Saturday, March 31, 2018

San Miguel de Allende's Newest Gem: Casa Blanca Cafe

How great is it to have another incredible restaurant in SMA! We just can't stop raving about the food at Casa Blanca Cafe, Juarez #9, in the Casa Blanca 7 Hotel.

Chef Donnie Masterton created another winning dish with the cafe's BLT salad; loaded with pork belly, pumpkin seeds, hard boiled egg and dressed with a blue cheese vinaigrette.

The Shakshuka with poached eggs has incredible flavors; true to the Morocco we remember and different from anything else we have in SMA. It totally changed my love status with chick peas.
The table snack is a lavash with zaatar, which is sumac, shallots, thyme and sesame seed. So light and delicious, I can easily put away a cup or two or three with my meal, along with the hot, thin pitas.
The Margarita is now my favorite. It's so hard to get a Margarita right; not too sour and not too sweet. This one was perfect.
Lunch: $270 pesos for 3 items; a fantastic split:

Roasted cauliflower with sumac and zaatar.

Lamb meatballs with a jam of eggplant and tomato with tzatziki.

Ribeye stuffed meloui with onion, mint, parsley, cilantro and sumac.

Chef Juan Jose (J.J.) Castaneda and his culinary team are ready; open daily 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM and on Saturday/Sunday, with a brunch starting at 11:00 AM. This is another restaurant where we plan to eat the menu because everything looks spectacular.

The food was definitely worth the wait and now has us highly anticipating the premier of Fatima, the rooftop restaurant, which is set to open later this spring. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Perfect Feast: Outstanding in the Field at San Miguel de Allende

It’s difficult not to be passionate about the source of your food after celebrating Outstanding in the Field with Luc and Maya Monzies of Bodega Organica at Rancho Luna Escondida featuring two extraordinary chefs: Donnie Masterton of The Restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, who cooked at Outstanding in the Field at Coachella last year and impressed the staff so much they traveled to San Miguel for another round and everyone’s favorite chef, Eduardo Garcia (Lalo), of Maximo Bistrot, lalo! and Havre 77 in Mexico City. Also in the al fresco kitchen was Juan Jose (J.J.) Castaneda, the new chef of Fatima, another one of Chef Masterton’s restaurants, which is scheduled to open this month.

In addition to beverage vendors Dos Buhos, La Santisima Trinidad, Cerveceria Dos Aves and Embajador Tequila, other quality providers were Bodega Organica, El Capricho Ranch, Rancho La Romita, Panio Bakery, La Trinidad, Ezequiel Agua y Tierra and Casa de Agua.
Following a tour of the fields at Rancho Luna Escondida, we came together for what I would describe as the perfect meal; the ingredients were so fresh, picked just hours before a short distance from the table where we ate.

Sitting down at the long table with over one hundred of your new best friends, all food lovers just like you, was an incredible experience; there was an immediate bond, linking everyone at the table. As tradition would have it, everyone was asked to bring a plate to eat from so the table became a work-of-art even before the meal was served. I walked past fifty six chairs to the other end of the table to meet many of the guests. The majority of them flew into San Miguel just for the meal, following the trail of Outstanding in the Field around the world.

The carrot I pulled and ate from the field earlier that day turned out to be one of the star ingredients (along with delicious roasted beets) in a salad that showcased the use of freshly harvested vegetables. The salad was dressed with Chef Masterton’s tahini yogurt sauce and eatable flowers, balancing superbly with the vegetables. This was one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten; my favorite plate of the meal and I never single out a side dish as a favorite. It was also the most beautiful salad; even the utensils looked spectacular when I pulled them from the platter after serving. Presentation is everything and the visuals for this meal can best be described as “simple elegance.”

Dimas, a worker at Rancho Luna Escondida who loves to cook, prepared the Barbacoa having made it for Lalo on a previous visit to the ranch. We devoured thin strips of meat off the barbecue and incredibly soft, flavorful, chunky pieces of meat steamed in maguey leaves. It was served with a medley of salsas: salsa taternada, salsa de chile, salsa borracha along with Frijoles de Olla and a pile of tortillas handmade by the women from the Otomi community at El Llanito, just outside of Dolores Hidalgo.

Another dish that was over the top, as most of them were, was the Ezequiel Agua y Tierra tuna crudo with tender greens. Unlike a sashimi, part of the beauty of a crudo is the simplicity of the preparation; its flavor profile evolves depending on the quality of the ingredients and of course for this meal, the chefs used the very best.

They say you find out about a culture through its food and for the 80% who flew in just for this dinner, and the rest of us, this was a taste of chefs Donnie Masterton and Eduardo Garcia’s Mexico; two chefs who cultivated relationships with farmers and food artisans from the very beginning.

Buen Provecho!

Follow Jim Denevan and the Outstanding in the Field team as they make their way around the world to introduce local farmers and food artisans to people who love to eat and appreciate the source of their food.