Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mazatlan Sunday: Pulpo para vida!

OK, so Cabo is still a work in progress. It is on the backburner while I do some serious research. Meanwhile, I am in Mazatlan. There are also baby turtles on this trip, so I hope it won't be confusing if we meander over to Mazatlan and then continue with Cabo later. I know you guys can keep up. Do not let the turtles confuse you. We're not in Cabo anymore, Dorothy.



Travel went very smoothly today until we got to the shuttle for the Mayan Gardens. The driver insisted we were not on his list. It seemed a simple thing to just call the front desk and check, but he just refused. I looked around at the big impatient group of red-faced "ugly Americans" in tennis caps and decided I would rather suck it up and cab it alone than be stuck in a churning hot van of discontent.

I picked the first cabbie that I felt like I could trust, agreed on a fare, and left the whining tourists behind. I offered to buy our cabbie lunch if he would take us to his favorite place, not to a restaurant he thought tourists would like.



He has a little bit of trouble choosing since so many places are closed on Sunday, or just open in the morning for menudo and then close the doors for the rest of the day. Well, he picked a bad-ass place, El Memin. It was like a huge open-air market, and was bustling with customers – always a good sign, even on a Sunday when it may have been the only place open.



I immediately fell in love with “El Memin” the “Crazy Eddie” of camarones. Sinaloa is famous for its shrimp, and I couldn’t wait to try it. I asked the driver if the shrimp were caught out here and gestured towards the ocean. He said “No, no, not here. A little further down. Over there” and he gestured about another mile south.



The only thing I didn’t recognize on the menu was jaiba. The driver was at a loss to describe it and the waiter made really strange monster-like gestures. I drew a variety of sea creatures, each of which caused them to shake their heads so I just went ahead and ordered a small tostada de jaiba.



We split an order of shrimp and octopus ceviche that was heavenly. The shrimp and octopus were so tender – especially unusual for the purple tentacles of the octopus. Bob said he could eat the octopus every day for the rest of his life. When I interpreted that to the driver he laughed, “Pulpo – por vida!”



We also split an order of fried shrimp, nice, perfect, but not mind-boggling like the pulpo. It was inexplicably served with pasta in a pesto-cream sauce and wedding reception-style boiled vegetables.



I had ordered the Camarones Memin since I figured it must be the house specialty. Plus the picture showed an insane da-glow green dish, like a 1950s dessert.



Oh my God, it was amazing! And it really was that crazy green! The closest thing I can compare the Memin sauce to would be the Peruvian condiment known as aji. There was a little mayonnaise in there, but it did not detract from the flavor. The shrimp were tender and abundant at only 8 dollars. Along with rice, the shrimp were accompanied by sliced sautéed peppers, not too hot, but just hot enough. I would guess pasillas, but who knows how many different peppers they must have down here?



The jaiba was crab - which it seems like I used to know at one time. It was very fresh, but wasn't very flavorful, so I spiked the hell out of it with lime and hot sauce.



Beer in the sky keeps on turning. Don't know where I'll be tomorrow



While waiting for a light, a contingent of federal soldiers passed by, crammed into open truck beds, with faces hooded in black like executioners and armed with semi-automatics. It was a little reminder that it is not all pina coladas and mariachi bands here. Sinaloa is relatively safe, but there is some strife nearby with indigenous peoples. And this area is the birthplace of the narcocorrido after all.

When we arrived at the time share I was pleasantly surprised. It is much swankier and well kept-up than the website and online photos led me to believe. The room is spacious, and there are even burners and pots so I can go to the local market and cook – something I always want to do when traveling.



However, this place is not set up for a person of my schedule. The swimming pool (no Jacuzzi here) closes at 8pm. The restaurant closes at 10pm, the bar at 11. On.Sunday the market stops selling beer at 2pm. Also, there is no wireless or in-room-connection and the business center closes at midnight. I will do my best under the primitive conditions.





I was relieved we didn't invite another couple along when I saw the miniscule size of the second bedroom.



It is a time share, so we got the hard sell from the get-go. They tried showing us around the facilities as if it were the usual “welcome tour” I am wise to your games, missus. They rescinded their earlier promise to pay for the taxi from the airport since their shuttle service screwed up, and now made recompense contingent on us attending “the welcome breakfast”. You can’t lure me into your trap with bacon. I'm not saying there is not enough bacon in the world to lead me astray, but it would have to be more bacon than you have here for sure.

There is a food festival going on in Puerto Vallarta right now. It looks to be a 7 hour bus ride away and there are no trains or boats. The only flights go through Mexico City and cost more than this trip, so maybe next year. For now I will put my feet up and enjoy where I am. In fact, I think I'm going to go jump in the ocean right now.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

elise you are funny as hell

Bob LaGatta said...

I don’t know on how I stumbled upon this cooking blog., All I know is that I’d better check out the archives for a good read. Ha-ha! Just droppin’ to say hi!
Oh. You might want to check this out: http://www.technocooks.com for uhm…a different “menu.”

Kiki Maraschino said...

Yummm, Technocooks - whoopie cookies!!!

jew_leee (: said...

omgehh i cant believe yew have thiss up..
my dad is the managerr of el memin <3
its really good hu..
yew better say g0od things about haha
just kidding..