The “festive season” is meant to be a time of good cheer, but in late December chilly gray weather (and maybe exposure to Ebenezer Scrooge), left me craving a warm New Year lavish with sun, surf, golden sand, maybe even palm trees laden with coconut loot. And so, that’s how I found myself on a Mexican highway driving south from Cancun Airport to celebrate 2014 near the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum.
Along the way, my family and I visited the lesser-known town of Puerto Morelos where a man on the street told us not to miss El Nicho. Good advice, because this tiny gem is tucked away like buried treasure; only the line of hungry patrons and a small placard mark the spot.
Owner/Manager Maureen was efficiently running the show during our two visits, and we assume Owner/Chef Pablo was at the helm in the kitchen. The duo have created a vibrant, welcoming niche that obviously appeals to both locals and visitors with a small menu of healthy fare, not to mention a community board announcing drop-in yoga and other organic pursuits.
Grand Mart International Food is a mecca of exotic fruits and vegetables. I didn’t see anything in the way of organics but they certainly had a wide variety of unusual produce, much of which I was entirely unfamiliar. What I did recognize were the isles of ethnic foods and spices. Most prevalent were the spice blends which comes in handy when you are experimenting with various cuisines and would like to sample the flavors of a region without investing in all the individual herbs and spices contained in particular regional blends. Available were also rices, beans, noodles and other fare native to many regional cuisines, including Asian, Indian and Hispanic to mention only a few.