Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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