Benazuza; The Food That Precedes The Dreams

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Benazuza; The Food That Precedes The Dreams- Mags on the Move

During my time in Cancun, I was fortunate enough to have one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life twice in one day.  Benazuza Restaurante is a molecular gastronomy restaurant located in the Oasis Sens resort in Cancun’s hotel zone.

This day of gastronomic pleasures started at breakfast.  Benazuza is open for both breakfast and dinner and it’s available at an additional cost to the all inclusive package at the resort.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Breakfast was a teaser for what we would be getting into for dinner, but even breakfast included several courses and champagne.

Benazuza Breakfast Menu- Benazuza Restaurante at the Oasis Sens in Cancun, Mexico

Everything on the menu was unique and spectacular, even the coffee.  Benazuza Restaurant‘s breakfast was started off with “Cafe de ‘Olla’ Coffee.  A sweet coffee spiced with cinnamon, orange, and sugar.  I don’t typically like sugar in my coffee, but this was an exception.

Cafe de Olla at Benazuza in Cancun Mexico

(I wish you could smell this picture!)

Then a trio of fresh and uniquely flavored juices were served, Watermelon and Hibiscus Juice, Grapefruit and Guanabana with Rosemary Juice, and Orange Juice (for the classicist).

Trio of juices at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The grapefruit, guanabana, and rosemary juice was my favorite, but I’m a sucker for Grapefruit.

The first food course was warm toasts served with various jellies, spreads and butters; Mango with Chipotle Chili Pepper Marmalade, Strawberry and Tequila Marmalade, Truffle Butter, Vanilla Butter, and Creamy Cheese with Jalapenos.

Selection of marmalades, butters, and spreads at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

I think my favorite was the Mango Chipotle marmalade, but it was fun to mix and match to find unique combinations.  Vanilla butter with Strawberry Tequila Marmalade was particularly delicious.

Breakfast at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

After the toasts, the servers brought out Melon with Honey Brochettes, and Watermelon & Modena.

Melon with Honey Brochette and Watermelon and Modena at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Melon with Honey Brochette at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was a really interesting fruit course.  The honey jelly in the melon and the balsamic vinegar with the melon and raspberry was unexpected, but great.

Next came the yogurts, White Chocolate Yogurt with Strawberries and a Layered Chocolate Mouse with Chocolate Crispy Rice on top.

Yogurt Course at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The White Chocolate Yogurt was a stand out but both were great.

Next was some protein, Salmon and Tomato Volcano,

Salmon and Tomato Volcano at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

(this is also the point in the meal where the champagne was served)

The salmon was very good, a slightly spicy mexican-asian hybrid.  I just wish there were more than one bite!  Though, I guess with this many courses that’s probably a good thing.

Breakfast at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Ham & Cheese “Sincronizada”

Ham & Cheese "Sincronizada" at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was similar to a quesadilla filled with ham, mushrooms, and the most flavorful cheese, then cooked perfectly crispy.

Potato Foam with Beans.

Potato Foam with Beans at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This trip to Cancun was my first experience with “foams” after years of seeing them on Top Chef.  It was very exciting.

Next came the Poached Egg with “Cuitlacoche” and Sabayon.

Poached Egg with "Cuitlacoche" and Sabayon at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Here I’ll be completely honest.  I’m not proud of this, but I’m weird about poached eggs.  I know that’s a terrible foodie thing to say, but runny yolks just freak me out.  I want to like them, I just can’t help it.  Luckily for me, this egg was poached hard.  No runny yolk!  I also found out that I love love love Cuitlacoche!  I loved it a lot more before I googled what it was and found out that it goes by it’s way less sexy english name, “corn smut”.  It’s still delicious and I have no regrets.

The final course was a Home Made Bakery Selection served with Hot Chocolate.

Home Made Bakery selection at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Hot Chocolate at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Hot Chocolate at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Home Made Bakery Selection and Hot Chocolate at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Just look at that!  This one deserved 4 photos.  The hot chocolate was a thick rich drinking chocolate and paired amazingly with the pastries and desserts offered. Nothing like dessert with your breakfast!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not typically a “breakfast person”.  I find that it’s typically just a reconfiguration of the same thing; bacon, eggs, toast, orange juice.  After 28 years on this planet that just doesn’t seem worth waking up for.  This meal changed my mind.  It’s so rare to find a unique and different breakfast option, and this was nothing compared to dinner!

DINNER

Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Dinner started off, as most great meals do, at the bar.

Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

THE COCKTAILS

The bar at Benazuza was nothing short of amazing.  Here our bartender, Carla, whipped up some imaginative takes on traditional cocktails, starting off with the Caipirinha.  This version was served inside of a piece of sugar cane that you chew on to get the flavor of the cocktail.

"Caipirinha" at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Up next was the Mojito.  This version of one of my favorite cocktails was reimagined with a sweet rum jello on top of a lime that you had to bite into to mix the flavors.

"Mojito" at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Next came a Mexican tradition, Mezcal with a worm.  Of course, this was a little different.  Carla served a Mezcal Foam with Rice Cracker Worm, that I believed was a real worm for way too long, even after I ate it.  To be fair though, I was fed crickets earlier in my trip, and I’ve adopted a pretty “when in Rome” attitude about trying new foods when I’m traveling.

Mezcal Foam at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Mezcal Foam at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This one you had to drink quickly before it went flat.

"worms" at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Next on the menu was another Mexican classic, the Margarita.  Of course this is Benazuza, so there is a twist… this one is invisible.

First, the empty glass is set out.

Invisible Margarita at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Next Carla comes by and fills it with Invisible Margarita,

Invisible Margarita at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

(Mine was extra tall!) Then as a final touch,( and most important 😉 ), the straw.

Invisible Margarita at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The final cocktail on the menu was a Pina Colada.  Here rum balls were added first,

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Then coconut milk,

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

and Cotton Candy.

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

(pictured with Chef Rafael Zafra)

Finally, pineapple juice was poured on top to melt the cotton candy.

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Now, it’s ready to enjoy.

Pina Colada at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Just bite in to the rum balls and you’re in business.

THE MEAL

After cocktails we moved into the dining room.

Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This is where the show began with Damiana & Nitro,

Damiana & Nitro at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Damiana & Nitro at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Damiana & Nitro at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Damiana & Nitro at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was a passion fruit flavored ice cream frozen so cold that it made the tongue tingle.

Next was even more cocktails!  A Hot and Cold Margarita!

Hot & Cold Margarita at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Hot & Cold Margarita at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Followed by Coconut Popcorn.

Coconut popcorn at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Coconut popcorn at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The “popcorn” was made from nuts in a sweet coconut flavored coating.

Next came the snacks.

  • Snacks

The Snack with Sour Cream,

Snack with Sour Cream at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

One of my favorites, the Rice Cracker Reef.

Rice Cracker Reef at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Pinata with Guacamole (this was a fun one too!),

Pinata with Guacamole at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Pinata with Guacamole at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Pinata with Guacamole at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The next 4 items were served at the same time; Steamed Taco, Avocado in Tempura, Pork Toast, and Gordita/Brioche with “Chicharron”.

Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Gordita/Brioche with "Chicharron" at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Next on the menu was Tapas.

  • Tapas

Corn Cob with Vanilla Mayonnaise.

Corn Cob with Vanilla Mayonnaise at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

The Corn Cob,

Corn Cob at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

(This one was served with fois gras!)

Poblano Rice Kellog’s.

Poblano Rice Kellog's at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

(Love all of the table side presentation!)

Benazuza Fajitas,

Benazuza Fajitas at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexicio

Benazuza Fajitas at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexicio

Small strips of peppers and meat were served with mini home made tortillas.  This was a lot less messy that a regular fajita.

White Asparagus with Pipil.

White Asparagus with Pipil Lemon

Just the right amount of tart and creamy.

Potato Foam with “Valladolld Sausage”

Potato Foam with "Valladolld Sausage"

This was similar to the potato foam with beans served at breakfast, but with the welcome addition of spicy sausage.

After much ado, time for the main dishes!

  • Dishes

The first dish is the Chef’s Garden.

Chef's Garden at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

A creamy veggie cassarole.

“Tatemado” style fish.

"Tatemado" style fish at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Served with mashed sweet potatoes and burnt ashes.

Then my personal favorite of the evening, Chicken with Mole.

Chicken with Mole at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was dark mole pair with peanut sauce, which is such a good idea.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it!

  • Pre Dessert

Can I just say, I love that “pre dessert” is a thing.  This time it was a Guanabana Mollusk.

Guanabana Mollusk at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was a fruity jelly served inside of a clam!

Then it was time for the real dessert.

  • Dessert

A Maracuya Pinata (they really like pinatas at Benazuza)

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This is a sphere of hard frozen passion fruit ice cream you whack open with a bat!

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Inside you’ll find fresh berries and coconut!

Maracuya Pinata at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

I don’t know how they did it, but I love it.

I also love that even after dessert, dinner is not over.  There’s another course of “Morphings”

  • Morphings

Fruit and Vegetables Box

Fruit and Vegetables Box

Fruit and Vegetables Box

This was various fruits and veggies filled with mousses and creams and served in crumble chocolate and nut “dirt”.

Fruit and Vegetables Box at Benazuza in Cancun Mexico

And finally, the perfect way to end this meal is exactly how you began it… booze.  Full circle.

  • Shots

Time for tequila shots with lime jello chaser.

tequila shot with lime jello chaser at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

This was the most playful and creative restaurant I’ve ever been to and when it was all over I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind it.

With Chef Rafael Zafra at Benazuza in Cancun, Mexico

Chef Rafael Zafra studied (and clearly thrived) under the famous Ferran Adria at El Bulli.  He learned molecular gastronomy from the master and was kind enough to pass it on to us.

Benazuza is a truly magical place and I for sure will not make another trip to Cancun without a visit there.  This is the very definition of a “can’t miss”.  Foodie or not, you have to appreciate the imagination in every course.  It’s great to have fine cuisine with a sense of humor.  Finally a fancy restaurant where it’s okay to play with your food.

Thank you to the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau as well as the staff of Benazuza and the Oasis Sens Resort for inviting me to partake in this wonderful meal.  As always, the opinions are my own.

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6 thoughts on “Benazuza; The Food That Precedes The Dreams

  1. […] *UPDATE- Learn more about my meals at Benazuza here! […]

  2. That look INCREDIBLE!! I so want to try this, having never been to Cancun it is now high on my list for the food experience you have just shown. Thank you!
    Lyn – A Hole in my Shoe recently posted…It Started with a Kiss, Our First Overseas TripMy Profile

  3. I was sold at cotton candy, but then I saw the vegetable box! I’m such a total nerd for things like that, plus it looks awesomely delicious.

    Going to Cancun next year to visit family, so this will be a MUST stop!!
    Heather @ TravelingSaurus recently posted…Five Reasons Why I’m Tired of the Generalized Bashing of Organized ToursMy Profile

    • Mags

      You’ve got to try it. I had no idea Cancun had food like this!

  4. seol

    Thank you for this extremely detailed reportage on Benazuza!!! I’m thinking about booking this restaurant for my sister’s bday but can’t find reservation link anywhere. How did you book? Call? Also how much is the breakfast tasting and dinner tasting per person?

    • Mags

      I booked through the concierge at the hotel, but I’m sure you could call. My stay included the breakfast, so I’m not sure of the cost, but I believe the dinner was $50 a person. It’s worth every penny (and then some) Your sister will love you for it!

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