"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ongoing Rundown of Cafes in Mérida, México

I am a cafe person. So, I am always thrilled to find a new cafe. While I have updated this list with new cafes, I have not visited them all.

Look for updates, since things change frequently

Updated: 10/26/2018

Cafe Chokoh
Calle 39 x 64 y 62A, Centro
Open: L-V 8:30-4;00
Good sandwiches, coffee, frappes, and more.
See post on Cafe Chokoh for more information

El Apapacho Cafe
Calle 62 x 41 y 43
Open: Miercoles -Domingo 11:00 - 11:30
Lots of vegetarian choices.
See blog post for more information.
Update: Need to check their hours, they have changed.

Espresso de Arte
Calle 62 #445 53 y 51
Colonia Centro
Open: Lunes a Sábado 10:0 am - 10:00pm

El Origen Cafe
Calle 62A #472 x 39 y 37
Reforma, Centro
Open: Lunes a Viernes de 12pm a 3pm
offers servicio a domicilio
What is great about this cafe is the vegetarian influence on the menu choices. The chef uses light seasonings.  The main dish is served with rice, salad & soup.
Update: El Origen Cafe closed their Avenue Reforma location.

OMG! Cafe
Av Colon #505 x 8 y 9
Garcia Gineres
Not sure of hours, they close mid-day and open again for a few evening hours.
I came for the scones! Great pastries and coffee.
Internet available

El Gran Cafe
Calle 47 y Paseo de Montejo
They have cut back on the hours they are open.
Internet available.

Call47 #513 x56 y54
This is a new location (10/18)

Cafeteria Pop or Cafe Pop
Calle 57 #501 62 y 60
Open: 8:00am to 11:00pm
Listed in Lonely Planet.
A fixture in downtown historic centro.
Typical cafe menu.
Nice refugee after a busy day.

On Paseo de Montejo, on the left as you head up Paseo towards the Monument
Calle 56 A, Numero 465 x 33 A y 35
Friendly staff, can always met other expats or tourists.
Internet available but flaky.

Vendito Azul
Calle 62 x 49 y 51
Wed–Sat 1pm to 10

Bistro Cultural
Calle 66 x 43
M–S, 9–4:30
Chef prepares a daily dish.
Always something going on there.
Love the omelets.
Internet available.
Update: Bistro Cultural has expanded, now it has an outdoor garden area and a food market across the street, see Post on Bistro Cultural for more information.

Pistache (formerly La Boheme)
Paseo de Montejo x Calle 39, Centro
open daily from 7:30am until 11pm
Quiches, french pastries and breads
Internet available.
One of my favorite stops.
It gets really busy on Sunday mornings due to Merida's Biciruta event.
I call this the "Unofficial Cat Cafe" because the owner has adopted a cat and she had kittens, so there's usually a cat about. They are not socialized.

Cafe Creme
Calle 41 x 60
M-F 7:30am - 7pm
Saturday 9-1
I like scrambled eggs, so I am always grateful when a cafe lets me order scrambled eggs, an item not on the menu.
Great coffee, great service.
Internet available.
Update: They have wine on the menu.

a Musa now Cafe Sukra
Avenue Paseo de Montejo #496 x 45 y 43
Update: This cafe has closed but another one has opened in the same location. Similar menu.

Cafe Chocolate now Alma Calma
Calle 60 x 49, Centro
Internet available.
Update: new tenant
Jardin de Santa Ana
Calle 47 x 60
indoor and outdoor seating
Not sure of hours, they seem to vary.
Internet available.
Update: Closed. Now a Cantina

Casa Maryposa
Calle 62 x 41 y 43 #360
Colonia Centro
Martes - Jueves 11:30am - 7:30pm
Viernes - Sabado 11:30am - 6:00pm
From Nachos to Fajitas, $50 - $75 with a wide selection of hot & cold drinks and desserts.
Try the cookies!
Internet available.
Update: Closed

Jaquar Cafe
Calle 60 x 45 y 47
Cafes, sandwiches, frappes, and my favorite, Soda Italiana, mineral water flavored with syrup. This café continues to improve. internet available. For the moment, my favorite is the Chai Tea Frappe!!! So good on a hot day.
Update: Closed.

Bengala Cafe de Barrio
C47 x58 y60
Santa Ana

Tlahuasco Cafeteria
C62 #429b

Benegala Kaffeehaus
C60 x 55 y 53

Cafe Punta del Cielo
C63 x 60 y62
Plaza Grande

Cafe Montejo
Calle 59 x 72 y 74

Cafe Organico
Calle 53 #502-D x 60 y 62

A Taza de Frida
Calle 54 #373-a cera Clinica de Las Americas

Since I began this list 2 years ago, some cafes have opened, some have closed, some have changed owners, some have changed hours, that is how it is here in Mérida.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Wanted to Like This eBook

Salvation Jane
by Ann Massey

I wanted to like this book. You have no idea how much I wanted to like this book.

The first few pages suckered me in then the author dropped me off a cliff into a morass of mindless mishaps.

The author, Ann, offers a colorful opening page. I liked the imagery of a gallery picture compared with the main character’s arrival.

She sets you into the scene immediately with the cab driver, street cleaner, and hobo on the doorstep.

The lead character, Jane, has left a call centre job to run a hotel.

I laughed when Jane typed her notes on an iPad. It just struck me as so modern and so out of place.

It was refreshing in its use of Aussie slang.

A story about a hotel for the homeless is quite a different world from tales and misdeeds of the faux beautiful and their pampered amoral lives -- or about vampires or war. Ann provides a slice of real life with a heavy dose of humor.

I loved her description of the parliamentary receptionist:

“Call me bitchy, but it crossed my mind that the receptionist, a frosted-Nordic lily in a white linen mini dress and with enough silver jewelry to stock Georg Jensen’s showroom, had been chosen to complement the sleek, minimalistic lines of the furnishings.”

Then, I lost the train of thought of the story. I think it started when “Hardie” visited the hotel and Jane and he bumped heads.

Plus, Jane’s mild acquiesce to the take over of her hotel took some of the energy out of the plot.

Jane has intelligence but no common sense. She has no sense about men. She keeps meeting jerks and even hires them.

Her lack of common sense is phenomenal and her ability to learn from her experiences is questionable.

Then the enthusiastic, pessimistic, cockeyed efforts of misfits in various states of disarray, from here and there, somehow pull off a quasi-effective candidate campaign for Jane. Even twitter gets a guest spot.

The introduction of the inner workings of government was interesting for a bit but got bogged down as the author starts introducing new characters with little background. Then Jane seems to find every male she gets near attractive which smacks of a lack of self-control or self-awareness and has the potential for a great deal of disasters.

Sadly, there is no good guy in the story. Horrie does not count. The “hidden” backgrounds of several characters are just too pat.

I know what it’s like to write a few good pages of a story then wander off into a ditch but I could not read all of Jane’s stupid antics; they weren’t even funny or useful in the plot. They seemed like useless decoration just to fill a page with words.

While she does illustrate the opinions and beliefs of phony conservatives, she also provides plenty of poor portraits of liberals enforcing the notions of liberals as flakes, unprofessionals, ignorant sods.

There is not one character in the story that had their shit together. Was this a romance? Was it a mystery? Was it a comedy? Was it an adventure? What was it? It appeared to try and be a bit of everything and ends up being nothing.

Generally, in almost any story, the main characters confront their “demons” or “challenges” and grow, mature or gain knowledge or confidence. All Jane did was hang on. She was like a puppet, little of her own efforts played a role in her success, she followed the advice of anyone who gave it and got lucky.

A bomb? What a tortured path to a confusing, cop-out of an ending that money won’t solve.

I am a first-time ebook author. I know all about the hard work. I know all about the mistakes first-time novelists make because I made them all. But, it is becoming like torture to try and find an author whose books I like.

Samples don’t help. I am seriously considering going back to bookstores because I could find a novel I liked in a bookstore within minutes. It takes too much time to search through various online bookstores to find a title I might try. Then, it takes more time peruse the TOC or the front cover notes etc. then it does to flip through a book to determine if I want to buy it.

I have purchased x amount of e-novels and I have not fully enjoyed any of them. But, I have purchased x amount non-fiction ebooks and I have appreciated all of them.

It is exhausting to try and find novels I like -- I have tried review sites, I have tried “free” books, I have tried recommendations. I am at a loss as to what else to try, but this is getting old. I rarely had this problem when I went into a bookstore.

I like science fiction, I like comedy, I like drama, I like mystery, I like adventure, and more.

I like Janet Evanovitch, Ursula Le Guin, Dorothy Sayers, Dick Francis, John D. MacDonald, and others. One of my favorite novels, “Who Rides the Tiger”, by Doris Miles Disney is probably in the category of romance like Barbara Cartland. So, I am not a literary snob.

I am beginning to wonder if the crux of the problem is that self-published or small press novels lack a “book development” editor. There is no one looking at the story as the sum of its parts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Minor Cooking Disaster

Over the last few days, I had been doing quite well cooking some "new" recipes.

So, today, I wanted to make a sandwich I had made before. I was confident I could make it from memory. Now, a clue that things were not going quite right was the fact I started making a batch of pasta. But, I missed the clue.

Then, I chopped some garlic and onions and started browning them. Then, I decided maybe I should look at the recipe just to make sure.

After perusing a few recipes, I realized I had three recipes in mind, not one. One was a cabbage dish, another was a sandwich and the other was a tomato soup recipe.

When I realized my error, I tried to salvage the situation. I continued making the pasta, no problem there. But, what was I going to do with the cooked garlic and onions.

I decided to try and add them to the original sandwich recipe I had thought of, "SPAM Applely" where you just fry a slice of SPAM, make a mayo, garlic and parmesan sauce and add apple slices. I added one-half of the cooked garlic and onions to the sauce and made the sandwich. Was it eatable? That is a matter of opinion -- all I can say is I ate it.

I added the other half of the cooked garlic and onions to the pasta and added lots of basil and a bit of olive oil. That dish survived.

I do not recall many recipe writers or cooks who talk about their failures.

While learning to make nutritious, frugal, tasty meals is important, so is salvaging a mistake.

The silver lining in this experience is I managed to wash the dishes as I prepared these items. No dirty dishes in the sink when I finished! That is a triumph in itself.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mocktail Adventure

Oh, the things writers must do for their books or stories.

I am writing a mocktail recipe book. Of course, I have to test the recipes. When I first started, I researched various mocktail recipes that resembled classic cocktails and adapted aspects of various recipes to suit available ingredients, and my budget and tastes.

Somewhere along the way, I felt I should try the original cocktail and make my mocktail recipes as similar in flavor and appearance as possible to the original.

When I went out with friends, it was easy to find Champagne and a Margarita but then I hit a snag. It seemed like many Mexican bartenders did not know how to make a Daiquiri, a Manhattan or Cosmopolitan.

Attempting to tackle the problem, when I went out to dinner, I would order one of the drinks I needed to test. But, on the first try, when I ordered a Daiquiri, I got a sorta of Margarita, a drink with slushy ice and a salted rim. I could not smell or taste the rum. The only flavor was the lime slush. The drink had no bite.

I did not make a fuss but I did check with the bartender to see what rum he used. When he showed me the empty bottle of Bacardi’s white rum, I understood why the drink lacked sufficient alcohol. My question upset the manager and he hovered over my table. I tried explain in my awful Español that I was writing a book about drinks and that the drink was fine. I am sure he thought ‘oh boy, another crazy expat.’

On a second attempt, at a reputable Irish restaurant, I ordered a Manhattan and got a concoction made with cognac. It was yellow and tasted awful. Even my friends said it was not a Manhattan. Whew! This experiment was getting expensive and time consuming.

Ok, one more try. I decided to go to the high-end American hotel, the Hyatt, on a Friday afternoon. They had an informal bar set up in the lobby.

At first, the young bartender, Henry, did not understand what I was trying to do. But, I was able order a Manhattan and watch him make the drink. I think he had to read up on how to make a Manhattan.

He used Johnny Walker Red. I knew JWR, it was a good scotch. But, the drink itself, while I am sure was well made, tasted like pure alcohol with a smoky taste which I think came from the scotch. It was not sweet. I could not discern the bitters or vermouth in the drink. It was cold, smooth, with a pure alcohol flavor.

I think I would rather have JWR on the rocks than in a Manhattan. Plus, I never considered trying a Martini. I just can’t drink straight alcohol.

I had drunk about 1/3 of the Manhattan and I had at least two more drinks to test, when Henry offered me a drink of his own design. He named it, Rivera. It was made with orange juice, Midor, Vodka, creme de menthe and a dash of Sprite. The garnish was a lime slice and mint sprig.

I liked it. It smelled good with a mild lime aroma. It was not too sweet and you could taste a hint of orange. The mint gave the drink a unique flavor. I gave up on the Manhattan and drank the Rivera.

While researching cocktails, the history of a drink often includes the hotel, restaurant or bar where the drink was “invented.” So, for the record, Henry created the Rivera at the Hyatt Hotel in Merida, Mexico.

Henry’s drinks looked like little drinks. So, I wondered about trying a Tom Collins.

I think the Manhattan was kicking in. I was feeling a little silly. I was also thinking about ordering a Cosmopolitan. I felt I was bordering on being foolish.

Do men giggle when they get tipsy?

I did not think my girlfriends would appreciate coming to my rescue if I asked them to order drinks just so I could taste them and to prevent me from going under the table. Just what does that mean, going under the table? If I think about it for too long, it doesn’t sound like fun.

I gave up on the idea of ordering a Tom Collins and asked Henry to make a Cosmopolitan.

Henry had all the right ingredients, so I figured, let’s get this done.

Watching Henry reminds me of the time when I was a bar maid and I had to use a book to make drinks. My favorite customers would let me make any drink I wanted for them. I would go crazy, using the fanciest glasses, embellishing the rims, and adding  various garnishes.

The Cosmopolitan smelled like pink grapefruit. I see why people like it. It is not an overwhelming drink. It is not too citrusy or overly sweet. There is a faint taste of orange. I suspect Henry used pink grapefruit instead of cranberry juice.

To heck with the Tom Collins and Daiquiri.

I think vodka is sneaky. What is the opposite of a liquor connoisseur? I am not a connoisseur of anything, but, I have grown to like my mocktails. They are tasty, fun and refreshing and I won’t be going under any tables if I drink them.

Good thing I didn’t finish the Manhattan.

Now home to create more mocktails.

Here's my revised Boyhattan Mocktail recipe:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wow! What a Soup! Tomato Souped! Up

Working on my new cookbook has presented some problems. One of them is I am eating too much and gaining weight. So, I switched my focus to soups because simple soups, in general, have less calories.

In addition, because I have purchased ingredients I do not normally stock, I have to get creative with the leftovers.

I had purchased a carton of tomato juice to make a Virgin Mary. But, I don’t drink tomato juice on a regular basis, so to use the remainder of the juice, I researched tomato soup recipes.

In my search, I came across the Hot Bloody Mary Soup recipe at BBC.com (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2604647/hot-bloody-mary-soup) and that sparked my interest.

But, in the end after reviewing many tomato soup recipes, I created a recipe by pulling ideas from at least nine recipes and making my own variations.

I am proud of my tomato soup recipe!

Tomato Souped! Up
(adapted from Creamy Tomato Soup, Cooks.oom)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion. diced
1 garlic clove, diced
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup water
1/2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cube
2 tablespoons basil, dry, crushed
1 capful lime juice concentrate or lime juice
2 small capfuls vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons to 1 cup milk or cream cheese, cubes, per serving
Chunks of hard bread.


Add oil to skillet.
Add onions and garlic.
Cook medium-high until a majority of onions and garlic are browned.
Add tomato juice.
Add water.
Add bouillon.
Add basil, lime juice, vinegar.
Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes.
Season to taste.
Serve in a bowl.
Add milk or cream cheese cubes.

Serve with chunks of hard bread.

Reheat in Microwave if desired.


The browned onions and garlic added to flavor. I liked the cream cheese cubes partially melted, because they provided a cool, creamy contrast.

Variation: add paprika.