Friday, September 23, 2016

Sweet Endings: The Best Desserts in San Miguel de Allende

Picture this: profiteroles, coquettes with mascarpone, pavlova, tiramisu, choux à la crème, bananas Foster, praline bread pudding, fresh- picked peach cobbler, bourbon pecan pie, shortbread cookies with lemon-cream cheese frosting, white chocolate chip cookies, crème brûlée, beignets, and chocolate cake with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Do I have your appetite in over-drive right now? I know; me too. Just the mention of these desserts and I’m having a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast.

If you happen to feed your food addiction here, you’ll quickly come to the realization that I love desserts. Not just any desserts; the ones that are dripping, drizzled or dusted with sugared obsessions, most notably chocolate.

I experienced a wonderful Amador chocolate at Maido in Lima, Peru just last week, but many of the best chocolates I’ve eaten lately have been from Oaxaca; a translation recently served at Nomada cocina de interpretacion here in San Miguel.

When it comes to favorites, I have mine. And like most people I know who LOVE food, I never save the best for last.

Buen Apetito!

These restaurants, known for their celebrated food and not their pastries, make many of my favorite sweetened pleasures:

The Restaurant
Sollano 16

Sundae de Caramelo Quemado con Salsa de Malvavisco y Cacahuates Espanoles… in any language, Chef Donnie Masterton balances this Ambrosia custom-made, burnt caramel ice cream topped with salted caramel, marshmallow and a sprinkling of cacahuates; a confectionery work of art that is way too beautiful to eat but we dive in anyway. Conclusion: Simple ingredients often make for some of the most elevated flavors.

After three years, it’s still my favorite dessert in San Miguel and to commemorate the occasion, we thought you’d like to see a new picture.

PS: Don’t take this off the menu Donnie; I threw out my calorie book and we’ve just declared it a classic.

Buenos Aires Bistro
Mesones #62

Chef Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro, the king of Argentine beef in SMA, produced an Argentinean version of bananas foster, my favorite New Orleans dessert: Banana Frita Flambeado con Brandy y Helado de Mate or Brandy Flambéed Fried Banana with Mate Ice cream.

Rich and creamy, homemade ice cream is the central ingredient of this dessert, made from pure cream and Yerba Mate, the naturally caffeinated leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree. That’s what makes it healthy so eat up.

Quince Rooftop
Cuna de Allende 15

Chef Gonzalo Martinez has a limited menu of postres but we love everything on the menu including the Sweet Corn Cake, the Crepe Cake and my favorite, the soft Bunuelo fritters.

The first time I had Bunuelos was from a street stand in Guatemala last year and I’ve been craving them ever since. Chef Gonzalo filled the gap with his version of Bunuelos with bitter sweet Oaxaca chocolate. Don’t mind me when I lick the bowl.

How sweet it is; 15% of all dessert proceeds go to Feed the Hungry SMA so order an assortment for your table.

Jacinto 1930
Relox #18

Jacinto 1930 pays the respect to dessert that it deserves by creating uncomplicated flavors that work. 

We love Chef Matteo Salas and Pastry Chef Marene Flores Silva for many reasons, one of them being that they’ve created a flan that we actually love.

The soft cream cheese flan with avocado milk melts into a sour cream ice cream. In one word: perfection. In two words: seconds, please!

Canal #3

Want a chocolate overload? This gooey, chocolaty goodness tastes as incredible as it looks.

It’s amazing that you can find one of the best desserts in SMA right under your nose. Thanks to a mention from one of SMA favorite chefs, Michael Coon, this chocolate cake is like eating just-made fudge, only better. It’s cold, moist, dark, rich, decadent and so full of chocolate, I’m certain I’ll be ordering it every morning with a supersized glass of café con leche.

Oh, and just so you know, I’m not sharing!

These SMA Chefs have one thing in common; they are responsible for elevating traditional desserts into something magical. All of them, alchemists in the kitchen, turn the freshest ingredients into the most exquisite desserts you’ve ever eaten.

Trattoria da Laura a Los Mezquites
Rancho Los Mezquites
Marroquin de Anejo 37888

In a city of first-class chefs, this passionate Italian stands out; some of my favorite desserts in SMA are made by Chef Laura Buccheri.

The first time I dined at her restaurant, she served five different desserts; I ate all of them.

Known for her wonderful, Sicilian creations, she stays true to the Italian classics but elevates them using good ingredients and textbook execution.

Of the many Italian desserts I’ve eaten, I’ve loved every one of them including this Genovese al Lemon Curd Cake and her legendary lemon meringue pie.

Things couldn’t be sweeter right now for this Italian; Laura opens Spaghetteria La Cocina di Afrodita this week on the upper floor at the new Mercado Sano (ex Ferreteria Don Pedro), Calle Ancha de San Antonio #123. I’m addicted to her Carbonara as well as her desserts.

Calle Hernandez Macias #97

When Chef Ana Cecilia Alvarez, the Sous-chef at MiVida Restaurant graduated from La Universidad Tecnologíca in San Miguel de Allende, she did her internship at Restaurant Il Grecale in Novello, Italy. It shows.

A source of Instagram envy, we’ve eaten dozens of desserts at MiVida and every one of them has hit the high mark on presentation, flavor and taste. What I like most are the homemade fruit sorbets; a refreshing finish to MiVida’s pastas and meats.

 Blessed with unbridled creativity, she’s one of the young chefs in SMA to watch.

Nomada cocina de interpretacion
Codo #36

I once said that Chef Sofia Antillon, the Pastry Chef at Nomada cocina de interpretacion, has superpowers. I’m convinced after eating at least 50 of her desserts that she’s blessed with something more.
Here is her Fiesta; I call it “Party on a Plate”: blueberry, mango meringue, raspberry meringue, toronjil, cherry with roseberry, mango with thyme, pomegranate seeds, garambullo, lemon ice cream with caramelized lemon peel and guava jelly.
I had the first dessert Sofia made in SMA at B’ui – cocina de campo: Chocolate Chai Ganache with mascarpone cheese, a caramelized banana, plantain puree and litchi sorbet. It’s a study for the Art of Plating.

From the Peppermint panna cotta with strawberry coulis, rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry and blackberry sorbet to her most famous dessert, one she made for the Chef’s Table at the SMA Food Festival this year, the pavlova with vanilla cream passion fruit caramel, kumquats, peppermint, eureka lemon peel and blueberries, her desserts are inspiring.

She’s likely to move to the national scene so get her artistic creations while you can. With no dessert menu, you’re surprised every time you order. She breaks all the rules, creating complex desserts that blend interesting and contrasting flavors.

I’ve never been disappointed.

The girls love their sweets…

My friend, Daniela Doig, the creator of the online e-magazine at , recently did an article on the top desserts in SMA. She's turned me on to a number of new places and I'm on a mission to try them all. Read her article for some additional, delicious listings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SMA Food Festival: Five Things We're Still Celebrating


Coming off the heels of the highly successful food show, Sabores San Miguel, just weeks before, the SMA Food Festival had a challenge. With a new location, no longer held at the historical Instituto Allende in Centro, the show rolled out a whole new look and format.

I loved SMAFF for one reason; I got a culinary education having discovered so many new wines, tequilas, chefs and a whole new type of cuisine from Tabasco, Mexico.

For me, it’s always about the total experience. Here are some of the highlights.

Buen Apetito!

The Chefs from Tabasco

This was my first introduction to the food of Tabasco, a state in Mexico’s southeast bordering Campeche to the northeast, Veracruz to the west, Chiapas to the south, and Guatemala to the southeast and all I can say is BRING IT ON! It’s not every day you discover a whole new type of cuisine.

The Tabasco lineup of chefs was put together by a favorite, local chef Armando Prats Leal, who is from Tabasco. The Team consisted of chefs Lupita Vidal, Alfonso Castañeda, Alejandro Vidal and the captivating Cocinera de Humo (traditional smoke cook) Nelly Morillo. Jesus David, founder of Come Tabasco, came along for the festivities.

Nelly made an extraordinary dish called Horneado de Cerdo en Barro, a pork dish; typical Tabasco comfort and fiesta food that defies explanation.

What was interesting to me is that it was served on a plate called comal de barro ahumado that is smoked in the Barro oven for months before using. The flavors of this dish were both surprising and complex. Nelly also made a beautiful Estofado de Lengua de Res at the Chefs table that night.

The experience of tasting Tabasco food and meeting the chefs left me curious and hungry for more. Interjet makes it so affordable to take a weekend trip to Villahermosa just to eat.

I’m also pulling for a Barro oven for Christmas.

The Chef's Tables

The Chefs tables ARE what this event is all about and if you didn’t get a ticket, you missed out.

We spent time with the chefs in the morning as they begun their morning preparation; Chef Allen Williams with his spring rolls and here with Chef Bricio Dominguez and sons Chef Alonso Domínguez, Chef Luis Pablo Dominguez and nephew Chef Pablo Domínguez.

We enjoyed the Saturday night dinner with Chef Marco Cruz of B’ui, Milpa and Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion along with Chef Lucy Noriega, Chef Guanajuato; Chef Carlos Segura, Rosewood; Chef Fernanda Prado, Espaisucre and Chef Carlos Zamora, Matilda.

Two of the dishes I still crave from this meal were Marco’s Esquites and Mushroom Pipian Tecomate, which he recreated for me the following week in the kitchen at Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion.
 On Sunday, we took in the brunch, with Chefs Magda Elisa Pablos, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Chef Sandor Emmanuel, The Restaurant; Chef Gabriel Ordoñez, El 58 and Chef Eduardo Ruiz, Monin Syrup.

Chef Magda’s Blueberry Mimosa was definitely one of the high spots.

Chula Parranda Extra Anjeo Tequila

“The longer we stayed, the cheaper it got.” I’m still laughing at this comment from my friend Ricardo but for me finding this tequila was worth the price of admission. It’s the best tequila I’ve ever tasted.

I consider myself a fairly educated tequila drinker having worked in the Tequila industry for years with expert Cesar Mascorro and downing my fair share of both good and ghastly tequila shots.  In all the years I’ve enjoyed Tequila, I’ve never run across one like Chula Parranda Extra Anjeo.

Is it tequila or cognac? It’s difficult to tell.

Now, the challenge is on to find a better tequila. Good luck with that one.

Arael Gomez Tello

Arael Gomez Tello, a passionate culinarian and promoter of the world of wine, is one of the most knowledgeable wine experts in SMA.  We kept making the rounds but it was at his booth where we got our wine education and experienced some of the best wines from Mexico.

Arael’s company, Argot el Vino, has a wine portfolio that includes close to 300 labels and continues to grow.

The Oyster Fest

Last year, it was the BBQ on Sunday afternoon that stole the show but this year, the chefs of Tabasco showed us all how to party. Hundreds of oysters on the grill and a group of thirsty chefs was the festive conclusion of another great food weekend in San Miguel de Allende.