Thursday, June 13, 2024

Camino Silvestre Kick's It Up A Notch

How do we love Camino Silvestre’s owner and master gardener, Jim McKeever? Let me count the ways! There are 25 different types of tomatoes and squash, 20 different peppers and 10 types of cucumbers. Add on 3 different watermelons, 4 miniature melons, and 8 types of basils, 15 types of green beans, tomatillos, okra, radishes, turnips, and beets. This is in addition to all the salad greens and multiple kinds of chards, kales, mustards, and collards. Edible flowers? Yes, there are those too, including French marigolds, dahlias, nasturtiums, and zinnias. All of this bounty is shared with customers, along with his knowledge of plants so you can grow your own food and appreciate a much healthier lifestyle. That’s a tall order for anyone and the subject of a Master class in how to live a lot longer. An innovator and creative thinker, as an artist he makes everything look easy despite the fact that it’s usually requires an extra step or two in order to finally master it. And the outcome is always spot on but then, that’s Jim McKeever; the master of masters.
There’s a peaceful calm here and we know the plants sense it, too. With plants from Italy, Persia, India, China, Puerto Rico, Spain, Thailand, France, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Belgian, U.S., Mexico, Nicaragua, New Mexico, Chile and Brazil, its global offerings, despite the recent heat, produce new varieties of eatables every day. Jim is a constant reader; currently devouring Sandor Ellix Katz’s book on fermentation in order to improve his sauerkraut. And he is a wonderful teacher; educating so many people to color outside the lines.
Patsy Dubois is a perfect example of how he changed her life for the better; cooking her way to health by applying many of the principles she learned from Jim.
A true Renaissance man, his life partner, Alfredo García-Lució, is also an inspiration, performing everything brilliantly in so many disciplines: a gifted artist, a talented photographer and another remarkable cook. They haven’t eaten meat in over 12 years; a tribute to their plant-based cuisine and healthy style of eating. My first thought was that my doctor, Leslie Flores, should send all of her patients here for some rehabilitation.
How many places have you’ve been lately where you’re served a dish that looks like this? Our feast this morning was a breakfast salad made with a variety of greens and just - picked vegetables; all from their garden. The eggs were supplied by their chickens, who roam free on the property. I stared at it for a long time, certain it was art on a plate instead of just my breakfast because it was much too beautiful to eat. Their finishing touches on everything are proof that practice makes perfect because they’ve been doing it this way for years. The salad was so good, I’m afraid I’ll never be satisfied with a restaurant-made salad again.
Their house is a drop-dead-gorgeous version of Camino Silvestre. A work in progress for 17 years, we think it’s at the top of the list of one of the most beautiful places in San Miguel de Allende. The outdoor space is one hectare and home to picturesque gardens and spacious venues with a pond brimming over with water lilies that was so surreal, it looked more like a painting instead of reality. Jim will start doing urban/patio vegetable designs and gardens for clients. In addition, having hosted many of the best parties and weddings, Jim and Alfredo plan to do more special events and have recently added a space to handle events for 50-150 people. They love to host small concerts, lectures, and readings.
You can contact Jim at to make an inquiry. We know one thing - every detail will be perfect; it’s simply how they do things in the most beautiful place in SMA. Have we finally found Shangri – La? Well let’s say it’s pretty darn close! Camino Silvestre Zacateros 46, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Daily 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM except Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM Phone: 415 152 3918 Correo 43, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Phone: 415 121 3359 Daily:10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Friday, May 3, 2024

A Whole Lot of Things to Think About!

We thought it was about time to hit you up with a whole lot of things to think about so off we go…
Two new Italian restaurants are scheduled to open this month: Chef Laura Buccheri’s SIKELIA, which is the ancient Greek name of Sicily where Laura is from and Restauranter, Tono Aranda Lavalle’s FARI TRATTORIA. And since we LOVE Italian food, we’re good with waiting just a little bit longer. Stay tuned.
One of the best events of the year, Millesime GNP weekend, is coming to SMA again this year at the Rosewood Hotel, May 23 – 26, 2024. For four days you can enjoy the GARDEN, a tasting space of the best gourmet products, wines and premium cocktails; seeing and tasting what some of Mexico's best chefs will be cooking for you. We recently posted an article on Levadura de Olla; our favorite restaurant in Oaxaca, so we’re also excited that Chef Thalia Barrios will also be here. Cooking at the six course paired dinners at Casa 1810 Parque Hotel Boutique and Numu hotel Boutique will be Begoña Rodrigo, a Valencia chef that is self-taught and has managed to position himself as one of the best in his country; Javier Plascencia, in charge of Finca Altozano and is one of the Mexican chefs who has elevated the cuisine of Baja California; betting on local, fresh, first-hand produce; Miguel Carrtero of Santerra, winner of a Michelin star, who has positioned himself as a reference for Madrid cuisine; it’s pickles, sea hunting and mountain hunting are some of the features that set it apart and Ricardo Muñoz Zurita from Azul Restaurantes who is undoubtedly one of the star chefs of Mexican cuisine. During his career he has elevated traditional cuisine by rescuing recipes and researching Mexican cuisine.
We were recently introduced to Casa Codigo 1530’s Rosa Blanco Tequila. I’ll admit it’s probably one of the smoothest tequila’s we’ve had in a long time and it came as an after-comida pour; a outstanding finish to our meal. While most tequila is aged in American whiskey barrels, Codigo 1530 is aged in Napa Valley Cabernet French White Oat wine barrels. This tequila will surprise you with its ultra smooth ending – its 100% Agave with no additives, sweeteners, flavoring, coloring or chemicals. Stop by Casa Condigo’s for a taste. Also sold at Cava Sautto. We’re delighted to welcome Casa Codigo 1530 to the family of high-end tequila tasting rooms in SMA. Now we have two of the best! Jesus #3, Centro.
Chef Michael Coon brought us a loaf of sourdough; this one made by Buonforno. The whole wheat bread is available in a round loaf that’s made on Thursday and Saturday, is fermented for 7 days and sold for 65 pesos. Their white is fermented for 5 days, made daily and is still just 50 pesos. Someone reminded me that fifty pesos is half what many of the other bakeries in town charge for their sourdough. Me? I’ll pay anything as long as I love it. Sterling Dickinson #33, San Antonio.
Chef Jose Andres is one of our heroes. I was lucky enough to meet him in Chicago when I was covering the International Housewares Show. One of his positions is “We should be working to provide the same future and the same hope for the people we don't know as we do for our own communities. It is not a sign of weakness to feed strangers; it is a sign of strength.” And he continues to do so. Hats off to his World Central Kitchen for all the work that they do to feed the hungry around the world.
Who said SMA is too expensive when there are restaurants like this one in town? ANCESTRO has reopened and is one of San Miguel de Allende’s hidden gems; on the top of our list of one of the best Mexican restaurants in SMA. We love the whole package and finally got a taste of what Chef Diana Almanza Figueroa has been talking incessantly about: BREAKFAST and it’s both different and delicious just like the rest of their menus. Opens 9:00 AM. Salida a Celaya #26 – Local 1.
We all know that you meet the most remarkable people in SMA. Just take a look at your friends. I join a former math professor every week for coffee when he’s in town and that’s funny because math was my least favorite subject in school. John Allen Paulos is the bestselling author of 10 books. John is a frequent visitor to SMA along with his wife, Sheila. John is also a former correspondent for ABC. John is shown here with our friend, psychologist, Don Eischen and the head waiter at Mama Mia, Oliver, who always takes excellent care of his customers.
Chef Armando Prats Leal, has cooked in more countries recently than we can count. Chef Armando Prats is the best culinary ambassador; he’s frequently sent somewhere in the world to represent Guanajuato cooking and has clients all over the world. As chef owner of Banquetes Chef Prats, we affectionately remember one of his simple masterpieces that we still consider to be holy; one of the best sandwiches we’ve eaten at a food festival anywhere. The next food festival is coming to San Miguel in June. Stay tuned for the dates.
In 2019, we did an article on the Best Sandwiches in SMA. The Smoked Chicken Sandwich at Bovine (Bovine’s smoked chicken is still on the menu and divine) was one of our favorites along with the other 18 we listed. We think the best sandwich in SMA is an overstuffed torta with beef steak cooked over charcoal at Tacos Ramirez. We’re looking forward to trying the new Bacon Brisket sandwich (Pork Belly smoked as a Brisket) at Peninsula SMA. The chef just sent us a message it’s available. Pick up or take out; no delivery. Bovine, Canal 16/ Tacos Ramirez, Central De Bomberos Fire Station parking lot/ Peninsula SMA, Salida a Celaya 14.
We love having Williams Sonoma right in our own back yard. We bought every piece of kitchenware in their Lake Forest store and went to cooking classes there for over 25 years. Totally inspired, we went home and cooked a different recipe every Sunday which has given us quite a collection of keepers. We know the quality and continue the tradition in the Queretaro store that opened in 2016; celebrating 7 years this year. Antea Lifestyle Center, Queretaro.
The original Envueltos Guayaba pastry at Café Umarán has always topped our list as one of the best pastries in SMA. A new pastry is the Cream Brulee from Panina. The pastry itself, the same one used for their lemon doughnut, is a double WOW! We couldn’t decide which we liked better, the actual pastry or the creamy filling. Remember, we also loved their Cruffin with chocolate ganache and caramel and before that their Lemon doughnut with Pistachios. Panina definitely has the upper hand when it comes to developing new pastry recipes. Stirling Dickinson #3/ Café Umarán, Umarán 8 .
We love it when chefs and restaurateurs travel; they always come back with plenty of inspiration for new, over-the-top cuisine. Chef Arturo Sandoval is off to Spain this month for a bit of inspiration. Also in Spain is Bocaciega and Tostevere owner, Tono Aranda Lavalle. Chef Michael Coon will be traveling through Italy – Naples, the Amalfi Coast and Capri - starting May 12 in preparation for the Italian culinary tour he will lead next year and Chef Hiran Patel of Ghar is planning to take a group of SMA chefs to India. We’re currently researching the next leg of our culinary journey that will happen in July and August. We’ve narrowed it down to 3 locations which will put us in the planning stages in a couple of weeks now.
Hungry for Flautas and Grilled Baby Romaine Lettuce at Buenos Aires Bistro, Chef Marcela Bolano’s Corean Popcorn Chicken with Blue Cheese Ice Cream and while you’re at it, add popovers, a great steak and licking the spoon after we bake (we leave that to Panio) to that growing list. Wishing we weren’t such a sentimental eater.
Tfal, Bertolli and PF Changs were just a few of our corporate clients back in the states when we were designing custom USB drives. Little did I know then that I would be blogging about these companies years later; a full circle moment for me?
Leave it to owner, Adrian Garcia Evans, to give you a lot of new summer offerings. New on the menu at Aristocrat are the Watermelon and Strawberry Gazpacho, Chicken Sandwich, Tostadas de Cerviche de Cameron and the Melon Carpaccio with grilled peaches, arugula, jamon Serrano and parmesan cheese; all of them delicious and lighter versions of some of your winter favorites. Jesus #27.
Arif Towns Alonso sells more than just mushrooms at Simbiosis. A real find are his Black Truffles, available in season at Simbiosis, his mushroom boutique, which Arif defines as mycelium: a spreading mass of mutually interconnected, beneficial fungi alliances. Arif can get his hands on just about anything so if you have a specific need, just ask him. He also sells a wide variety of wild mushrooms, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, both fresh and dried, capsules, tinctures and powders, fermented foods and adaptogenic foods and beverages to local chefs and the public. Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that help your body respond to stress, anxiety and fatigue. Arif is a certified Taxonomist and also gives Master classes and identifies mushrooms all over Mexico. Ask him about his mushroom foraging tours for a great day trip from SMA. We quit counting the varieties we found in Santa Rosa de Lima there were so many. Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio #123.
We LOVE Vanilla ice cream with Chile Crisp. With a higher ratio of crispy bits to oil, it’s traditionally made with chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, spices, and other aromatics, such as garlic and scallions. It’s good on everything from noodles and ice cream to peanut brittle. It’s spicy, salty and savory all at the same time and also contains umami. It’s one of our preferred desserts, but only if it’s made with our favorite ice cream: Costco’s Super Premium Vanilla Ice Cream by Humboldt Creamery. You can see in the picture by Humboldt that their ice cream is super smooth, rich and creamy. Honestly, I wouldn’t eat any other brand of ice cream I’m so hooked. Blame it all on those happy, Humboldt cows!
In going back a decade on the history of Asian food in SMA, I never realized that so many chefs and restaurants had their hands in the pot to finally bring Asian food to SMA. Thanks to Chef Donnie Masterton, Chef Michael Coon, OKO Noodle Bar, Orquidea, Chicktana, Funky Panda, Atrio, Marsala Cocina con Acientos, Kouyin Asian Eatery, Mui Bar, The Rosewood, Spice Market, Banh Mi, Asia Orient Express, and Kan Bei. More good Asian is on the way.
Andrés Amor is a Mexico City based sommelier that we met at a dinner at Trazo 1810 a few years back when he selected Guanajuato wines for our dinner pairings. Every one of the wines hit the high mark for us and we’ve been a huge fan of Andrés and Guanajuato wines every since. For an educational day trip, explore the wineries along the Guanajuato wine route, just outside of SMA. Some of the best wineries are located near SMA and La Santisima Trinidad is a great place to start. Natalia López and Branko Pjanic of Cava Garambullo are probably the most experienced wine makers here. They were the original consultants for the first wave of wine cellars that transformed the state: Vega Manchón, Dos Búhos, Viñedo San Miguel and La Santísima Trinidad. Also known as Cuna de Tierra, Bodegas Vega Manchón, is the oldest vineyard in Guanajuato.
Oaxaca reminded us recently that nothing beats the food choices we have in SMA. In case you missed it, we were happy to team up with Camie Fenton of the Insiders News to bring you 150 of our favorite foods; a tribute to the many chefs who created them. I can’t operate without a list, especially given all the great food in over 600+ restaurants, so we thought we’d give you a little help to jump start your own list of personal favorites. And some after thoughts…
Shaking off the case of the Mondays, one small sip at a time… First things first - ask for Abraham. Ice - lots of it Vodka – Tito’s please Skip the Vermouth Shake, Shake, Shake Pour into a chilled, stemmed martini glasses Olives or Onions or sometimes both…always too many but never enough! Sip There now, didn’t your Monday just get a whole lot better?
Nothing gets our attention faster than dessert and the Pan de Elote at Casa de Café belongs on a pedestal in a category all by itself. A cross between bread pudding and custard, it’s not as sweet as most of the cornbreads we’ve eaten in Mexico; lighter on the corn with a near perfect texture. Casa de Cafe has made it in-house for over 30 years. Hospicio 31, Centro
A Conga is made of pineapple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice with a dash of grenadine. We’re celebrating 10 years of drinking them and are not in the least bit interested in experimenting with the recipe. We like them exactly the way they are at Cumpanio and don’t forget your throne is in the window. Correo 29, Centro.
Migajas are the crumbs left in the bottom of the pan after you cook carnitas; the real jewel of the carnita mix. Full of magnificent, porky flavor, it’s one of our favorite street eats in SMA. This converted garage is an institution; it’s where they make all the carnitas for the Bautista Brothers outlets so you know the food is fresh. Guadiana #2.
Mexico City has three of the most remarkable female chefs in the business: Chef Elena Reygadas of Panderia Rosetta, Chef Josefina Santacruz of Sesame and Chef Monica Patino of Delirio. First, we’re at Panderia Rosetta, a bakery known for their coffee and exceptional guava pastries followed by Sesame, an Asian street food restaurant for a lunch of Samosas with tomato chutney and curry, steamed dumplings of pork and shrimp and a steamed Bun with short rib. Finally Delirio, a small epicurean spot with a total Parisian feel for dessert: Pavlova with whipped cream and berries. These three restaurants are quintessentially Mexico City and we visit them every time we go to Mexico City along with some of our other standbys; our classic favorites: Rosetta - Colima No 166, Roma Maximo Bistrot Local - 65 Av. Álvaro Obregón, Roma San Angel Inn- Diego Rivera 50, San Ángel Inn, Álvaro Obregón El Cardenal – Calle de la Palma 23, Centro Historico, Cuautemoc Catamundi - Calle Alejandro Dumas 97, Polanco Pujol - Tennyson 133, Polanco Estoril Polanco - Alejandro Dumas 24, Polanco Sesame - Colima # 183, Roma Delirio - Monterrey #116, Roma La Docena - 31 Av. Álvaro Obregón, Roma Contramar- Calle Durango 200, Roma
We also LOVE some of the market and street food like the La Delicatessen La Jersey at Mercado de San Juan, for a glass of wine, the Amigos over-stuffed sandwich with Serrano ham, Salami, Cocido, Lomo Canadiense, Manchego National, Cabra and Parmesano topped with Salsa Artisanal Botanera and a postre made with Mascarpone, strawberries, honey and chocolate and incredible tacos with a cheese crackling at El Farolito, Altata #19 Col. Hipódromo Condesa. In my next life, I'm coming back as the one who sits in Delirio all day sipping Cafe Correcto - coffee, rompope and milk - and watching Roma walk by. We love the cafe culture in Mexico City so much because it reminds us of Europe. We need more sidewalk cafes in SMA and Delirio reminds us of that every time we go. Buen Provecho!