Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cozumel Carnaval 2011

We have spent the past three Saturday evenings at the Moby Dick events center for the preliminary parties for Carnaval.

The candidates for King and Queen of Carnaval are presented, then perform alone, and finally perform with the dance troops (comparsas) that they have assembled. A couple of the candidates had as many as 40 dancers.

It is an impressive production with Las Vegas style costumes and elaborate dance numbers. It's even more impressive when you realize it is all home grown. A small city of 100,000 puts on a show of this caliber.

All of the candidates are local and many of the costumes are made by parents.

If you have been fortunate enough to be on the island during Carnaval, you've probably enjoyed the parade and the free concert in the park. I don't think many gringos see this part of Carnaval. After all, the show begins at 11:00 pm. Most of us are in bed by then. Me included.

I will return with some restaurant reviews in the next week.

For now enjoy a few photos from last nights performance.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Birthday Evening

I have had many memorable meals in Cozumel. There is a lot of variety among the restaurants and quite a few places really care about their food and the service.

A birthday dinner on the island has lots of possibilities. A couple of years ago, a friend and I went to El Moro on my birthday. I'd heard about the terrific shrimp dishes. Big shrimp, a contradiction in terms, that come from the Bahía de Campeche. We were wowed that night, and it has been a habit for the past couple of years.

Guests are greeted with enthusiasm and warmth. Chips and a nice habañero pico de gallo arrives at the table, followed quickly by drinks. Fortunately, they serve Mexico's finest beer, Bohemia. Only worth noting because not everyone does here in the land of hopless, flavorless Corona.

You can't miss by starting with the garlic soup with egg. A rich chicken stock that has the perfect amount of garlic, and an egg that is swirled into and cooked in the broth.

The shrimp brochette (shrimp on a wire) is good, the grouper is always fresh and never overcooked, and one friend loves the chicken mole.

But, I'm after the Camarones Palapa, which I have never seen anywhere else. They start with large shrimp, pounded flat, breaded and fried. The results are small shrimp bowls. In the shrimp bowl is a sauce very much like a Veracruzana, but with green peas, and more shrimp.

What more could a shrimp lover ask for, but shrimp on shrimp?

The meal is topped off by a complimentary Mayan liqueur Xtabentun, made of honey and anisette. Not a common drink, it has a nice balance.

If it is your birthday and someone in your party has spilled the beans, the lights go down and a homemade banana split with candles comes to the table, accompanied by a sombrero (you can't keep it) and a version of one of the worst songs ever written.

This year, the birthday celebration continued into the night, with the first Carnaval event at Moby Dick. The king and queen candidates were presented after an elaborate dance number. Mexican pop/disco star, Yuri, put on a show which wound down at 2:30am. Then the dancing started. Five more to go, and we plan on being at every one.

El Moro
Open 1:00pm - 11:00pm
Closed Thursday
Ave 75 bis norte, between Calle 2 y 4