Postcards from Bordeaux, France: A sign for ‘Turn back for great meals’

Above, puzzling signage at one end of Rue du Ha

Sidewalk tables at Orta on Rue du Ha

To my English-attuned ears, the name of the street sounds somewhat silly, but I believe the “Ha” came from a 1600s temple nearby that belonged to an order of nuns. The narrow street barely runs three blocks and was about that distance from the apartment we rented in Bordeaux. We were on the prowl and hungry, and I laughed that the reason we settled into the last table available on the sidewalk of Orta was the sign on the corner seemingly forbidding any kind of safe exit from Rue du Ha.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: In the city’s belly

Above, “breakfast” platters of seafood at Chez Jean-Mi

Marche des Capucins is the city’s oldest public marketplace, meriting the moniker of the “Belly of Bordeaux.” The abundance and quality of its seafood, produce and cheese stalls inspired numerous chefs to open booths there in the past decade, but, while we were in Bordeaux, COVID and August vacations temporarily pared down their numbers.

Seafood remains prominent. The most renown platters are found at Chez Jean-Mi. One has to arrive early because it both gets crowded and closes before 2 p.m. most days. This forces many a foodie-pilgrim to venture forth for raw oysters for breakfast. As wonderful as a succulent raw oyster can be, I just couldn’t talk myself into eating it first thing, and there definitely was no room at the counter by lunch time.

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Postcard from Merida, Mexico: A trio of restaurants for dining well

Above: Micaela Mar y Lena crudo de atun

Grilled seafood is the specialty at Cocina de Mar y Lena, a contemporary restaurant that seems a magnet for an upscale crowd of fashionable Mexicans arriving by the Uber-full, at least they were pre-COVID. The grilled shrimp and octopus were wonderful, and the refreshing raw tuna (above) just melted in your mouth.

Chef Sara Maria Arnaud Gomez combines the flavors of Oaxaca with those of the Yucatan at Apoala on the prime people-watching park of Santa Lucia. From ceviche and fried zucchini blossoms to dessert, everything was beautifully plated. Loved their mezcal mule cocktails with a smoky charred chunk of caramelized honeycomb riding atop the rim.

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