Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a city that didn’t really even exist 15 years ago. It’s surrounded by jungle, now the city has been infiltrated by hundreds of hotels and even more restaurants, many of which serve stylish, contemporry food. Being that there was nothing here before and Cancun was never exactly a gastronomic hotspot, where do the chefs come from?
Gianpaolo Ferrera was born in the small Sicilian town of Ragusa. At 14 he began studying gastronomy in Palermo and soon set off around the region – Greece, France, and Switzerland. At 19 he began cooking in hotel restaurants in London, Melbourne, the Canary Islands, Madrid, and finally Cancun in 2004. Last month he opened Indigo Beach Club, a sleek beachside bar and restaurant and restaurant in the Balinese themed El Taj condo hotel project in the heart of Playa del Carmen.
Ferrara’s menu is follows his youth in Italy, his travels around the world, and his recent past in Mexico. Fresh beachside food like Passionfruit Ceviche, Thai style Tuna Sashimi, Crab Wantons, Lobster Tacos, and Red Tuna Tostados cooked pibil style (baked inside banana leaves). There are also heavier dishes like burgers and hand rolled tortellini, though the restaurant’s signature are the southern Italian style , thin crust pizzas from the their wood fired oven. They’re topped with things like shrimp and pesto.
Indigo Beach Club
Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya
-8 Oz Mazatlan Red shrimp (any jumbo shrimp will work)
-2 Oz Hazelnuts, ground:
-4 Oz Tempura (1 egg, 1 cup spring water, 1 cup flour)
-1 Oz Watercress
-2 Oz Mango Ataulfo
-2 Tbs Apple Vinaigrette
-1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper
1.) Peel the shrimp carefully trying to keep intact the head and tail.
2.) Prepare a classic tempura with ice-cold spring water
3.) Season the shrimp with salt and pepper
4.) Dip in tempura and then “bread” with the grounded hazelnut.
5.) Put the shrimp freezer for at least 20 minutes
6.) Put shrimp direct from freezer into vegetable oil (2 inches deep) until the hazelnuts are golden brown
7.) Prepare a salad with watercress leaves pure and mango cubes of 1 cm, and season with apple vinegar.
8.) Place a single shrimp over salad, garnish with Balsamic vinegar and pink pepper.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.