Tag Archives: Mexico

Vegan Chef Christian Krebs wows Puerto Vallarta

Quinoa sushi with wasabi panna cotta
Quinoa sushi with wasabi panna cotta

Swiss Chef Christian Krebs is not personally 100% vegan. But you know the old saying, “happy wife, happy home.” His vegan spouse, Vera Webber, is a second generation owner of the historic and renowned Grand Hotel Giessbach. Among its three restaurants is the vegetarian/vegan Le Tapis Rouge for which Chef Krebs serves as culinary consultant.

(left) Chef Thierry Blouet, (right) Chef Christian Krebs
(left) Chef Thierry Blouet, (right) Chef Christian Krebs

Based on the enthusiasm Chef Krebs displayed during the 22nd Festival Gourmet International in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for vegan cuisine his wife is a successful influence. As guest chef at Café des Artistes, considered by many to be Puerto Vallarta’s premiere restaurant, Christian Krebs took the challenge of proving vegan dishes are not simply a platter of steamed vegetables. He enthralled guests at both his vegan cooking demonstration and the sold-out themed dinner attended by Puerto Vallarta’s food aficionados.

(left) Chef Thierry Blouet, (right) Chef Christian Krebs & staff at the Café des Artistes festival vegan dinner
(left) Chef Thierry Blouet, (right) Chef Christian Krebs & staff at the Café des Artistes festival vegan dinner

Yet in a country known for its meat, fish and seafood, Café des Artistes owner/chef Thierry Blouet was not the only one who gave center stage to vegan cuisine during the festival. One of the original founders of Puerto Vallarta’s Festival Gourmet International, this multi lingual Puerto Rico born French expat has made Mexico and Puerto Vallarta his home for decades. The quality of his restaurants have justifiably gained Chef Blouet celebrity status leading with his flagship Café des Artistes located in the heart of historic Puerto Vallarta.

Smiling broadly at the Café des Artistes cooking class Chef Krebs conducted for the festival he stressed that all dishes are fascinating if they start with a good recipe and preparation. Like all excellent chefs, he uses multiple ingredients creating layers of flavor in recipes such as delicate rice flour crepes which held a fragrant filling of sautéed tofu and spinach seasoned with vegetable and herb reductions. Thin slices of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomato and herbs were arranged in individual timbale molds and baked melding the flavors into an eye-appealing dish.

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His twist on a vegan sushi roll of seasoned quinoa, papaya, mango and avocado paired with a wasabi scented soya based panna cotta is refreshing and not at all difficult to prepare.

Quinoa sushi with wasabi panna cotta – 4 rolls

Note: make the wasabi panna cotta one day ahead since it needs 24 hours to gel. Use agar not traditional gelatin which is made from animal ingredients.

Special equipment: bamboo sushi mat for rolling

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Ingredients for the sushi:

  • 16 ounces (2 cups) water
  • ½ pound (1 cup) quinoa
  • 5 ounces (1/3rd cup) rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 mango peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
  • 1 small papaya peeled and sliced lengthwise into sticks
  • wasabi paste to taste
  • 4 nori seaweed sheets

Ingredients for wasabi panna cotta:

  • 4 ounces ( ½ cup) soy milk
  • 4 ounces ( 1/2 cup) soy cream
  • 1 teaspoon agar powder (or 1 tablespoon agar flakes or ½ bar agar)
  • 3 tablespoons wasabi paste
  • drop or two of green vegetable coloring
  • chopped fresh herbs (to use as garnish and/or add to panna cotta)

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Preparation of sushi:

  1. Cook quinoa in 2 cups simmering water, covered, for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed and the white “tails” are visable.
  2. Gently stir in rice vinegar, saki, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Place one sheet of nori on the bamboo mat and gently spread with ½ cup seasoned quinoa.
  4. Spread a line of wasabi paste lengthwise across the quinoa and arrange sticks of sliced avocado, mango and papaya.
  5. Using the bamboo mat, roll the nori tightly. Allow the roll to rest for several minutes before slicing.

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Preparation for the panna cotta:

  1. Slowly heat the soy milk and soy cream for 2 minutes, stirring, until the agar melts. Remove from the heat. Add the wasabi paste and combine.
  2. Add the food coloring if desired.
  3. Line 4, 4-ounce custard cups with plastic wrap and fill with panna cotta. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  4. Unmold each panna cotta onto a plate. Garnish with fresh herbs and arrange the sushi slices.

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When you go:

Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) is served by many international airlines from major cities worldwide.

For the 23rd Festival Gourmet International in November 2017 check the web site: http://www.festivalgourmet.com/en/

Disclaimer: the author was a guest of the 22nd Festival Gourmet International, Puerto Vallarta Tourism, and Café des Artistes.

Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta

Additional articles on Puerto Vallarta by Marc d’Entremont

Cruising Bahía de Banderas with Mike’s Fishing Charters

Discovering the meaning of pride in Puerto Vallarta

Villa Premiere: excellence by design in Puerto Vallarta

Mexican New World Cuisine at Festival Gourmet International

Angus Beef recipe, Chef Luis Noriega and Puerto Vallarta

You can read more articles by Marc d’Entremont at:

Hellenic News of America

Travel Pen and Palate Argentina

Original World Insights

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Cruising Bahía de Banderas with Mike’s Fishing Charters

The yacht Achlli
The yacht Achlli

The Bahía de Banderas is a sport fisherman’s dream and Puerto Vallarta is heaven for lovers of fish and seafood. At the shelf of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the mouth of three fresh water rivers the bay is an ecological reserve for whales, manta rays, coral reefs and sea birds. At it’s deepest points not far from the shore it plunges thousands of feet. From mid-November to April it’s the popular breeding ground for both humpback and grey wales – seems all mammals like to escape cold weather.

Marina Vallarta
Marina Vallarta

Bonita, skipjack, jack crevalle, sierra mackerel, pargo, red snapper, grouper and mahi mahi are all available for sport and at Puerto Vallarta’s restaurants and street vendors. Among the many charters available Mike’s Fishing Charters offers a wide variety of daily options and multi-day trips. A day excursion on Mike’s Fishing yacht Acalii embarks from Puerto Vallarta’s trendy Marina Vallarta residential and resort district.

Capitan Jose & first mate/tour guide Hassam
Capitan Jose & first mate/tour guide Hassam

Capitan Jose and mates Hassam and Jueith offer a relaxing day. Hassam provides running commentary of Puerto Vallarta sites as the yacht sails the coast – far more picturesque than from a bus. The Sierra Madre Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to view this city that hugs the beaches of the Bahía de Banderas.

Vallarta historic zone from the Acalli
Vallarta historic zone from the Acalli

The elegant yacht Acalli has a spacious air conditioned lounge and ample deck space. A covered top deck is perfect for the bay’s natural wonders while avoiding sunburn. Two well appointed cabins and a modern bath would make an overnight trip a true luxury cruise.

Jueith with one of her excellent Margarettas
Jueith with one of her excellent Margarettas

Jueith is an accomplished mixologist. Her margarita of cucumber, basil, lime, golden tequila with a dash of orange liquor is outstanding. It’s refreshing, not overly sweet and free from ice laden artificial flavor mixes. Jueith uses only real fresh ingredients in her cocktails. It’s common in Puerto Vallarta to rim a margarita with a mix of salt and chili pepper adding an additional flavor note.

Los Arcos Marine Park
Los Arcos Marine Park
sea birds nesting on cliffs of the islands, Los Arcos Marine Park
sea birds nesting on cliffs of the islands, Los Arcos Marine Park

The prize destination in the Bahía de Banderas is the national preserve of Los Arcos Marine Park. Dramatic granite outcroppings topped with a profusion of plant life are the breading grounds for dozens of sea birds that make their nests precariously (it seems to humans) on the sheer rock cliffs. Bedecked with plants as if designed by gardeners, this series of small rock islands have arched tunnels carved by the pounding surf. Their environs are a favorite for snorkelers and divers.

snorkling at Los Arcos Marine Park off the Acalli
snorkling at Los Arcos Marine Park off the Acalli

Mike’s Fishing Charters provides all the equipment needed for guests wishing to explore the islands.

dsc05022Not too many miles south of Puerto Vallarta the lush foothills of the Sierra Mardre tumble into the bay. Villas and boutique hotels cling to the hillsides while thatched palapas dot secluded beaches. Secluded is the operative term because the single north/south highway along the coast is at points up to a mile and a half inland. Many beach locations are accessible only by boat.

Mike's Beach Club
Mike’s Beach Club

Mike’s Fishing Charter’s private beach restaurant – Mike’s Beach Club – is one such venue. The long thatched roof restaurant hugging a white sand beach is a quintessential retreat from the modern world – although wifi is available. Among the menu offerings is superb seafood ceviche, made to order wood fired tortillas with grilled meat fillings and a variety of salads.

Mike's Beach Club
Mike’s Beach Club

After lunch it’s siesta time. Guests can enjoy the clear blue waters of the bay, lounge under a beach palapa or, best yet, nap in one of the colorful hammocks. A day on board a Mike’s Fishing Charter yacht is a relaxing time warp into days before mass tourism.

Disclaimer: the author was a guest of Puerto Vallarta Tourism, Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel,  Latitude and Mike’s Fishing Charters.

You can read more by Marc d’Entremont on Puerto Vallarta:

Discovering the meaning of pride in Puerto Vallarta

Villa Premiere: excellence by design in Puerto Vallarta
Mike's Beach Club
Mike’s Beach Club

You can read more articles by Marc d’Entremont at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

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Villa Premiere: excellence by design in Puerto Vallarta

Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway
View of Bay of Banderas from room at Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway

As a chef I usually shy away from all-inclusive resorts. Being a captive audience for a resort’s desire to maximize profits too often results in forced acceptance of less than stellar quality. Yet Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel proves that excellence is by design.

Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway
Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway
hand painted inspirational quotes on the interior walls throughout the hotel
hand painted inspirational quotes on the interior walls throughout the hotel

Hoteles Buenaventura group was founded over 30 years ago in Puerto Vallarta by a family of engineers and architects with three generations now actively involved. A flair for design is evident in the liberal use of original art that decorates public spaces and rooms as well as the ergonomic comfort that dominates the furnishings. Villa Premiere is one of three resorts under the group’s umbrella along the vibrant shore of the Bay of Banderas.

Infinity pool & bar
Infinity pool & bar
private hot tub/pool on balcony of a corner suite
private hot tub/pool on balcony of a corner suite

Villa Premiere, built in 1999, completed a multi-million dollar renovation in September 2016 under the direction of the second generation family CEO and architect José Abel Villa Fernandez. Not only were all 60 rooms and suites refurbished but the public areas including pools and the three restaurants received major improvements. The adult only Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway exudes comfort, serenity and extraordinary customer service even before you arrive. Upon making a reservation an email is sent with a list of pillow, room scent and mini-bar preferences.

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Guests receive a complimentary neck massage upon registration
sweets
sweets

Guests are presented with glasses of champagne before sitting at the reception desk. After the necessary formalities of registration they’re whisked to one of two masseuses who provide a complimentary neck massage. By the time they’re thoroughly relaxed a staff member escorts the guest to their room where the baggage has already been delivered. A platter may await in the antechamber of the room next to the espresso machine with an attractive arrangement of welcoming sweets. That’s all within the first hour.

pool
pool

 

the hotel gym
the hotel gym

If a guest has opted for the all-inclusive package – highly recommended – the discrete pampering will continue during their stay. An extensive room service menu and a well-stocked mini-bar may entice one to remain in their room gazing out on the pounding surf of the Bay of Banderas from the balcony. Yet the glass walled and open air restaurants, beachfront pool bar, luxurious Mind & Soul Spa, the spacious well equipped gym and the soft sand beach are equally enticing.

exquisite dishes & presentations
exquisite dishes & presentations

cocktailFrom breakfast to late night cocktails, the Villa Premiere’s chefs and mixologists never cease to amaze. Each dish whether it’s traditional mechaca – northern Mexican dried beef scrambled with eggs – a tropical fruit plate, extraordinary seafood soup or a fanciful dessert of faux sweet fried egg with tulle cookie bacon, the skill, quality and imaginative presentations are outstanding. Cocktails are made with the freshest ingredients from superb fresh fruit margaritas (no mixes here!) to the finest scotch.

Trio of breakfast quesadillas: Huitlachoche (mushrooms that grow on local corn) Squash blossom & Mexican sausage
Trio of breakfast quesadillas: Huitlachoche (mushrooms that grow on local corn) Squash blossom & Mexican sausage

Yet the Villa Premiere/Hoteles Buenaventura’s commitment to service goes beyond the paying guest. I met staff members that have been in the family’s employ for years. The young executive chef has been in charge of the kitchen for five years – since he was 24. In an age when longevity in the hospitality industry is often measured in months, that’s a lifetime.

La Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta with Villa Premiere GM Allesandro Stifani
La Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta with Villa Premiere GM Allesandro Stifani

One evening we were serenaded at Villa Premiere by the La Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta, a youth orchestra consisting of at risk Puerto Vallarta teens. Under the direction of an equally youthful Daniel Oliveros and the patronage of Hoteles Buenaventura, these children are learning life skills equal to their newfound musical talents. The success of La Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta bodes well for both the city and Mexico.

Luxury linens & appoinments
Luxury linens & appoinments

Puerto Vallarta, unlike many resort cities that I’ve visited worldwide still maintains the charm of its humble beginnings as just another village on the Mexican coast. When discovered in the 1960s it attracted artists, writers and sport fishermen looking for tranquility. Although luxury resorts, condos and beachfront nightlife along the Malecon now entertain thousands, it’s still the gentle rhythmic sound of the surf while drifting off to sleep at Villa Premiere that’ll remind you life is good.

contented cats & craft sellers on La Islita del Rio Cuale, Puerto Vallarta
contented cats & craft sellers on La Islita del Rio Cuale, Puerto Vallarta

Disclaimer: the author was a guest of Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway, Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and Latitude International

Parasailing on the beach in front of Villa Premiere
Parasailing on the beach in front of Villa Premiere

 

You can read more by Marc d’Entremont on Puerto Vallarta:

Discovering the meaning of pride in Puerto Vallarta

 

You can read more articles by Marc d’Entremont at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

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