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Tacos, tamales and tomatillos; jamaica, cerveza and tequila

...these are a few of our favourite things (with apologies to Julie Andrews)

semi-overcast 27 °C

We're starting our sixth week in Mexico, and surprisingly, it has taken this long to get around to writing about one of my favourite things - food and wine. There's not so much to report about wine - it is mainly all imported, and we have a hard time finding decent red wine (while sticking to our budget), so we usually drink white wine or beer. Pacifico - bright yellow label, icy cold, with a wedge of lime. Flavoured waters (agua frescas) are big here, and one of our favourites is Jamaica (pronounced ha-may-ka), a light and refreshing drink made from hibiscus flowers.

Street food and food safety - apparently the idea of cooking outdoors with flies and dogs and questionable storage has some folks concerned, but here in Sayulita, generally everything is dependable and delicious. On our drive down here, we stopped at a Pemex for gas, and as Stephen was starving, he ordered a sandwich from a stand at the back of the station. Great slabs of meat were frying up on a greasy grill, and the floor and counters looked filthy. Steve's sandwich was slapped together on oily bread and liberally doused with mayo from a squeeze bottle that had been resting on a ledge in the sun. He ate it all up with great gusto and no ill-effects. This is the sort of meal that would land me in the hospital, so I bought a bag of chips and a diet Coke. That set the bar for the lowest acceptable standard, so I'm hoping it bodes well for the rest of the trip.

Beach food, street food, taco stands, grocery stores, little family-run restaurants, fancy tourist joints - we've tried them all. We do some cooking at home and split our shopping between the small stores in Sayulita and the occasional big shop at Mega in Bucerias, a bigger town about 25 minutes from here.

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This Rosticeria is just around the corner from us. For M$110 pesos, (less than $10), you get a whole roasted chicken, sauce,
fresh flour tortillas and rice or roasted potatoes. So delicious.

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One of the tiendas (small grocery stores) in town. They sell everything from local coffee and vanilla, super fresh eggs that are unrefrigerated, sold singly, weighed and placed in a plastic bag, to hair spray and snack food. A few years ago, we suspected there might be a difference between local and tourist prices, but most tiendas now have cash registers where everything is scanned.

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Another tienda, but with an abundance of fresh produce. We buy local yogurt, fat, meaty avocados,
really luscious pineapple, mangoes and papayas.

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Then, there is Mega - and it is everything the name implies. Massive sign, seen 1/2 km. away, with its own designated turning lane from the highway. (Further down the road is Walmart, Sams Club and Costco). We have gone here twice to withdraw money from the attached bank ATMs (safer than some of the local free-standing ATMs), and have picked up things not readily available in Sayulita. Mega is where the snowbirds land, and they outnumber Mexicans four to one. It's an experience - you can get anything here that you might want from home (balsamic vinegar, Cheerios), as well as $3.00 flip-flops, major appliances and free samples from the cheese counter.

Beach vendors are a big part of the beach experience, and the food vendors are among our favourites. They sell everything: fish or shrimp on a stick, fresh oysters, fresh fruit, tamales, empanadas - we've tried most of them. Here are a few of our favourites:

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If you had to say what your favourite beach snack might be, it's unlikely that a so-so sugar donut, made from a commissary in PV, would be top of mind. For some reason, our hearts skip a beat when we see the donut man coming our way.

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Rafael, the pie man from New York City, has lived in Sayulita for years, and makes dozens of small turnovers every day - apple, blueberry, cherry. Nice light pastry, skimpy on the filling - he always sells out.

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Yes, pushing a wheelbarrow full of candy and nuts through sand is about as easy as it sounds, but we must all be kids at heart,
because these "Candy Men" do a booming business.

We've been living on tacos - they are cheap, delicious, really fresh, hit all the food groups, and the experience is almost always convivial, as tables are lined up cheek by jowl on the road, and are often shared.

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This little stand is clean, lined with flowers, and serves fresh shrimp tacos for around $1.00 each.
The very charming and slightly pudgy owner always seems surprised that we only order two tacos each!

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Fantastic coffee, big healthy breakfasts - this is a favourite with tourists.

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One taco stand after another - all good

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Panino's has been a mainstay for us for the past few years. They started out in Puerto Vallarta as a high-end coffee shop, with French patisserie offerings, and great sandwiches, and then opened a branch in Sayulita. It has been packed ever since, attracts lots of local characters, and is just a block from the beach, so offers great people-watching. This photo says it all.

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Ricardo, who used to work at Panino's, opened his own place a couple of years ago - Coffee on the Corner. Great food,
better prices, and he is just sweet.

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This River Cafe is a pseudo-Mexican Puerto Vallarta import, with American prices and mediocre food (burrito comes with french fries). But, for tourists hungry for a touch of home, this hits the spot, and they have large-screen TVs. We watched a football game here last Sunday - Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas (Green Bay won). We chatted with two other couples from the U.S. - it was fun.

Oh, there's more - all the sweets - the cake lady, the man who sells baking from the back of his truck in the plaza , piping hot churros dipped in sugar, and the ice cream store - premium ice creams like whisky or pistachio, or coconut bars dipped in chocolate that taste like frozen Bounty bars.

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Since beach strolls and lazy swimming aren't doing enough to counteract the effects of the food, we are once again doing "the rocks" with Peter, our friend from Portland, who has just arrived in Sayulita. Peter is a former fitness coach of the U.S. Olympic fencing team, an avid tennis player and an awesome swimmer, and he has devised a series of exercises using beach rocks for resistance and strength. I'll end this post with this photo - motivation for us to continue working out once we leave town.

Posted by millerburr 10:22 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

You guys rock! Now I am hungry and envious, thanks a bunch!
Joking aside, enjoy your road trip and please keep on writing!

by Laurence

Looks like Peter found the only rock on the beach... So sad for you as you will only be able to watch! How many calories can there be in a $1 taco anyway? Love your tales!

by Bey

Your Pictures and descriptions are very colorful and interesting. Perhaps you will be nominated for an OSCOR???

by David

Loved your latest entry ... but then you're talking about food, one of my favorite things! It all sounds so good; I wouldn't know what to choose!

by Heather Scott

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