade ingredients and pour over chicken slices in a covered dish.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 

Ingredients for raw tomato sauce:

2 Roma tomatoes, diced fine

1 Tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped very fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped very fine

1 Tbsp chopped basil leaves

1 Tbsp ground oregano

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

sea salt, to taste

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions for raw tomato sauce-

1. Combine all the ingredients. There that’s it.

 

Directions for Pizza-

1. Preheat your BBQ grill to 500°, clean grill well and oil lightly with canola oil.

2. Rub your corn cobs with olive oil and grill until nice grill marks appear. Cut the corn off the cobs with a sharp knife.

3. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through. One or two minutes a side

4. Lightly oil one side of your pizza dough using a brush (canola oil). Grill that side for just a minute until some grill marks appear.  Remove from heat and spoon some of the raw tomato sauce on, spread it around with the back of the spoon. Add 1/2 your toppings (making a second pizza remember)- chicken first, then corn, black beans and mozzarella.

5. Place prepared pizza on thick foil and pop on the grill, close lid and cook for about 8 minutes, or until it’s done.

6. Eat entire pizza, make another one and eat that too.

 

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Chipotle fish tacos with gaucamole and grilled tomatillos
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easy to prepare and even easier to eat

Ingredients:

3 Talapia fillets

6 corn tortillas

handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

ancho chile powder, to taste

hot sauce to taste

canola oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Marinade-

1/3 cup Canola oil
Juice of two limes
1 tsp Garlic salt
3 Tbsp Adobo chile sauce including chiles (from a can of chipotles in adobo), minced fine

Guacamole-

3 avocados, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup red onion, minced fine

juice of 1 1/2 limes

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste.

Directions for Guacamole- combine your ingredients and you are done!

Grilled Tomatillos-

3 tomatillos, sliced thick

canola oil

 

Directions-

1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, pour over the Talapia in a shallow glass dish and cover.  Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.

2. Clean your grill well and then brush with a bit of canola oil. Brush tomatillo slices with oil and place on grill, turn when grill marks appear and remove from heat, set aside for tacos.

3. Wipe the grill with some oil, take fish out of marinade and just before grilling sprinkle some ancho chile powder, salt and pepper (and hot sauce if you like) on each side. Lay fish on grill and cook for a few minutes (about three) and then turn and grill the other side.

4. While fish is cooking, warm some corn tortillas in foil on the side of the grill

5. Serve cooked fish, tomatillos and guacamole on the warmed tortillas.  Garnish with cilantro, (sour cream if you like) and hot sauce.

 

 

 

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