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Master of flavors: Meet Chef Borbolla

We recently chatted with Grand Residences Executive Chef Rafael Borbolla about his inspiration and exciting new dishes to tempt your palate.
“How did I decide to become a chef?” muses Grand Residences Executive Chef Rafael Borbolla, “It was destiny, I thumbed the Yellow Pages directory and it opened right at the listings of cooking schools. I already knew how to cook, my parents were quite happy to let me loose in the kitchen to experiment. My grandmother used to take me to market with her when I was little; she taught me her secrets and how to choose the freshest fruit and vegetables.”
Rafael studied Culinary Arts in the Colegio Superior de Hoteleria y de Turismo Cesar Ritz and at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Turismo in Mexico City. He also took specialist diploma courses in Mexican and Italian cuisine at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana.
After training with acclaimed French chef Olivier Lombard and collaborating in the opening of Le Cirque, his Polanco restaurant, Rafael’s eyes turned to the Pacific coast. He was to spend years in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos working for several leading hotel chains and heading up a prestigious restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. “Everything that I am comes from the Mexican Pacific,” he explains. “I used to go out with the fishermen at dawn and help them bring their catch to market. The freshest seafood you can imagine. I learned cooking techniques and traditional recipes from coastal communities in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Baja California Sur and new ways of preparing fruits de mer shared by chefs from France, Italy and Canada who were competing in food festivals in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. I use all this experience and inspiration here, pairing the finest Pacific and Caribbean seafood with bold flavors to create a veritable feast for the senses.
“Mexican cuisine is my passion and I want to take Grand Residences guests on a culinary journey through the country, from the north to the southeast for an unforgettable evening of recipes and flavors,” says Rafael. “Mexico is so rich in ingredients, delicious dishes and culinary traditions, it is exceptional and for this reason it is on the World Heritage List.
“At Grand Residences I lead a team of 45 kitchen staff.” Rafael explains. “My responsibilities are menu planning, administration, costs, personnel management and above all, maintaining quality standards, constantly looking for ways to enrich the dining experience we offer our guests.
“ It’s been a busy few months since I joined the Grand Residences family in late 2018.” Rafael adds, “I introduced a new International theme night on Saturdays with Asian, Prime Rib, Italian and Mexican dishes to give diners more options. I have also been working on the El Faro breakfast menu, adding more kinds of fruit to the buffet and a wellness station. I incorporated a children’s area with a larger selection of kid-friendly dishes and another change is that we now serve jugs of juice on the tables with a variety of choices available.
“Our Grill Night has also changed and has more of a picnic theme and I have added the concept of a Fish Market. Diners choose the fish they want and we prepare their ceviche to order and serve it in a coconut. As soon as the annual Distintivo H kitchen and storage area inspections are over, I am going to continue making changes, focusing on the El Faro lunch menu and the Heaven Grill menu. I want to add new recipes so that diners always have something delicious and different to try on vacation.
“Alicia Guzman, our pastry chef, and I have been changing the dessert and cake selection too,“ Rafael adds. “I really believe that the more eye-catching the dessert, the more people want to try it. We have been working on the presentation of all our dessert stations and buffets to offer our diners a variety of new sweets.”
On the question of cooking influences Rafael has this to say, “French and Italian cuisine are definitely two of my greatest influences, but lately I have been drawn to authentic cuisine, the techniques of our ancestors passed down through the centuries, really fresh food, intense flavors and the smoky fragrance of a wood-burning range.
“Where do I seek inspiration? It’s hard to explain,” he says, “I celebrate food, pay tribute to my roots and when I make someone happy with a dish I have prepared, that makes me happy and inspires me to face the next challenge.”
“I think Mexican cuisine really is one of the world’s richest. A well- made black mole sauce competes with any Indian curry in terms of the complexity and depths of the flavors and the use of spices. It is a traditional dish that is also very sophisticated.
“Over the centuries Mexican cuisine has evolved, embracing ingredients introduced by settlers from all over the world and this has only made it even richer.” Rafael explains, “For example, in the 16th century, the Spanish brought over lard, milk, coffee, citrus fruit, herbs and many of the spices we use today. Our cuisine is a unique blend of native foods consumed by pre-Hispanic civilizations and ingredients from Europe and the Middle East. In turn, Mexico has shared its own gifts with the world: avocado, tomato, chile, corn, chocolate and vanilla, among others, enriching other cuisines. After all, where would French cuisine be without vanilla or chocolate, or Italian cuisine without tomatoes?
“If you ask me about Mexican chefs that have taken our cuisine on to the world stage, I would have to say that some of them are heroes, sharing a passion for our recipes and forging a path for the rest of us to follow. One of them is Enrique Olvera, who has gone back to his roots and uses locally sourced artisanal produce, which in turn boosts the livelihood of small farmers in rural areas. Chefs all over the country are now following his lead. Enrique Muñoz Zurita is another one – he is a food researcher and is rescuing traditional recipes before they fade from memory. Monica Patiño, the late Patricia Quintana and Alejandro Herredia are others. And turning to international chefs, I would have to say Massimo Bottura, not only for his cuisine, but also his charity work.
“I have lots of plans for the restaurants at Grand Residences, new dishes, menus and theme nights. And I’m offering cooking classes too, “ Rafel says. “I recently showed guests how to make tikinxic or Mayan-style barbecued fish, Ligurian-style pasta with mushrooms, rocket, toasted nuts, white wine, shrimp and grated grana padana cheese and miso soup with pork dumplings.
“My message to our Grand Residences owners and guests is to come hungry, open your heart and mind ready to try new dishes and flavors. A sensational dining experience awaits you.”

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Five dishes to try this September at Flor de Canela

Are you in the mood for Mexican cuisine this month? Here are five delicious dishes you won’t want to miss at Flor de Canela restaurant.

Mexican Snack Platter

Great for sharing, try the Mexican snack platter, a tempting spread of antojitos or Mexican finger food. Our selection includes sopes, quesadillas filled with Oaxaca string cheese, tlacoyos with tender nopal salad and crispy fried chicken tacos. Accompany your platter with a bowl of guacamole and lashings of salsa.
You might be tempted to order another plate, or try some of the other  appetizers on the menu. How about a plate of tacos, choose from duck, shrimp, rib-eye steak or barbacoa, lamb cooked in an adobo two-chile marinade? Or opt for Yucatecan panuchos, which are tortillas filled with beans and topped with cochinita pibil, pork marinated in a Seville orange and achiote (annatto) spice mix and slow roasted. And for a seafood snack, try the fish pescadillas or the tuna tostadas.

Tuna in a Mexican Seed Crust

The taste of the Mexican Pacific, yellow fin tuna cooked in an aromatic sesame, coriander and chia seed crust. This delicious fish dish is served with baby potatoes, nopales, onion, chayote sautéed with xoconostle prickly pear syrup and purslane salad.

Tikinxic

On Mexican Caribbean shores, you must try the Mayan-style grilled fish, tikinxic. Fresh fish is marinated in achiote and Seville orange juice, topped with sliced bell peppers and onion and charcoal-grilled. It is served with fried plantains, tortillas and habanero salsa.

Chicken in Oaxaca Black Mole Sauce

In Mexico, when food conversation turn to mole, the famous smooth, sophisticated chocolate-chili-spice sauce, you’ll find that people are split into two camps, those that prefer recipes from Puebla and those that love Oaxacan mole. The truth is that both are delicious and each state has a variety of mole dishes made to traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation. At Flor de Canela, we serve tender organic chicken breast in a black mole sauce from Oaxaca.

Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce) is the Mexican Independence dish par excellence.
Chiles en Nogada dates from 1821 and was created by the nuns of Santa Monica Convent in Puebla for a banquet to honor General Agustín de Iturbide who was visiting the city after signing the Treaty of Córdoba, the agreement that gave Mexico its Independence from Spain. The recipe is based on Poblano chilies that are stuffed with a tasty mix of ground pork and beef, assorted dried fruit, spices, garlic and onion. The chilies are topped with a creamy walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, coriander and parsley, the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green.

Of course, these are just suggestions, there are many more tempting dishes to try on the menu. Order a margarita, tequila or mezcal, straight or in a red berry cocktail, or a bottle of Mexican wine and be sure to save space for dessert.

Buen provecho!

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September Spa Morning

Set aside some time this month for a Spa morning at Grand Residences. Here are some recommendations for you to try.
Why not begin your morning with a Hot Stone Massage? Inspired by an ancient Native American healing ritual, it is relaxing and therapeutic. It boosts your circulation, calms, decongests and cleanses the body, giving you a deep feeling of wellbeing.
Continue with a facial, the Germaine de Capuccini Timexpert Rides treatment aids cell regeneration, erases expression lines and fills in wrinkles. The end result: soft skin and a more youthful look.
The Vitamin C body wrap will revitalize and relax your body, rolling back the signs of aging. It moisturizes your skin and aids cell regeneration.
Finally, complete your Spa morning with a manicure and pedicure and you’ll be ready for a day in paradise.

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Kids Club

From party piñatas and guacamole, music and dance to lotería, Spanish classes, arts and crafts, your children will have a taste of Mexico this month at the Kids Club.
The fun program of daily activities includes games and workshops with a Mexican flavor. They’ll enjoy themselves so much they won’t want to leave!

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Every picture tells a story

This month we celebrate the beauty of Mexico starting here in the Mexican Caribbean and stretching the length and breadth of the country.
Be sure to follow Grand Residences on Instagram @grandresidences to see more pictures from your home in paradise.

If you have a picture of Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos or a special place in the Yucatan or a vacation story that you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you. Send your pictures to memories@royalresorts.com. A selection of the photos we receive will be published in this newsletter

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Spread the Word about Grand Residences

If you enjoy telling your friends, relatives and associates about Grand Residences and showing them photos of your home in paradise, why not help spread the word by participating in the Grand Residences Referral Program?

We want your referrals to discover the Grand Residences luxury vacation experience for themselves and we are willing to offer them, on your behalf, a special 3 night/4 day stay in a luxurious Junior Suite at Grand Residences at a greatly discounted rate, so that they can do just that. 

   To take advantage of this special offer the only requirement is that during their stay, your referred guests must attend a personalized resort preview of our Private Residence Club. We will show them our new vision of luxury living and what it would be like to have a beautiful home in paradise. If your referrals choose to become owners, you will receive 2% of the net purchase price of their Fraction in Royal Resorts Rewards that you can apply towards your annual Club Service fees, use to pay your club bill on your next vacation or make a donation to Royal Resorts Foundation charitable causes. 

   Start thinking about the people you know and that you think would be interested in the Grand Residences lifestyle. We would love to hear from you and look forward to showing your friends your beautiful resort home. 

If you would like to make a referral, click here or  call +52 (998) 881-0100 ext. 65846.

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Incredible September travel experiences

Want to go exploring this month? Here are three incredible September travel experiences to discover in the Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan.

 

Rio Secreto

Explore the Mayan underworld. Deep in the limestone rock lies a labyrinth of caves and cenotes that the ancient Maya believed were doorways to the realm of the gods. In the jungle, just south of Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto is one such place.
Take a guided tour of this beautiful cave system with its still clear pools that mirror the columns, stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years.

 

Mexican Fiesta

One way to celebrate Independence month is to enjoy a Mexican evening at Xoximilco Park. Located to the south of Cancun Airport, Xoximilco is a chain of waterways inspired by the ancient Aztec canals and world-famous floating gardens of Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City.
You’ll board a colorful trajinera or Mexican-style canal boat to sail along the tree-lined waterways where musicians will serenade you under starry skies. The tequila flows freely and you’ll enjoy mouthwatering Mexican dishes for dinner during your voyage. This is a Mexican experience you won’t want to miss, vibrant and full of music and song.
The musicians that pop up at Xoximilco hail from all over the country. Guitar trios from the Yucatan play romantic trova ballads. Jarocho musicians from Veracruz strike up with La Bamba and La Cascabel. Ranchero tunes from northern Mexico will get your feet tapping and then the mariachis appear and you’ll soon find yourself singing along.
You’ll also see scenes representing daily life in Xochimilco: women paddling canoes filled with flowers and produce grown in the chinampas or floating gardens and handing up warm tortillas for your meal. There are traditional Mexican dances and you’ll even hear ancient Aztec legends.

 

Mayan mystery

The ancient cities of the Maya have an air of mystery whenever you visit them but for many travelers, a trip to the World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza in September to witness the Equinox offers even more wonders.
On September 23, the day of the fall Equinox, the Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo that dominates the Great Plaza at Chichen Itza, reveals its secret. In ancient times, it was a solar clock and calendar marking the passage of the seasons.
The pyramid is aligned to catch the rays of the setting sun on the days of the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September. Triangles of light and shadow appear along the side of the north staircase forming the rippling body of a snake. It merges with the head of a stone serpent at the foot of the building, creating the illusion of a gigantic reptile coming down from the sky and slithering across the ground towards the Sacred Cenote.
The snake symbolizes Kukulcan (also known as Quetzalcoatl in central Mexico), the feathered serpent god, returning to earth to give hope to his followers and heralding the spring planting and fall harvest seasons for the Maya.
This year, the snake of light and shadow will be visible from September 21 to 23 and the day after the equinox, cloud cover permitting.

Ask your Concierge

To book these tours and many more exciting Yucatan travel experiences, ask your Concierge.

 

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Puerto Morelos coral project goes to Akumal

The National Fisheries Institute Research Center (INAPESCA-CRIAP) in Puerto Morelos is raising corals to be transplanted on reefs that have been damaged by storms or human activity and to replenish disappearing coral colonies. Biologists working at the center recently planted more than 3,500 fragments of elkhorn and staghorn coral and other stony corals on reefs in the Akumal area.

   The project goal is to transplant 265,000 corals on Mexican Caribbean reefs in six years. Biologists are focusing their efforts on species such as elkhorn and staghorn coral, which are the reef builders. 

   The technology developed by Inapesca and its strategic partners has the capacity to produce up to three thousand coral colonies per day. Project Director Claudia Padilla estimates that the laboratory will produce 48,000 fragments of 13 different species of coral in 2019, and 60,000 in the next three years. 

   The project has the support of the Quintana Roo State government and to date 12 reef sites have received coral fragments, including Manchones and Cuevones reefs in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres and Tanchacte in Petempich Bay to the north of Puerto Morelos. The center has also established four submerged coral nurseries in Contoy, Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

   Coral reefs are under threat worldwide from rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, pollution, overfishing and boat collisions. As coral colonies weaken they also become prone to illnesses such as the stony coral tissue loss disease, which has spread from Florida through the Caribbean and appears to affect 20 species of coral, including pillar, and star brain corals. 

(Source: Centro Ecológico de Akumal, Gobierno de Mexico)

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San Luis Potosi guest state in Xcaret Festival of Life & Death 2019

Xcaret Park is gearing up for the 14th Festival of Life and Death from October 29 to November 3. This annual Riviera Maya event is a celebration of customs, rituals and beliefs associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead, a tradition that is on the World Heritage list in the intangible culture category.

   From seeing Day of the Dead altars laden with offerings to the departed to music, dance, art, theater, crafts and cuisine, the Festival of Life and Death is an amazing experience.

    Each year a Mexican state is invited to take part in the Festival and showcase its traditions, joining Mayan communities from Quintana Roo. This year, representatives of the state of San Luis Potosi will be reenacting the Xantolo, Day of the Dead customs from the highland region known as the Huasteca Potosina. They include processions, altars, art, textiles, cuisine, dances and songs known as huapangos. 

   Spain and Peru are also special guests at this year’s Festival in Xcaret.

   Tickets for the Festival are on sale online.

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Cancun flight news

In another sign of Cancun’s global appeal, Turkish Airlines has begun flights to Cancun and Mexico City.  Delta has also confirmed four flights a week from Washington DC for the winter season.

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CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN EVENTS

Xplor Bravest Race, Xplor Park, September 22

Competitors face a new course this year with more than 40 obstacles and challenges.

Fiesta del Cristo de Las Ampollas, September 27, Merida

The patron saint of Merida is honored with masses, pilgrimages, processions and traditional dances.

Restaurant Weeks, Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, beginning of October

 

Artober Fest, Cancun, October 4 – November 3

A series of events featuring music, dance, art, film and cuisine in Cancun during October. Artober will culminate with representation of Day of the Dead traditions.

Fiesta de Santo Cristo Negro, Sitilpech, Izamal, October 18

A procession of local gremios or guilds carries the statue of Christ from the parish church of Sitilpech through the streets of Izamal to the sanctuary where it will remain for 27 days before being returned to the church. This traditional fiesta is celebrated with processions, masses, fireworks and a vaqueria.

Festival de Vida y Muerte, Xcaret Park, October 30 – November 2

Hosted by Xcaret Park, the Festival of Life and Death Traditions showcases one of Mexico’s richest and most colorful customs, the Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos, which takes place on November 1 and 2. Dia de Muertos is known as Hanal Pixan in the Yucatan.

Triathlon Xel Ha, November 16 – 17

This annual event draws triathletes from all over Mexico and overseas.

Mayakoba Golf Classic PGA tournament, November 11-17, 2019

A field of the world’s leading golfers competes for the OHL Classic trophy at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mayakoba.

Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Izamal, December 8

Thousands of pilgrims join processions to honor the Virgin Mary. There are masses and the traditional fair or vaquería with dances, food stalls and more.