Nice dinner at 150 Park, a Salsa-Salsa fun excursion in Cozumel, sitting in Central Park

Our dinner last night was in 150 Central Park, which is considered the top specialty restaurant on-board (aside from the Chef’s Table). The menu was a six-course tasting menu and we opted for the wine pairings. We were seated at a table inside for two with strange, large clamshell chairs.

First they brought us a bread selection and we has different salts to sprinkle on the unsalted butter for the bread, including a nasty sulfur salt from India, a smoked salt from Washington, two French sea salts, volcanic salt from Hawaii and a rose-colored salt from Australia (the last one was my favorite). All of the wines were European and only the main course had a red wine, but we enjoyed all of the pairings. The first course was a delightful Lychee and Florida lobster salad; apparently Oasis and Allure have an exclusive contract for the exotic and sweet lychee nuts from a grower in Florida. Next, we had a simple and elegant roasted red pepper soup, with a crostini and goat cheese. The third course was a tiny, exquisite pasta dish, a homemade cavatappi with a pesto sauce. The roasted, halfed cherry tomatoes definitely made the dish. The fish course was a delectable Florida pompano. Finally the main course arrived: Colorado venison and a locally made pork sausage on polenta. I am a sausage junkie and I didn’t care for this concoction, but the venison was superb (a few small bites on a tasting size entree). Dessert was a yummy cuatro leche cake with more lychees (couldn’t get an answer what the fourth milk was in this cake). All in all, the meal was very, very good, if not as superb as the Chef’s Table. We thought about going to the Jazz Club but ended up back at the room on our balcony for a while, to remind ourselves we were at sea.

This morning we got up a little earlier (the horror!) to meet on the end of the pier for our shore excursion. I booked “Salsa, Salsa and Margaritas” a few months ago and it sounded like a lot of fun. We exited the ship and walked in the canyon on the pier between the Behemoth and Celebrity Constellation (no contest who wins the biggie award). The Caribbean Princess was also in port and docked at a nearby pier; we only remember one pier from our last visit in 1987 aboard the minuscule Song of Norway.

We met our guide in the pier area, waited a short time, then piled into 12-passenger taxis for the ride to the Hotel Cozumel. This venerable hotel opened in 1989 and we were escorted from the lobby and pool area through a nice tunnel (not scary) under the busy street to the beach area. Our excursion was billed as an exploration of margaritas, salsa dishes and salsa dance (fortunately that part was very short). We climbed the stairs to the second floor above the beach grill and bar. When everyone was there (80 people from three ships), we started off learning how to make margaritas from the four lovely young ladies who guided us through the process. The sneaky waiters would refill your drink glass without warning (the old “Playa Mazatlan Fiesta” trick*). The food fun began as we learned to make six salsas, including three created using a Mexican mortar and pestle, known as a mocaljete. We made a red salsa, with garlic, Serrano peppers, and cooked onion and tomatoes, accented with cilantro, lime and salt. The second salsa was a green salsa, with tomatillos, garlic, Serrano peppers, cooked onions and accents (I liked this one best). Next, we made a Oaxacan guacamole, with fresh avocado (this was also very good). We had chips, tortillas with Chihuahua cheese, and small chicken empanadas to dip in some sauces. Our next two salsas were fresh salsas, a pico de gallo and a tropical version of pico with pineapple. Finally, we made a dessert salsa with pineapple, melon, apples, a Mexican version of egg nog known as Rompope; we spooned this on top of a delectable and rich Mexican Ice Cream. Killer bee!

After everyone was sufficiently butt-faced (we weren’t too bad, learning to put our hand over the glasses when the sneaky waiters showed up) they moved the tables and did the salsa dancing lessons. I skipped, of course (knees are ok, back is not ok) and sat next to a lady who also went through double knee replacements recently and is now having back problems, too. Hmmmm….Everyone looked ridiculous except for a few obvious ringers and Steve hid behind other participants so I wouldn’t catch him dancing badly (believe it or not, we were kicked out of a ballroom dancing class a few years ago because we were both so bad).

This was a terrific shore excursion, one of the best we have done in the Caribbean and rated #2 of things to do in Cozumel on Trip Advisor. The group running it has expanded to other locations, they nicely ask for donations for the charity of the month (right now – Doctors without Borders) and they know how to make everyone feel like they are part of the fun. Very well done!

We returned to the ship and are sitting in the lovely Central Park area near the Trellis Bar. Shortly, we must go change and then go to dinner at Giovanni’s Table (back here in Central Park). One more day on the Behemoth!

Oh, here’s the * story from above: In 1983, we did a short trip to Mazatlan and stayed at the Playa Mazatlan. One of the central features of this huge hotel is the Fiesta, which has lots of food, margaritas by the boatload and interesting live entertainment. We booked the Fiesta the second night we were there and both admit that we remember nothing of the evening after our second margarita. To put it mildly, we were completely gassed! We spent the next full day nursing nasty tequila headaches and vowed to be more prudent on future trips (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha – oh, my goodness that’s a knee slapper!). Funny story!

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