Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hitting The High Mark

New chefs, dishes and menus are always a welcomed addition to the SMA food scene.

Here are a few that we think hit a high mark recently.

Buen Apetito!
Calle Hernández Macias 97, Centro

Italian Sausage Pizza: This dish isn’t new but it’s the best kept secret in SMA. It’s only available on Sunday night because the dough ferments for 5 days before it’s turned into an incredible pizza topped with homemade Italian Sausage and parmesan cheese. You can order a different topping on the other half. I ordered Bianca; mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, goat and camembert cheeses.

I was introduced to this dish by Marene Flores Silva, Pastry Chef at Jacinto 1930, who mentioned it to me in an interview when I was just a few days into my 21 day detox. Marene called the pizza “exquisite”. I had to wait 3 weeks to eat it but it was well worth the wait. 

So what’s MiVida’s secret? The Italian flour; Chef Greta Ortega says it’s all in the Italian flour they use to make their pizzas and pastas. They also use very high-end ingredients which was obvious when I tasted the pork cheek; marinated in red wine for two days, braised and then reduced to construct the sauce. It was delicious.
The Chefs: Watch for more on Chefs Greta Ortega and Ana Cecilia Alvarez Godínez in our article on female chefs in San Miguel later this month.
El Vergel Bistro and Market
Camino a El Vergel No. 17
Bring on the French! After spending a month in Oaxaca, it was really great to come back to something special: French food…really, really good French food.
Here is what we ordered off the menu:
The Burger: anytime you use 100% grass fed beef, you’ve got a good start. It doesn’t require either ketchup or mustard to enhance the taste. Its burger perfection…just the way we like it. 
Steak Frites: A mouth-watering ribeye with pommes frites; laden with butter and typically French.
Lyonnais Macaroni and Gruyere cheese with red wine braised Oxtail. I can eat two buckets of this dish; a new favorite indulgence.
French onion soup: lightly caramelized onions and good broth. Like every great soup, it’s all in the broth… and the bread you dunk in it.
Anyone who loves French eats at least two desserts: Lavender infused poached pear and a Tart Tatin. The poached pear was my favorite. I am helpless to refuse a good pear and this dish was flavorful with the addition of blackberry.
El Vergel is located on the road across from Candelaria before the hot springs, just 10 minutes from the jardin. Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Just wait until you see all the gourmet items in the market. Bring lots of pesos as you'll be tempted to buy everything.

The Chef: Watch for more on our favorite French chef, Magda Elisa, in the article on female chefs in San Miguel later this month.

Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion

Mercado Centro, Codo 36

After taking me through a 21 day detox, Nomada gets my vote for the most accommodating restaurant in SMA. Chef Sofia Antillon put me through 3 weeks of creative and healthy dishes, some of them new.

When I was done, I was 12 pounds lighter and had a new respect and appreciation for Mexican ingredients and flavors; the ones that Nomada always does so well.

If you can get a restaurant to do the cooking for you, it eliminates half the battle of a detox. This was the easiest of the nine detoxes that I’ve done over the past four years.

The chefs: Chefs Sofia Antillon, Pablo Nicacio and Marko Cruz team up to bring you the best combination of flavors in SMA.

Doce-18, Relox 18

We love the food at MILPA because they have dishes on the menu you can’t find any other place in San Miguel like a classic, Puebla cemita, made with beef instead of pork or chicken.

Also try the sirloin sandwich, the green bean salad and a beautiful bowl of chicken soup with crunchy vegetables.

Alberto Flores makes the best green juice in the morning from oranges, celery, cucumber and spinach. Look for his signature smoothie soon.

They also offer a large variety of craft beers including my favorite, Diablo, from San Miguel de Allende brewer Dos Aves.

The Chef: Chef Marko Cruz.
Chef Cruz will be one of the guest chefs at the Sabores San Miguel Guest Chefs Dinner at The Restaurant, Sollano 16, on Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 7:00 PM with proceeds to benefit Feed the Hungry San Miguel.
Other Guest Chefs include Paul Anders (Sweet Basil. Vail, EUA), Paul Bentley (Magno Brasserie. Guadalajara, México), Carlos Zamora (Moxi. SMA), Matteo Salas (Áperi and Jacinto 1930, SMA) and Victor Palma (Rosewood. SMA). Host chef: Donnie Masterton, The Restaurant. Tickets are available at The Restaurant, Sollano 16, or online.
Jacinto 1930
Doce-18, Relox 18

The quality of the tortilla makes the Taco. That’s why Chef Matteo Salas brought in Luvia de la Rosa Avendaño from Oaxaca and put her at the station that makes “all things corn.” He’s the first restaurant in SMA to do so. The result: shells that hold a wet filling, do not fall apart and have incredible flavor; you can really taste the corn, like in this gorgeous, grilled pulpo piled on top of a blue corn tortilla and the Chicharrón gorditas.

Matteo’s menu gets another plus for the prices and the creative cocktail menu (Mole Martini anyone?) created by Adrian Garcia-Evans, Beverage Manager at Cumpanio and associated restaurants including Jacinto 1930.

The Chef: 2016 Top Chef Mexico finalist Matteo Salas and Luvia de la Rosa Avendaño, one of six female chefs from Matteo’s restaurants that will be featured in our upcoming article on female chefs in SMA.

Birdies Burgers and Taco Lab
Doce-18, Relox 18

Hamburgers are nothing new in SMA but this hamburger is; a real, American-style burger made with meat from cattle naturally fed with 100% local grasses without hormones and antibiotics. Fast food redefined, I haven’t eaten a burger this good since I left Chicago. Paired with fries and a shake, you’ll have a tough time not repeating this triple treat daily. We also like the taste of their chicken thigh sandwich.

Speaking of triples, at the Taco Lab, the three crispy taco combination listed under appetizers gives you one pork belly, one fish and one short rib taco. This is one of the best and tastiest taco deals in town.

The chef: Chef Donny Masterton and Angela Lewis Serrano are putting on San Miguel’s biggest food party, Sabores San Miguel, in Juarez Park, on June 17-19, 2016. Sample from some of SMA’s best restaurants for just 30 pesos a taste. www.saboressanmiguel.com
Pork Belly
Cinco de Mayo #10

Chef Erick Medina gets on his London style with some of the best French fries in town; triple fried and dashed with a bit of vinegar before serving.

We also loved the perfectly seasoned bone marrow but could have done without the dried, green parsley because it’s good-looking enough on its own.

The chef: Chef Erick Medina studied at the Culinary Center of Ambrosia and worked with Chef Inaqui Izaguirre at Labexo Extea in Irun, Spain. He then went to the Rotter Ocshen Boutique Hotel and Brewery in the Black Forest, Germany, and move to London where, for 13 years, he cooked at Green and Red, Hawksmoor and Machete. He managed pop-up dinners with Portuguese, Michelin star chef Nuno Menedes and collaborated with the Embassy of Mexico in London for special events. He and his wife, Carmen Torres, moved to Mexico and launched Pork Bellys. He is getting ready to open a food truck that he’ll park at the new Don Pedro’s market this summer. Stay tuned.

And we can't wait for...

Carnevino Grill
Ancha de San Antonio #22

Located inside the famous wine store with the same name, Carnevino Grill will open shortly and feature grilled foods; seafood, steaks, vegetables along with wines, food-friendly champagnes and spirits.

It’s summer and I’m up for trying one of their grilled steaks. Take a look at the attractive space in the back of the store when you go in CarneVino to buy your wines and specialty, grocery items.

The outdoor patio space will be perfect for trying their summer wine offerings. You can expect the same top quality in the products that you find at CarneVino. Who better to teach you more about wine than Jorge Alarcon L, one of the most knowledgeable experts on wine and spirits in SMA.

Look for the opening date on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CarnevinoSM/

Jorge, Daniel Estebaranz and Ricardo Pare Trejo team up to bring you the SMA Food Fest, July 15-17, 2016, at Hacienda Los Picachos.
Kickoff dinner with Chefs Enrique Olvera and Matteo Salas at Moxi in Hotel Matilda on July 14, 2016.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

When did Detox Taste this Good?

On May 12, I started a detox for three weeks. I do it once or twice a year, usually in the spring and the fall.

Detox mean no sugar, gluten, flour, processed foods, caffeine or alcohol. I also practice self-nurturing; loads of sleep and exercise, time at the spa and me-time.

Why detox? After my trip to Oaxaca, I was tired. I had been on a non-stop eating spree since last September. With restaurant openings, travel and holiday parties, I never slowed down long enough to catch my breath.

I’ve always loved how I feel after a detox but it’s been a painful process, especially when it comes to deciding which foods to prepare. This time around, I decided to take that problem out of the equation and have my favorite chefs cook for me: Marko Cruz, Sofia Antillon and Pablo Nicacio of Nomada cocina de interpretacion in Mercado Centro. I gave Sofia the list of foods I can and cannot eat and a budget.

In addition to feeling great after six days, Sofia introduced me to so many new ingredients I would have never tried on my own. I’ve been amazed at the recipes she’s created; a guinea pig for some of them which has been great for both of us.

The first time I had Pablo’s cooking, it was so good, I thought it was Marko’s. His white fish (I had on Monday) is one of my all-time, favorite Nomada recipes. I think his cooking has elevated to another level in the time I’ve known him.

Marko was gone most of the week but returned on Monday. I can always tell when he’s back in the kitchen. Magic happens, like the meal he was preparing with two friends, Chefs Pato Pantoja and Hugo Tepichin who both worked with Marko at B’ui cocina de campo.

Pato Pantoja is a chef at the world-class Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges in New York City. Hugo Tepichin is at Quique Dacosta in Denia, Spain; a 3 star Michelin restaurant. Denia is on the Costa Brava between Alicante and Valencia. Chef Tepichin is the first Mexican chef in the kitchen at Quique Dacosta. Gastronomes say that following the closure of El Bulli, Dacosta has become the leader of avant-garde cuisine in Spain.

Here are my first six days of detox:

Day 1 May 12 Thursday

Cucumber and Peppermint infused water.
Grilled baby corn with lemon and chili powder made with Oaxacan Chili.
Raddicio,baby spinach, godsorel, beet leaf and baby lettuce with cauliflower, cucumber carrots, mint, fennel, yellow tomatoes, lemon and olive oil.
Raspberry decaffinated tea.
Beet Agua chili with tuna and Mahi Mahi, cucumber granita, avocado.

Day 2 May 13 Friday

Basil and thyme lemonade.
Roasted carrots with red quinoa, purslane and zucchini with vanilla balsamic.
Salad of beets, avocados, tomatoes, purslane oil and spring mix.
Mahi Mahi with hoja santa, potatoes, zucchini and chilchilo sauce.
Amarant and chia pudding with almond milk and a sprinkling of almonds.

Day 3 May 14 Saturday

Lemon grass water.
Springs mix greens, peas, asparagus, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and yellow cherry tomatoes, snow peas with basil oil and lemon balsamic.
Chile Ancho with squash blossoms, mushrooms, spinach, red onion, huaunzontle in tomato broth.
Octopus, avocado, purslane and ajillo.
What I couldn't eat: Artichoke with parmesan, goat, garlic butter - on my after-detox list.

Day 4 May 15 Sunday

Tuna with alioli, avocado, tomatoes, red onions, lemon and jalapeño.
Potato tamale with hoja santa, pea pods, raw green sauce and a sauce of black beans with raw truffle oil, avocado, and serrano chiles.
Chicken, chick peas, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, coriander, and microgreens with chicken broth infused with mint.
Chai latte with almond milk and cinnamon.

Day 5 May 16 Monday

Orange, lemon, spearmint and sage flower cocktail.
Avocado puree, esmedregal and yellow tomatoes, snow pea and radish.
White fish with green tomato, coriander, onion, serrano, brussels sprouts, potato and pea pods and nastergal leaf.
Amaranth cookies, edible flowers, chocolate balsamic.
Oil and yoke with passion fruit and amatanth seeds.

I will be resuming my detox meals at Nomada from May 22 – June 2, 2013 when they return from Oaxaca.

Day 6 May 17 Tuesday

Milpa, a farm-to-table restaurant in Doce-18, who is also under the culinary direction of Marko Cruz, stepped in to prepare a chicken soup loaded with beautiful vegetables. This meal was filling and delicious. The price: $130 pesos.

Buen Apetito!