The Tasting Menu at L’Atelier After Just Another Day at the Beach

Yay! I had no hangover when I wake up. Spoiler alert! I paced my drinking for the rest of the trip and a hangover never made an appearance for the rest of this vacation. 

Which is not to say I was drinking lightly. Let’s be honest, I drink like a fish when I am on vacation. 

As I mentioned in my first post for this trip, my sodium levels were very low and I had to get them checked again when I got home. My liver enzymes were also off kilter, probably because of a medication I take for my trigeminal neuralgia. That medication was also probably contributing to the low sodium levels. 

When I got home I wanted to get the sodium checked right away. But they also checked my liver function and it came back really high. It was a test I’d never had before and high levels can indicate heavy drinking.

I was slightly mortified. I told my doctor that by anyone’s definition I drank heavily on vacation.

We checked it again two weeks later and it was in the normal range. I was relieved, to say the least. My sodium was still low though. Boo. 

Back to our regularly scheduled blog.

It was a pretty routine day. 

Margerito came by to say hello.

Asael is just the best. He has the most wonderful smile. He has an incredible memory too.

I went to the shopping center after breakfast to see if there was any jewelry that I absolutely had to buy.

 This ruby spoke to me.

Then it was back to the beach. My shopping expedition made me thirsty.

I said I paced myself. I didn’t say I quit drinking.

I just never get tired of this view.

They were working on repairing the outside of the building and there was drilling and hammering every day. It really was a buzz kill for a beach zen and naps. I did mention it to the concierge and she asked when we napped and then told them to try to minimize the noise.

I know it has to be done sometime. The sea air is really hard on the buildings.

The Grand is grand. It’s over the top luxury. Big columns and paintings on the ceilings. It isn’t a resort with a Mexican “feel” (whatever that means – I read it all the time though on Facebook and Trip Advisor). If that is what you are after, this probably isn’t the place for you.

If having a bracelet on your wrist makes you want to cut it off, this isn’t the place for you. If having to make dinner reservations puts a horrible crimp in your vacation style, this isn’t the place for you. If you’re a man and the thought of wearing long pants to the dinner restaurants sends you into fits, this isn’t the place for you.

If great service, a beautiful, albeit gaudy, facility and gorgeous beach, good food are what you are looking for, this is the place for you.

Before lunch we went to the lobby bar to say good-bye to Steve and Janelle.

It was a fish day for lunch. With french fries. There are always french fries. Even when you don’t see them in the picture.

I got the fish from the buffet today. I asked him to make me some fresh. I make a little sandwich with the roll, meat and cheese.

I like lots of lime on my fish.

I took some more pictures of the presidential suite.

It has a large walk-in closet.

There is also a powder room off of the dining area.

This is the dining area.


We dress for dinner.

We were excited about dinner tonight. It was at L’Atelier. They have a tasting menu. For some people, it is too adventurous, but Zung and I are fairly adventurous eaters, within reason.

There are two versions, and 8 course and a 5 course. Tonight we chose the 8 course. You could also do an optional wine pairing. There were also two choices and we chose the less expensive option. you could also order wine off the included menu. 

Sadly, the tasting menu was not popular enough and is no longer offered. That’s too bad because we liked it a lot. In fact Zung said it was the best meal he’s ever had here.

The first course is some beef tartar, which I had never had in my life. Steve convinced me to try it and it was really a tiny amount and the sauce was really good.

This came with some sparkling wine which was not sparkling because it had gone flat so they had to open up a new bottle.

Next was a sardine which was a little salty and fishy, but not bad.

The soup was really good.

This was squid ink broth with squid noodles. Zung loved it but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

Next up was the fish course.

Followed by the beef course.

Next started the deserts. The first one was a delicious It was a light lemon sorbet.

For some odd reason the next dessert was chocolate and very heavy and we were already pretty stuffed by this point.

We were so full but very happy with our dinner.

We would definitely come back and try the 5 course menu.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 2 Comments

Third Time is Not the Charm

Can you say hangover for a third day in a row? Can you say slow learner?

Upon waking my first thought was, “I’m hungover. Again.”

My next thought is, “I don’t want to feel like this every day of this vacation.

I resolved this would be the last time I’d wake up with a hangover.

For this vacation anyway. Let’s not get too ambitious. Or unrealistic.

It is another beautiful day.

We don’t take many pictures today.

It is pretty much a routine day at the beach.

We take no pictures at all of lunch.

Just more beach pictures.

Cheers!

Dress pictures.

We had dinner at Venecia.

There was an ordeal with my shrimp and spaghetti. The last time I got it I thought the sauce was a bit heavy so I asked for a different sauce. We went through some possibilities and they brought me one to try and in the end I just had them put the regular sauce on the side and it was fine.

They are always happy to accommodate special requests. 

After dinner we went to the Wednesday Stars Under the Stars party by the pool. I wanted Zung to see the fire show.

You can’t get there too late because the seats all get taken, but then you have to wait for a long time and listen to the singing and watch the dancing until they finally start the fire show.

I go and say hello to Elizabeth.

We get bored and Zung takes a picture of the decorations. They look kind of cool with the full moon.

The fire show is as awesome as it had been in May. 

After that we go back to the room. It had been an exhausting day.

Time for bed! Sweet dreams. I had made sure I didn’t drink too much so I was hoping for a hangover free day tomorrow.

Posted in Entertainment, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | Leave a comment

The Day After Zung’s Birthday

I woke up…feeling hungover. Ugh. Not again.

This isn’t a great picture, but it was the best one that we took. It looks like the camera was hungover too.

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It was clearly humid and the lens was fogging up.

Off to breakfast.

Zung reads the newspaper that is delivered to our room. I take a news vacation when we are in Mexico. It helps my feelings of stress and anxiety about the state of our country.

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We don’t vary our routine much. Okay, we don’t vary our routine ever. After breakfast, we went to the beach.

There are still quite a few seaweed piles.

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They are working hard to clear them. In the first few days, they have two of these front-loaders hauling them away. One of the drivers is doing it as fast as he can. The other guy drives very slowly and it is because he is looking at his phone while he drives.

They are noisy and smell of exhaust. It has to be done though. It’s either this or big piles of seaweed.

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When afternoon rolls around we head to La Brisa for lunch.

I try to take some artistic, drinks reflected in my glasses pictures. Which ine is your facorite?

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Zung always gets a Victoria beer, unless he gets a Modelo Especial.

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And shrimp fajitas.

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I always have white wine, Masia Ribot if they have it. Fortunately this time they have lots of it.

I also always get french fries. Hot, fresh and crispy.

I vary my entree though. Today I am having quesadillas.

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Asael tells us that he is going on vacation. He introduces us to Jenny and says that she will take care of us while he is gone.

After lunch, we sit on the beach some more and I have some more wine and read my Kindle.

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My favorite author, Elin Hildebrand, writes a new novel every summer and I try to save it to read on vacation if it comes out before I leave.

When we go back to the room there is a plate of fruit and cheeses, with some crackers for us. Mauro, our butler, is taking good care of us.

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One of the really nice things about the Presidential Suite is that there are beautiful flowers all over the suite. They replaced them when they started to get tired. I love flowers and like to have them at home. It is a special treat to have them on vacation as well.

Dinner was at La Brisa.

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I hadn’t had a good meal at La Brisa, which is the Carribean restaurant, with two attempts in May. If they struck out this time I wouldn’t eat here again.

A lot of people rave about it though, so I thought I should give it another try.

We ordered the appetizer that I had liked so much, the Caneloni with Tamarind sauce.

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It was just as yummy.

While we waited for our entrees, Lander (the GM) showed up. He asked how we liked the room and we told him it was amazing and thanked him for the wonderful birthday surprise.

Our entrees arrived.

Zung got the shrimp. He LOVES shrimp. I can’t eat them when they still have their heads on. I can’t even look at them.

I ordered the same thing I had when I ate here for the second time in May, Shrimp Risotto with Sea Bass. That time the risotto had a good flavor but it was crunchy.

This time I tried to order it without the fish, because that had been kind of bland. The waiter didn’t understand and it came with the fish.

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The fish was still bland but the risotto was cooked properly and delicious.

Zund decided to try to watermelon and mango sorbet dessert. I’d had this in May and the watermelon was full of seeds, too many to be able to enjoy it.

This time it came with seedless watermelon.

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There was a beach dinner going on. With a full moon.

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There was also a younger looking male guest who was wandering around, talking to people at other tables. He seemed restless and I suspected he had been overenjoying the unlimited alcohol aspect of the all-inclusive.

He also had a baseball cap on. Seriously, that’s just bad manners to wear a baseball cap in a nice restaurant.

The Grand has a pretty relaxed dress code. With the exception of the buffet (and maybe the Carribean – I’ve gotten conflicting info) the only requirement is long pants for men. Most people dress nice, but a lot of people dress like slobs.

People will often say they are on vacation and they shouldn’t have to dress up. You don’t have to dress up to not look like a slob.

Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.

After dinner, we went to the Lobby Bar and hung out with Steve and Janelle and Daniel.

Yes, please!

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Daniel’s famous cucumber mojito and marg.

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Steve’s mouth is open in almost every picture he is in.

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Unless he’s making this face.

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Janelle and I compare nails.

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Oh yea, and Steve tries to get in on the action. Mine are stick-ons.

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Zung and I compare shoes.

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I have no idea what I was doing here.

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We went back to the room and remembered that we had asked Daniel, the butler, to draw a bubble bath for us. It was all ready.

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Zung poured us some of the Atlantico rum.

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Cheers!

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Posted in Bars, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 2 Comments

Zung’s Birthday Dinner at Toni’s

We showered. Surprisingly, the shower in this room, the same room that the owner stays in, had the same problem if it changing from freezing to scalding throughout the shower. (Update: I was just at the Grand and they have started to change the control faucets on the showers and it has eliminated this problem. The showers are now just as awesome as everything else at the Grand.)

There are an abundance of towels. But they are the same towels in all the other rooms. They remind me of the thin towels that you might get at a Motel 6. I think they are trying to be fancy with them but I’d rather have plain towels that are plush and soft.

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We waited for a golf cart ride. The restaurants are not that far away…unless you are wearing 4” stilettos, as I usually am and was tonight.

The birthday dinner was at Toni’s Surf and Turf.

Luis, the manager came over with a bottle of the Masia Ribot white and announced that he had my favorite wine.

This whole thing with the wine was very amusing to me. I hated breaking it to him that I usually drink red at dinner. He said, “But you can start with some of this, right?” I said, “Of course, yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea.”

So we had some white wine with out salads.

We both started out with salads. The apple salad is my favorite.

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The pear salad is good when the pears are good. For obvious reasons.

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I almost always have the ribeye. Tonight was no exception. Zung had it as well.

Steak must be eaten accompanied by a red wine, so we switched at this point. We drank the Masia Ribot red, which is quite good too.

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Olivia came by and talked to us for a bit. We ask how her son, Benjamin, is doing.

We are enjoying our wine when they come up with a cake and several waiters come to sing a birthday song. Olivia joined them.

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They put a birthday hat on Zung. This isn’t a great picture but is the only one we have that shows the hat.

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It had been a lovely birthday meal.

We are quite full by the time we got the cake so we eat a couple of small pieces and then ask them to take the rest of the cake and the rest of the wine to our room.

Off to the lobby bar!

Daniel makes Zung a birthday Margerita. Zung says Daniel makes the best Margeritas.

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I have a chocolate cake shot.

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With a cucumber mojito chaser.

Daniel looks extra handsome in this picture.

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At some point the band in the lobby played Zung Happy Birthday.

When we’d had enough to drink we went back to the room, where there were more birthday surprises.

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The birthday cake and wine from dinner were there as well.

Another picture that is not very good, but I love Zung’s expression.

It has been a very good birthday indeed. And we had a week more of vacation in front of us.

This vacation has certainly gotten off to a wonderful start.

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Posted in Awesome Staff, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 1 Comment

Happy 71st birthday Zung

Rise and shine sunshine! There was plenty of sunshine this morning.

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We headed off to Bella Vista for the birthday breakfast. It was only fitting to start the day with mimosas.

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I ordered chillaquilles with chicken, no onion and no crema.

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Bella Vista usually has a very good selection of fruit.

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After my chillaquilles I had some fruit and bacon. I needed that bacon to balance the healthy effects of the fruit, especially because I was having uber-healthy green juice.

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If yo0u’ve been reading my blog for any length of time then you know that Zung is fairly predictable with his breakfast and lunch choices. At breakfast it’s an omelet.

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Steve and Janelle came in and came over to say hello.

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After we finished with breakfast we followed our usual routine and went to the beach. I welcomed our first day on the beach with a Havana Siete and coke.

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There are always lots of parasailers.

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Someone we met a few years ago and have seen a few times at the Grand, had left Zung a birthday present when he and his wife had been here a few weeks ago.

Erik has a sense of humor because he buried the present and then sent me a map. It was buried by the flag that tells you the water conditions. That was yellow by the way.

We asked some of the Star Friends if they had a shovel. They did not but they brought a ping pong paddle.

Zung set to work.

Once he dug it out we went back to our palapa and he opened it.

After all that exhausting work in the heat, we decided it was time for lunch.

We ran into Steve and Janelle on our way to lunch.

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Zung is just as predictable for lunch as he is for breakfast. He has a Victoria beer and shrimp fajitas.

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I always have white wine, Masia Ribot Catalunya. This was the wine they had been out of when I was here in May and that Margerito had tried to give me last night. I do drink it at lunch. Quite a lot actually.

I had lobster and french fries. Fresh, hot and crispy.

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I was still hungry after the lobster so I went and got a piece of cheese and made a little sandwich.

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I told Zung that he needed to do a shot. Azael brought him a tequila boom boom, which was enhanced with some chocolate syrup on the bottom.

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And we finished off the meal with some coconut ice cream. That didn’t taste as coconutty as usual. It was more sweet.

Boo. Their coconut ice cream was one of my favorite Grand things.

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Then it was back to the beach for reading and naps.

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We went to the quiet pool where José, the pool concierge, asked us if everything was ok. I mentioned it was Zung’s birthday and he came back with a special towel sculpture.

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We also saw Mar and chatted with her a bit.

Everyone knew that it was Zung’s birthday and wished him a happy one.

We chatted with a woman from Germany who knew me from the Facebook group. She was there for four weeks!!!

We went back to the room where Mauro, our butler had made a birthday surprise for Zung.

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The maid had left him a birthday surprise also.

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As we got ready for dinner I wondered if there were going to be any more birthday surprises.

 

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