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Staying in Playacar

obligatory summer toes and pool

Okay, I’ve finally figured out how to break down the rest of these posts from our two week trip to Playa del Carmen. I’ve already covered the resort. This post will be about staying in Playacar hanging out in our condo. Then future posts will cover being out and about. So pics of the condo, food we made and ate there and crappy pics of some of the wildlife.

This part of the trip was kind of a working vacation. We specifically rented a spot that had decent internet. And a pool. Because pool breaks are the best. Oh, and a kitchen so we could cook. We paid a little more for amenities, but then spent less eating out.

playacar condoOne of the banana plants in the backyard.

playacar condo

No, really, bananas and everything.

a condo, staying in playacar

getting work done

pool break

working from the porch

Sunday after we got checked in, we headed to the grocery store. One down side to this space is that there was salt and a carton of orange juice left for us. Usually you can expect some spices, condiments, etc. But no. So we were starting from ground zero.

Sadly, the health food store was closed, so we went to Mega, which is basically Mexico’s Wal-Mart. There’s an actual Wal-Mart, but fuck that. I’m not encouraging that shit.

This first grocery trip, I was mostly concerned with making some staples. Pinto beans, rice, tortillas, avocados, onions, garlic, green vegetables. Oh, and coffee. Non-dairy milk. Tortilla chips. Cereal. Bananas! It was a bitch carrying all this stuff back.

When we got back, I cooked up the whole 1kg bag of pinto beans. First a quick soak, and then simmered them with onions, garlic and dried peppers. These beans lasted the rest of our stay.

pot of vegan pinto beans

Rice I cooked about half a pound at a time and didn’t do anything fancy with it. Just salt to season it.

Oh, let me tell you about the avocados there. The Haas avocados were at least twice the size of ours and they lasted so long! You know how avocados turn brown pretty much the second you put a knife to them here? They lasted days there before a hint of brown. I think most of the produce is grown in the region. So they’re probably just much fresher.

While this place had an awesome kitchen set up, there was no oven. Not a problem, but I kind of wanted cake. Given the circumstances, I didn’t want to buy all the ingredients to make it from scratch. So we got some accidentally vegan cake mix and frosting. But wait, there’s no oven! No oven, no problem! Mug cakes. Combine 2 tablespoons of cake mix with 3 tablespoons of water in a mug, microwave for 1 minute. Slap some frosting on it. Mug cake.

vegan microwave mug cake

Can’t forget breakfast! We mostly had cereal with an occasional peanut butter and banana pizza.

vegan cereal for breakfast

vegan peanut butter and banana pizza

Another day Kevin ended up walking up to the health food store on his own and brought back tofu, vegan  wheat gluten and vegan ham slices. We fried up the wheat gluten in a pan with some onions. It was, okay. A little bit rubbery. I had the same feeling about the ham. It really wanted to be slapped between two slices of white bread with some yellow mustard.

seasoned wheat gluten in mexico

frying up wheat gluten in a pan

The tofu was made a little differently than what we’re used to here. They used citric acid as the congealer, so it had a slight tartness to it. Which was fine, but it’s not the 100% blank canvas of the tofu we’re used to. The texture is also different. More crumbly. It made a fine tofu scramble though. And I’d packed nutritional yeast and black salt, because, vegan.

seasoned tofu in mexico

seasoned tofu in mexico

seasoned tofu in mexico

vegan tofu scramble mexican style

Another convenience food that came in handy was aseptic containers of molé sauce. You can actually find them here at grocery stores with a large Latin American section. So one of our meals was mashed potato enchiladas with molé sauce.

vegan potato enchiladas mole

And then, here are more food pics. We pretty much at the same things just in different configurations.

vegan mexican food bowl

tortilla chips and salsa

inside my vegan burrito

One day the woman minding the property brought a coconut into the backyard. She busted it open and we drank the fresh coconut water. Then she and Kevin peeled out the meat and she gave it to us. I ate that fresh coconut meat like it was candy. So good!

fresh coconut water

Our place backed up to the jungle which ran along a golf course. So we got to see an assortment of animals. And I didn’t get good pictures of any of them.

The coati are reddish animals with pointy faces and masks. They also have a ringed tail. They’re basically raccoons, but not as destructive, at least here.  They would dig in the jungle floor for tasty treats. One time they had three baby ones with them. So cute!

Another animal that we saw last year too is the agouti. Last year someone in our group nicknamed them “scrabbits” because they look like a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit. But more the size of a big rabbit. There was a shy one that would come through the back yard from time to time.

A few times we saw some red deer. We saw both a male and a female at separate times. And apparently there’s a baby too, but we didn’t see it.

There were several different kinds of lizards. Iguanas, a bearded dragon looking thing and then some little geckos. The geckos were inside the house. And they make this noise that sounds like someone rapping on glass with a ring, which was terrifying the first night. There were 2 or 3 in the house the entire time we were there. This little guy lost his tail somewhere.

lizard lost his tail

Oh, one night we were watching tv with the sliding glass door open and a fruit bat joined us. Luckily he decided to go back out without too much coaxing. I do wish I had video of him flying around the house.

And one day there was a turtle in the yard. It just looked like a slider, so it probably used to be someone’s pet.

There were a few pretty birds and then some plain chacalacas that I took to calling jungle chickens. And here is their blurry picture.

common chacalacas

So that’s about it from the condo. Staying in Playacar is really quiet and relaxing. Definitely a different experience than staying in town off the main drag. As you can see, getting vegan food to cook was not a problem. The final post about this trip will be about eating out and our flash flood experience. Hopefully I’ll manage to get it posted before we visit Mexico again.

Vegan at Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla, Day 1

soy vegano - i am vegan

Kevin got to go on the company club trip again this year, which means I got to go, which is pretty cool. They decided to go back to Playa del Carmen this year, but booked a different resort, Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla. There are actually two sides to this resort and La Perla is the adults only side. Thankfully.

Last year when we went, I made a few posts about vegan food in Playa del Carmen. This year’s visit will also generate a few posts. Especially since we were there for two weeks. Let’s get back to the resort though.

At check-in, we got these nifty cards to show wait staff. “I am vegan.” And I will say that unlike last year, the staff generally seemed to understand what that meant. So that was awesome!

paradisus playa del carmen la perla room

Since I’m really terrible at getting good pictures of the room, I just took one. There you go. It’s huge and ridiculous with a sitting area, a tub you could host a party in and a two-sided shower that’s about the size of my current whole bathroom. If you want pretty pics, check out their site.

After we got checked in, we got on our bathing suits and headed to the little grill next to the pool. Or, a pool. The one nearest our room. The pickings were a little slim on the menu but we weren’t starving so we were okay with chips and guac, fries and fruit. The fruit was super fresh and tasted amazing. I hadn’t had it served with lime and chili powder since I visited Mexico back in 2006 and had forgotten how amazing that is. I recall it being standard on the breakfast menu at the Mexican hotels we stayed in that trip.

french fries

fresh fruit with lime and chili powder

vegan chips and guacamole

The next big decision was what was going to be my drink this trip. The resort is all-inclusive as they are pretty much every year, so that’s a situation I like to take advantage of, just not to the point of illness or verbal diarrhea. So I started with a gin and tonic. It went down okay, but I switched to frozen lime daiquiris. I can make a gin and tonic at home, but I’m way too lazy to make a frozen daiquiri.

gin and tonic

After spending all afternoon at the pool, it was time to go get dressed for the opening reception. The theme was blue. Everybody wear blue. Blue isn’t a color I generally wear, so I found the cheapest thing I could at Old Navy that looked reasonable, a dress for about $12. Score! To be extra ridiculous, Kevin raided their promotional items for a racing shirt with the company logo on it. There’s a picture. If I get a digital copy, I’ll add it to this post.

The company dinners are usually buffet style. We eat salads from the buffet and then they bring us a vegan main dish. Here’s what we ended up with the first night.

The salad assortment. The dressing was really nice for the green salad, a hibiscus vinaigrette, I think.

vegan salads and bread

And this is a vegan ratatouille, I think. I’m not a big fan of eggplant, so this was pretty meh for me. It tasted fine, I just hate when you come to another country and you get some random dish like this. But that seems to be a running theme in these resorts.

vegan ratatouille

Oh dang, the drink of the night was some blue drank. I have no idea what was in it, but I drank a couple. Sadly, no picture.

Thus ends day 1. I got sun burned a little. And didn’t get drunk. So it was a good day. I’m probably going to post day by day at the resort and then maybe two more posts. That should be plenty.



Vegan BLT Spring Rolls

First things first: do you get the Meatout Mondays email newsletter? If not, you should sign up. Each week they send a recipe along with some other interesting tidbits.

The week that I linked to above had a recipe in it for Vegan BLT Spring Rolls with Avocado. With cashew based ranch sauce. What? Does that not sound like perfect summer food? I thought so and left it in my inbox until I decided to make it.

vegan blt spring rolls

Dealing with rice paper can be a little tricky. But you usually get the hang of it after a roll or two. And if it tears, big deal. You can still eat it, right?

And rolling up spring rolls can be quite the production. There’s definitely a process to it. But these vegan blt spring rolls don’t have as many ingredients as most which makes it go a little faster.

Here’s a video showing you how to work with the wrapper. Bonus: you get another vegan spring roll recipe!

For the tempeh bacon, I just used my own standard smoky tempeh recipe. I guess I should post that some time. There are several commercial vegan bacon products out there like Sweet Earth Foods, Tofurky’s Smoky Maple Bacon, and Upton’s Naturals Seitan Bacon.  Make your own or choose your favorite!

For the dipping sauce, I made the zesty ranch dressing listed in the recipe. It was perfect and we had the leftover dressing on salads. If you want to get a little lazy, Hampton Creek just released their Just Ranch dressing.

vegan blt spring rolls inside shotOh, and if you’re having trouble finding rice paper in your area, you can get it on Amazon. This is one of the brands I pick up at the Asian grocery here.

This recipe made at least 8 rolls. Plenty for a hearty dinner and there were leftovers that I ate the next day for lunch.

These would be a terrific potluck food. Whenever I bring spring rolls to a summer cookout, they are gobbled up. Oh, and these can easily be gluten free!

How about you – do you ever make spring rolls? What are your favorite innards & sauces?

Completely vegan gluten-free cafe in Fort Lauderdale

No, it isn’t hard being vegan. But it’s still challenging to eat out in some place. Now, throw gluten-free into the mix. Again, it’s no problem at home, but on the road it’s nearly impossible. Unless you’re in Fort Lauderdale and you hit up the Green Bar & Kitchen.

Now I’m not gluten free. I eat plenty of it. Probably too much. But I do try to keep it in check. Because the best gluten filled goods are white breads, cakes, and other such naughties full of empty calories.

Vegan Gluten-free Brunch

We were in Fort Lauderdale about to go on a cruise and then again about to fly back home. So we made two stops into Green Bar & Kitchen. The first visit before the cruise, we got there a little before they opened. And a line quickly formed behind us. Because on Sundays they have brunch. Everyone loves brunch!

green bar vegan gluten free cafe

We had to take advantage of brunch. We got the pumpkin french toast and tofu scramble with potatoes. Remember, it’s also gluten-free. But LOOK AT IT! That french toast was not joking around.

vegan gluten free pumpkin french toast

vegan gluten free tofu scramble and potatoes

We’d had bagels earlier, so I was feeling more like having lunch. So I got the curried chick’n salad sandwich (Pea-soy protein, celery, red onion, raisins, cranberries, seasonings & mayo, served on flax & millet bread.) That bread is the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever had. It may be a little more delicate than gluten bread, but it’s so fluffy and perfect and it held up for the sandwich just fine.

vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich

Do you like kombucha? They have it on tap! You can sample to see which one you’d like.

kombucha samples

And they have these things called Krunkin which are kind of like donut holes. They were good, but I’ve been fully spoiled by Ronald’s Donuts in Las Vegas. And I’ve never even been to Las Vegas. I’m getting sidetracked. If you’re craving donut like things that are vegan and gluten-free, these are for you.

vegan gluten free donut holes

Vegan Gluten-free Lunch

And here is where I’ve failed you all. We were with Kevin’s parents when we went back to Green Bar and for some dumb reason I didn’t take pictures. Wait! There ARE pictures! They were just hanging out unedited in my Camera+ app.

Kevin had the smoke house burger and I had the buffalo tempeh sandwich. I liked the tempeh sandwich but just wish the tempeh wasn’t so chunky. The burger was really good.

vegan gluten free smoke house burger

vegan gluten free buffalo tempeh

Green Bar also has a ton of raw options. All in all this is exactly the kind of food I want in a warm climate like Fort Lauderdale. They seem to be doing really well, so I hope to visit next time I’m down there. This location is close to the port, so it’s pretty convenient to grab a bite before or after a cruise.

green bar front door

Big, big changes

dough bakery sign

So, I haven’t been really public about this, but since it’s about to open, maybe I should out myself. Kevin and I have been working on opening Dough Bakery for a few years now and it’s finally about to happen. Like quit my corporate job kind of happen.

While we’ve been really good and dumping money into it, bringing on Simon of Gutenfleischer’s fame on as a partner is what is making this possible. Simon has been dealing with all the agencies like a pro. Not to mention getting things organized inside and out. And Star is always there to lend a hand. Like that weekend we all spent painting the outside of the building. Or, remember when it was 105F and we striped our parking lot? Good times.

Anyway, places to watch for grand opening info: doughbakery.com | Twitter: @doughbakery | Facebook


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