Guest Blogger Edition: Paradise Found at Majahuitas!

20130325-233903.jpg
Our good friend M had recently gone on an great trip that made us seriously envy her. She gracefully granted our wish to be a guest blogger and share this special trip with all of you!

In her words:
We needed a getaway from the Wisconsin winter and were craving something unlike our typical educational, sightseeing, ‘pack-as-much-as-possible into each day’ trips we were used to taking. This time we were looking for a place to unwind, eat well, surround ourselves with nature, and above all else, relax and rejuvenate.

Not at all interested in the conventional Mexico spring break trips or all-inclusive resorts jam-packed with people, we thought we found heaven when we came across Majahuitas. It is an extraordinary gem, an hour cab ride and a 15 minute boat ride from Puerto Vallarta. It’s an eco-friendly resort so no electricity – just solar energy for a few sparse lights and not a television, phone, or computer to be found. And I can honestly say I didn’t once miss being ‘plugged in’ during our stay.
20130326-082134.jpg
Our casita for the week was the Sunset House, where everything was open-air, including the bathroom & shower. We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the beach and awoke to tropical birds singing outside our porch.
20130326-081611.jpg
The gong rang 3 times daily, signaling it was time to head down to the beach for an amazing meal – most often including a mexican breakfast with fresh fruit, local seafood and tapas for lunch, and a delightful dinner that was enjoyed by all guests, family-style, under a candlelight chandelier.

20130325-234133.jpg
20130325-234855.jpg

After the evening meal and a beach bonfire, we would make our way back to the casita (all the paths and our bungalow were filled with hundreds of handmade candles that were lit while we were dining) to play some cribbage, enjoy our surroundings, and gush about how lucky we were to be staying at such a dream locale.

Some highlights of the trip included an intense hike through the jungle to a beautiful waterfall, an outdoor massage with the babbling river sounds in the background, spotting a sea turtle during our morning kayak excursion, and a little trip to the nearby fishing village of Yelapa – where we saw another gorgeous waterfall along with yoga studios and such for the many ex-pats that live there. Of course, relaxing on the beach with a book and, thanks to the yellow labs at the resort that would bark with excitement and run out to the beach at the first signs of whales and dolphins, we got to add those sightings to our list of great moments.
20130325-235052.jpg

It is hard to describe this magnificent place in just a few paragraphs and photos – in fact, now that we’re back in the snow and cold, it seems hard to imagine this treasure of a resort even really existed. It was the perfect marriage of luxury resort/dining and rustic camping. It’s remarkable how much you can leave behind and do without, as long as you have fresh air, good company, and outstanding food. What I wouldn’t do for some fresh octopus and empanadas on the beach right now…

Advertisements

Thai Food: pictures tell all !

20130127-111010.jpgSo far we have sampled a wide variety of Thai foods. From fancy restaurants to street vendors… pictures tell our food journey. And no we did not get sick by eating street foods so far.

Last night we ate a churro like dessert from the sidewalk vendor at the Phuket night market. After deep frying it in age old oil, they sprinkle it with strawberry or chocolate powder, or just sugar. Simply delicious!

Lunch spread at the Phangnga area Muslim village:
This was a Muslim community completely living on water. They cooked, dried, grounded, preserved all sorts of foods.
20130127-110808.jpg20130127-112217.jpg20130127-110827.jpg20130127-110847.jpg
Fruits have been the highlight – fresh and wonderful to eat anytime:
20130127-111547.jpgFruit shaped and colored sweets at night market:20130127-111958.jpg
Try it all and don’t look back is our current motto. Bon Apetit!!

Food & Culture Hunt at Khao Lak

20130122-144021.jpg
We took a short trip to Khao Lak center to check out the food and shopping scene. It is a long strip lined on both sides of the street with restaurants, and shops. This area was devastated by the Tsunami and one can still see the damage and people trying to recover. Very humbling to be here and be at Thai people’s hospitality.

Shops are not that interesting as they are filled with chackies, nick nacks, and knock off designer bags and clothing. But the scene is colorful. Tip: go in the late afternoon, it is cooler and there will be more restaurants that are open.

Hand carved soaps:
20130122-144005.jpg
Things that crack you up:
20130122-143944.jpg
And of course McDonalds: as disappointing to see, but also it is funny…
20130122-151325.jpg
Lunch at a sidewalk restaurant: morning glory veggies and spicy seafood dish (remember to ask for the rice). Fresh black and green peppercorns were the hit of the dish! 4 people, 4 dishes, 1 large beer, 1 fresh coconut juice = 700 baht ($23.54).
20130122-144040.jpg
Per G’s friend Iris from Taiwan, we stopped at a 7eleven to look for ‘birds nest drink and seaweed snacks’. We found both and more to try:
20130122-144109.jpg
Birds Nest and Collagen Drink: we drank both right away… both are made from some fruits, no added sugar. We suspect we would have to drink a whole bunch to see any effect. Was so fun and surprising to try them.
20130122-144120.jpg

Surprise! We are in Thailand!

20130119-113140.jpgWe made it to our final destination… Phuket, Thailand. Sawatdee!! Hello

Woke up to a 90 degree weather, nice light breeze and a huge beach…

Taking a cab from the airport was an experience in itself; the chaos of tourists ripe for picking by the smart locals is a scene. So stay on course to go and just get in line for Taxi Meter. Don’t talk to hawkers who will try to bargain with you unless you mean it an you can drive a hard bargain.
20130119-113310.jpg
Let the exchange rate sink in… last night our first dinner here was a large plate of fresh grilled seafood and veggies for two – it was amazing. We paid 500 Baht which is about $17 USD. Hard to believe…

Activities for today will include a Thai massage and fully exploring the Andaman sea.
20130119-113326.jpg
Kapkun ka… thank you.
20130119-113340.jpg

Shrimp a la Vicky style

20130106-234342.jpg
So I just had the last Christmas party of 2012. Yes, this year my dance group decided to have our annual party after the holidays.

We do a cozy potluck style party every year. This year I had a hard time deciding what to cook; but my dance teacher Vicky came to rescue. She is a Greek firecracker, dance teacher, life guru, animal lover, loyal friend, great cook, composer, … and I love her. She gave me this recipe and everyone loved it tonight. Epharisto Vickymu!!

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 pounds of deveined organic shrimp
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • handful of sundried tomatoes (this is my improv, you don’t have to use it if you don’t like sundried stuff)
  • organic feta (crumble it by hand)
  • salt, oregano, black pepper (in quantities you like)
  • olive oil (I use a lot, use as little as you like)
  • Coarsely chop the onions and tomatoes. In a pan pour olive oil and lightly sauté the onion, then add the sundried tomatoes – stir for a minute, then add the fresh tomatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. In the meantime heat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Wash the shrimp in cold water and let it drain. Prepare a large oven dish/pan – I used a rectangular pyrex dish. Pour the sautéed mix at the bottom, then add the shrimp and seasoning.
    20130106-231452.jpgMix it all and add half a cup of water. Drizzle with some olive oil. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 5 minutes (watch carefully, don’t overcook the shrimp).
    20130106-232619.jpgTake the shrimp out of the oven and cover the top with crumbled feta. Use as much as you like, I prefer a light coverage. Turn on the broiler on high, put the dish back in the oven till you see feta melt and pieces are golden.
    20130106-233150.jpg
    This dish is a great appetizer as well as a hefty side dish. If you are a seafood lover you will enjoy this super easy to make healthy dish. Bon Appetit !!