I was so excited for this day! My very first food tour! The Cozumel Chef Food Tour did not disappoint, and it made me wonder why the heck I haven’t been on a food tour before!? Staying in Playa Del Carmen, I had to catch the ferry over to Cozumel. The ferry terminal is located on 5th Ave right across from the main ADO bus station. There are 3 ferry companies that go at different times throughout the day, starting from 7am – 10pm. They are all the same price for a round trip, 300Pesos ($20.) You can return at any time of the day, but you are limited to the same company you came over with if you do choose to buy the round trip. You don’t save any money doing the round trip, so you can get one way tickets and not be tied down to the same ferry company. The one way tickets will give you more flexible timing options. I chose the round trip and had no problems with timing.
After about a 45 minute ferry ride (complete with a cheeky dolphin showing off!) I landed on beautiful Cozumel Island. Straight away I loved the vibe here and throughout the day I began to notice it was a lot more cheeky and colourful than Playa Del Carmen. Meeting time was 11am at the Mega Shopping Centre. Mega is located about a 5 minute walk from the ferry terminal, along the main strip. It was super easy to find. I unfortunately, did not get to meet Emily, the Cozumel Chef herself, but I got the pleasure of having Gerry as my guide. Gerry was friendly, funny and never missed a beat. He informed everyone where we were going, what we were eating, what ingredients were used and how the dish was made. He asked each and everyone of us throughout the day, how we were going and if we liked the dish we were eating, making it really personal. He laughed along with us when we all started saying we were full and encouraged us to keep going so we wouldn’t miss out on anything.
Our first stop, out of the six, that was planned, was Pancita Quesadillas. We were taken inside into a large table big enough to fit all 10 of us, which was great to eat all together as a group. Gerry offered us each a drink choosing from, flavoured hibiscus water, rice milk and traditional Mexican Cola. I went with the hibiscus water. It tasted like a sweet, fruity iced tea. Then came out our very first meal, our quesadillas. One Cactus and one corn fungus. I know corn fungus, what the!? Surprisingly, the corn fungus was my favourite. It is basically a mushroom that grows off the corn. It tasted like delicate truffles. The cactus was tasty, similar taste to a green capsicum.
When we pulled up at the second restaurant on our list, La Villita, it was a tiny little place with just a few tables out the front, run by an older Mexican couple. We feasted on the juiciest pork tacos I have ever tasted. The pork is marinated in sour orange and slow cooked with banana leaf overnight. What you get is the most tender, juiciest, flavourful, shredded pork placed on a soft corn tortilla, ready to be wrapped up and eaten. This was my favourite meal of the day. I actually indulged in 2 of these bad boys, knowing full well I had more indulgences to come! I followed this up with a homemade sweet chia lemonade.
Next up we went to El Mercado, a traditional Mexican market. Gerry took us through, showing us where the locals bought their food. Everything was so fresh. It was interesting to know that the Mexicans buy their food fresh everyday, making all their meals fresh all the time. We didn’t eat here which was nice to have break before the next 3 stops.
Las Flamitas was our 4th stop, with lime chicken soup on the menu. We started with fresh corn chips with some bean deep and spicy salsa. The corn chips are just soft corn tortillas deep fried. Then, out came our lime chicken soup. Gerry told us to smash up the lime slice with our spoon bursting even more flavours into the already tasty broth. This was the dish that was the most more-ish, making you keep dipping your spoon back in just for that hit of flavour. I paired my meal with an apple soda.
Our second last stop, I would say, was our main meal. Starting with some of the best corn chips I ever had, dipped in spicy sauce and topped with some freshly cooked fish. After that, out came the deep fried whole fish. Being Australian, I am so fussy when it comes to seafood. This deep fried fish did not disappoint this little Aussie. Oh my gosh, it was fresh, tender and fell off the bone. Talk about cooked to perfection! There was a plate of soft tortillas if we chose to make our own fish tortillas. I added lots of lime and just a tiny bit of spicy sauce to give it some extra spice.
Time for dessert! I could smell this bakery as soon as we got out of our van. Ahhhhh, fresh cooked pastries! Lined up along the wall, there they were, the delectable pastries filing my nose with their delicious smell. There were so many choices and it was hard choosing just one. Apple pie, cheese cake, chocolate croissant, sweet empanadas, donuts, cookies and a jam and cheese slice. Yep, jam mixed with cheese, a traditional sweet in Mexico. I love trying weird stuff like the jam and cheese slice, but I couldn’t pass up the coconut empanada. I am a sucker for anything with coconut in it and it turned out to be delicious!
This day made me realise again, that this is one of the many reason I love travelling. You get to experience the food of other cultures that you wouldn’t be able to try at home. Each stop we made today, was family run and owned by locals of Cozumel Island. Emily, The Cozumel Chef, has created a tour that immerses you into a world of traditional Mexican food. This tour made me feel that I had tasted and seen the ‘real’ Mexico.
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Company: The Cozumel Chef
Tour: Cozumel Chef Food Tour
Note: Thank you to Emily, The Cozumel Chef, for providing me with this tour! All opinions of my experience are written honestly, and as always, are entirely my own!