Sunday, February 23, 2020

La Dona: A Dinner with Chef Daniel Nates


Virgilio Martínez Véliz, the chef at Central in Lima, one of the best restaurants in the world, has a tasting menu of 17 courses; all based on Peru’s elevations. More than anything else, I love food experiences and this was one of the best I’ve ever had; something every food lover should do at least once in their lifetime.

And so it was with another adventurous eat thanks to Chef Daniel Nates, chef/owner of Restaurant Maizal in Puebla and the winner of the 2016 San Pellegrino Young Chef award and Food & Wine en Español ‘s Best New Chef of 2019, last Thursday, with La Dona’s chefs, Juan Arroyo Pineda and Juan Manuel Galvin Lopez; a tribute to “Deep Mexico” based on the natural flavors of the land. The event was the kickoff to the 2020 Food in Film Festival.

Our favorite wine: Laus, a Chardonnay from Spain that left us wondering why we don’t try more Spanish whites. Another highlight was the roasted cauliflower with a more-than-remarkable white (and black) mole.

Mixing traditional Mexican with contemporary styles, Chef Daniel Nates food tells stories of the earth cycle and the seasons; all the while delivering dishes unlike any others we’ve tasted before. As always, the service at La Dona was second to none.

Mexican designer, Claudia Bo, previewed new designs representing the heart and soul of Mexico. We think her embroidered concepts are an extraordinary tribute to Mexico’s history snd traditions.

The dishes:
Traditional rabbit “barbacoa” taco, country “quelites”, smoked salsa and coriander sprouts by the chefs at La Dona.
This Rabbit barbacoa was a delicious introduction to an out-of-the- ordinary menu. Hold on, you’re just getting started!
Zuchini salad, pistachio, sheep cheese, yellow lemon and mint.  
Chef Daniel Nates gives a total mind’s eye to every dish he creates. We loved the clean, fresh flavors of this simple salad.
Roast cauliflower, white “mole”, black “mole” and black truffle.
A rare treat in Mexico’s culinary register, this was the most memorable dish on the menu; made by Chef Daniel Nates. I’ll taste this white mole in my dreams every night until I eat it again; one of our favorite mole recipes ever.
Fish in wild mushroom textures and candied celery bulb.
I’ve never tasted candied celery blub until now and think I’ll try a double round the next time I have fish. It was heavenly; prepared by the chefs of La Dona with a sauce made from wild mushroom juice with mesquite.
Loaded rib, pickled “tuétano”, poblano veil and red wine vegetables.
This was an impressive, main course from Chef Daniel Nates. I was wowed from the minute they placed it on the table in front of me until the very last bite.
Corn syrup shaved ice and xoconostle.
A perfect palate cleanser, it was an ideal preface to the dessert. I’m officially a fan of xoconostle, having not been previously convinced.

Chai tea mousse, corn ash “atole” vanilla ice cream and “hoja santa” strudel.
Anything made with the holy leaf is convincing; delightfully prepared by the chefs at La Dona.

The dinner and wine pairing topped my list as the best food experience in SMA this year; inspiring me to not only book another trip to Puebla but also to take considerably more risks in my own kitchen. Thank you chefs.



Friday, January 31, 2020

San Miguel de Allende: Foods That Make Us Happy!

The quality of your life can be elevated by the foods you eat so we’ve been out all month looking for food that will make you happy. 

Although we cut off the list, many of the chefs have recently added new items to their menus or introduced a different menu all together. 


Our chefs are continually creating new things; cooking with guest chefs from other restaurants around Mexico, like Donnie Masterton of The Restaurant, Marcela Bolano of Marsala cocina con acentos and Vincent Wallez of The Rosewood, who will cook with guest chef, Abraham Tamez of Metate, Cabo San Lucas, on February 7th at Galeria de Arte to benefit one great cause, BASMA, the Food Bank of SMA. 

Whether it’s something you’ve craved for 50 years, a bar that has 50 new drinks on the menu or a neighborhood restaurant where you can meet 50 of your neighbors in a matter of weeks, we took the calories out of every one of these dishes so you can have seconds.

Enjoy…this one’s on us.

Buen Provecho!  

The Susan and The Roast by Mixologist Mike Espinosa, Bovary
With Andres behind the bar, this is the drink to order on Valentine’s Day. It’s probably one of the most attractive drinks we’ve seen, topped with a neat little row of Amarenas by Fabbri. It’s also one of the most beautiful drinks we tasted.

Susan is made with Armonico Gin, Huana Liquor, confited blueberries, Amarena syrup, Lemon and a dried rose petal crusta from someone’s secret garden. It’s one of the 50 new cocktails at Bovary; all priced under $150 pesos.

This pineapple pleaser, The Roast, is made from Siriaco Mezcal, Xila Liquor, roasted Pineapple, Lemon and Coriander syrup and since we love anything made with native pineapples, this is one of our favorites.

We’re always delighted when our drink is created by Mixologist Mike Espinosa, so don’t be too surprised if we go for it and taste all 50.

Bovary’s new menu will be introduced in February; just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Bovary
Umaran #1
4:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Closed Monday
Mixologist: Mike Espinosa

La Santisma Trinidad: Somos San Miguel de Allende

We can’t think of a better way to eat and play than with 130 of our favorite SMA people. 

Italian chef, Alessandro Bellingeri, created the meal with Lechon as the standout dish. The flavors were exceptional, pairing with some of La Santisma Trindad’s best wines. We got a chance to talk with many of our favorite chefs, this photo with Chef Donnie Masterton by Angela Lewis Serrano.

Prior to the feast, we got a sneak peek at La Santisma Trinidad’s fabulous new video, created by Patricia Zavala Kugler and Erik Zavala Kugler.

La Santísma Trinidad
Dolores Hidalgo Cuna de la Independencia Nacional
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico 37800

Baked Meringue with Whipped Cream and Raspberries by Chef Paco Cardenas, Petit Four
Can you eat your way to a better mood? Go to Petit Four and you’ll soon discover that French pastry is better than almost anything else.

This shatteringly, crisp meringue is light; it’s like eating a cloud filled with whipped cream and raspberries. But don’t stop at the meringues; there’s plenty of chocolate to go around.

Eat in. Petit Four’s sweet little “street” café is always filled with friendly locals, especially on the weekends.
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Petit Four
Mesones No. 99-1 Centro, CP 37700
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico
9 AM - 8 PM except Sunday 9 AM - 5 PM
Closed: Monday

Brandy Alexander with Ice Cream by Mixologist Juan Manuel Mata, Marsala cocina con acentos
What do you say when one of your favorite restaurants jumps on the fact that you’ve been dying for a Brandy Alexander with Ice Cream, a drink you haven’t had in like 50 years, and nobody in town knows how to make one?

Created in the 50’s, the cocktail speaks to your playful side but don’t blame Juan when you decide to order another; they’re addictive and will soon be on the dessert cocktail menu at Marsala’s.

Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #48
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Sunday: 11: 00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Chef: Marcela Bolano

Butter Roses by Chef Linnea Ruffo, Linnea Rufo Events
It’s all in the details; like butter roses. Who takes the time to make butter roses these days? So every time we hit Chef Linnea Ruffo’s long table for a dinner, where blown away by the details, not to mention the food.

This incredible chef, who makes everything, from French to Mexican Street, is so much fun to watch. When she cooks, it looks effortless. In fact, we have yet to see her break a sweat.

I’ll be the first to admit I love being her Guinea pig. She once took a homemade Chocolate Carrot Cake stuffed with cream cheese and turned it into the best French toast we’ve ever eaten.

She’s scheduled for a month in Italy this spring and we can't wait to see what ideas she brings home.

Linnea Ruffo Events
Salida Real a Querétaro 77
Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto.
LinneaRufoEvents@Gmail.com

Vesper Martini by Mixologist, Gabriel Avila, Bar Margaret at Hotel Amparo
Made with Tito’s Vodka and Bombay Gin, a splash of Dolin Blanc French Vermouth, an inspired Basil smash and a bit of lemon zest, this is the best Martini we’ve had in 30 years.

Half the fun is watching one of our favorite Mixologist, Gabriel Avila, create one. If you only like a vodka or gin martini, you have to try this one.
Without a doubt, it’s our pick for the best drink of 2019.

Bar Margaret at Hotel Amparo
Mesones #3
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Breakfast and coffee: Daily starting at 7:30 AM
Sunday Comida and Chicken Dinner: starting at 1:00 PM
Chef: Kenten Marin
Mixologist: Gabriel Avila

Flavor Palenque by Chef Arturo Sandoval, Atrio
No better dish to bring out the kid in you than this lighthearted dessert with a mound of vanilla ice cream, assorted berries, chocolate drizzle and caramel meringues, then topped with a dome of spun sugar, cotton candy.  
Who ever knew the magic of food science could be this much fun?

Atrio
Cuna de Allende #3
Daily 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Chef Arturo Sandoval

Death in the Afternoon by Mixologist Andres Galvan, The Bar at Doce 18 Concept House
This beautiful champagne cocktail is a reminder that we can savor the Mexican tradition of Death in the Afternoon in a glass and you don’t have to buy a ticket, kill the Toro or flash a red cape to get one.

The Bar at Doce 18
Relox 18
Monday – Thursday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Mixologist: Andres Galvan

Cabbage Rolls by Chef J.J. Castañeda, Fatima 7 Rooftop
What a sweet surprise when we dove into the menu at Fatima 7 Rooftop and pulled out these cabbage rolls from the dozens of small plates that are on the menu.

Chef J.J. Castaneda put his own spin on this dish and it’s one of our favorite adaptations. Besides tasting great, they’re messy and messy is so much fun, no matter how you cut it. And don’t forget, you can always ask for a bib.

Fatima 7 Rooftop
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 PM -10:00 PM. Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 12:00 PM - 11:30 PM.
Closed: Monday
Chefs: Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda

Sushi Roll with Soft-Shell Crab, Chef Arturo Sandoval, Atrio
We’ve got to admit we laughed because we didn’t expect to see a crab’s leg sticking out of this sushi roll. This dish qualified as fun food the minute we saw it. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, it goes on the menu shortly.

Chef Sandoval is also testing another version, made with lobster; one fun dish we’ll be in line to try.  

Atrio
Cuna de Allende #3
Daily 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Chef Arturo Sandoval

Tacos al Pastor French Fries by Chef Alexandra Gutt, San Mezcal
All the makings of our favorite Mexican dish, Tacos al Pastor, on a petit platter of fries. Take it from us, one order is never enough.

One of the best dishes we ate last year, this was fun food from the get go, even before we started looking.

San Mezcal
Recreo # 88
Sunday - Monday: 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Wednesday - Saturday: 5:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed

Short Rib Torta by Chef Juan Manuel Galvan Lopez, La Dona
Short Rib on anything is fun; it’s total comfort food. My hard-and-fast rule is that we never share short rib with anyone so you’d better order your own.

And just as an FYI, we don’t share anything made at La Dona.

La Dona
San Francisco #32, San Miguel de Allende
Monday - Wednesday 12:00 Noon - 10:00 PM
Thursday - Sunday 12:00 Noon - 11:30 PM
Sunday 12:00 Noon - 9:00 PM
Chefs: Juan Arroyo Pineda, Juan Manuel Galvan Lopez
Pastry Chef: Vichenza Salinas

Pastel de Chocolate by Chef Vincente Torres at Oli Tapas
Who said the brownie bits were the star of this show? Pastel de Chocolate is made with a mix of the best Mexican chocolates; not too bitter and not too sweet.

This dessert is thick, creamy and the perfect texture for savoring what’s always one of the most fun ingredients – Chocolate…delicious, sweet, gooey and sinfully rich chocolate; my chocolate.

Oli Tapas
Relox 18, Zona Centro, Colonia Centro, 37700
Monday – Thursday: 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Chef: Vincente Torres

Chestnut Ravioli and Rib Eye Tacos by Chef Marcela Bolano, Marsala cocina con acentos
Chestnuts always remind us of our favorite Christmas song and Christmas makes us happy, so we loved this dish; one of the many pastas created by Chef Marcela Bolano - all of them outstanding, flavorful and so much fun to eat. 

We decided that it’s more fun eating with your hands so we tried it with the raviolis. Licking the rich, brown butter off your fingers was one of the delicious extras. And just for added fun, follow up with a side of Rib Eye Tacos; no silverware required.

We love the finger foods and all of the delicious dishes on the menu at Marsala’s; it’s been one of our favorite restaurants since they opened. 

Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #48
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Sunday: 11: 00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Chef: Marcela Bolano

Soft Serve Ice Cream by Chef Donnie Masterton of Birdies Burgers
You can eat your broccoli tomorrow. Today is reserved for high spirited fun so it’s soft serve ice cream for everyone. 

Remember, you are what you eat and this dish will make you extra sweet; the perfect excuse for a second helping.

Birdies Burgers
Doce 18 Concept House at Relox 18
Daily: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM 
Chef: Donnie Masterton

Pina Colada @ La Unica
Who says you have to go to a beach to have all the fun? The perfect balance of pineapple juice and coconut cream, this Pina Colada is spiked with a golden rum to elevate the profile and comes with a fabulous view from the rooftop at La Unica.

Besides, who needs a beach when SMA has its own spectacular sunsets?

La Unica
Sollano #14
Sunday - Wednesday: 1 PM - 11 PM
Thursday - Saturday: 1 PM - 2 AM

Budino of chocolate with hazelnut praline by Chef J.J. Castaneda, Café Casa Blanca 7
Because the best chocolate cake on the planet deserves a solo round of applause. Besides, no one’s taking bets if you’re going to order seconds.

Chocolate confessions - we’ve done it more than once.

Café Casa Blanca 7
Juares #8
Breakfast: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM/Comida: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Chefs: Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda

Liquid libations n’ Music at Bella Italia
Drinks + Music = our favorite kind of wonderful.

After an anniversary peck from owner Paolo Vizzotto, the President of CANIRAC, came an old, familiar soundtrack: the music of Armando Manzanero: Mia, Adoro, Esta Tarde Vi Llover, Contigo Aprendi  and Somos Novios were some of my favorites. Our love affair with Mexican music began when I was in school in Guadalajara back in the late 60’s. Manzanero has composed over 400 songs for various artists including Luis Miguel. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

If Ernest Hemingway were to pick a perfect place to waste away the afternoon, Bella Italia would be it. We know, we've done it once or twice.

Bella Italia
Guadalupe Portal 12, Centro
Sunday – Thursday: Noon – 10:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: Noon – 11:00 PM
Owner: Paolo Vizzotto

Chicken Picatta, Rib Eye Steak and Tiramisu by Alfonso Carmona at Andreas, a neighborhood restaurant
Locals come to watch Mexican-born, Alfonso Carmona, cook Italian; a skill he picked up in Dallas where he cooked for 30 years.

I was delighted that this tiny gem has real cloth napkins and met my only requirement for eating: a cute little table in the window with lots of light. It also serves the most authentic Tiramisu, a recipe that’s not all that easy to get right.

I ordered Chicken Picatta with a sauce of butter, lemon, wine and capers with vegetables; we loved the vegetables, they were hot and crunchy when we got them: broccoli, carrots, zucchini and onion with a playful bit of penne pasta added all for just $170 pesos, along with a bowl of Lobster Bisque. 

We came back the next day for a Rib eye steak in red wine sauce with Portobello mushrooms. The steak was surprisingly tender. You can also get this steak with a green sauce of tomatillos and chilies. It’s priced at $245 pesos and is served with a green salad.

Full of La Vida local, we wish this little neighborhood restaurant was ours. We’re close enough though and the owners are worth the trek.

Andreas
Loreto #4
Breakfast/Lunch and Dinner: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Pork Belly Ramen by Chef Donnie Masterton at Bar at the R
There’s so much to love about this soup, we were were tempted to stand at attention and slurp because it’s so authentic. 

It speaks to everything that’s good and fun about Japanese comfort food and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the chef behind this boiling pot of noodles was Chef Hugo Ivan. Needless to say, we’re impressed. 

Don't forget their bread; it's made in-house and so good, it was a splendid pairing with the Ramen.

The Bar at the R
Sollano 16
Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Closed: Monday

Paradise at Patrisserie Pasteleria Francesa

A perfect treat for the Chocolate deprived: Guava and Chocolate. We can’t think of a better way to get healthy and have a chocolate fix at the same time.

Patrisserie Pasteleria Francesa
Hernandez Macias #43
9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Closed Monday

All photographs ©Susan Knight York unless noted. Thanks for reading!