Last week Bill and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for our honeymoon. This trip was a gift from my grandparents, Grandpa Buz (Dr. Murray Susser) and Nana Phyllis. They actually picked the location as well. Being that we got married right around hurricane season, and were too busy to research places to travel in the early fall, we gladly accepted this gift-I mean really, who wouldn’t??
We got extremely lucky with our trip because most of the days were beautiful, and this time of year it’s usually overcast and rainy in Puerto Vallarta, and a tropical storm had just moved through as we arrived, and another one started up as we were leaving. We rented a car, and put 500 miles on it driving all over Puerto Vallarta. We didn’t eat one meal at our resort, visited several different beaches, and toured around the city on our own. It was quite the adventure!
Our first morning in Mexico was spent in Sayulita, a little surf town about 40 miles north of the city. Everyone we spoke with in Vallarta called Sayulita a “hippy town,” but we heard the beaches were nice, the town was cute, and there were some good places to eat. So off we went on the long road to Sayulita. To get to Sayulita we took a very windy road up and over a mountain, that seemed to drop us right in front of the town. The paved road turned into a cobblestone road once we crossed over into the town. We arrived around 10:30 am and Sayulita was still sleepy because there really wasn’t anyone on the streets. We drove down several one way streets the wrong way because the only sign was a small arrow that we didn’t see, because we were too busy trying to avoid any pot holes on the uneven road. We parked, got out, and went down to the beach. We sat on the beach for a while watching people paddle boarding, body surfing, and walking with their dogs on the beach. We were greeted by many people trying to sell us things, and ended up buying some beautiful beach wraps for some family members. After that we decided to walk around the town a bit and find a place to eat.
We traveled to Mexico with many packs of jerky from our friend Sophia, partly because it’s helpful to have something healthy on hand when you are traveling, and partly because I was a little nervous to try the food. Before we left on our honeymoon, Bill’s parents told us an awful story of when they went to Mexico and they both got extremely sick on the second day. They ended up in bed the rest of the trip, and were still sick on the way home, and for a while after they got back to the States. Not really what you want to hear right before traveling. My grandpa sent us with digestive enzymes and garlic to take with each meal just in case, but we knew that lots of people go to Mexico with no problems, it’s just the story everyone tells-you know the one…”don’t drink the water!!!”
We walked up the street and came upon a place called Choco Banana. It was a cute little restaurant with all outdoor seating on the edge of the town square. We took a look at the menu, saw bacon and eggs, and took a seat. We were greeted by a young guy with a smile on his face, and a stand to hold my bag (every restaurant has purse stands for women, America should take a note on that one!) and asked if we’d like anything to drink. Bill ordered a cappuccino and two bottles of water for us. A minute passed and our server came over to our table to take our order. He started speaking in Spanish, so I tried to kindly point to what I’d like on the menu (because I don’t speak Spanish)-and Bill went ahead and started talking to him in English. He then surprised us with the best English we had heard yet on the trip. We had to laugh at that… We both ordered the classic bacon and eggs which came with seasoned potatoes. Along with our breakfast they brought us a side of pico de gallo, and some other salsa. This breakfast was probably the best we had on the trip. The food quality probably wasn’t amazing (although it was similar to other breakfast places we love to go to in Pittsburgh), yet every egg we had in Mexico had super orange yolks! We enjoyed a meal that we love to eat in the states, but with a Mexican twist. It was spicy, and delicious.
I knew we would want to recreate that dish at home, and I was dying to make home made pico de gallo just to see if it would taste as good as the pico de gallo we had in Mexico. I’m not sure if it was the fresh, organic ingredients, or the duck fat we fried the potatoes in (instead of vegetable oil), but our creation of this meal from Mexico brought back all of those wonderful flavors, but it was even better here at home!
If you react badly to white potatoes, or are avoiding them for body composition reasons, you can use turnips, yuca, or sweet potatoes in place of the white potatoes in this dish and it should work out pretty well. If you have further questions about why we have created a dish with white potatoes, please read this post: Are Potatoes Paleo?
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2" pieces.
- Heat a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add 1 Tbsp of the fat.
- Carefully add the potatoes (the oil may spatter), and stir every few minutes. Lower the heat slightly as necessary.
- After 10 minutes, sprinkle with the salt and continue to stir, adding fat 1 Tbsp at a time as needed.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Mix evenly, and dust the potatoes with the spices. Stir if necessary.
- Continue to cook until the potatoes are golden brown and soft in the center.
The trick to this dish is balancing the heat and the amount of fat in the pan. The potatoes need to be stirred every few minutes. If you walk away and do something else, they will almost surely burn. Add fat occasionally to keep them sauteeing nicely.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters, and remove the seeds.
- After the tomatoes are seeded, dice and place in a small mixing bowl.
- Remove the tops of the jalapenos, and discard. Slice peppers in half, and remove the seeds, being careful not to touch your eyes or face.
- Dice the jalapeno, and add to mixing bowl.
- Dice the onion, and add to mixing bowl.
- Squeeze the lime juice over the diced vegetables. Season everything with salt, add the cilantro, stir to combine, and serve.