Cabo redux

Now that we’re home from Cabo I can recount the final couple of days there. Three things stand out.

One, this was a very unusual Cabo trip for us. We were sick the entire trip, ranging from moderately ill in the first few days to mildly ill toward the end. As a result we did no walks on the beach, no swimming, no lounging around the pool with drinks, no walking trips through the town or marina. We pretty much just stayed in and watched whales from our patio and rested.

Two, speaking of whales, we saw 100s of them over the week and saw some new behaviors. We saw lots of spectacular breeches, which was only new in their frequency. I remember that being a rare sight, but this week we saw it a lot. But the new behavior we observed on the final days was a mother and calf pair happily tail-slapping just offshore. The calf would jump a bit and slap tail as well as breech, but the mother splashed around constantly using her tail in a way I haven’t seen before. It went on for maybe 30 minutes. Each tail slap was a big splash and very audible from our spot on shore.

Third, the weather was not great. We’ve always had good weather there in February, but this time a cold front came through on Tuesday and mucked up the whole week. The air was noticeably cooler than normal, which actually made it easier to stay in and rest.

The other memorable part of our final two days in Cabo was our Valentine’s Day meal at Manta. Like bears in hibernation, we only left our lair to eat. I had read a lot about Manta; it has a big reputation. So I had high hopes, and surprisingly, Manta was as good as its reputation. We had one of the top five, maybe top three, meals of our lives.

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Manta is perched high above the Sea of Cortez shore, part of a ritzy development called The Cape. It is visually stunning, and we had premier seats outside on the rail overlooking the beach, El Arco and the lights of Cabo some 3-4 miles away. A good start.

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We each chose the five-course tasting menu, so by coordinating our choices we effectively had a ten-course meal. Each course was small, but perfectly presented and spectacular in flavor. Our courses were complemented by a stellar 2015 Casa Madero Shiraz, one of the best wines I’ve had in years. (Trivia item – Casa Madero in central Mexico is the oldest winery in the western hemisphere, started in 1597!).

Ironically, this bottle of wine was and is my only negative about Manta. They charged 4-5x retail for the bottle, which is insulting. I expect 2x and can live with 3x in the right venue, but this was unreasonable. I bought the bottle not knowing how much it had been marked up, and considering how much we enjoyed the wine I’m glad I did. But in retrospect I implore Manta to reconsider their wine pricing – it’s unnecessary and insulting.

But back to the food. Our favorite course was probably the grilled octopus, cooked perfectly. K had never had octopus cooked properly, so it was a real revelation for her. Here are all the courses we enjoyed, from their full tasting menu.

  • Sashimi, ají amarillo, sesame and wasabi    
  • Fish ceviche, leche de tigre, celery, habanero      
  • Scallop, shiso, soy sauce, cucumber, avocado purée   
  • Watermelon salad, tomato, raspberry and hibiscus chamoy    
  • Octopus anticucho, chorizo mayo    
  • Black miso fish tacos, cabbage, flour tortillas    
  • Aged prime new york strip, “shishitos toreados”    
  • Organic fried chicken with aji amarillo dip    
  • Suckling pig “cochinita”, steamed bun, cilantro, habanero (2 orders)

So…great service, a seaside view, my lovely wife, fantastic food and a perfectly paired wine. All in all a very successful Valentine’s Day dinner outing. And after that we well-fed bears went back to our den to rest.

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