Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Bakeries of San Miguel

I know people who eat to live and others who live to eat. I am the latter. I'm often planning my next meal before I finish the one I am eating. And I seldom finish a meal without having dessert.

No problem here in Mexico where, with a 20 peso note in hand, you can go into any bakery and come out with not one but a whole bag of goodies...and some change.

Remember, Mexican bakeries do not use preservatives so things should be eaten within a day or two or put in the freezer.

Here are some of our favorites we found around town.

Correo 29
Favorite: Croissants and Brioche.

Perfect French pastries are hard to find. In fact, baking them is so complex, I took classes back in Chicago just to learn how. I can tell you it is a real art.

In Chicago, La Patisserie P on W. Argyle St. was my go-to spot for Croissants. Here in San Miguel, it's Cumpañio (owned by Dos Casas) where the Croissants are 14 pesos or just $1.09. When was the last time you got a Croissant for $1 and some change? And not just any Croissant but a near-perfect one.

These Croissants are better than many of the ones we had in Paris. A delicacy that lives up to the truth that one can never have too much butter.

The Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese Brioche at Sarah’s Pastries and Candies in Macy's Chicago was my favorite brioche in the city. In San Miguel it's Cumpañio again.
And Bostok...slices of butter-loaded day old Brioche soaked in liqueur-infused almond and orange flower syrup often topped with frangipane and slivered almonds and cooked to a crispy-edged perfection. It’s then baked a second time and rounded off with a dusting of powdered sugar.

I recently met Master Baker Raul who also knew that he turned out the best French pastries in town. Honestly, it just doesn't get any better than this.

El Petit Four
Mesones 99
Favorite: Anything chocolate

At this bakery-patisserie, the French-style cakes and cookies are so good that they supply some of the better restaurants around town.

Try their éclairs and fruit tartlets which are delicious. And of course anything chocolate. I'm seriously addicted.

They also serve coffee drinks and sandwiches made with the house-baked baguettes. This one, made with tomato, buffalo mozzarella and olive oil is just 40 pesos.

Ask about their cooking classes. Chef Paco Cardenas first takes you to the market to introduce you to all of his prime vendors. I knew exactly where to shop for the best produce and meat the first month I was here. Definitely worth the price of the class.

Mi Vida
Calle Hernandez Macias 97
Favorite: Onion Focaccia and French bread

I’ve tried the specialty breads at many of the bakeries in town and Mivida’s is the best. You know, the kind that is so crusty that it litters the table with crumbs when you take your first bite.

Great onion and tomato Focaccia. Best French bread in town.

Panaderia La Buena Vida
Hernández Macías # 72-5 and Saturday Organic Market
Favorite: Doughnuts and Brownies

This little bakery turns out the best doughnuts, morning buns, cinnamon rolls and brownies in town. All under 20 pesos.

I also like their multigrain bread and homemade crackers.

I'm not sure what they use to make their doughnuts but the texture is different from every other one I’ve had.

La Espiga
Favorite: Puerquitos

Since 1976, this super-bakery has been turning out traditional Mexican baked goods.

I got 3 pastries and 5 pesos back from my 20 peso bill.
Puerquitos? Come in the afternoon. Puerquitos are 'Gingerbread Pigs,' although they don't actually have ginger or cinnamon in them. They get their spicy-brown goodness from molasses.

Panadería San Sebastián
Calzada De La Aurora 24
Favorite: Empanadas

Some say that their Empanadas are the best. I really like them because they are so thin.

They also bake a lot of classic cookies. These powdered sugar galletas and chocolate cookies are easily washed down with a large glass of ice cold milk.

The almost-as-good-as-my-grandmothers butter cookies are 2.5 pesos each. Yes, I came out with a huge bag. Sorry- not sharing!

La Colmena/The Blue Door Bakery
Relox 21
Favorite: Rosas

Perhaps the most famous bakery in San Miguel, I bought a Cheese Empanada and a famous Rosa for 15 pesos.

Many other Mexican sweets treats line the shelves. Go early when they have just been baked and are still warm.

Panaderia La Purisima
Hernandez Marcias 120
Favorites: Decorated Cookies

A good variety of baked good but their thing is an elaborate, decorated cookie. The perfect gift to tell someone in your life they are special.

The Mesa Grande
Zacateros 49 (at the corner of Pila Seca)
Opens: 8 AM
Favorite: English Muffins

I’ve tried for years to duplicate the recipe of the woman who sold homemade English Muffins at the Lake Bluff Farmers Market. I use to make BLT’s on them every day in the summer. These are almost as good and I got 3 for 18 pesos.

This restaurant/bakery also has good thin-crust pizza and for 60 pesos you can pair it up with a Bohemia for lunch.

Stirling Dickinson, # 52
Favorite: Butter Cookies

It was not the beautiful Lebanese pita bread but the butter cookies that got my attention. Tastes a lot like the cookies my grandmother use to make. In fact, I had to eat 4 of them just to find that out.

It opens at 9:30 AM but go early. She is selling out of everything quickly.

Her lemon cake was also very light and really delicious.

You never know what you're going to find daily. Promise you it's always delicious.

El Maple
Salida a Celaya 43
Favorite: Bolillos

Best Bolillos in town. Other good soft breads and mini pizzas.

Chef Isabelle Ortega
San Miguel’s Saturday Organic Market
Favorite: Classic Quiche

I loved the taste of this quiche the first time I had it because the custard base is thicker than a quiche made any place else. Her fruit and dessert quiches are a treat as well.

Claudia's Bakery
Bakeries/restaurants around San Miguel
Cell: 415 1510146
Favorite: Lemon Meringue pie

Maybe it's the lack of lemons in San Miguel that I've been craving everything lemon. I was not a fan of Lemon Meringue pie until I tasted Claudia's.

Gluten free pies are also available at Via Organica, Calle Margarito Ledesma 2, Guadalupe.

Apple, Pear, Peach, Plum, Blueberry, Blackberry or Raspberry or savory pies of Chicken, Tuna Fish, Spinach and Goat Cheese or Tomato and Goat Cheese.

SMA Shorts

chao ban
Pila Seca 16

This 3 week old restaurant deserves high praise for it's healthy food made from the freshest ingredients. I enjoyed:

Jitomate Mozzarella 38 pesos
Tomato, balsamic, mozzarella, basil, olive oil cold soup

Vietnamita Summer Roll 68 pesos

Noodles con salsa de cacahuate 52

Can't miss the bright yellow signs on the outside door. Delightful host and unique interiors.

I will make this a regular stop as healthy in San Miguel is tough to find.

Casa Chiquita Bed and Pizza
Correo 45

Casa Chiquita fired up their wood pizza oven and is now serving some of the best pizza here in San Miguel.

First time around, Sherry and I split a 95 peso Margarita pizza. It had pesto and peppers on it and was so good I decided to go back today.

There is only one row of seats along the window in front so unless you're doing take out, get there when they open.

I sat next to a delightful young couple from Aguascalientes. 

This time around I had the Cipriani with Cheese, Beef Carpaccio, Arugula and Parmesan. This pizza was so fantastic, I brought it home for some friends to try. They loved it too.130 pesos.

The ingredients are so fresh and they always add a little something extra to the mix.

Finally, a great place to get your pizza fix inside the city limits.

La Pulga
Last Sunday of the month
Salon los Pinos, Salida a Queretaro #145

A treasure hunter's paradise...for good eats too!

                                                                   Photo:The Tipsy Bartender

From The Tipsy Bartender: Creamy Margarita Popsicles

15 limes
1/2cup Tequila
1 cup water
Orange juice
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
Margarita salt
Dixie cups
Popsicle stick

Squeeze lime. Reserve a few for top of popsicles.
Mix in tequila, water, OJ and sweetened condensed milk.
Pour on Dixie cups. Cut thick slice of lime and insert Popsicle stick through lime. 
Place in cup.
Cut cup and sprinkle salt over top.

And what to my wandering eyes did appear?
Antares Chardonnay!
Thank you La Europa.

Breakfast in bed – best way to start the morning

Love these San Miguel Cheap Eats:

El Zaguan
Zacateros 12

This cute little Bed and Breakfast makes a thin like-I-like-it cheese and spinach omelet. 40 pesos.

Most breakfast items under 50 pesos.

Fresh made lemonade with mineral water. 15 pesos.

Tamales Oaxaquenes
Calle Ancha de San Antonio

Wrapped in a banana leaf Chicken and Mole Oaxaca style tamale. 15 pesos.

Two of my friends who live to eat tamales give this a huge thumbs up.

Chucho's Gyros
Below Ten Ten Pie on Sterling Dickenson.
From Noon to 4PM

They serve up Chicago style Gyros and now a Chicago Style Hot Dogs. Can't believe I ate two!35 pesos each.

Tenorio Bakery Cafe
14 San Francisco

Their baked goods are limited to cookies and brownies but if you want a glass of beer, wine or a Michelada, at any time of the day - yes, even in the morning- this is the place to come.

I Love A Parade...

One thing I love about San Miguel: You never know when a party will come around the corner.

Margaritas To Go

Cutting paper-thin slices of meat...

When it's time to grill up bulgogi or throw together a Philly-style cheesesteak, associate food editor Kellie Evans of Saveur has a genius trick for cutting paper-thin slices of meat—just throw it in the freezer!

You Need Plastic wrap and a boneless steak (we prefer grass-fed)

Tightly wrap the steak in plastic wrap, and freeze it for 20 minutes—just until it firms up.

Remove meat from the freezer, slice against the grain, and cook it however you like.

Guy Fieri weighs in on the biggest grilling mistakes...

The most common problem is not cooking with enough fire or cooking over coals that haven’t established themselves. But using lighter fluid, I think, is the biggest mistake people make. You don’t want it in your food. Get some real charcoal, something that’s got wood in it, and none of that self-lighting stuff. Then use a charcoal chimney starter. It’s the greatest thing ever. You load your paper in the bottom, put your favorite type of charcoal on the top, and light.

Bananas Foster Milkshake
From Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes
Servings:28 ounces

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large banana, sliced
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold whole or lowfat milk
8 medium scoops French Vanilla ice cream, softened until just melty at the edges

For the bananas: Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and heat until it stops foaming. Add the bananas and brown sugar, stir to help melt the sugar and coat the bananas, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bananas are soft and saucy, about 2 minutes.

Add 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) of the rum, allow it to warm for a few seconds, and carefully wave a lit chimney match over the pan until the rum ignites.
Allow the rum to burn until it extinguishes, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, add the cinnamon, stir to combine, and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

For the shake: Place the bananas, sauce, milk, and remaining 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) of rum in a blender and blend to mix thoroughly, about 30 seconds. Add the ice cream and pulse several times to begin breaking it up.

With the blender motor off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blender blades. Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until the mixture is well blended, thick, and moves easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 90 seconds. 

Pour into a chilled glass or glasses, and serve at once.

Frozen Sangria
From Hispanic Kitchen
Serves: 4

2 cups red wine
1 cup frozen fruit (peaches, cherries, strawberries, or mango)
1 cup ice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fruit liqueur

Pour the wine in a blender and add everything else on top of it.
Blend until smooth and foamy.
Drink it now, or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to get slushier.

Freezing Milk...

Frozen-milk cubes will change your morning. Milk that's been frozen does not lose any of its nutritional value—which is why smoothie enthusiasts pour milk they know they may not finish before it goes bad into ice cube trays. Then, they pop a few blocks out and add them to a blender with fruit; the frozen milk keeps the smoothie cold and thickens it nicely.


The Lake


Green City Farmers Market

BBQ Ribs

Ice Cream after a Memorial Day Dinner

The Comeback Kid...

Warren Hardy had a conversation recently with one of the young newcomers to San Miguel who said this: "You boomers are coming here to die. We're coming here to live."

Warren responded, "No, you're coming here to work. We're coming here to play."

From the Smithsonian: Margaritas:

In the 70's, the margarita surpassed the martini as the most popular American cocktail and salsa surpassed ketchup as the most-used American condiment. Today, Mexican cuisine, in all its modified, regionalized, commercialized, and even highly processed varieties, has become as American as apple pie.

Mariano Martinez, a young Texas entrepreneur, and his frozen margarita machine were at the crossroads of that revolution. The margarita was first made on the California-Mexican border, and became associated with the service of Mexican food, particularly, with one of its variants, Tex-Mex, a regional cuisine that became popular all across the United States.

In 1971, Martinez adapted a soft serve ice cream machine to create the world's first frozen margarita machine for his new Dallas restaurant, Mariano's Mexican Cuisine. With their blenders hard-pressed to produce a consistent mix for the newly popular drink they made from Mariano's father's recipe, his bartenders were in rebellion. Then came inspiration in the form of a Slurpee machine at a 7-Eleven, a machine invented in Dallas in 1960 to make carbonated beverages slushy enough to drink through a straw. The soft-serve ice cream machine that Martinez adapted to serve his special drink was such a success that, according to Martinez, "it brought bars in Tex-Mex restaurants front and center. People came to Mariano's for that frozen margarita out of the machine.

" Never patented, many versions of the frozen margarita machine subsequently came into the market. After 34 years of blending lime juice, tequila, ice, and sugar for enthusiastic customers, the world's first frozen margarita machine was retired to the Smithsonian.

                                                 Photo:Capella Ixtapa

Capella Ixtapa - Heaven on Earth!

Buen Apetito!