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Riviera Nayarit a fast-rising Mexican beauty, and who ate Yukon’s sour toe?

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We hear a lot about the Riviera Maya, with glittering Cancun and the ruins of Tulum and the great beaches. It’s a wonderful part of Mexico.

Most Canadians also have heard of Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, the latter on the tip of Baja California. The words Riviera Nayarit probably don’t sound as familiar. But it’s a hugely popular stretch of Pacific coastline north of Puerto Vallarta, and it looks wonderful.

The folks from Riviera Nayarit on Tuesday put on a great lunch at Frida restaurant on Eglinton West, thanks in part to a virtuoso job by Mexican chef Betty Vazquez. Vazquez will be showing off her talents this weekend, by the way, at the Hot and Spicy Festival at Harbourfront.

She served up some lovely ceviche with jalapenos and mango and scallops yesterday, plus a lovely duck breast wiith a guava marmalade and some luscious desserts. Mexican cuisine is hugely varied and much more sophisticated than some might think, and Vazquez is a real treat.

Not to mention a very good public speaker.

“The heart of Mexico is in every shake of the hand and in every smile,” she said, her eyes beaming. “Our food is full of flavours, full of colours, full of magic.”

She also talked about the importance of cuisine to a great holiday.

“A great destination is fun, but if you don’t have great meals the trip is spoiled,” she said.

I had no idea, but it turns out 24 per cent of visitors to Riviera Nayarit are Canadians, while 22 per cent are Americans.

The Riviera Nayarit is said to be the fastest growing beach destination in Mexico, and new hotels are opening all the time. Among the properties who’ve been on the coast for a while already is the Four Seasons Punta Mita (see photo above).

The area is located along 300-plus miles of the Pacific, just north of Puerto Vallarta, and there are almost 200 miles of beaches.

In addition to great beaches, there’s excellent snorkeling and diving, good surfing, beautiful sunsets and much more, including pretty colonial towns inland from the Pacific.

Mexico has well-known security issues, but those are almost entirely in states near the U.S. border, officials said. The Mexican border with Arizona is as far away from Cancun as Turkey is from Germany, they noted, and nobody would suggest avoiding Berlin because of protests in Istanbul.

I’ve never been to the Riviera Nayarit, but it looks terrific. Tastes good, too!

OKAY, SOMEONE ATE THE SOUR TOE?

Yikes. It was hard enough to take a slug of whiskey (Canadian, of course) in a glass that had a wrinkled, green/brown toe in it, complete with a giant toe nail. But that’s part of the fun when you visit the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, where they perform a little ceremony and give you a certificate when you take a drink from a glass with the toe in it.

It’s all pretty gross, because it’s a real human, mummified toe.

They’ve been doing this for years for reasons quite unknown. But it’s a good tourist gimmick so what the heck.

The trouble is, “>as reported in today’s Star, that some folks get a little carried away. So it seems that a patron walked into the bar the other day and, um, swallowed the toe whole.

Mind you, he had the courtesy to pay the $500 fine for downing the famous digit, which I”m sure nobody ever really thought someone would do.

“It’s a dark brown colour, completely wrinkled,” said local Terry Lee, who has acted as “toe-keeper” at the hotel for years and who swore me in a couple years ago when the toe made a rare, out-of-province visit to a tourism conference in Edmonton. “It’s a gross looking thing.”

It was. But now Dawson City and the Downtown Hotel is minus its famous digit. And maybe Lee is even out of a job.
Me? I hope when the toe swallower left that someone gave him the finger.

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