I have to admit that before this summer, I had never had a mojito. I’d heard about them, seen pictures of them, but never tasted one. After a trip to Coba to see the Mayan city in the jungle (see my previous blog), my California adventure buddy Liz and I decided to find a new restaurant in Tulum to sample. I was driving down the strip and Liz started bouncing up and down and yelling “mojito, mojito!”. We circled the block a few times to find a parking place near the “mojito place,” and the charming chalkboard sign with a white VW beetle parked in the lobby of the restaurant reeled us in…
We took a seat at the front table to people watch and they brought us a menu. Homemade pasta and tapas appetizers are their specialties… But first… Mojitos!!! We’re thirsty and hot! And exactly what is that VW doing there?
So we start talking to the friendly mojito girl. She introduced herself as Maria, and she was from Cancun, Mexico. She and her “Beetle Love” joined La Trattoria del Mar in April 2012. Her Beetle is the charming juicer platform. She gets fresh-cut sugarcane from Chetumal south of Tulum, and with each drink order, juices it for the fresh sugar cane nectar.
Her mojito is made with rum, fresh mint, fresh sugar cane juice and crushed lime. With a drink order you get two tapas (small) appetizers free and we chose fresh guacamole and salsa. They arrived just as Maria finished up making our mojitos.
We sipped… and then sipped more.. OH MY GOLLY!!! I could drink a gallon of this divine minty, rummy sweet stuff – I’d just have to have someone to pick me up off the floor when I got done. But really – DELIGHTFUL! What a heavenly drink on a hot day! I’m hooked – from now on I’m a tropical mojito girl! Maria puts a stick of the juiced sugar cane into the drink for you to stir with and then chew on.
(Hmmm… I’ve got some fresh mint growing out in the yard… this is giving me ideas – it is Friday night after all.)
We surveyed the menu and decided we would share one of their pasta specialty dishes, the Bolognese meat sauce with homemade pasta noodles.
After we placed our order we chatted some more and polished off their yummy guacamole that has chopped onion and tomato in it. We looked at each other and our empty glasses… Hey Maria! We’ll have another! Crank up the Love Beetle!
Our meal arrived, served by our handsome and friendly server, Pablo who spoke very good English and was from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Just look at our dish of pasta…
After we polished off most of the pasta, our glasses were empty again. However we decided we wanted to make it back to Soliman Bay in one piece and Maria suggested one of her alcohol-free sugar cane juice drinks. It was made with bitter orange (which looks like an ugly lime) and her sugar cane juice and it was just as good as the mojito – just not potent. She told us bitter orange is traditionally used to squeeze over a pig as a marinade before they bury it in the ground to roast.
We were refreshed, full and ready to hit the beach – but first – our photo op with the Love Beetle!
Little did we know that as soon as we got back to the Bay, the rest of the group was revving up to go to Akumal to La Buena Vida for cocktails and dinner… Oh my!