Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Perfect Day: Hacienda La Solariega

A heritage left behind by the Spanish conquest, Hacienda La Solariega spoke to me like an old soul looking for a long, lost compadre to share a bottle of wine with; the makings of a perfect day.

Founded on May 10, 1529, the hacienda has been restored to grandeur by the owners: Tete Jimenez and Rodrigo Velazquez, along with two other partners, one from Mexico and one from Madrid, who have created a magical spot; a slice of heaven on earth. Every corner of this property is splendid; from the grounds that are planted with thousands of trees and edible, chef gardens to the buildings, both historical and contemporary, that make it a one-of-a-kind wonder.

We are delighted to be here, with Jose Cabrera of Gazzetta Hedone and the team from Hotel Matilda, to become an Amigos de la Vina; to help plant a new vineyard. Like any true romantic, who doesn’t love the thought of planting grape vines; a tale of life during these uncertain times?

I found pleasure in the planting; my forever connection to this beautiful land in the center of Mexico. I was drunk on the mere suggestion that years from now, harvesting the grape we planted today, would produce an exquisite Chardonnay; the nectar of life in a bottle that’s filled with the layers of history it took us to get here. With grape vines, old is gold so it’s rewarding to leave this legacy behind, knowing full well that my granddaughter, Olivia, will someday come to claim it. 

A comida of honor, we were called to the table to feast on the bounty of this land and to experience the wines of Cava Quintanilla from San Luis Potaosi. With taste, there is no debate and the only way to really understand a wine is to drink it; at least, that’s my excuse. Will the new wines we planted today hold the same complexity as Cava Quintanilla? Only time will tell.

The chef, Anthony Quintanilla, is young; born in Mexico City. His style is already approaching that of Marco Cruz, the creative and brilliant chef/ owner of Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion in San Miguel de Allende, except that Anthony Quintanilla had little cooking experience to speak of before he met owner, Rodrigo Velazquez, on an airplane. They instantly bonded over food. 

The first dish, an Aguachile with shrimp a la parrilla, was exceptional; the clean, fresh taste of the sea paired with Cava Quintanilla Sauvignon Blanc. I am normally not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but this one was remarkably smooth. 

The Gazpacho of melon was splendidly sweet and rich; deliciously paired with Cava Quintanilla’s Laberinto Malbec, followed by a braised beef rib with black mole – not the Oaxaca-style black mole that’s heavy but a lighter version with the same intense flavor but a more subtle taste of spice. It was divine on the beef, paired with Cava Quintanilla’s Reserva Syrah.

For dessert: Bunuelos. Chef Anthony Quintanilla’s adaptation came rounded not puffed, with ice cream and a banana and caramel salsa. It was paired with a Cava Quintanilla Nicole. For me, Bunuelos of any kind are a guilty pleasure; whether they’re made on the street or in a 5-star kitchen.

Chef Linnea Rufo and I returned the following Friday with another great SMA chef, Michael Coon. This place is not only a paradise but a chefs delight as well; the cuisine, wines and ambiance are hard to top. The day was enchanting, this second round, filled with ideal weather and spectacular visuals, along with delicious plates of food and Casa Madero wine; a Mexican winery founded in 1597 – the oldest winery in the Americas.

If you’re looking for a post-quarantine high, you’ll get that and more at Hacienda La Solariega; located just outside Queretaro in Huimilpan. An hour and twenty minute drive from San Miguel de Allende, the pairing of food and wine will be your only order of the day, besides daydreaming.

Savor the views; if Hacienda La Solariega can’t carry you through a 100 day lockdown, nothing will.

Hacienda La Solariega

Noria 72, La NorteSantiago de Queretaro 76973

La Casona Grill Restaurant

Reservations: 442 875 5805

WhatsApp +52 442 878 1725

Friday – Sunday 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM