Valentine, concert lift weekend events
VILLA CHOICES for families, friends. Click on Akumal Villas at left
LIBRARY HOURS Mon-Fri from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. More than 15,000 English and Spanish books to choose from.
RESERVE NOW for summer car storage at Riviera Maya vehicle and boat storage. Click logo at left for web page.
TECHNICAL PROBLEM? – Check Alan’s Repair at left for list of services
FOOD FEST participants sought by Colonos. See story below and sign up!
ALL THE POOL supplies you need. Click on WeRWater logo for list of products that work.
COPPELIA’S BALLET and Man With the Golden Voice along with Colegio talent, March 8, at 7 p.m. in the Cultural Center, to benefit the PA library and school art projects. Donation 100 pesos.
Concert, variety show, golf
mark enjoyable weekend
Puerto Aventuras hummed with delightful activity this past weekend, sandwiched as it was between Valentine Day – or day of Love and Friendship- on Friday and the first Cultural Center concert of the season on Monday evening. Several restaurants offered special holiday entertainment that attracted near-full houses. There was also a Colegio student variety show Friday noon to display budding talents and numerous private parties –some more boisterous than others – that steeped the community into a pool of energy and good fellowship.
The concert by “Bole” featuring sitar, violin and guitar in the capable hands of, respectively, Leonardo Nieto Jolie, Bogdan Djuvic and Jesus Mejia offered a potpourri of world music with a strong eastern flavor – from Serbia at the crossroads of central and southeast Europe to the exotic eastern capitals such as Riyahd in Saudi Arabia and teeming India. As such, the cultural differences as expressed by their music wasn’t for everyone in a Western audience. Then again, whatever is for everyone?
“You had to allow yourself to be swept up by the hypnotic tone that was sometimes serene and sometimes exciting,” said snowbird D. Vazquez of the U.S. The group accomplished that feeling to those who welcomed it by deftly using the musical tools of diminuendo and crescendo. Sometimes they played so softly that the over-70 crowd had a hard time hearing, then, quickly escalated to a feverish pitch that had violinist Djuvic nearly propelling himself out of his chair as he ran up and down the scale. His contortions while seated did not escape the delighted viewers. At times, the musicians transitioned into a blues-like repetitive track with the guitar and sitar, their tempo moderated by the disciplined tempo of the drummer.
The audience applauded vigorously after each selection, and while a handful of people departed after the first two selections, audience members asked randomly how they enjoyed the music inevitably said “I liked it” or “It certainly is different than what we hear from the Hard Rock Hotel,” and “They’re accomplished musicians” to “It was OK” to “I loved it,” the latter expression underscored by the majority via “me gusto” applause and whistles.
More than one person commented on the stage setting that simply and quietly lent a befitting ambience to the musical presentation. It was the work of PA artist Suzana Stojadinovic, herself a native of Serbia and coordinator of the event for the Colonos. Her richly-colored paintings served as a contrasting backdrop to the white and beige-clad musicians who were framed by triangular floor lighting and unassuming, potted plants as the scent of incense wafted up into the audience. “It certainly was worth the price,” said author and visitor Lily Miller of Toronto.
The children’s variety show – all that was missing was Ed Sullivan – featured varying talents that displayed the potential of youth, from break-dancing to ballet, skills with musical instruments – flute, drums, cello, piano and more – and even a magician, the only performer to show up in white shirt and black bow tie. The audience of their peers and parents was generous with applause and whistles in addition to the antsy chicanery of children flitting about the audience enjoying themselves.
One of the private weekend parties, this one hosted by Bart and Jean Duns of Canada, Arizona and Puerto’s waterfront Chac Hal Al complex, melded engineers, general businessmen, yachtsmen, retired radio station
owner, lawyers, the daughter of a Pulitzer prize winner and others into one festive room of interesting conversation, congeniality and humor spiced with a bit of political analysis on the pros and cons of this or that issue.
Also attending was Timothy Howard, former chief financial officer of U.S. mortgage giant Fannie Mae, whose insider book “The Mortgage Wars,” published last year, brings an insider’s explanation as to why the country – the world actually – fell into the deep “housing-bubble” recession. It’s ripple effects are still washing ashore for millions of families hurt by the financial crisis and the continuing struggle to revive the economy. The book is available on Kindle and at the Puerto Aventuras Library in the Colegio, courtesy of Mr. Howard.
Catering company’s popularity
grows with Puerto Aventuras
Stars aren’t born overnight and Rome wasn’t built in day. Neither was Puerto Aventuras Catering, and thereby hangs a tale of long hours stretching into years in the evolution of a successful and creative culinary enterprise in Puerto Aventuras and along the Riviera Maya.
For chef Francesca Caputo of Puerto Aventuras, it began in Italy where she was born, then in Cancun where her basic skills were honed and parlayed into ownership of two restaurants, La Dolce Vita in 1984, which is still in operation under different ownership, and the defunct Savio’s.
“I have spent more than half my life here,” Francesca said during a recent interview. ”You could say I’m a little bit Italian and a little bit Yucateca.”
For Lenny Kraus, partner in Puerto Aventuras Catering, the kitchen career took off on the lush grounds of California’s Napa Valley where wine and food are inseparable. Kraus was employed by the sprawling Robert Mondavi winery, a name familiar to wine lovers everywhere.
Fate introduced them to each other here in Puerto Aventuras after Francesca had sold her Cancun interests, purchased a boat and sailed around with her children for a while. Then came a Puerto sushi shop called Arigato (‘thank you’ in Japanese). In retrospect, Francesca admits it was the wrong choice at the wrong time and it closed as the result of looming world recession and two devastating hurricanes in the mid-90s.
It was, nonetheless, a serendipitous event, because then she joined Kraus in the catering business, and from there, particularly in the last four years, their teamwork has refined and expanded the enterprise by creating a menu of international dishes and “always coming through’ for clients regardless of unforeseen impediments.
“When our chefs go to prepare food for vacationers who have rented a private villa, we do everything for them to make their stay as care-free as possible, not only the cooking, but the shopping. We even review the villa before the guests arrive.”
A good thing, too. In one circumstance, a pre-check of one particular hacienda showed nothing in it worked. No water, no electricity, no gas. “Fortunately,” Francesca said unfazed, “There was a fireplace so we added charcoal to our shopping list and that was how we cooked…charcoal in the fireplace and emergency lights.”
Francesca is the operations manager while Kraus handles the business duties of the so-called front office in addition to a side-line web page development business that includes the official Colonos site.
As usual in start-ups, the business at first handled the smaller parties but as its reputation for delightful dishes and efficient service grew by word-of-mouth, larger parties such as weddings of 100 or so diners at beachfront sites began to develop, and so did the staff that now includes four chefs and trained staff of varied talents.
The Caputo-Kraus team is a strong supporter of training local workers from the Poblado. “It’s amazing how well they learn without a formal education, and how happy they are to do it,” Francesca said. She describes the example set by Pamela Ponce de Leon, one of the company’s four young chefs who “bring new energy and new ideas.”
Pamela’s ideas came into play when a client wanted to stage a “proposal party” in a cenote cave. No problem. Pamela, whose flan draws raves at local gastronomic events, arranged the decorations, flowers and all, brought everything needed for a fine meal and even a violin player to arouse the emotions and assure the answer would be “yes.”
Pamela’s husband, Daniel, by the way, is another young chef doing well as a partner in PA’s Latitude 20 restaurant.
In addition to meeting with villa caretakers to assure everything is in order for the arriving guests, the catering service also asks clients whether guests are on gluten free, vegetarian or other diets to design an appropriate menu.
The team has not forgotten how it started, though. It still welcomes the small house or condo cocktail parties, freeing the hosts to mingle with guests without worries. Even the tired woman of the house or bachelor aren’t forgotten. Special meals, such as lasagna, can be delivered to their home when they just don’t feel like cooking or going out.
For more about Puerto Aventuras Catering, click on the logo on the left side of this page to link to the company web site full of detailed information on breakfast-to-dinner menus, wedding and party planning, prices, wide variety of services offered and descriptive menu with photos of actual table settings.
HAIR DRESSING Salon Mara Rojas has opened up in the Grand Marina Building near Bamboo…Grupo Bimbo purchased Canada Bread for $1.65 billion…Starbucks in Mexico will give a discount to customers with reusable cups…Mexican journalists in Veracruz demanding investigation of reporter’s kidnap-murder in a case of what police say is the result of “personal differences” with a bar owner who hired hit men for the job. The bar owner has been arrested… U.S. consular personnel were in Cozumel last week to discuss the possible closing of the island’s consular service office…Playa del Carmen will be represented at an international tourist trade show in Berlin to advance to Playa brand…Catching on is the export of invasive lionfish to the U.S., Canada and Japan with some 270 kilos exported so far in this young industry. It was about two years ago that the idea of clearing the local reefs of this invasive and ravenous specie adopted the informal slogan of “Eat ‘em, to beat ‘em,” which spawned cookbooks and more divers spearing the colorful but spiny lionfish…Mexican trucking association has filed a $30 million trucking arbitration against the U.S. for failing to fully open borders to Mexican trucks…Akumal Bay and Tulum were visited by celebrated Chinese vocalist Jolie Chan on a project to publish a travel guide in Chinese to increase tourism to the Riviera Maya from that country…CANADA considering dropping visa requirements for traveling Mexican nationals, says Mexican President Enrique Nieto Pena.
Beware pickpockets and thieves
that follow high season crowds
Several victims of thieves here have asked The Pelican Free Press to issue a warning to shoppers that at least one pair of pickpocket scammers have been operating in the area. In addition, the police are on the lookout for a suspect captured on a Playa del Carmen store camera using a credit card stolen from a home in Puerto Aventuras near the Catalonia Hotel.
The story was held from publication by the Pelican for a week by police request so local law enforcement agencies could distribute the photo among all agencies on the lookout for criminals. Two victims of pickpockets at the local Chedraui market who asked to remain anonymous gave the Pelican accounts of their experiences. Here is one of them:
“Thursday, Feb. 6th , 2014: Shopped at Chedraui with a long list , at about 11:00 am . I carry a large “travel” wallet , which I put on the baby shelf of the cart where normally i watch it all the time . Just as I entered the first side aisle, a woman pointed and mentioned a problem on my back. I reached around and my hand came back with what turned out to be ketchup on it.
Just then , a man came into the aisle from the other end , carrying some children’s clothing , as any shopper might . When he “ saw what was happening “, he produced a Kleenex and offered to clean it for me . I am sure that, as I turned to do this, the lady ducked behind me, opened the wallet and removed my credit and debit cards.
When I was ready to check out I looked for the credit card , ready to go . That was when I noticed that it was gone. After a lot of “pushing “, I found a senior type who spoke English and asked if anyone had turned in cards. The answer was “no “ .
After taking a taxi home, I went to the local rental agent’s office and used the phone to call the bank (Canadian) that issued the card . By that time , there had been five quick withdrawals before the bank put a hold on the card. Clearly , there is a very professional group at work each one with their own part in the process.”
In the other case, the woman whose house was broken into and her wallet stolen said she had left the single-family home for only 20 minutes to run an errand. She said evidently the house was being watched by the thief who broke in through a door. In the meantime, the Colonos reports it has video of a suspicious vehicle idly roaming the resort. Security personnel are on the watch for it.
The high-season crowds of vacationers are natural attractions to itinerant pickpockets and scammers in all tourist areas. Forewarned, is forearmed. Unit owners are reminded they have the responsibility to securely lock doors and windows, drivers to lock cars, and shoppers to carry their cash and cards in a safe place on their person and be alert to their surroundings. The victims agree these things can and do happen anywhere.
Looked up from reading a novel on the Kindle the other day in the Chedraui cafeteria while waiting for the wife to shop when a butcher from the meat department in neat white slacks and knee-high white boots was leaving through the turnstile. The usual guard stopped him and like a cop on the infamous south side of Chicago, asked the man to raise his arms and spread for a body search…right there at the entrance! Think what you will.
C’mon! Cook something up
for the 4th annual
international food fest
From the Colonos: “Hello friends: We are ready for the 4th edition of The International Food Festival of Puerto Aventuras.
The date is Sunday March 30, 2014, at the Puerto Aventura’s School.We need anyone interested, to confirm their participation as soon as possible.
The idea it’s very simple: one country = one dish. It’s a way to know each other and to know the traditions of each country through their food. It’s not ‘high level cuisine’, but the traditional food, what we eat every day, or during the holidays, the Greeks, the Chinese or the Turkish. Not lobster or caviar, something more simple but characteristic of each country.
Mexico will participate by states: Puebla, Yucatán, Nuevo León, etc.Each dish must be enough for 250/300 samples, small portions, a taste of flavor. 30 gr of meat or 30 gr of pasta. Nothing big, we would like for everyone to be able to taste 10 countries before being full.
There are two ways to participate: 1) As commercial business (restaurant, hotel, foods dealer). The company makes its own publicity, in any way they want, but we need it to identify with one country: Chinese restaurant, Argentinian parrilla, French cheese import. The Colonos will provide the installation of table, chairs, cups, main course or soup dishes, napkins, etc., but not the food. This it’s the cost of publicity.
2) A private citizen cooks his recipe just to introduce his country, with no commercial intent. In this case the Association of Colonos will refund the food cost (but we need the receipts) up to a max of $2000 pesos. Obviously the Association of Colonos will provide also the installation of table, chairs, cups, main course or soup dishes, napkins, etc.
We need to know ASAP who wants to participate, name of the country and the dish that will be prepared. Invite your neighbors and friends from other countries to participate.We expect around 600 people at the event. Drinks are sold separately.Tickets are sold in The Association of Colonos office at $150 pesos , children $100 pesos.
Best regards, Association of Colonos Sports and Culture Commission.”
Phrase a Week… with Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
“How do you get to the caleta?” In Spanish, you could say “¿Cómo se puede llegar a la caleta ”
Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cel: 984-108-3517 .
Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.
AA and Alanon meetings…
AA and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.