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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Postcard from Merida, Mexico: A house that henequin built

Texas farmers’ need for a digestible binding material for bales of hay tossed to cattle gave rise to incredible wealth in the Yucatan, a boom that lasted from 1880 to 1915. Operating under the favorable conditions for the wealthy to further enrich themselves, aristocrats in Mexico were able to take advantage of a native plant – henequen – and cheap native labor to bankroll a lavish lifestyle built upon production of the requisite fiber. In 1914, more than one-million bales of henequen were exported from the Yucatan.

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Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Contemporary art with metaphorical humor

Above, “Memento Mori,” by Rodrigo de la Sierra

Dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of modern and contemporary art in the Yucatan, the Fernando Garcia Ponce-Macay Museum opened in 1994 in a prominent landmark (built in 1573) on Merida’s Plaza Mayor adjacent to the Cathedral. A passageway between the two was enclosed with glass in 2001 and offers the opportunity to house large works for the public to interact with on a daily basis.

The main exhibition while we were in Merida early this year placed Timoteo in the spotlight. The plump, elfin-like, endearing Timo allows artist Rodrigo de la Sierra “to embrace the subtle art of the metaphor.”

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