Tag Archives: Ixtapa

FOOD & WINE Launches Its First Culinary Festival in Latin America in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

The ‘FOOD & WINE Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’ in March 2011 will showcase tastes of the nation, as well as local and internationally renowned chefs

NEW YORK and IXTAPAZIHUATANEJO, Mexico — Epicures will be heading south of the border this Winter for the inaugural FOOD & WINE Festival in IxtapaZihuatanejo on March 26-28, 2011 hosted by FOOD & WINE in conjunction with the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Convention and Visitors Bureau. The three-day event will honor the philosophy of “32 tastes, 1 history, 1 soul” in showcasing the authentic cuisine of the region and of Mexico as a whole.

FOOD & WINE, which presents the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen and sponsors the New York City Wine & Food Festival and South Beach Wine & Food Festival, chose IxtapaZihuatanejo for the magazine’s first foray into Latin America. The pristine setting, exceptional resorts, service and rich culinary heritage were all factors in the decision to bring this definitive event to the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

“From the local produce and fresh fish, to the street markets and great restaurants, there’s a passion for authentic cuisine in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo which make this the perfect travel destination and a natural fit for this epicurean festival,” said Christina Grdovic, vp/publisher of FOOD & WINE.  “We are excited to be partnering with the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Convention and Visitors Bureau to bring passionate foodies and top culinary talents together in this Latin American destination for a fun and adventurous weekend.”

The festival lineup, finalized later this fall, will feature both local and internationally renowned chefs sharing their secrets of the trade in seminars, presentations and intimate tours of the local culinary community. Tickets and a complete festival lineup will be announced later in 2010.

“We are honored to host FOOD & WINE and usher in a new era of celebrating the food of Mexico. Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo represent the best the country has to offer – not only in terms of cuisine, but also as a unique destination for world travelers. We couldn’t be more excited about partnering with FOOD & WINE and sharing the culture and cuisine that defines our great country,” said Higinio de Leon, Chairman of the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Beyond the plate, attendees will be able to enjoy all that this tropical paradise has to offer. Recognized as both a Top 10 Family Destination in the World and as a Top 10 Romance Destination in the Caribbean and Mexico by TripAdvisor, IxtapaZihuatanejo‘s activities include world-class spas, beaches, surfing, shopping and eco-tourism. With over 75 hotels and more than 25 miles of beach, IxtapaZihuatanejo provides an authentic escape unlike any other Mexican destination.

The towns are also committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Earlier this year, El Palmar, the stunning 1.6-mile beach which spans the front of Ixtapa‘s resorts and hotels, was certified by the Mexican government as a “Clean Beach” for its water quality, biodiversity and environmental education, among other factors.  El Palmar is the largest beach in Mexico and the first in the state of Guerrero to earn the certification.

What makes IxtapaZihuatanejo distinctive is the multifaceted appeal of the two neighboring yet unique towns. Ixtapa is a vacation haven of sandy beachfront and five-star resorts, while the older Zihuatanejo is a picturesque, traditional fishing village with ocean-front boutique hotels. Travelers to the region experience the best of both the modern and traditional, the visitor and the local, just moments apart.

About IxtapaZihuatanejo: IxtapaZihuatanejo is one of the premier vacation destinations in Mexico. Located on the Pacific Coast, it boasts world-class hotels, restaurants, fishing, surfing and family activities. Situated just 10 minutes apart, Ixtapa is a modern beach resort town, while Zihuatanejo is a historic fishing port. The IxtapaZihuatanejo airport can be reached by non-stop service via several major U.S. airlines.

About FOOD & WINE: FOOD & WINE is the modern, stylish, trend-spotting, talent-seeking epicurean brand. Created by American Express Publishing, the luxury-lifestyle authority, Food & Wine includes a monthly magazine with a circulation of 925,000, a books division and the website foodandwine.com, with updates on Twitter (@fandw) and Facebook.

The Common Good, Part 1: El Refugio de Potosí

By Lola (AKA Lydia Gregory)

My stay in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is going wonderfully, thanks for asking. But apart from the sun and the fun aspect of it (no complaints here), I have to say this trip has come with some major added value. Over the past few days, we’ve met some truly amazing people who are not only working hard on their own personal dream, but who have made it their business to expand that dream to encompass their community and beyond. In other words, they see the big picture. I’m going to introduce them to you one blog at a time over the next few days. I think you’ll feel the same way I do.

El Refugio de Potosí

On a very hot Guerrero morning we headed south from the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo resort area, stopping some 15 miles down the road to Acapulco at El Refugio de Potosí (Potosí Shelter). Built on about 17 acres of coastal tropical dry forest in the region of Barra de Potosí, it’s a private, non-profit center for wildlife conservation and education. We were greeted by co-founder Pablo Mendizabal, who introduced us to his partner, Laurel Patrick, an American expat who left the corporate wilds of Oregon far behind. Their goal: not only to preserve and exhibit a slice of the local flora and fauna, but to create a “center for exploration and investigation” with a strong focus on education.

Officially established last year, the park just recently opened its doors to the public and is still very much a work in progress. The main building—an open-air structure with a main office and space for displays and educational gatherings—was dominated by several glass enclosures, which housed a variety of local reptiles and insects. These included a batch of baby iguanas, a pencil-thin green snake (and his cousins of varying colors), a very hairy tarantula, a selection of scorpions and other assorted critters. I have to confess some of them gave me pause, especially the scorpions. There was a female with scads of babies carefully arranged on her back. Not something I’d like to find in my slipper.

Nearby, a large man-made pond stood filled with fish and turtles. Pablo threw in a couple of tidbits of feed and caused an immediate underwater stampede, with the turtles paddling madly to try to grab a snack before the fish gobbled them up. A draw for the kids, for sure, but he explained it also doubled as a watering hole for the local wildlife. I watched from the shade of the big parrot palapa just a few feet away, where five large green macaws were carefully making their way around their perches in anticipation of their own treat. Like many of the animals that currently call the refuge “home”, the two older birds were donated to the park by a private party.

Phase I includes a loop through the native forest that takes you to a beautiful iguana enclosure, a coatimundi habitat, a butterfly exhibit and breeding facility, a bird pavilion and the “Hummingbird Commons”, an area planted with native flowering bushes and hung with feeders (this should be called hummingbird central—it’s literally buzzing with activity.) Some of the animals will find a permanent home in the refuge for a variety of reasons (one of the birds of prey we saw was missing a wing, for example), but the idea is to begin breeding programs to help supplement their dwindling numbers in the wild. Many of these enclosures were still under construction, but we could see where they were going. This is the tip of the iceberg: future projects include an endangered bird breeding facility, a night house for bats, a crocodile habitat, etc. and that’s just for the animals. Humans can look forward to a research support facility, housing for visiting students and volunteers, multiple local training programs, and much more.

The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is only $40 pesos (that’s less than $4.00 USD) with children under ten paying $20 pesos (or less than $2.00 USD). You can get to the park by taxi (about $250 pesos each way) or leave Zihuatanejo via any local bus that stops at Los Achotes, then take the collective to the park. You’ll spend about $20 pesos. Local tour operators are also being encouraged to include the park in their tour offerings to visitors.

Pedro Mendizabal explains the finer points of nature conservation.
Pedro Mendizabal (in jeans) explains the finer points of nature conservation.
Macaws mate for life. These two have been together for over a decade.
Macaws mate for life. These two have been together for over a decade.
A current resident of the iguana compound.
A current resident of the iguana compound.
Tiger striped butterfly.
Tiger striped butterfly.
The water faucet in the restroom. Stylish design details like this are evident throughout the project.
The water faucet in the restroom. Stylish design details like this are evident throughout the project.

Las Brisas Ixtapa: Yes, It’s All That

By Lola

Tonight we had the distinct pleasure of dining at the Portofino restaurant in Las Brisas Ixtapa hotel, hosted by its gracious GM, Higinio de León.

Before dinner, though, we were shown around the hotel and glimpsed for ourselves what $20+ million in renovation money can do for a resort when in the right hands. Wow. I had last been here about 7 years ago and let me tell ya, it was worth every penny. The hotel itself is over 30 years old—a gorgeous structure created by master architect Ricardo Legorreta—but it sure isn’t showing its age.

From the hip new lounge area to the beautifully redone rooms (bigger, better, cooler), Brisas Ixtapa takes top marks in design and, most importantly, in service. But enough of the trade talk.

After being courteously peeled off of the white leather couch in the Presidential Suite (where I had decided to live out my remaining years) I was invited/escorted to see the sunset from the lounge with the rest of my fellow travelers. I joined them for lots of a couple of scrumptious mango margaritas and watched the sky turn all sorts of improbable shades, all to the rhythm of some excellent Brazilian tunes. After the nature show, we walked over to the Portofino restaurant—a Four Diamond establishment (like the hotel itself) and the only one with this distinction in the area.

We soon learned the reason why and his name is Abel (I’m sure the chef has something to do with it—OK, a LOT to do with it—but we really liked Abel). After the appetizer (I had a plate with three different types of mouth-watering carpaccio), Abel and his accomplice rolled out their cart and proceeded to prepare the Supreme Pasta Dish of the Gods (my name, not theirs). We’re talking your choice of lobster, shrimp or salmon, delicately cooked and tossed with homemade pasta, which had first been  ladled into the scooped-out middle of a giant wheel of imported Parmesan cheese (see below). The pasta melted into the cheese and was then tossed with the seafood, fresh basil and other delicacies, then presented under a silver dome.

YEAH. It was THAT good. We washed it down with a bottle (or three) of Santo Tomás Sirocco, an amazing red. Not that I know that much about wines, but I know this one was amazing and it most certainly was red.

Dessert time brought Abel out again with his magic cart for some outrageous bananas flambé. Abel: you are a genius with the pans and the Sterno thingies. Obviously your mom never told you not to play with fire, and that’s OK with us.

By the way, Brisas offers 24-hour room service and you can actually order the Supreme Pasta Dish of the Gods. No lie. When I move into the Presidential Suite, I, too, shall order from the Portofino menu whilst I lounge and watch the sunset from my private terrace. You’re welcome to visit.

View from the lounge. The hotel doesn't have any artwork on its walls. Nature is all it needs.
Abel and the Giant Wheel O' Parmesan.
Your own private Idaho.
Not hard to imagine yourself here, huh...
My (future) lounge chair.
Don't imagine yourself here, though. These are my chairs on my terrace in my Presidential Suite.
My other (future) lounge chair.
This is another set of chairs on another terrace as seen from my bedroom in my Presidential Suite. Yes, it's all mine.


By Lola

Ixtapa 1
The view from one of my balconies at the Dorado Pacifico Hotel

I’m in paradise. Actually, it’s right outside my window. I’m in Ixtapa—with Zihuatanejo fortunately located just a few miles away. It’s a trip that’s been put together by the local convention and visitors bureau (shout out to Ana Luisa!) so I’ll be doing all kinds of fun things (and calling it “work”).

I have to go meet them right now, but stay tuned for updates!