La Hoja Verde: A Gaelic love story.

La Hoja Verde
La Hoja Verde

The heroic age of Ireland is full of battles but it did have place for some gaelic love stories amidst them,  such as the wonderful Torchmarc Emir wooing of Emer, by Cú Chulainn at Forgall’s dún. As Emer lifts her lovely face and recognises Cú Chulainn, she says

 

‘May God make smooth the path before you!’ . 

’And you,’ he said, ‘may you be safe from every harm.’

 

In the wooing she establishes that not by words, but by deeds is she to be won. As the story unravels, love triumphs and Emer, daughter of Forgall Monach, marries the hero Cú Chulainn in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, but not before Emer hearing of Cú Chulainn’s had slept with Aífe her rival while training in the arts of war with Scáthach warrior woman in Scotland leaving her pregnant. Also not before Emer felt jealous of the love that Fand, wife of nonetheless Manannán mac Lir, the king of the great sea, had for his Cú Chulainn, but pardoned her out of magnanimity. The very Manannán mac Lir intervenes in a way that lets Emer and Cú Chulainn forget and marry. Ironically the hero prowess, his deeds as requested by Emer, end up being the killing of Emer’s father, Forgall and Scenn Mennand his ally and stealing Forgall’s other treasures. In the grandness of Emer, one can see the “noble grace among the hosts of Erin’s women.

 

In this early literature there are many aspects of romance that could actually have come out of modern, contemporary writing.

 

So it is not awkward at all to fast forward for a minute and find our Emer, much the very same gracious young lady, in a love affair with her cuisine, still dealing with paradise only this time not in Ulster lands but in the sunny Caribbean waters Tulum.

 

 

The concept

 

Emer’s La Hoja Verde is a cozy restaurant on Tulum’s main avenue, just in front of the town City Hall, whose concept is to provide an ample choice of well prepared, neatly served and appealing to the eye, vegetarian dishes served in kind portions. As Emer points out, she wants its guests to consider vegetarian cooking as a great healthy alternative they can enjoy while not forcing them into and she can still ‘save the world one byte at a time’ environmentally speaking by diminishing the amount of meat that gets eaten everyday and observing animal rights.

 

La Hoja Verde is today Trip Advisor’s #5 out of 167 registered restaurants in the region and Emer and her staff are so very happy about it. It’s taken lots of hard work! And yes she is, as several reviews show, a great and always attentive host.

 

 

 

Vegan child

 

A passionate and witty red haired Emer Gannon of bright penetrating blue eyes that at times look up for the next phrase as if getting dictation from the gods, would not have eggs or meat, as a kid, at the risk of being reprehended by her loving parents, because she just did not like them.

Emer at Hoja Verde
Emer at Hoja Verde

 

Back in Ireland when she was invited over for lunch or dinner at a restaurant, she would have to ring them in advance to learn whether they had something vegetarian she could eat and would prefer to let them know her being a vegetarian that to go throw the embarrassing ordeal at the table of being asked by the waiter for your selection and having to let him or her know you only ate veggies. People just do not get it still.

 

That is probably why you will find great dishes in the menu except meaty substitutes such as Tofu or soy beans, either. That is “unless we do them for a given Sunday special of course”, says Emer.

 

 

 

The Menu

 

La Hoja Verde has a great menu plus a daily special always, so the nice element of surprise for returning customers is there even if you’ve tried out everything on the menu.

 

Menu in chalkboard art
Menu in chalkboard art

La Hoja Verde’s falafel is the best in town. They do a superb version of it whose recipe comes from friend, crusading vegan and animal rights activist, Tulissa.

 

They also serve excellent hummus from an Israeli recipe that was shown to them at the restaurant by a guest that had a very special family version and was passionate enough to prepare it for them as they did. La Hoja Verde, and Tulum for that matter, are such places that ignite passion or serve as a stage for it to just unfold.

 

Do not miss the none of the ordinary ‘Curry of the day’, nor her Chaipattys. One can also find not easy to come by Irish/British style ‘chips’ nice and crispy and potato fritters.

 

Good size veggie Burgers based on an wonderful patty recipe made out with lentils and soybean, are also a hit.

 

Salads are varied, fresh and delicious and have lots of late leaves and sprouts. Emer buys vegetables from local suppliers that grow them organic.

 

Beverages are Emer’s creations with health in mind. Be it Iced tea Kefir with their own made Kefir, juices like ‘Detox me Please’ (hibiscus), ‘Cold buster’ (orange, honey, lemon) or ‘Beach body’  (grapefruit, honey, lemon, ginger) and soy milk smoothies like ‘Stress less’ (strawberry, banana, orange, mint) or ‘Sunday treat’ (soymilk, chocolate, mint,vanilla).

Emer's Kefir
Emer’s Kefir

 

If you are a sweet tooth like me, this place will get you for its desserts as well. Hoja Verde makes delicious carrot cake, veggie brownies, cacao truffles (a sensation of a kind) and affogato.

 

 

With names and recipes like this it is impossible not to succumb to the magic of Emer as if she were a female druid [women druids are a documented fact in Celtic history, by the way].

 

 

An opening

 

The story actually began with Emer falling in love at least twice!

 

First having done so of her couple Pepe, a young easygoing chap from northern Mexico, and having come down to Tulum to try Pepe`s veggie food concept originally on the beach about a year ago. That did not work out the way they expected but Emer and Pepe applied all the lessons learned later on in the restaurant.

 

Emer became enamoured the second time of Steve’s & Rosalía’s the Hungry Veggie restaurant in Tulum, mostly for healthy eating locals. Steve is British and Rosalía a Mexican. They became friends and the opportunity arose for Emer to get a hold of the restaurant as she did. Steve made it possible in a way Emer & Pepe could buy it while operating. Emer’s prior experience working in restaurants called for long time friend (known him since they were 5 years old) Adrian McGrail, an Irishman living  without visa in Canada at the time. They had worked together back in Ireland and did a great team. Adrian came down and they took the Hungry Veggie and created Hoja Verde’s concept. The place was named Pachele during this transition period.

 

In designing Hoja Verde’s menu there is therefore a lot of expertise in terms of what worked and what did not, out of Steve, Rosalía, Tulissa a relative of Steve’s, Pepe, Adrian and Ember’s own.

 

Ember is happy for having satisfied returning customers, both visiting from abroad or locals, and having achieved this dream. ‘Hoja Verde opened the doors for me, it has let me meet very interesting people in my life’. Emer refers to all her friends, ‘Why you do not need shoes’ author Xian Alana Lomikoling – whose book Emer loves and sells at the restaurant – and Jack who did all the furniture out of recycled wood.

 

 

 

The future

 

Well, who knows. Does anyone know about the future? Emer looks back in content. They really did not know they would be able to make all of these dreams come true a year ago! Looking ahead, she talks about another of her passions, which is the Bluegrass music and going to festivals like FloydFest in Floyd, Virginia in July.  She’s attended several times. They’ve even thought on catering to it their wonderful cuisine on the road for a while. I don’t really know says Emer, we are doing good business, the restaurant is now paid for and we will reach a turning point which could include branching out.

 

We will see what goes. In Tulum everything reveals to you very quickly. Time and presence are something rare and thin here; the experience of living in it, is not.

 

One thing is certain, after eating from Emer’s cuisine you will feel well and full of lasting energy, as Cú Chulainn bragged in the wooing dialogue with Emer at Forgall’s dún that when he is weakest his strength is that of twenty; alone he will fight against forty; a hundred men would feel safe under his protection. You will be my friend among heroes and champions, jesters and druids, if you are a man or, if you are a woman, one who is gazed at but who gazes not back, a rush too far to be reached, an untrodden way.

 

 

 

 

La Hoja Verde

Vegetarian restaurant

 

 

 

 

A gaelic love story

 

The heroic age of Ireland is full of battles but it did have place for some gaelic love stories amidst them,  such as the wonderful Torchmarc Emir wooing of Emer, by Cú Chulainn at Forgall’s dún. As Emer lifts her lovely face and recognises Cú Chulainn, she says

 

‘May God make smooth the path before you!’ . 

’And you,’ he said, ‘may you be safe from every harm.’

 

In the wooing she establishes that not by words, but by deeds is she to be won. As the story unravels, love triumphs and Emer, daughter of Forgall Monach, marries the hero Cú Chulainn in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, but not before Emer hearing of Cú Chulainn’s had slept with Aífe her rival while training in the arts of war with Scáthach warrior woman in Scotland leaving her pregnant. Also not before Emer felt jealous of the love that Fand, wife of nonetheless Manannán mac Lir, the king of the great sea, had for his Cú Chulainn, but pardoned her out of magnanimity. The very Manannán mac Lir intervenes in a way that lets Emer and Cú Chulainn forget and marry. Ironically the hero prowess, his deeds as requested by Emer, end up being the killing of Emer’s father, Forgall and Scenn Mennand his ally and stealing Forgall’s other treasures. In the grandness of Emer, one can see the “noble grace among the hosts of Erin’s women.

 

In this early literature there are many aspects of romance that could actually have come out of modern, contemporary writing.

 

So it is not awkward at all to fast forward for a minute and find our Emer, much the very same gracious young lady, in a love affair with her cuisine, still dealing with paradise only this time not in Ulster lands but in the sunny Caribbean waters Tulum.

 

 

The concept

 

Emer’s La Hoja Verde is a cozy restaurant on Tulum’s main avenue, just in front of the town City Hall, whose concept is to provide an ample choice of well prepared, neatly served and appealing to the eye, vegetarian dishes served in kind portions. As Emer points out, she wants its guests to consider vegetarian cooking as a great healthy alternative they can enjoy while not forcing them into and she can still ‘save the world one byte at a time’ environmentally speaking by diminishing the amount of meat that gets eaten everyday and observing animal rights.

 

La Hoja Verde is today Trip Advisor’s #5 out of 167 registered restaurants in the region and Emer and her staff are so very happy about it. It’s taken lots of hard work! And yes she is, as several reviews show, a great and always attentive host.

 

 

 

Vegan child

 

A passionate and witty red haired Emer Gannon of bright penetrating blue eyes that at times look up for the next phrase as if getting dictation from the gods, would not have eggs or meat, as a kid, at the risk of being reprehended by her loving parents, because she just did not like them.

 

Back in Ireland when she was invited over for lunch or dinner at a restaurant, she would have to ring them in advance to learn whether they had something vegetarian she could eat and would prefer to let them know her being a vegetarian that to go throw the embarrassing ordeal at the table of being asked by the waiter for your selection and having to let him or her know you only ate veggies. People just do not get it still.

 

That is probably why you will find great dishes in the menu except meaty substitutes such as Tofu or soy beans, either. That is “unless we do them for a given Sunday special of course”, says Emer.

 

 

 

The Menu

 

La Hoja Verde has a great menu plus a daily special always, so the nice element of surprise for returning customers is there even if you’ve tried out everything on the menu.

 

La Hoja Verde’s falafel is the best in town. They do a superb version of it whose recipe comes from friend, crusading vegan and animal rights activist, Tulissa.

 

They also serve excellent hummus from an Israeli recipe that was shown to them at the restaurant by a guest that had a very special family version and was passionate enough to prepare it for them as they did. La Hoja Verde, and Tulum for that matter, are such places that ignite passion or serve as a stage for it to just unfold.

 

Do not miss the none of the ordinary ‘Curry of the day’, nor the Chaipattys. One can also find not easy to come by Irish/British style ‘chips’ nice and crispy and potato fritters.

 

Good size veggie Burgers based on an wonderful patty recipe made out with lentils and soybean, are also a hit.

 

Salads are varied, fresh and delicious and have lots of late leaves and sprouts. Emer buys vegetables from local suppliers that grow them organic.

 

Beverages are Emer’s creations with health in mind. Be it Iced tea Kefir with their own made Kefir, juices like ‘Detox me Please’ (hibiscus), ‘Cold buster’ (orange, honey, lemon) or ‘Beach body’  (grapefruit, honey, lemon, ginger) and soy milk smoothies like ‘Stress less’ (strawberry, banana, orange, mint) or ‘Sunday treat’ (soymilk, chocolate, mint,vanilla).

If you are a sweet tooth like me, this place will get you for its desserts as well. Hoja Verde makes delicious carrot cake, veggie brownies, cacao truffles (a sensation of a kind) and affogato.

 

 

With names and recipes like this it is impossible not to succumb to the magic of Emer as if she were a female druid [women druids are a documented fact in Celtic history by the way].

 

 

An opening

 

The story actually began with Emer falling in love at least twice!

 

First having done so of her couple Pepe, a young easygoing chap from northern Mexico, and having come down to Tulum to try Pepe`s veggie food concept originally on the beach about a year ago. That did not work out the way they expected but Emer and Pepe applied all the lessons learned later on in the restaurant.

 

Emer became enamoured the second time of Steve’s & Rosalía’s the Hungry Veggie restaurant in Tulum, mostly for healthy eating locals. Steve is British and Rosalía a Mexican. They became friends and the opportunity arose for Emer to get a hold of the restaurant as she did. Steve made it possible in a way Emer & Pepe could buy it while operating. Emer’s prior experience working in restaurants called for long time friend (known him since they were 5 years old) Adrian McGrail, an Irishman living  without visa in Canada at the time. They had worked together back in Ireland and did a great team. Adrian came down and they took the Hungry Veggie and created Hoja Verde’s concept. The place was named Pachele during this transition period.

 

In designing Hoja Verde’s menu there is therefore a lot of expertise in terms of what worked and what did not, out of Steve, Rosalía, Tulissa a relative of Steve’s, Pepe, Adrian and Ember’s own.

 

Ember is happy for having satisfied returning customers, both visiting from abroad or locals, and having achieved this dream. ‘Hoja Verde opened the doors for me, it has let me meet very interesting people in my life’. Emer refers to all her friends, ‘Why you do not need shoes’ author Xian Alana Lomikoling – whose book Emer loves and sells at the restaurant – and Jack who did all the furniture out of recycled wood.

 

 

 

The future

 

Well, who knows. Does anyone know about the future? Emer looks back in content. They really did not know they would be able to make all of these dreams come true a year ago! Looking ahead, she talks about another of her passions, which is the Bluegrass music and going to festivals like FloydFest in Floyd, Virginia in July.  She’s attended several times. They’ve even thought on catering to it their wonderful cuisine on the road for a while. I don’t really know says Emer, we are doing good business, the restaurant is now paid for and we will reach a turning point which could include branching out.

 

We will see what goes. In Tulum everything reveals to you very quickly. Time and presence are something rare and thin here; the experience of living in it, is not.

 

 

 

 

One thing is certain, after eating from Emer’s cuisine you will feel well and full of lasting energy, as Cú Chulainn bragged in the wooing dialogue with Emer at Forgall’s dún that when he is weakest his strength is that of twenty; alone he will fight against forty; a hundred men would feel safe under his protection. You will be my friend among heroes and champions, jesters and druids, if you are a man or, if you are a woman, one who is gazed at but who gazes not back, a rush too far to be reached, an untrodden way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A recent trip advisor guest review:

‘Best vegetarian by far! The people are so incredibly nice and welcoming. The falafel, hummus, guacamole and salads are my favourite. Juices are well done and very energising.
You can tell that everything has been made with great care and love. They started making desserts and I really loved the carrot cake.
I highly recommend it!  …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A recent trip advisor guest review:

‘Best vegetarian by far! The people are so incredibly nice and welcoming. The falafel, hummus, guacamole and salads are my favourite. Juices are well done and very energising.
You can tell that everything has been made with great care and love. They started making desserts and I really loved the carrot cake.
I highly recommend it!  …

Creative Commons License
La Hoja Verde: A Gaelic love story. by Juan Ayza M. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://juanayza.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/la-hoja-verde-a-gaelic-love-story/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at juan..

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