Monday, June 6, 2022

Brunch at Tene Latin Cuisine

Chef Irving Cano presented the first brunch at Tene Latin Cuisine last week with all the passion that only he can deliver on a Sunday morning. This chef is widely known, not only for his excellent, Latin cuisine, but also for his ability to turn his dishes into works of art. His plating ability is well known and we still gasp whenever a dish he’s prepared is put on the table before us. The Guest chef was young, Jordi Casas, part of the Joan Casas family, renowned for their award winning Paella from the restaurant, El Asador Catalán; one of the oldest restaurants in SMA for over 23 years. Their paella has won 5 national, paella competitions as well as their oxtail tapa, that won the national tapas contest; going on to represent Mexico in the world finals. Every brunch, a different guest chef will share the kitchen; some local and others from restaurants around the world. Tene Latin Cuisine wants to make sure you never get bored with their menu so it will change at every brunch, along with the live music. On Wednesday, they will also feature a Mixology night, Rendezvous Wednesdays, from 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM; a Happy Hour of sorts only better and longer. We moved through the menu with total delight; every dish was a standout from the previous plate they served. What we loved the most is that every dish came with an education; some of the ingredients were new to our palate:
Quesabirrias: quesadilla stuffed with cheese and Guadalajara’s renowned Birria – a stew made from a combination of chili pepper- goat meat with garlic and other spices. This dish was complimented with a Perica sauce made with jalapenos and cilantro. We liked the crispy shell. Croquette trio: Iberic ham with mayonnaise; Cod with onion jam and Squid in its ink with Apple and mint ali oli. Oxtail with xoconostle and mezcal pickled cod. A meat well known for its intense flavors; we wish more restaurants would put it on their menus. Spicy Chicken Sandwich on a huitlacoche brioche bun with smoked cheese and siraccha, parmesan mayonnaise. One of the tenderest chicken preparations we’ve eaten, it was hot but not too hot or spicy. Suckling pig taco with xoconostle, chilcuague syrup, creamy avocado and pico de gallo. Lechon is one of our favorite preparations; we order it every chance we get. Mixed Paella with pig, chicken, Catalan sausage, dogfish, squid, mussle and clam. There are many interpretations of paella but each of the authentic versions is all about the rice; of tender grains that hang onto just a bit of chewiness. It’s no wonder the Casas famiy has won so many Paella awards. Chef Jordi Casas went the extra mile and also used bones and shells, resulting in rich, deep flavors in the stock. Robata Grilled Kampachi with lime and tiger milk with insects and lemon grass air. Cooking on a robata grill is a fine art, especially in Japan. The grills are very hot and the temperature cannot be adjusted. The flavor is succulent inside with a crisp, smoked exterior. The insects in this dish are three: cosiles, chinicuiles and chapulines. It was the most interesting dishes on the menu for its combination of both flavors and textures. Peaches and homemade ice cream in corn honey and sake with white chocolate cream, lime and yuzu kosho. Yuzu kosho is the perfect marriage of citrus and chilies. This Japanese paste is made from yuzu (a wonderful citrus fruit that is virtually unknown outside of Japan and China), chilies and salt. It drops a flavor bomb on everything it touches.
Look for Chef Irving Cano at Millesime GNP Weekend, May 27-29th. One of the best, new restaurants in SMA, we can’t wait to see what this chef is going to envision next.
Don’t miss Tene’s brunch on Sunday, June 12, from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, featuring three of our favorite chefs: Christian Herrera of As De Guia, Jorge Avendano of Bastardo and Irving Cano; the dream trio in Tene’s kitchen next. Tene Latin Cuisine Restaurant/Casa 1810 Parque Hotel /Dulce 1810 Bakery Codo 3, Zona Centro, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Phone: 415 688 6891 Hours: Daily 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM except Sunday Brunch: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM Mixology Special: 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM Chef: Irving Cano

SMA’s Cheap Eats: W Cantina

SMA is the place to eat for cheap these days. Chefs and restaurant owners are now opening more casual places, like Tito Martinez new carnita place, Santa Maciza at Barranca #42 or Chef JJ Castaneda, who is now a partner and cooking at W Cantina at Salida a Celaya #6. Ask for his new menu, full of fresh ideas for W’s bar food; he’s put his magic touch on each and every dish.
Filling out our article on hamburgers, we hit another jackpot with this former San Francisco chef’s version of an In and Out burger. It’s made of all beef, upper chuck, from his butcher on Quebrada and Mesones; the same guy he used for his lamb at Mesa Marrakesh. It consists of 2 patties, 75 grams each, onion stuffed with a mustard crust, a house made brioche bun, pickles, Tillimook American cheese and Thousand Island dressing. $185 pesos. For dessert, The Margarita Pie: a delicious key lime cheesecake, orange cream and tequila granite. $65 pesos. We split both the burger and dessert; a bargain at $125 pesos for the quality of this burger. By the time we finished comida it was 5:00 PM; time for a real Margarita and a dose of sunshine to top off the perfect day. W Cantina Salida a Celaya #6 San Miguel de Allende Hours: Phone: 984 153 1303 Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 2:00 PM - 10:00 PM Tuesday: CLOSED Friday – Saturday: 2:00 PM - 11:00 PM Sunday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Cafe Lula Going Ethnic...

Living in Chicago for 30 years, we were never lacking for ethnic food. If we were hungry for Greek, we wandered down to Greektown at Halsted for Gyros, Saganaki and a Greek Salad with 2 bottles of Roditas - one to drink at the restaurant and one to take home for the Greek dinner we made the following night. Oft times, it took not one but two days to get rid of a food craving. Within Chicago's diverse neighborhoods lies a global food scene where you can taste flavors from all over the world. In addition to restaurants, there are hundreds of ethnic grocery stores like Eataly and Chef Richard Sandoval’s majestic Latinicity Food Hall. For 30 years, I cooked a different recipe every Sunday and never once had an ingredient I couldn’t find. It usually meant hiking half way across town but I always made the trip into an adventure. Ethnic grocery stores are one of my favorite places to hang out; you can get a crucial part of your culinary education there. We were also lucky to have access to top cooking schools like Williams Sonoma, The French Pastry School and The Chopping Block. In 2013,we moved to San Miguel de Allende, where there were no ethnic restaurants to be found; you had to fast track it to Mexico City any time you were craving something other than Mexican food. We once spent $260 on a private car to Mexico City just to satisfy an Asian craving. When you think about it, it wasn’t all that long ago. Now, nine years later, we’re more than excited that Paul Guido intends to turn Café Lula into the go-to place for ethnic food. Armed with a new head chef, Braulio Santiago Gallegos, who use to work at Bruno with his GM, Luis Zavala, they plan to introduce a lot of ethnic dishes to the menu. They’ve already created three, new ones:
Italian: Potato Gnocchi with Slow Braised Oxtail Ragu, fresh herbs and young Parmigiano Reggiano.
Vietnamese: Fried Rice Ball Salad with Vietnamese Pork Belly Sausage, fresh Thai Basil, Mint, Sambal and Vietnamese Dipping sauce. The dish is meant to be eaten with your hands in Chinaberry’s lettuce wrap cups. The red Serrano chilies on the plate are for heat and color.
Thai: Thai Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Shrimp and Baby Spinach. This dish can be made with tofu instead and has Sambal, Fish Sauce, Lime, Sugar and Sesame seeds with just the right amount of spice. Paul Guido grew up with ethnic food too and said “our mission is to make the most exciting dinner menu in town to accompany our well-loved brunch menu. We go to great lengths to supply our kitchen and bar with hard to find ingredients from around the world and we're making the kind of things that we love to eat and drink every day.” In addition to interesting food, there’s live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, featuring some of the best musicians that San Miguel and the surrounding area have to offer including Johnny Favorite. While you’re there, feed Paul Guido with your suggestions for global dishes that you really miss eating. I hope he’s prepared for mine: a long list of ethnic foods I’m craving now and another one he’ll get next week.
We sing high praises to Paul and his staff for opening Café Lula in the middle of the pandemic and ultimately turning it into one of the best café’s in town for fresh, healthy and now ethnic food. Don’t miss Café Lula’s one year anniversary celebration on July 16th.. Café Lula Jesús #27, Zona Centro, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Phone: 415 167 0112 Hours: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily except closed on Wednesday Chef: Braulio Santiago Gallegos GM: Luis Zavala

Farewell Bella Italia

Bid farewell to one of the sweetest seat in SMA - the little window seat for two at Bella Italia. We know, great things are coming but it’s sad to see these quaint little historical places in SMA vanish to new construction. Bella Italia will reopen at a new location. Look for an announcement.

Jose Yanez Showroom Now Open

Look for the latest in Mexican designs from our favorite SMA Fashion Designer, Jose Yanez, who has opened up another gorgeous showroom on Umaran #12 in Centro. The hours are 12:00 Noon – 8:00 PM Daily. Phone: 415 145 6463. His other store, Galeria Buena Vida, at Aldama 42, just down the street from the beautiful Hotel Matilda, is open and also filled with luxury but affordable fashions and accessories. Jose has put entirely different merchandise in both stores but luckily they’re close enough to one another to hit them both up while you’re out shopping.

Nomada Cocina de Interpretación Closing

A happy but sad farewell last weekend to Chef Marco Cruz while he takes a break to look for new restaurant space in SMA for Nómada Cocina de Interpretación; a challenge no one wants these days with most of the spaces in Centro occupied as rents continue to rise. The space Nomada occupied in Doce 18 is being turned into the lobby of L'Ôtel; under new management as of May 1st.
Chef Cruz will spend the better part of May, and June if needed, to find a new home for Nómada Cocina de Interpretación. If you know of a space that’s available or will become vacant shortly, please message him on Facebook. WE HATE TO SEE THE #1 MEXICAN CHEF IN SMA WITHOUT A RESTAURANT. The send-off was great - one last meal at the Chef’s table in Nómada Cocina de Interpretación; the place that’s brought so much dining pleasure to food lovers over the past 6 years. The Chef’s table is the best seat in the house; a place to intimately experience food and wine with a chef and his sommelier. We’ve learned to never second guess the mind of a chef, especially a great one like Chef Marco Cruz, who can elevate simple dishes into total works of art. This feast was another rare passage into the mystery of his cooking… Huauzontles Tostada, Grasshoppers, Habanero and Nuts. This is one of the most delightful, Mexican Tostadas we’ve eaten; the grasshoppers presented a crunchy finish.
Charred Caesar Salad with Eggplant. Chef Cruz does a lot of experimenting with charred food; this a Caesar salad cooked on the stove with burnt bread and eggplant. Mushroom Risotto and Lubina, garlic mushroom sauce, chile de árbol and coconut. A fish that’s a specialty of Chef Marco Cruz, the rendition was magnificent with the combination of chilies and coconut. Corn Tamali, 3 different milks, Mango and lime. A different take on a Tamali dessert; the fresh mango was a pleasant accent.
And now for the highlight of the meal: crispy Heirloom Tomatoes, Seaweed, Tamarind and Chintextle sauce. A most exceptional dish, we say this coming off 6 years of remarkable sauces from this chef. Throw out your table manners; the Tamarind and Chintextle sauce made this dish worthy of licking the bowl clean. The best dish Chef Marco Cruz has ever made, the chef went out, momentarily, with a bang. Stay tuned for an update.