Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Welcome to Paradise

When we think of the word paradise, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Does it look something like this?

Or how about this?

If it does my friend, then you’d be mighty jealous of my vacation this year. 

We all know that material things cannot fulfill our desires for spiritual enlightenment, but since we’re stuck on this sad planet for the duration for a lifetime, we might as well enjoy a sliver of paradise on earth.

So this year for vacay, hubby and I went to the Riviera-Maya, home of the ancient Mayans. I’ve always been intrigued by their existence as a civilization. Their astronomical discoveries were almost unprecedented at the time, not to mention their admirable statues and creations.

The home of the Mayans is now home to a plethora of resorts scattered along the beach.

The people here are friendly and always eager to help you (though not without compensation albeit). Upon arrival at Cancun International Airport, we quickly found the taxi company that we ordered online (you can do this beforehand) to take us to our resort.

I marvelled at the size of the gates of some of the resorts. Some were grandiose, while others were modern chic. I wondered what our resort would hold in sight. 

When we arrived though, I had to do a double-take, because it either looked like a secret getaway or a super shabby hotel. Thankfully, it was the former. 

The Blue Diamond is an uber secluded resort nestled in the heart of beach lane. We were greeted with sweet nectar and a one-bite treat upon check-in. This was when I knew that we were going to go back 5 pounds heavier.

During the cart ride to our suite, our driver explained to us all the amenities at this all-adult, all-exclusive resort - basically everything you could possibly want is available at the touch of a button, and they encourage you to ring them whenever you are in need. 

What awaited us was something I’d never imagine in a million years (okay not true, just didn’t expect it to be like that). A bottle of champaign was already waiting for us (too bad we don’t drink) to take in with the breathtaking view of the natural cenote (Spanish for a sinking well) that marked the authenticity of this hotel as a Mayan getaway. 

Our rooms were not only spacious, they had ceiling-to-floor windows in the main living space and the bathroom. Plus they had a scale in the bathroom, which is perfect for tracking your weight during the soon-to-come binge eating.

The resort had 3 restaurant - Ceviche which were open for breakfast and lunch, Aquamarine which was open for all three meals, and Amber that was open for dinner only. None of the restaurants are buffets, much to my liking, as those of you who know me I have a thing against buffets. 

We decided to grab a late-lunch at Ceviche, which consisted of small-plate tapas. I ordered a cheese fingers which never materialized, but what I got instead - the BBQ chicken - was even better. We were amazed that even the small-sized tapas were a. not small that small and b. artfully decorated.

After an info session at the concierge where we we signed up for some activities at the resort, we learned that the night was a Grill Night at Ceviche (since Amber was closed for a private reception that night).

There was a wide selection of breads that accompanied our meal. Hubby was albeit a bit embarrassed when I took a picture of the bread offerings before deciding on the garlic knot that resembled a cinnamon raison pastry.

Garlic knot bread

Hubby ordered the beef flank steak well-done, which I got the sea scallops and shrimp brochette. He got a side of vegetable brochette and the black pepper demigrace, while I got the sweet corn and the roquefort sauce.

As we watched the crimson skies, our bread plate came. It was an assortment of artisan breads. Hubby got a cheese bun while I got a garlic one that resembled a cinnamon bun. 

For starters, I got the potato salad with bacon and honey mustard dressing, while hubby got the arugula and apple salad with grapefruit vinaigrette and seeds (he actually ordered another salad but this was just as good).

Arugula and Apple Salad 

The potato were done just how I like it - not to soft with just the right enough chew to get the full flavor of the honey mustard. Hubby’s salad was pretty good, with the seeds complementing the soft (hopefully not canned) mandarin oranges and grapefruit. 

But the main course was the most unforgettable part. My shrimp and scallop skewers were done just right - with the tenderness of the scallops and the chewiness of the shrimp, complemented with roasted onions and peppers. The corn was pretty sweet and juicy as advertised. My only complaint was that the portion was pretty small for even me, let along people who can actually eat. Also the roquefort sauce didn’t contribute to anything because it was salty and the seafood already had enough flavor.

Shrimp and Scallop Skewer

Hubby’s beef flank - well, what I can say? It was out of this world. The meat was marinated to the ninth degree, with the juiced oozing out with intense flavor. This was perhaps the most tender well-done flank I’ve ever had. Compliments to the chef for getting it right in one shot.

Beef Flank

For desert, I got the fruit tart while hubby got the apple pie, which was as creative in design as it was in taste.

Apple Pie

My tart was a bit mechanical, with the usual setup of tropical fruits on a pre-assembled tart, drizzled with butter sauce. Hubby’s apple pie was a bit more creative with a handmade granola base and vanilla ice cream on the side.

Fruit tart

It was a shame that we couldn’t have any tequila or margueritas (we don’t drink…dry as corn), or else the evening would have been even sweeter.

The view of the pier and the falling sun was a perfect way to mark the end of our first day in paradise. 

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