a toe in the water

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mexican standoff

Taking a quick hop down to Mexico for a few days of disconnect, I find myself immediately in the middle of a Mexican stand-off: beach or pool? The salty, cerulean water of the Riviera Maya is clear and inviting. But so is the private pool in my over-water suite among the mangroves. Decisions, decisions.

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nut milk for dummies

I’ll admit that the idea of making my own milk seemed a bit, um, radical to me at first. A little too off-the-grid, angry-vegan perhaps?  Yet I’ve been trying to wean myself off consuming so much soy – and finding a brand of store-bought almond milk that doesn’t leave me totally cold has proved fruitless. Enter the Vitamix: a recent gift, and one of those magic machines that changes your life as soon as you allow it. Dump in two cups of water, one cup of raw nuts, one pitted date, give it a whirl and voila: fresh, organic almond milk. Or mylk. Okay, maybe it’s just a little trickier than that. You need to soak the almonds overnight to get the bitterness out of the skins. And for a smoother texture, you’ll need to strain the puree through a sieve or nut milk bag. With the awesome horsepower of the Vitamix doing all the grunt work, however, it’s a minimal effort enterprise. It’s also got me thinking about all the different flavors of mustache I could experiment with, like cashew, hemp, and coconut.

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live blog: water of life

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nailing the landing

The 200-foot water-slide perched on the edge of Mystic Mountain is the perfect cool down after the sweaty adrenaline rush of bobsleds and zip lines. And despite the speed, I somehow managed to nail the landing – even if I do say so myself.

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mmm, mollejas

Show up in the Huertas neighborhood of Madrid at noon in search of almuerzo and you’ll be severely disappointed.  Lunch may be the main meal of the day in Spain but, like dinner, it begins much later than American appetites are accustomed. Oh, there are loads of tapas bars, snack joints, and fast food – especially in Huertas, the most buzzing, culturally rich (and noisiest) of Madrid’s barrios – but for a proper sit-down meal you’re going to have to wait, as I reluctantly did. Starving and strolling the cobbled streets of Barrio de las Letras, the Barrio of the Letters within Huertas where many a great Spanish writer once lived, I eventually darkened the door of La Vaca Veronica at half-past one to find that I was the only person at the restaurant. An empty restaurant in Madrid, however, is less a barometer of the kitchen’s quality than a sign that you’re just really, really early, I soon discovered.  By two o’clock every table was full and I was halfway through a gorgeous plate of mollejas, or sweetbreads, and onto my second glass of Tempranillo. For dessert I couldn’t pass up a plate of Manchego, which came with local honey and membrillo – the Spanish quince paste that’s practically a national snack.  Suitably sated – and still just a little bit jet-lagged -  I walked back to my hotel intent on taking part in another national custom, the siesta.

 

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