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Falling for Color in Vermont

16 Nov

IT’S so drab and rainy outside right now — and projected to be even more so tomorrow — so I thought I’d brighten things up by sharing my photos of this past weekend in Stowe, Vermont. Foolishly, I had thought I might catch some lazy leaves still flickering on the trees in upstate Vermont but the fall colors had already come and gone more than a month ago. Still, I managed to find plenty of color in the Green Mountain State.

We spotted this vintage blue tractor hanging out behind the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and couldn't resist snapping a few shots

We spotted this vintage blue tractor hanging out behind the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and couldn’t resist snapping a few shots. Below, the red-brown color of the wall drew me. Also by the cider mill—which you should definitely visit in order to taste some deliciously fresh cider, try out a cider doughnut, or buy some other apple-y goodies.

Red barn

The following three photographs were taken by the reservoir in Waterbury, just south of Stowe, where we enjoyed the warm colors of the sunset.

Walking back from the reservoir just before sunset

Sunset at the reservoir

Blue blue sky. Orange orange pumpkin. I don’t mind missing the fall colors in Vermont so much anymore!

Blue sky

Pumpkin

P.S. The pumpkin shot was taken outside Michael’s on the Hill, a “chef-owned” fine-dining restaurant in Waterbury that was by far our best meal in Vermont. It was an excellent meal, from the truffled mushroom tartine to the pork loin and skillet chicken to the profiteroles dessert. I highly recommend it.

Ode to the Elusive Yellow Cab

9 Nov
Taxis as seen from the High Line

Taxis as seen from the High Line

POETRY doesn’t come often to me. It came to me this morning. I was standing on 23rd Street at 9 a.m., waiting patiently for a cab to come along. I waited and waited. Others saw me waiting and went off to try their luck somewhere else. It was a frustrating experience and one that happens too often for my liking.

We New Yorkers are so proud of never needing a car in the city, ‘you can get everywhere you want to go using public transport,’ we tell those suburban out-of-towners, and that’s true, but once in a while we, too, get lazy and crave the comfort of sitting in the back seat while the city whizzes by, one street at a time.

What follows is a description of my love-hate relationship with cabs in New York— in rhyme:

 

 

Ode to the Elusive Yellow Cab

I look to the left, look to the right
But there’s nary a cabbie in sight
I turn my head and I tap my toe
Where did all of those yellow cabs go?
Look at my watch, and look at time pass
I need a cab, and I need it fast!
I cross the street, hoping for some luck
Just missed one on the other side, f$#k!
There’s one going by, but the light’s not on
People inside, a kid and his mom
Here’s one now, but off-duty it looks
Two others won’t go cross-town, those crooks!
I’m having a bad yellow cab day
I even consider starting to pray
But then one cruises down the lane
Yes! My patience a taxi did gain
It’s about time that I caught a break
In the cold I had started to shake
Just then an old man stepped out on the road
Cursing inside, I honored the code
Graciously gave him my hard-won ride
Even though I was fit to be tied
At that point I surrendered the fight
Subway it is, though it’s late at night
Defeated, I walk across the street
I hear a honk, my heart skips a beat!
The yellow cab pulls up by my side,
“Hey young lady, do you need a ride?”

 

 

 

Four on Friday: Cozumel Eats

17 Jun

SINCE this seems to be Cozumel Week on this blog (seriously, Mexico travel and tourism ministry, you think I’m going to get my commission anytime soon?) I am continuing the trend with four great places to eat in Cozumel.

1. Casa Denis: This one tops my list coz it stands the test of time. It was, hand’s down, my best meal during a week of delicious meals in Chichén Itzá, Cozumel and Tulum, and it was my best meal this time around, too. It’s the oldest restaurant on the island (or so they claim) and has old black and white photos displayed on the inside wall. The seating is mainly outdoors; sit on the side of the main square rather than the stuffier back. The servers are jovial, the margaritas huge, and the fresh watermelon juice pure heaven. But the reason you should go there is the food. The fish, like everywhere on the island, is fresh as can be; the preparation, divine. I had red snapper (last time it was grouper) rubbed with lime, garlic, and salt. I can’t think of a simpler seasoning but combined, it made magic in my mouth. I asked our server for the recipe, and this is what he said:

Delicious margarita at Casa Denis

Delicious margarita at Casa Denis

To prepare the garlic, cut it into fine pieces and toss it in olive oil with lime, white wine and jugo de Maggi (Maggi sauce, that you can buy in Cozumel). Once the garlic is ready, marinate the fish with lime, salt, pepper and garlic, and then grill or cook in a pan.

We brought a travel-sized bottle of the Maggie jugo back with us, and I can’t wait to try making the dish myself. But I know it won’t touch what we had at Casa Denis, and I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before we’ll be back there to have the real thing!

132 Calle 1. #987-872-0067

2. Tio José: This little place, which is called “Uncle José” is a humble eatery right by the water, close to the lighthouse. You can get a seat outside on the terrace or on the beach itself. I highly recommend the fish tacos (super simple, with tomatoes and lettuce and pickled onions—oh, those onions! I could write odes to those onions) and the pork tacos and the micheladas—beer mixed with lime, hot sauce, and salt. Best eaten with the sea breeze lightly ruffling your hair. And after you’re done, you can pull on your flippers and snorkel mask and wade into the water, as a number of families were doing when we were there.

One half block east of the intersection of Avenida 65 and Calle 11 on the south side of the street.

Fish tacos at Tio Jose

Fish tacos at Tio Jose

3. Chen Rio: This seaside shack on the eastern side of the island was recommended to us by a local for its excellent seafood. Accessible only through the lone paved road that connects the tourist-stuffed western side—bulging with cruise liners, “flea markets” and high-end jewelery stores—to the calmer, deserted eastern side, Chen Rio was still surprisingly crowded, a testament to how far folks are willing to drive for fresh lobster. If you’re in a group of four, you can get the seafood platter, with fish, shrimp, lobster and conch. Being only two of us, we settled for the shrimp and lobster platter, which was more than enough. There were no fancy sauces or delicate arrangements, just fresh white meat on lettuce and tomato, with a side of fries and four slices of avocado. They provide plenty of salt and wedges of lime; sprinkle liberally and dig in!

The Chen Rio seaside shack

The Chen Rio seaside shack

Our partially devoured lobster and shrimp platter at Chen Rio

Our partially devoured lobster and shrimp platter at Chen Rio

After we were done eating, we queried our waiter about the provenance of the lobster. In answer, he pointed at a fishing boat that was just coming to shore. Off the boat and onto the plates! It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

The other awesome thing about Chen Rio is that, like Tio José, the beach it sits on is perfect for snorkeling or swimming. It’s protected by a ring of rocks that take the ferocity of the waves, leaving the enclosed space gentle and welcoming. To the left is a natural kiddie pool, a high bar of sand that creates a shallow pool, only two or three feet deep, where the tots can splash about in safety.

Costera Este Highway 3.5 miles, north Cozumel 77600.
The back garden at Kinta

The back garden at Kinta

4. Kinta: This is where you want to go for date night in Cozumel. Ask to be seated in the back garden. Artfully placed fronds shield you from your fellow diners; lights shine through stenciled out iguana sculptures clinging to the walls; and the red-and-black color scheme is just plain romantic. They have variations on the standard margarita—hibiscus or jasmine, anyone?—and an innovative, oft-changing menu. It seems to change so often, in fact, that I can’t find the appetizer that I devoured a mere week ago on their website! It was so good that I recommend asking for it by name if it’s not on the current rotation. It’s called the cherry bomb, and it’s four perfectly round balls of fried conch and other stuff that set off fireworks in my mouth. You look at the artful presentation, the mélange of flavors, the bringing together of the familiar and the surprising, and you know that there’s a real chef behind every dish. I won’t recommend other specific dishes, but if you want delicious food in a beautiful setting, you must pay a visit to Kinta.

Av. 5 between Calles 2 and 4, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, 77600. #987-869-0544

Sleeping with the Fishes

14 Jun

OK, I admit it, that title was a bit of a tease. This post has nothing to do with either The Godfather or death, but it does have to do with marine life. These are videos of sea critters that I took while snorkeling in Cozumel, off the Yucatan coast of Mexico, this past weekend. Excuse the shakiness; the waves made it difficult to hold the camera steady.

In this first video, a grouper (in the background) and an unknown blue fish swim past. Taken while snorkeling off the western coast of Cozumel, just opposite the restaurant Paprika.

In this second video, there are too many fish in this video to describe them all, but the school of purple looking fish floating around are actually yellow grunt fish; the absorption of light in the water does funny things to color. The tiny black and yellow striped fish are sergeant majors, and the spiny black creature hiding out in the coral is a black sea urchin.

Several Blue Tang.

I don’t know what fish these are but they surrounded me as I was about to leave the water and I had to take a quick video of them. I tried to reach out and touch them but they always managed to change direction at the last second and evade me.

Under the Sea

13 Jun This sargeant major was fearless; it came right up to me, and I took this picture just before it took an exploratory nibble of my calf!

JATIN and I just got back from a fabulous, too-short trip to Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan coast of Mexico (more about that later). For now, I wanted to share a few photos I took while snorkeling right by Money Bar, not far from where we were staying. The marine life is so plentiful that you can literally step off the beach and stick your head into the water and be surrounded by the most colorful fish. (The last one was taken at Playa Chen Rio, on the eastern side of the island.)

I took the photographs with my old digital camera, my trusty Canon G9, in an underwater housing—just a plastic casing, really—I bought at B&H.

A magnetic Blue Tang

A magnetic Blue Tang

An unknown blue fish and an Angel fish

An unknown blue fish and an Angel fish

Angel fish burrows into the coral

Angel fish burrows into the coral

A school of vibrant Grunt Fish

A school of vibrant Grunt Fish

A fluttering fishie

A fluttering fishie

The Grouper just melded into the sandy bottom

The Grouper just melded into the sandy bottom

Grunt fish close up

Grunt fish close up

This sargeant major was fearless; it came right up to me, and I took this picture just before it took an exploratory nibble of my calf!

This sargeant major was fearless; it came right up to me, and I took this picture just before it took an exploratory nibble of my calf!