I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the cooking classes offered by local legend Eileen Zack.
Zack has been cooking professionally for over 40 years, starting with sea charters in the Caribbean, to founding both Pease Porridge Hot, a catering company, and the Annapolis School of Cooking. Her hands-on skills, love of cooking, as well as teaching experience make her classes both fun and educational.
Zack instructs two classes a month in her kitchen (one that even Julia Child would have envied), and each month offers recipes from a different culture. She maintains a cheerful, patient manner as she quickly organizes her students into groups of two, giving each group a recipe to create. Our class theme that day was a Mediterranean luncheon, featuring a carrot and lentil salad, green beans with bulgur and tahini, sweet spiced fish cakes, and a ricotta tart with lemon poppy crust. Everyone jumped eagerly on their assigned tasks. Soon the aroma in that kitchen had all of our mouths watering. We couldn’t wait to enjoy these delicacies! But wait we did, as Zack’s oven broke down, just as the tart was about to be slid in. Without missing a beat, or losing her smile, our instructor fired up her barbeque. Welcome to Mexico, where necessity becomes the mother of invention quiet often.
We sat down in her lovely patio dining area and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of our labour, with more than one helping of everything. This was one occasion when “too many cooks didn’t spoil the broth.”
Il Bel Mondo
Back in November, I wrote an article about Jennifer Velarde, who refused to let Hurricane Patricia crush her dream of opening a trendy, upscale clothing boutique in La Manzanilla.
Not only did Zingara become the “go to” women’s store, but the accompanying salon, tucked in the back of the shop outgrew its space before the end of December. Luckily, Velarde, wise young entrepreneur that she is, had the foresight to rent the interconnecting store front next door. Renovations were completed about two weeks ago.
Il Bel Mondo (Beautiful People) now offers its cliental a more private and tranquil setting for massages, aroma touch therapy treatments and facials. It also boasts of an instore shower for customers’ convenience.
Velarde plans to keep both stores open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., four days a week, but as of this writing could not specify exactly which four days. She is in the process of obtaining her hairdresser’s license and needs to co-ordinate with her training schedule.
Her plans are to extend her services to stylish cuts, and colouring next October. She will post more information as to her summer service as soon as possible on her Facebook page – Zingara.
This youthful whirlwind never stops! It will be interesting to find out what other plans she has in store for next season.
Bye Bye Miss American Pie
Within the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard “last performance this season” from Willy Mason and Dan Crosby of the Lounge Lizards, Scottie Turner, Dave & Sally, and Palapa Joe’s Open Mic Night.
With so many of the wonderful musicians packing up and heading north, it really feels like the music has died. While I do enjoy Latino music now and then, I am, and always will be a true fan of “American” style. Whether it’s rock or country, blues or folk, my toes are always itching to dance. I would personally like to thank Willy Mason, owner of Palapa Joe’s restaurant for making sure that from Wednesdays to Saturdays, the beat went on and the dance floor extended out amongst the tables.
The foreign tourist trade might be winding down, but certainly not the town!
The streets are humming with activity. Road graders are out in full force; buildings that stood empty all winter are being cleaned and painted. Every empty lot is being weeded and levelled in preparation for the restaurant that will suddenly appear overnight. Semana Santa cometh and the town is getting ready for the hundreds of Mexican families that will arrive by the bus and truck load.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) has to be experienced to truly understand that it can be loved and hated at the same time. The beach is filled with vibrant colour and energy as the families frolic on the beach. Music and laughter fills the air all day and unfortunately all night as well. The constant pounding of “the bass” has actually caused dishes to rattle in nearby casas. Driving from one end of our small village to the other becomes a challenge, and forget parking space, you won’t find room to park a tricycle.
The amount of people that gather here puts a tremendous strain on the town’s water and power supply. But in truth, the positive outweighs the negative, and it only lasts a week. Now if I can just find my earplugs!
There will be one more column from “Scoop” Wagner of La Manzanilla, after Semana Santa ends. I hope to be able to give you hardy year rounders’ updates of summer hours of the shops and restaurants, as well as ongoing events in the town. Rumour has it that a new park is under construction, as well as a dog rescue centre. More on that next time. Until then, I want to wish you all a Happy Easter wherever you are and however you celebrate.