I wish I could recall all the reasons why we decided on Zihuatenejo for our honeymoon in 2008, but I could not tell you today (five years later). I do know that our airfare from Houston to Mexico was something ridiculous by today’s standards, around $250 round-trip! Oh how I miss those airfares. And certainly the short flight was also a factor as well. It was quick and easy travel, which was nice after stresses of wedding planning. I think we wanted to start our vacation as soon as possible.
This is the only trip where I used a travel agent — and my last. She was not very happy with me because I found a boutique hotel that was outside of the resort lodging options that provided her with commissions and rewards for booking. Also, she said something about me not allowing her to do her job. I think I was making asks outside of her routine and she did not like having a partner in planning. But, I was finding information that suited our travel style, more than she was providing, on my own. It is possible that I was slightly a pain in the badonk, as I can sometimes be (insert Southern smile and charm there.)
We did compromise and decided to spend half the honeymoon at a more traditional beach resort, but it could not compare to the boutique hotel that I found on Trip Advisor. Amuleto was by far our favorite and we ended up wishing that we had stayed there the entire trip. We had a lovely two story palapa room with an upstairs deck and two outdoor showers, as well as a private open air pool in our room. But it was the outstanding personal service that really put them over the top of anything we ever expected to experience and definitely makes us want to return again. Here is my original Tripadvisor review posted upon our return.
In addition to being a hotel, it is also a lovely and intimate restaurant with delicious meals. It was not cheap, but it was worth it, and for us it was only a walk back to our room (“More wine please.”) The Parmesan Peppercorn Tuna meal was so good that I actually repeated the order while there. This is something that I really try not to do, no matter how good it is. But the dinner at Amuleto was just too good to resist. Even if you do not have the privilege of staying at Amuleto on your vacation then I must insist that you head there for a meal. I insist.
Upon our return from Zihuatenejo, I hosted a dinner for my family who had contributed so much to our wedding and decided to try and recreate this amazing meal from Amuleto. There is no way that my version comes close to the freshness of their produce and fish, but I think I did a pretty good job. It was not exact, but without a night view of the hillside lit with city lights and the sounds of waves crashing on the shore, I could never quite match the meal experience. Yeah, close is good enough for me.
Below is the recipe, which is obviously not diet friendly, so I am hoping to experiment to make a version that is a little less creamy and buttery but hopefully still tastes divine. I hope you enjoy it.
PARMESAN-CRUSTED TUNA WITH BLACK PEPPERCORN SAUCE
Black Peppercorn Sauce
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced shallot
pinch of salt
Sprinkle of thyme leaves
Toast peppercorns for 3 minutes. Grind peppercorns and return to pan. Add shallots and allow to simmer until brown. Add broth, butter and stir all. Slowly add cream and stir. Finally add white wine and a pinch of salt and sprinkle thyme leaves and set aside off heat. To adjust thickness or creaminess add either more cream or watered down corn starch.
7 tuna steaks, small to medium
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup teriyaki
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic chopped
3 eggs whipped
Mix cheese, tarragon pepper, sesame seeds together in a bowl. On medium heat in a skillet brown the garlic with butter, then add teriyaki and wine and stir. Take a tuna steak and coat easy side lightly with egg before dipping in the dry mix on both sides. Place in the skillet to fry in the wine mixture. Repeat with each steak. Goal is to create a golden brown crust. For raw steaks, you can brown and remove from heat or if desire well done tuna then you can also transfer to the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.
To serve, place the tuna steak on plate with steamed vegetables or other chosen side and top steak with the peppercorn sauce. It can also be served in a gravy bowl if prefer to allow guests to serve themselves or to prevent a soaked crust if not eating immediately. Enjoy.
At the time, we did not take a photo of the meal but I found another blog where they did a lovely job of capturing the meal and experience. Thank you “BiteMe” for the following images.