We arrived in Tulum after having passed through the charming town of Valledolid and skirting Coba, a mystical archaeological site that is still partially hidden in the dense jungle of Yucatan. I have been to Tulum before – many years ago and more recently too – and, like everything else, it has changed. But there is a buzz about Tulum, a kind of cool, funky relaxedness that reminds me of Bali. Or perhaps it is the thick vegetation that crowds in on the narrow sea-fronting road out of which private houses, compounds, bed&breakfast joints, resorts and other assorted palapa structures peek. I was headed for one alone – Coqui Coqui – a 5-room guest house, hotel, abode, that I have been reading about for years. Owned by the same couple who create the perfumes we delighted in in Merida (he an Argentine and she an Italian), we pitched up and settled in to our aerie that, facing both jungle and the sea, offered welcome breezes. Lovely.
Coqui Coqui is stylish in a Balinese way…double daybeds, white linen curtains, driftwood, shadow and light. Greeted with a bag of their own products – mosy repellent (there is no a/c), colognes and soaps and shampoo – and the charm of an Argentine staff of young, I was right at home. Food was creative, simple and fresh and my pre dinner massage was fantastic up under the palapa rafters and long slanting rays of the setting sun.
The drive from Merida to the Coast is a mere 3 hours on a two-lane highway, one paid and the other free. Much more fun to drive on the “libre” where fresh fruit palapas and the odd 2-room hotel dot the way. Pass through Valledolid and Coba – all possible overnights for the aficionado – and arrive in Tulum. And Tulum is special, reminding me of Bali’s Kuta or Seminyak coast – jungly, faintly hippy, relaxed and stylish in spots.
It has been many years since I have visited Merida, a city I remember fondly for its ochre reds, bouganvilea bowers and delicious food. We stayed in a wonderful old colonial house with tiled floors and high beamed ceilings. I am looking for that again in Rosas y Xocolate, where I am staying on Paseo Montejo, but find instead a highly designed hotel with charming staff and spa but, for me, lacking in the aesthetics I want Merida to have. On the prowl I come across Casa Lecanda, a recently reconstructed colonial house with simple airy loveliness. My picks for a stay in Merida are this or Casa Azul, with at least one delicious dinner and spa treatment at Rosas y Xocolate!
One of the prettiest shops – and there are a few – in Merida, Yucatan’s nearly 500 year old city, is Coqui Coqui. Selling scented candles, soap and perfumes as well as a few nicely designed leather and fiber articles, the shop is a tiny gem of deliciousness. Stop for a cup if tea in the rear tea room, a welcome respite from the intense sun and often high humidity. Created by the same folks who have tiny lodgings of the same name scattered throughout the region (the Coqui Coqui in Tulum being the most written about), this is a charming store and story in a fabled land.
Mauro Stoppa, captain of Eolo, one of the few remaining bragozzo in Venice, is a charming character. Captain, guide and chef, Mauro will take you through the Venetian Lagoon on his traditional boat, stopping at lesser known islands, pausing for an hour of fishing and a delicious grilled fish lunch, even overnighting in the lagoon, an experience guaranteed to immerse you in a Venice you hardly know.
Layers of creativity always astound me. Here you start with a restaurant of note, a great chef, his beautiful food, a photographer’s vision, a music track, a point of view, a philosophy. Layer upon layer or, if you see the world in freer form, creative vision touching creative vision, brushing alongside each other like cloud shadows moving across a landscape.
See the film:
Perhaps the true test of any kind of love is that it endures in all seasons.
Willing Foot, Lisa Lindblad’s travel website offering smart, well-designed travel for active and curious travelers, has designed a collection of itineraries it calls American Stories. This grouping of (to date) four weekend-long itineraries celebrate iconic American cities and settings. They include a privately guided walking tour of Harlem, a deeply moving historical journey in Gettysburg, a romp through Brooklyn, and a music and food lover’s ode to New Orleans. More are in the works, but these will get you started brushing up on your knowledge of the American experience. To see the rest
It’s a way of thinking, a way of looking at the world, a way of living. A small community of artists – and I would dare say they include some who, strictly speaking, are neither painter nor writer or photographer but, instead, artists at living – have created a kind of quiet manifesto to celebrate their take on what they find beautiful and valuable in their lives. Kinfolk is a magazine and a blog about sharing the pleasures of life within a like-minded community. It is graphically lovely. It is emotionally strong. It is other, standing courageously against the flow of fast paced, future focused, unconscious lifetyle. Within its covers you smell a cup of freshly brewed coffee, taste the warmth of sun on picked berries, hear layers of laughter and conversation around a picnic table, feel the comfort of friendship.
No, it’s not much of a source on where and what to do. It is more about the how, and it’s a how that many of us may have forgotten all about.
Oh my…it’s sooo good! On a stultifyingly hot evening last week we snagged a table at RedFarm and ordered widely across the menu to share dishes and graze at leisure – and with pleasure. The standout was the crispy beef, above. Dim sum come next, lovely, puffy cushions of deliciousness. I could eat here every night.
Located at 529 Hudson Street in the West Village, this new destination from dim sum master chef Joe Ng and Chinese food expert Ed Schoenfeld aims to be one of the most exciting and influential restaurants in the country. RedFarm brings a greenmarket sensibility to modern and inventive Chinese food and super-charged dim sum complemented by modern, rustic décor.
Joe Ng’s menu takes a clean, fresh approach to Chinese food. Signature items include clever dim sum creations for which Ng is known and small plates: Pac Man dumplings; yuzu wasabi shrimp; mushroom spring rolls that evoke a chanterelle mushroom; and a sculptural chicken salad, a grilled vegetable salad that mimics a garden plot. Modern takes on classic main dishes includes a chicken hot pot, remarkably tender marinated rib steak with steamed baby bok choy and spicy steamed sea bass.
Restaurant designer Jun Aizaki, of Brooklyn’s Crème Design, brought RedFarm’s locavore, farm-to-table mindset to life in the 1828 townhouse parlor-level space. Painted white brick walls and exposed wooden beams add intimate warmth to the 1,200 square foot room. Aizaki outfitted the room with wooden tables, chairs, crates, red and white patterned fabrics to create a classic farmhouse feel. Menus, chopsticks, flora and candles hang from rustic piping above the five booths and two communal tables.