Friday, January 10, 2014

50 Pesos

I've been much more money conscious since I've been in San Miguel because I'm constantly converting dollars to pesos. In fact, I'm always doing the math and it's a process because the rate of exchange changes almost daily.

I know without calculating or even thinking for that matter that $100 goes a lot further here than it does in the states but how about 50 pesos which converted at this moment is $3.83 or considerably less than a $5 bill.

In Chicago, treating yourself much less having a meal for $5 is just about impossible but in San Miguel, a 50 peso note will buy you many great, high quality eats and you'll still have change left over.

Here are some of my favorites.

Buen Apetito!

20 pesos @ bag
Leo the Vegetable Guy
Salida a Celaya 43 - in front of El Maple

What's not to love about the taste of fresh Strawberries...especially in January? Leo has the most beautiful produce in San Miguel.

A bag for 20 pesos? You can call this the sweetest deal in town!

Ice Cream
27 single/49 double
Thrifty Ice Cream
Celaya #3-A

When it comes to sweet treats, I will always choose ice cream first. Why? I grew up with high quality ice cream. Problem is, I don't have a particular passion for any one flavor. I love them all.

10 pesos @ bag

Only one way to eat and fresh out of the fryer.

Leftovers? Never. I'll often share an overstuffed bag with any kid who is within a few feet of me.

Dark Chocolate
3 pesos
# 6 Jardin

I don't know about you but I crave chocolate all the time since coming to San Miguel.

You can get a big bar for about 12 pesos but when I indulge, which is almost daily, a teeny-tiny bite is all I need.

28 pesos
Café Organico de Chiapas
Sollano 11

This coffee is some of the best Chiapas brew around.

I buy a cup and take it to the Jardin where the best treat of the morning is watching the world go by.

30 pesos
Mi Vida
Hernandez Macias 97

Honestly, I can give up almost everything but don't even think about asking me to give up bread.

Funny, it's the one thing I'm addicted to that I can't even make yet.

Stay tuned for some high altitude baking adventures.

15 pesos
Saturday Market

I wasn't crazy about this drink the first time I had it but it grows on you.

Best warmer-upper on a cold January morning when I'm celebrating the fact I missed the 2014 polar vortex by a day.

17 pesos
La Buena Vida Bakery
Hernandez Macias 72

How do they make these doughnuts so darn fluffy? I'm on a quest to find out the secret to everyone's favorite AM addiction.

Hot Chocolate
25 pesos - 2cups
Chocolates Johfrej
Calle de Jesus 2A

Chocoholics beware. This shop has a great selection including the dark chocolate with chile for 12 pesos. Their secret? They only use cacao national from Tabasco and Chiapas.

I love their hot chocolate. The elegant, Mexican inspired chocolate set it's served in gives me two full cups for just 25 pesos and I have no problem what so ever polishing off that second cup.

To make Mexican Hot Chocolate at home, add Cinnamon, chipotle powder, and a pinch of nutmeg to a cup. Top it with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate or caramel, chocolate shavings and a cinnamon stick.

Boozy hot chocolate? Spike a cup with your favorite liquor.

If you happen to love cookies or brownies, they obviously belong in your cup of hot cocoa.

Rollo Aceituna
15 pesos
Correro 29

The three window spots at Cumpano are prime seating.

With a Rollo Aceituna and coffee in hand, you can sit and talk to everyone who passes by the open window. I quit counting one morning when I hit 20.

17 pesos

9 months ago, I was not a beer drinker but now, there is not one Mexican beer I don't like.

Give me a choice on a hot sunny day and I will probably pick a cold brew over just about anything else.

Come to think of it, do we have hot days in San Miguel?

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
17 pesos @ 2
Petit Four Bakery
Mesones No. 99-1

My favorite taste of sweet after yet another meal cooked at home in my Mexican kitchen. Don't you just love to cook in for friends?

It's mini-sized so you never have to feel guilty...not that I ever do.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, and butter in large bowl to blend.

Add peanut butter; beat until creamy.

Gradually beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract, then egg. Add dry ingredients; mix just until blended. Stir in milk chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until puffed and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Cool slightly, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

For Filling:

3 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons whipping cream

Place chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and kosher salt in medium bowl.

Bring whipping cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture; stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Chill until filling is thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Spread about 1 rounded teaspoonful chocolate-peanut butter filling on flat side of 1 cookie.

Top with second cookie, forming a sandwich. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.

Cookie sandwiches can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

40 pesos
The Restaurant
Sollano 16

Think The Restaurant's expensive? Think again. There are a number of drinks you can order for under 50 pesos.

My choice was this authentic Mexican Michelada made with Victoria beer, a perfect pale lager to compliment its spicy taste.

After just one I was feeling the effects.

Coarse salt
Juice from one large lime
Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce
Soy sauce
1 12 ounce bottle of lager
Jalapeño slice and/or cucumber slice for garnish

Salt the rim of a large, tall glass and fill with ice. Add the lime juice and the Worcestershire, hot and soy sauces to taste. Two drops each is recommended but go with what you like.

Fill the glass the rest of the way with the beer. Garnish with the jalapeño slice or the cucumber slice or both.

Drink Napkins
40 pesos
Zacateros 24
Even the premier gift store in San Miguel has something for under 50 pesos.

Owner Patrice Wynne showed me a number of items including this drink napkin to make all of your cocktail parties authentically Mexican. Bring on the tequila!

50 pesos
Hotel Sautto
Hernández Macías 59

The bartender's family has owned this property for over 300 years. He's a lawyer and happens to mix the best Margarita in town.

The surprise is that they use some of the least expensive and oldest (1879) made tequila around - Orendain Tequila Blanco.

So, after all of this, did I mention that it's not only possible to get treats but also great eats for under 50 pesos?

Sandwich: 32 Pesos…homemade of course.

4 pesos
El Maple +
10 pesos
Bonanza +
8 pesos
La Cava +
10 pesos
Mercado Ignacio Ramirez

...with plenty leftover for Round II tomorrow.

Azteca Soup
50 pesos
Loreto 10B

As advertised, this soup is the best in town. The high quality service adds to the overall experience.

20 pesos
Family Rodriguez
El TianguisTuesday Market

The Rodriquez family does what every chef in town would like to do...make fabulous food that is so affordable you can order a second helping and still have change left over.

40 pesos
Bautista Brothers
El TianguisTuesday Market

I can't make carnitas for the same price that the Bautista Brothers do.

You and a friend can share a loaded plate and still get some to take home for under 50 pesos.

Secret? I get the ribs and suck on the bones for that huge hit of extra flavor.

Jicima Taco
45 Pesos
La Azotea
Umaran 6

If you didn't get the message by now, this delicious atypical taco is the best in town. I order mine with the fried shrimp but it also comes with tuna or tofu.

El Pato
40 pesos
Calzada de la Estacion 175

Mixiotes is a little bundle of lamb that is cooked in the broth and has such a rich taste that even I wouldn’t try to duplicate it…that is until I get a few episodes of cooking in an underground pit under my belt… which will not be any time soon.

Just like my mother's pot roast, it's true comfort food.

I've said it before: This is the best meal in town.

30 pesos
El Tucan
Hernando Macias #56

Fresh vegetables and local cheeses after piled on after cooking them to perfection.

The art? Alex has 11 years of practice as a grill chef back in Chicago.

Tortilla Soup

This is one of the least expensive and easiest things to make.

You'll find this delicious dish on many of the menu's in San Miguel though not always for under 50 pesos.

My advice: Make it at home. You can change it up or leave it just the way it is. Either way, it's delicious!

1 tsp. canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked, chicken – both dark and white meat from a rotisserie chicken
1 c. fresh corn
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
1 fresh, whole green chili, sliced thin
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1/2 c. baked tortilla chips
1/4 c. shredded Cheddar and Colby Jack Mexican mix cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. diced, peeled avocado

Heat in a large saucepan. Add the oil. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook one minute.

Add the next four ingredients; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add lime juice and salt to taste.

Ladle into four bowls. Top with chips, cheese, cilantro and avocado.