Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Full Picture...

Do you follow us on our other social media? Here’s just a sampling of our recent Facebook posts; a lot of which are never published on this blog. You'll also see a lot more of our photographs that tell the story of why you want to be here.

If you really want to know what’s going on in SMA, to get the full picture, follow us on Facebook ( and Instagram (SUSANMYORK) where we post social media daily on the culinary scene in SMA, along with other things to see and do while you’re here.

We'll be posting another in-depth article next week. In the mean time, savor everything about our city; it's one of the most beautiful in the world.
Buen Provecho!
No other chef has done more to shape the culinary profile of SMA than Chef Donnie Masterton - our chef tribute this week.
The expansion of his culinary reach since 2016 is astonishing: Birdie’s Burgers, Taco Lab, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Cafe Casa Blanca7, Fatima7 and The Bar at the R. The Restaurant is now in its 11th year. It raised the bar to set a standard that did not exist before it opened.
Now a farmer at heart, Chef Masterton planted a rooftop garden at The Restaurant and is now building a sustainable ranch in the country to provide for all of his restaurants.
Chef Masterton was a guest judge for Top Chef and collaborates with some of the best chefs in Mexico, including Enrique Olvera, Javier Placencia and Eduardo Garcia. He was one of the first chefs to work with local farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and vineyards to seek out the highest quality ingredients. He’s a passionate fundraiser and a gifted DJ. He’s recognized for his pop up dinners around the globe including Outstanding in the Field at Coachella.
He's on the team with some of the best chefs in SMA who will participate in SilvestreWild, his latest project on October 12th.
Almost every chef and waiter in SMA has worked for him at one time or another. The amazing thing is that every one of them speak highly of Chef Masterton and the training they received from him to launch their own careers.
He's built an empire in SMA but his obvious joy comes from people not from things.
The thing I learned from Chef Donnie Masterton - Nice guys do finish first!
For one of SMA's best loved couples, Chef Alexandra Gutt and Juan Leon De Vivero, the accomplishments have been many: La Parada, San Mezcal and now Casa Cien, a beautiful wedding venue and home to one of the most private hotels in SMA.
We loved this picture of Alexandra taken in "The Necklace" at the gardens at Casa Cien but her original baby, La Prada, was the perfect place to tell of other half of this story. The best is yet to come this November.

Here are some of Lady Zen’s raw emotions from the matinee performance of Aretha Franklin, July 21st at the San Miguel Playhouse.
The performance was epic; one of her best concerts yet. Where else can you get a world class concert and pay $400 peso?

We did a practice run of the Historical Walking Tour through SMA with Sandy Lubin, one of the new tour guides for Patronato Pro Niños.

Sandy is a natural. With her quick wit and humor, she told us things about SMA that none of us knew; so much so that I’m thinking I need to do a repeat again next week
The tour is 2 ½ hours in a ten block area of mostly level walking to visit the historical buildings and churches in Centro. The tour was awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence. Regularly scheduled tours are every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I also learned today that my friend Donn Kelly, who is on the board of Patronato Pro Niños, is also a guide; now a seasoned pro for these tours after five years.

Ask for either one because I’m going to leave memorizing all those dates to these two, who are both exceptionally passionate about the history of SMA.

The groups meet in the Jardin across from the Parroquia at 9:45 AM, and leave at 10:00 AM.

The cost is only 300 pesos, The money goes to support the great work that Patronato Pro Niños does in SMA.

Our last visual: The Temple of the Immaculate Conception – Las Monjas. There were so many flowers on the altar, even I forgot to genuflect.

Yesterday, Chef David Jahnke took a little time out from his cooking classes when he was filmed for Australian television by Kristie Mercer, who won The Voice Australia 2019. On the left is Sophie Hallwright who films for KIIS 1065; Australia’s #1 Breakfast show.
The TV show is called Meditation and Margaritas. It will be shown in about 8 weeks. Stay tuned for the film clips.

The girls came from Tequila after filming a segment on the best tequila in the world. Who doesn't want that job?
If you’re venturing out of SMA, Vinedos de los Sendaros is a top vineyard destination in the countryside; only 15 minutes from Centro SMA.

We LOVED everything about the vineyard, especially the restaurant, Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill, complete with an Argentinian menu consisting of meats cooked on an open fire by young chef, Jesus Alejandro Gonzalez Malagon (Ale). We shared a meat sampler platter, a fabulous tasting of pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Even the sides were delicious.

Beyond our table, the young vines were loaded down with grapes, definitely looking ready for the harvest.

We enjoyed an afternoon on this estate, surrounded by beautiful vineyards, which were designed with the help of the Nozaleda brothers; Spanish winemakers and creators of the Enate and Aalto labels.
There’s nothing like a day in the country to get a new perspective on SMA. We highly recommend all of the wineries. Not only are they drop-dead gorgeous properties but they have boutique hotels on-site with multiple luxury services and spa treatments for guests.

This was the third San Lucas property we visited this month - the others: Vinedos San Lucas and Vinedos San Francisco. Spending time there was a delicious and peaceful afternoon out of SMA. We’ll visit the fourth property, La Santisima Trinidad, next month.

Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill
Vinedos de los Sendaros
Carretera 51, A, Dolores Hidalgo - San Miguel De Allende km 3.5, Nuevo Milenio, 37800 San Miguel de Allende, Gto.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 1:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Two years ago, I went to Mexico City in search of fast casual restaurants and at the suggestion of my friend, Restaurateur Daniel Estebaranz, I ate at Antonio de Livier’s restaurant, Caldos Animo, at Calle Pennsylvania # 205, Nápoles - the original location.

I feel in love with Tono’s cooking so imagine my delight when I got a message from Daniel that Tono was opening a restaurant here in SMA. I was his second customer.

Chef Antonio de Livier (Tono) owns La Panga del Impostor in Guadalajara, has three Caldos Animo in Mexico City and is opening another in Polanco. He’s also done TV cooking shows; his personality larger than life. He’s part of the reason to eat here; his food is one of the best Mexican food experiences you'll have. You’ll also love the light filled space with indoor and outdoor seating; the menu painted on the wall. The restaurant will have a large communal table so you’ll never have to eat alone.

No waiters or white tablecloths; just great Mexican food – mainly soups and tacos. Tono’s famous birriamen is a combination of delicious broth, oriental noodles, beef, lamb and spices.

I remembered just how remarkable Tono’s food was about the time Chef Olivier Deboise of Aperi walked through the door and sat down to join me. He and Tono go way back, to Guadalajara and later, the two of them worked just blocks apart in Mexico City. If I didn’t love the food already, this was the endorsement
In the mean time, we’ll be a passionate regular at Birrieria Jonacho. We can’t remember any other dish we’ve been more excited about. It gets our vote as the best fast casual restaurant opening in SMA this year

If it's Tuesday, it must be Mango Margarita night at Mama Mia.

The Italian-Argentine connection has long been in existence but few as strong as the one between Argentinian-born SMA chef, Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro, Buenos Aires de Campo, Buenos Aires de Calle and Patria Sur and Mexican born with an adopted Italian heritage,Chef Greta Ortega Casañas of Mivida.

Besides a friendship and mutual respect for one another, they are joining forces on a number of culinary projects including Silvestre Wild on October 12th, along with SMA chefs Donnie Masterton (The Restaurant, Birdie’s Burgers, Tacolab, El Vergel, Casablanca Café, Fátima), Chef J.J j.j. Castaneda of Fátima 7 and Casablanca Café and Chef Oliver Deboise of Áperi, along with guest chef, Javier Plascencia, of Misión 19, Erizo, Finca Altozano, Caffé Saverios, ¡Lupe!, and Jazamango.

In addition to MiVida, Chef Greta Ortega Casañas is also a wedding planner for a number of prominent weddings in SMA this year
The solid ground that their collaboration with Chef Donnie Masterton is built on is longevity. Chefs Masterton, Ortega and Alvarez each have a restaurant in SMA that’s been operating for over TEN years
Each week, we'll post a tribute honoring chefs in SMA. Thanks to this trio of chefs, whose passion outweighed the statistical odds.
I LOVE going on discovery tours and Chef Magda Elisa Pablos is the perfect person to do an adventure with.

Magda,the former chef at El Vergel, is now at beautiful Casa de los Leones Bed and Breakfast at Faroles, Atascadero 12. In addition to making those fabulous meals for her guest every day, including this not-so-ordinary version of French toast using Hogaza Pan Rustico, ordered from Marulier bakery at Lib. Jose Manuel Zavala 165, Int 31, in Plaza La Luciernaga, Magda does private events and dinners.

After breakfast, it’s daily shopping rounds with this chef and her longtime pals, Martha Garza Fox and Pablo Yturbe.In the La Paz Infonavit area of San Miguel de Allende, Magda shops at a small, friendly fruit and vegetable market where half the family is in the store and the other half works at the ranch in Queretaro where they truck in fresh vegetables and fruit every day. The vegetables are exquisite; so perfect; the kind you wish you could find every day in centro. I wouldn’t tell you the prices; you wouldn’t believe me if I did. They also have a farmers market here every Saturday.
Next, it was off to get flowers. In the states, flowers are a luxury but here in Mexico, they are so inexpensive, you can buy them all the time. Entering Floreria Lupitas, we are hit with a massive burst of color. Every stem is just picked; every flower perfect. The only other time I’ve seen that was at the fresh wholesale flower market in Mexico City.

Now to Marulier bakery at Plaza La Luciernaga where Magda, along with the owner, Sebastian admire the Hogaza Pan Rustico while I go off to check out all the other delicious things they sell. I watched a father and son come in and the little boy insisted that his father spoon feed him the pastry he had just bought straight out of the box before the two of them could even get to the table. Blame all these great bakery items on Sebastian and Jessica, a baker who is responsible for all of the great desserts.

It’s always fun to discover new places in SMA, especially with a chef who knows all the hidden gems you wouldn’t necessarily find on your own. You can reach Magda Elisa Pablos by connecting with her on Facebook.
Who’s your favorite bartender in Mexico? I know who mine are.

Some of the best bartenders are right here in SMA, including Uriel Jonathan Frausto Tabares of Bovine, Adrian Garcia-Evans, Beverage Operations Manager at Cumpanio and Director of Beverages for Levain and Company and Bar Skills Challenge organizer and Director at Tobala, Mike Espinoza.

Don’t miss the Bar Skills Challenge by Tobalá with the final competition today, Sunday, August 4, 2019 from 4:00 PM – 1:00 AM at Hernandez Macias 43B, 37700 San Miguel de Allende. $150 pesos.

Here are a few pics of the guys at work and at last week’s semi-final competition, with a round of applause to Casa Dragones for hosting the event at their beautiful home in Centro.

I guarantee you, nobody in SMA has more fun than this group
For one thing, a new house - the first time that Patsy Dubois has ever entertained in it so I felt honored, cookbook club chatter, therapy self help, laughter and the best baked beans I've ever tasted. Thank you Patsy Dubois for allowing me to crash your summer picnic.
I could only appreciate that all of these women are fabulous cooks when I went home and ate the leftovers.

A magnificent party to celebrate Chef Greta Ortega Casañas and TEN years of MiVida restaurant in SMA.

Greta Ortega Casañas was all smiles the entire night, shown here reflecting on her friendship with other chefs in SMA, including Cecy Alvarez, her sous-chef, who is due any day now and Chefs Mariano Alvarez and J.j. Castaneda who are partners on several culinary projects.

CONGRATS to the chef who sets the standard for many other chefs in SMA.
A Perfect Vodka Martini:
Expert bartender.
Tito’s handmade craft Vodka.
No Vermouth.
Iced; shaken not stirred.
3 Olives.
Straight up.
Beautiful glass.

It's Friday.  Life is good.

Where is the best fried chicken in SMA?
We discovered Bar Margaret, inside the new Hotel Amparo, one of the small, luxury hotels of the world, where our good friend, Gabriel Avila, creates beautiful cocktails with selective, Mexican spirits and Chef Kenten Marin has southern comfort food coming from the kitchen, including that Southern fried honey chicken.

See the full story by pressing the link below:

Note: This post begins a series on our blog called "30 Reasons to Love San Miguel de Allende Right Now" which will be published this July. More photographs from Bar Margaret will be included in the article