Thursday, May 19, 2016

Escape to New York

image courtesy of Stephen Wilson

It's that time of year again. It's that time to hit the road and partake on an eagerly anticipated journey. It's that time for A Hungry Man to once again leave familiarity and escape to the concrete canyons of New York. Oh, how I relish trips to the Big Apple, almost like a cake lover licking the plate after a particularly delicious strawberry shortcake dessert. Great, now I want cake!

Last year was so much fun being re-introduced to the city that I had sadly lost touch with for over ten years. That is a crazy amount of time away from a city that I love more than my own hometown. Now although it's a reunion of sorts, this year promises to be different, not only with a change of travelling partners (goodbye sister dear and hello there partner Jim!), and there will be more of an emphasis on the theatre side of New York than the culinary, but no need to fret, the opportunity to experience all that is New York food will definitely be covered. Yup, I see you there Eatily and don't you worry, I'm coming to see you too.

Look for posts to come over the next few days, and in the meantime how about you take my hand and we'll take a trip down memory lane with last years visit to New York - click here and here to read all about it!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I Wish U Heaven Prince Rogers Nelson

image courtesy of

It's never really been my thing to talk about the deaths of celebrities, especially on this blog. Life is hard enough without having to report about something or someone that you barely knew other than the image they choose to present to the public.

But when it happens to someone who played a key part of your formative years, you can't help but mention, remember and honour the memory. With the recent deaths of David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and now Prince, all legends, all incredible accomplished musicians and artists, it honestly feels like a constant punch to my childhood and teenage heart.

Prince was a big part of my teen years, and with my friends we went crazy when 'Lets Go Crazy' hit the radio. We danced every New Year to '1999', and still do. 'When Doves Cry' is implanted in the brain. And 'Purple Rain'? It was THE song of the 80s. It was played at every school dance, it was all over the radio, it was the song of a generation.

As I grew older and really began to check and collect his extensive back music catalogue, there are so many funk/R&B jams that stand up to anything played today. I was and still am, very sorry I didn't have the opportunity to attend one of his amazing concerts, but I will always have the music.

He has left one hell of a musical legacy behind, but it's one that I will continue to honour and treasure.

Prince Roger Nelson June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Adios Mexico: See you next sunset

image provided by Stephen Wilson

I woke up on my last day in Mexico to the sounds of the ocean. From my room I had direct access plus the incredible view of the Pacific thanks to patio doors that opened wide and let in the sights, sounds and very fresh air. You can either sleep well to that, or wonder to yourself; "Just how angry can an ocean get?" Or both. In this case, I chose to think of it as a peaceful sound, and it is truly gorgeous to watch the waves crash onto the beach.

Now I had mentioned a few posts back about sharing a story that involved my swimming in that same water. Or trying at the very least to attempt to swim in it. I will state that the first few attempts were disasters. The surf is not fun when the waves are high and strong. Oh it's great for surfers, but for regular folks? Not so much. Tell me who enjoys being tossed around like rag dolls or worse that literally sinking feeling that you might just be pulled out into the deep, dark waters? I shivered myself just reading that. Truly not for the faint of heart.

So it was on the last day in Mexico that one more attempt was made to navigate the waters. I am happy to report that my partner and I did it and even better? We survived! The surf was very calm that day and wow, what a change to the swimming environment. It was enjoyable, refreshing and a reminder to make sure, in the future, to swim in a place that has a quieter surf. After that experience, I just had to ask the staff at Rancho Pescadero if swimming is encouraged at the resort because we all know what it means to assume something. Short answer? Not really recommended. Apparently if you walk a few kilometers up the beach from the ranch there is an area suitable for swimming. Oh well, live and learn right? Holidays are not just about fun but also about mistakes. And learning from them. I think.

Another part of the trip that was oh-so-pleasurable was waking up to a basket at our front door. Just a basket you might be asking yourself? That was pleasurable? Boy you’re an easy to please traveller aren’t you. But wait, not so fast. This wasn’t just any basket. Inside the beautifully hand woven basket contained a delectable light breakfast of Mexican coffee, a plate of fresh fruit with watermelon, melon and pineapple slices and a freshly baked scone. Trust me, enjoying the contents of that basket on your private patio, with the warm wind and a view of the ocean is just about the greatest way to start any day. Leave the room? Ha! Not with this sort of treatment, but leave you must and it was worth it, if only to just sit by the beach, listen to the waves, watch the whales in the distance(!) and just gather your thoughts

To revisit a theme, I have to reiterate my thoughts about travel and in particular, my personal view that it is as much about learning as it is to have fun. Travelling means you will have highs and lows, but the most important question you should ask yourself is this: what did you learn? Did you pick up a language, or even just a simple phrase? Did you sample the cuisine, or just taste a local delicacy? Did you engage with the local population, get to know the people, who they are, what they do and what they think of their country (and you visiting it). It's a chance to expand your boundaries, your knowledge, and to see that life is not just confined to your front door or the trips from home to work and back again.

Live life. Eat life. Change your life and escape to something new, something exciting when the chance arrives. I know that when sun, sand and sea beckons, my bags are packed and my mouth is ready to say “Hola Mexico!“ Until then, Adios, until I see you again.

image courtesy of James Mauro

Monday, March 21, 2016

Baja Mexico, a beautiful short (video)

Whenever I play this video, I instantly relax. Try it and see for yourself. I guarantee after a hard day at work, one view of this short video and you'll want to grab the sun block or tanning lotion. Or if you're at home, a margarita!
Check it out:

video courtesy of Stephen Wilson and James Mauro

Monday, March 7, 2016

Hola Mexico - the culinary post: "Yo no como avocados"*

*The translation above reads "I don't eat avocado." Now check out a few of the fabulous, mouthwatering, incredibly fresh dishes I was dining on in Mexico, for example.

Looks good eh? Notice the abundance of avocado? Yes, a mind has the power to change, particularly when it involves avocado! Read below to find out how.

Tell the truth they say. The truth will set you free they preach. So easy to say, yet much, much harder to actually accomplish. Most of us try our very best to tell the truth, but only when it's safe, or when it's necessary or even when it might just be the right thing to do.

So with that said, I have decided to share with you something difficult, something that is very hard to admit but definitely a home truth, and here it is.

I hate avocado.

Did I hear a collective gasp out there? That's not surprising when that little nugget of information escapes my lips. I think what slays me the most is that whenever I happen to mention my distaste for it, I get the most insane reactions like:

What? WHAT? You don't like avocado? Again, what? Why? What's wrong with you? No, seriously, what's the matter with you?

Ridiculous reactions but not at all surprising in what is a very pro-avocado world.

It's not as if I've denounced the lives of children, but I know that the reactions are really all about personal preferences and a real love of avocado. For me, avocado and I just aren't into each other. The texture, the taste and just the look of it has turned me off it for years. Even though I practically grew up with it being a regular part of my dinnertime as a kid and avoiding it wholeheartedly as an adult, it's presence lingers - usually on the periphery, but I still see it.

The avocado dilemma really put into question whether I'd be on my way to a culinary pleasure zone in Mexico, or sentenced to eating imported American crap - I see you there Burger King. It turns out I had nothing to worry about, because I embraced all that was Mexican cuisine, and even did a side foray into Mexican-Italian, and it was worth it.

At Rancho Pescadero, they are serious about providing guests with a complete culinary experience. There is a huge emphasis on providing locally sourced food. The resort contains massive gardens where they grow their own vegetables - including lettuce and tomato, herbs like cilantro and mint, and beautiful ripe strawberries. May I add that there is almost nothing like a fresh, strawberry margarita to cure a long, leisurely day in the sun?

The menu for lunch, breakfast and dinner is created and coordinated by Executive Chef duo Jeff and Susan Mall, whom hail from another food paradise - Sonoma Wine Country in California. They have taken great pains to provide guests and visitors to the resort with the true taste of Mexico. The images above are only a few of the luncheon snacks available for guests including fresh fish tacos featuring freshly caught yellowtail fish direct from the Pacific Ocean, in house made tacos and burritos with guacamole. Of course.

Ah, guacamole, I knew you would make an appearance. Having spent a great deal of this post talking about my dislike of the fruit, Chefs Mall come along and provide what was an extremely fresh, creamy and luscious dish, making me question whether my dislike of avocado was truly warranted. That shocked me to the core, but it truly was a satisfying addition to what was already a very tasty taco dish.

I must admit that it felt a bit like home seeing avocado accompany so many meals on my plate. Whether it was lunch, dinner or breakfast, there it was - as seen below:

images by Stephen Wilson

But it was the promise of fresh ingredients, fresh home-style authentic Mexican cuisine that delivered the most satisfying feeling. There is a reason why Ranch Pescadero was featured on Conde Nast Traveller Magazine's best resorts list. If the promise of a beautiful resort, stunning beach and gorgeous weather isn't enough for you, then a carefully planned, amazing food fest not only at the resort, but in the accompanying town of Todos Santos - where I feasted on Italian food that truly was the best I've ever eaten this side of Italy - thank you Santa Fe Cafe and your super-fresh fritto misto dish, and house made ravioli!

Or just come for the guacamole. If it has managed to turn a confirmed avocado grouch into at least a sampler - albeit on a minor scale, than you know you are in for a true, Mexican culinary adventure.

Up next: Adios Mexico!