Posts Tagged ‘local food’

The Un-Cancun: Nizuc Resort and Spa Connects to Yucatan Peninsula’s Roots

Cancun is one of those places that I thought I might never make it to. Though I have an insatiable wanderlust, like Las Vegas, Cancun seemed like it just might not be for me, based on everything I’d heard over the years. And then I got a chance to stay at the Nizuc Resort and Spa (opened in 2013), located in Cancun, but away from the resort towers and well-known all-inclusives (and college-town spring breakathons). As the general manager told me, “We’re miles away from “Cancun” but yet in Cancun.”

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First, I now understand why Cancun has grown in size and popularity since the 1974 when it was designated an Integrally Planned Center by the Mexican government. The formerly tiny fishing village (now worldwide-known mega resort area) is in an absolutely gorgeous spot, with incredible Caribbean blue ocean (see my floating, above….that color!) and soft white sand beaches. But mostly the area is known more for its party-hearty atmosphere and chock-a-block hotel towers lined along the beach—but not at Nizuc Resort and Spa.

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That’s because Nizuc is located several miles away (and what feels like a totally different planet) from the main hotel strip in Cancun: Its private, quiet and altogether stunning location is no accident. It’s the former getaway residence for the Mexican President (like the United States’ Prez has Camp David for schmoozing outside of Washington, D.C.). The view above—over the adults-only infinity pool now—is approximately the same view as presidents of the country and their guests had from the original residence.

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So if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live like a head of state, welcome to Nizuc Resort and Spa, where they take this idea pretty seriously, making me—and all the guests I spoke with during my four days there—feel very well taken care of. The incredible modern design you see in my images above and below will give you an idea of how the space looks, but it can’t really capture how it feels to walk the grounds and buildings here. (And I love that you feel and know you are in Mexico via innumerable small design touches—there’s nothing worse than being in a pretty-but-soulless resort and forgetting what country you are in.)

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Nizuc is a truly inside-out resort, meaning that all the common areas are open to the cool ocean breezes—and attention has been paid to where both light and air come from, so that almost wherever you stand (even while waiting for the elevator), you can enjoy a glimpse of blue ocean, creamy sand, or green jungle. That’s great design: Location-specific, celebratory of the natural environment, mindful of light—where it comes from and where it goes—and beautiful to look at too. Nizuc’s main building, where I stayed, had the feel of a soulful, intelligent mind behind it, someone who understands how delightful a breeze across your shoulders feels as you walk down the hallway to your room. Turns out its one of Mexico’s premiere architects, Alejandro Escudero.

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Why I’m Not-So-Secretly Obsessed with Portland Oregon

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When I was 16, I was a grunge-music fanatic. I went to many, many shows in NYC of my favorite Pacific Northwest bands (Hole, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, loved Nirvana but never saw them), and dreamed of the day that I would get to hang out at a dirty bar, drinking beer and wearing a flannel shirt.

I never got a chance to go until I met my partner, who is from just outside Portland, Oregon—and once I was there, I was hooked. I visited Seattle and Vancouver, as well as Eugene (Oregon) and I just loved the whole area. Especially Portland Oregon. The videos below showcase exactly why.

A Feast for the Palate at Farm-to-Table Stowe, VT Restaurant Michael’s on the Hill

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It was Cristi’s birthday (that’s her aglow above on the left), and a group of us were out to celebrate it in style. In Stowe, that meant Michael’s on the Hill, which is celebrity chef-owned by Swiss-born Michael Kloueti (his wife, Laura, runs the business side of things). The couple moved to Vermont and founded the restaurant when they had children, and have spent the last decade creating a local institution.

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Crispy Rhode Island Calimari with Frisee, Reggiano & Capers

Not only is Michael a world-renown chef, having worked in restaurants from Hawaii to New York City, but he and Laura recognize the importance of healthy, locally-grown food. The restaurant is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Local First Vermont and Slow Food, and “the usage of local, organic products is of premier importance.”

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From top right (counter-clockwise) are Starre Vartan, Healing Arts practitioner Cara Joy, Kristen Rosfeld and Kelly Cunningham.

All of that is in evidence when you sit down at your table in the circa-1820′s farmhouse with giant wrap-around porch which affords gorgeous views of the Green Mountains; everything on the menu is based on both seasonality and nearby availability, which means local meats (some in our party had the venison and local pork), seafood and fish from the nearby New England Atlantic coast, and of course, a host of harvest vegetables during the second week of October when I visited to see the last of the brilliant leaves blanket northern Vermont valleys.

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Smoked Local Trout with Heirloom Bean Salad & Horseradish Cream
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