Sunday, October 30, 2022

Day of the Dead: The Flower Fields at Comonfort

One of the most moving and spiritual experiences in Mexico has been an annual trip to the flower fields in Comonfort before Dia de los Muertos. You’ll appreciate Dia de los Muertos in a whole new way and if you want to understand the history, go to the source.

A ritual, friend Billy Mervin, buys a truckload of flowers to decorate La Dona Restaurant and takes Nicholas DiPanam and I to share the experience. In Comonfort, there are dozens of shops that also sell ceramics, including skulls, incense burners and many small items for your altars.

For 39 years in a row, I’ve built an ofrenda for Dia de los Muertos. I was there to gather flowers for my little sister, Judy, who passed away earlier this year from cancer. Coincidentally, the woman who runs Huerta Ave de Paraiso, shares the same beautiful name – Judith.

If you want to get into the spirit of Day of the Dead, take a trip to Comonfort. You’re eyes will be filled with the glorious sight of Marigolds and Mano de Leon, as far as the eyes can see. The Marigolds were still growing but the Mano de Leon were lush and the tallest rows were claimed by Billy to decorate La Dona Restaurant in San Miguel de Allende.

Put up against everything all year, this is one experience I would not trade for anything. Thank you Billy Mervin for sharing this experience.

Huerta Ave de Paraiso On the road from Comonfort to Empalme Escobedo Phone 52 412 120 8038

Ready for Day of the Dead: The Restaurant

If you want to get into the spirit of Day of the Dead, wander up Sollano to check out what Chef Donnie Masterton and his staff have done in The Restaurant. It’s not just dressed to the nines, it’s the most beautifully decorated place in town. From head to toe, every square inch is covered in Marigolds, skeletons and larger than life mosaics from Anado’s collection.

I first saw it on Hamburger night last Thursday when the lighting was dramatic and beautiful; the connecting Bar at the R was awash in tones of golden orange. And the characters were dressed for the party - here friend and one of Chef Donnie Masterton’s best customers, Rhoda Keebler, dons ruffles in black of the good witch, beautifully playing the part. I went back the following day and saw things that I hadn’t see the night before; details in every shape, form and color.

Stop in for lunch. Chef Masterton has many things on the menu including delicious Asian appetizers perfect for sharing. We love small plates - here the delicious duck egg rolls, pot stickers and green beans. The fig cake with ginger ice cream was the perfect fix for a winter dessert that topped off the meal as a great alternative to gingerbread.

Although Centro is dressed to kill this year, it’s The Restaurant that takes the top prize for decking it all out for the season. Chef Donnie Masterton always sets the standard for doing it right; now for the 3rd year in a row.

We think that’s reason enough to dine at The Restaurant; now celebrating 14 years in SMA.

The Restaurant Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 16, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Phone: 415 154 7862 Hours: Tuesday - Wednesday 12:00 Noon - 10:00 PM Thursday - Saturday 12:00 Noon - 11:00 PM Sunday: 10:00 PM - 10:00 PM Bat at the R Thursday - Saturday 6:00 PM - 11:00 PM Sunday - Wednesday Closed Chef: Donnie Masterton Celebrating 15 years in SMA: 2008 - 2023

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Patsy Dubois: SMA's Culinary Pioneer

Patsy is one of SMA’s culinary pioneers who’s been cooking and entertaining at Patsy’s Place in San Miguel de Allende for over 50 years. In a recent filming session with documentary filmmaker, Rick Thompson, she’ll close out this chapter of her life but will continue to teach and cater.

Prior to life in SMA, Patsy worked for the family of Mexican President, Miguel de la Madrid at Los Pinos in Mexico City during his term in office - December 1, 1982 - November 30, 1988.

Stay tune for more information on when the film will preview in SMA.

Two New Burgers: Chilli Billy and Sollano 18 by Vicente

After eating 30 hamburgers in 30 days and posting the article, TWO of the BEST burgers in SMA showed up a little late for the party.

At Chilli Billy premium beef served as a combo with a delicious Bacon Cheeseburger, French fries (the best in town – ask for them extra crispy) and a drink – our choice: Dr. Pepper.

Chilli Billy C. Margarita Ledesma 2B, Colonia Guadalupe Phone: 415 197 9802 Tuesday – Saturday: 12:00 Noon – 8:00 PM Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM Monday: Closed

At Sollano 18 by by Vicente, a Rib eye patty, ground pure and simple with salt and pepper and smoked at the table with French fries.

Sollano 18 by by Vicente Sollano 18, Zona Centro Phone: 415 888 7135 Sunday – Tuesday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday 1:00 PM – 12:00 AM

Who said you can’t find great Italian food in San Miguel de Allende?

Opening on May 7, 2019 Cien Fuegos has been a long time in the making with a hiccup called Covid 19 in the middle of the mix. Cien Fuegos has finally landed in the top spot for good Italian food in SMA through a long history of cooking, starting at just 14 years old.

Growing up in Imperia Liguria county, Davide Giribaldi worked in 4 and 5 star hotels in different places in Italy and Switzerland to learn the principles of classic cuisine. Chef Davide Tacca, one of his Masters, inspired him and he began to travel in Europe, working in Italian restaurants in Norway, Finland, France and London. At age 26, he returned to Italy to work for Michelin star chef, Maurilio Garola at La Ciau del Tornavento in the middle of the famous Piemontese langa, a place of great wines and rich, gastronomic culture. A year later, the young chef landed in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where he worked at the Glass Bar/Di Vino restaurant. He moved to SMA and after 8 years at MiVida, where I first met him years ago when he was preparing for a food festival with Sous Chef Cecy Alvarez,, he opened Cien Furegos and hired Chef Luvia de la Rosa; a Oaxaca born Mexican chef with an Italian soul.

Cien Fuegos focuses on Neapolitan pizza. Early on in Chef Davide Giribaldi career, he was trained at pizzeria Mastu rafe, where his teacher, Ciro Gentile, took his dough to a whole different level.

PORCINI mushroom are in season, giving Chef Davide Giribaldi the perfect excuse to prepare a Porcini mushroom pizza and a creamy Porcini pasta. Porcini mushrooms are one of the prized ingredients in Italian cuisine. Food connoisseurs praise the mushroom for its amazing flavor and texture. The wild mushrooms are a prized find for foragers – these from near Valle de Bravo. Considered one of the most delicious varieties, they are best when fully developed but still young; often described as having a umami sixth flavor.

The pizza had three high-end cheeses – Ricotta, Gorgonzola Dolce and Mozzarella - making it the perfect combination to compliment the woody and earthy flavor of the mushrooms. We all agreed that it was one of the best pizza’s we’ve eaten in SMA. We also threw out the rules and had a salad with beets, goat cheese and cauliflower.

The pasta was made fresh with flour and eggs, Porcini mushrooms, garlic, truffle oil, butter and olive oil and finished with the Mantecatura process carried out at the end of cooking, allowing all the ingredients to bind together by draining the pasta when it’s al dente and then blending it in a pan with the sauce, a drizzle of cold olive oil and a small ladle of the pasta’s cooking water.

What better way to measure the quality of the Italian food than to bring in your own expert tasting crew: Gilda Carbonaro, owner of Culinarian Expeditions, her husband Fulvio, a certified Naples pizza maker who eats his pizza like any good Italian- folded with his hands.

Fulvio was born in Naples, later moving to Venezuela where he attended Italian school and received the first Masters in Computer Science from the University of Houston, where he met Gilda. They always traveled to Naples but in 2002, they started traveling to Florence, bought a place and now spend the fall and spring seasons there where Gilda does her tours and cooking classes. In the summer and winter, they live in SMA where Gilda also teaches cooking and and conducts tours. Gilda wrote her first cookbook, A Tiny Kitchen in Florence, during the pandemic.

All of Cien Fuegos high-end Italian supplies come from Pinko Paulina, which means Joe Blow in Italian, getting more than one laugh from Fulvio and Gilda. The biggest surprise of the day was back in the kitchen…

In July of 2016, I did a profile on the Female chefs of SMA. One of those chefs, and always one of my favorites, was Chef Luvia Esmeralada de la Rosa, who, at that time of the interview, was a chef at Jacinto 1930. Chef Luvia Esmeralada de la Rosa studied at the Instituto Universitario de Oaxaca and loved the aroma of freshly ground corn. In particular, we adore her passion for cooking and today, she was cooking Italian food like she was born to. Her teacher, Chef Davide Giribaldi, has given her every opportunity to shine in the kitchen and she has, like she did when she worked at Jacinto 1930 with Chef Matteo Salas and Israel Loyola Espinosa.

According to food historians, the Italians had a greater influence than the French on Hispanic cuisine. In 1882, families from Veneto, a region in northern Italy, founded Chipilo, about ten miles west of Puebla. Restaurants there serve Italian food with a Mexican twist.

As many of us love Italain food and have an insatiable curiosity to know all things Italian, I’m in if chefs Gilda Carbonaro and Davide Giribaldi decide to lead a tour to Chipilo this next year.

Cien Fuegos Carretera San Miguel de Allende – Dolores Hidalgo km 7.5 San Miguel de Allende Phone: 415 114 7275 Hours: 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM Sunday Monday, Wednesday – Saturday 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM Tuesday: Closed Chef: Davide Giribaldi and Luvia Esmeralada de la Rosa