Mark and I were in Heaven over Labor Day Weekend, and Jesus was our waiter. Akumal, Mexico is a small village about an hour and a half south of Cancun, and we went there for 4 fabulous nights. Jesus works at a restaurant called Lol Ha, and within an hour of the van dropping us off at the hotel, he was serving us a mixed seafood ceviche that had shrimp, conch, white fish, octopus, and had a lovely lime tang. It was served with the thick chips that they make down there and some pico de gallo that was super fresh. We also enjoyed a nice pozole (I love that soup!) and some of the best shrimp tacos ever. (The tamarind sauce was oh so amazing!) Jesus also brought us the best margaritas of the entire weekend and all this on a patio, just a few sandy steps away from the Caribbean ocean! It is near the web cam that I told you about and you can see that it is working now! Of course at night all you can see are the palm trees that have lights on them, so check it during the day. They are 2 hours ahead of us.

We snorkeled at least 2 hours a day and we got to see baby sea turtles be born and run to the sea! It was a full moon and a glorious night on the beach. We also swam with adult sea turtles and so many other fish! Mark will post pics on our Facebook page if you want to check them out. We sat under the palapas contemplating the fact that this is where they film many of the Corona beer commercials, and there we were listening to the waves and being very grateful for the breeze. We connected with friends whom we had not met in person; only online through the loco gringo web site. I read 2 books! Not two pages, like I normally get in a day. Two whole books! And I loved them!!! If you enjoyed seeing Julie & Julia, you may enjoy “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry” By Kathleen Flynn. It is her experience as a journalist/food writer at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary program and I enjoyed every word. She is an excellent writer and comes off as very real. The other book I read is one that Mark got me for my birthday, and boy was he right when he said he knows my taste! “The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho was originally written in Portuguese and has been translated into a lovely work of art. I read this one mostly on the plane ride from Dallas and my eyes caressed each word, like they were seeing a long lost love who had finally come home. Every word was necessary and well put. Read it if you enjoy spiritual growth and believe that we are all really one spirit. You will cherish it!

So we returned refreshed, renewed and energized for the next project. We do have the quarterly Old Town Art Walk this Friday from 6-8 and I hope you can get out and enjoy the art. We always take donations for the food bank, and in return we give out free cookies, or free tastes of our house wines. We also offer complimentary coffee to whomever may want it. Our artist is Anna Hoey and she was hanging her art upstairs just this afternoon. Though we will miss Gerry Mattoon’s art, hers is going to look great up there! I think we may have another first place winner! All the shops in Old Town get into the event and it is a really fun way to spend the evening and wind down your week.

My big project though, is the harvest meal coming up next Tuesday at the fairgrounds. I have the honor of coordinating the chefs and professional cooks, and overseeing our menu choices. You can still get tickets, there are lots to be had and believe me you will never get a chance at a meal like this again. The amazing farmers of Kitsap county are providing the produce and meat that we are using for the menu and every one of the main components is locally grown. I am so excited about this! And the price is fabulous too! I feel sorry for anyone who can’t make it because this is a meal of a lifetime. I already intend to plan another meal next year, but it will be completely different. There is no way to recreate this menu! Check out that link and get your tickets, you will be very glad you did.

And now I must get back to planning that dinner! I will leave you with a ceviche recipe that you can make and love at home. It makes a great appetizer and is easy because there is no real cooking involved. The acid from the citrus ‘cooks’, or cures the seafood and it is entirely safe to eat. If I can eat it in Mexico, it is fine to eat here!

You pick the seafood Ceviche

1 lb of seafood (halibut and shrimp are my favorites; you can use snapper, bass, scallops, conch, any other firm white fish, langostinos, etc, peel and devein shrimp; dice everything

Enough lime juice to completely cover the fish… probably 6 or so limes.

Marinate the fish in the lime juice (in the fridge)over night or all day. Stir or shake it up often so it all gets coated as much as possible, and nothing is left sitting in the bottom the whole time. Pour off most of the lime juice, leaving it nice and moist but not soupy. Then add the rest:

an extra lime or two if you want to freshen up the lime flavor
1 cup fresh tomato, diced
1 med sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced (you can take out the seeds and ribs to remove heat)
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste

Toss it all together and serve it topped with diced avocado, or on top of a salad, with corn chips, or over rice. It goes great with Napa cabbage and you can tart it up any way you like, it’s your dish!

Hasta luego!