If all you know about Mexican food is nachos and tacos, get ready for a mouth-watering surprise. Modern Mexican cooking encompasses just as much variety and sophistication as any other cuisine, especially in high-end hotels and resorts. On a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, I had the opportunity to sample the cooking of two rising chefs making their marks on the Mexico food scene.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which opened in March 2011, incorporates local flavor into just about everything, and dining is no exception. The main restaurant is 1826, named for the year that the town adopted the name San Miguel de Allende, in honor of an important figure in the Mexican independence movement. Chef Carlos Hannon (pictured above) makes use of herbs and other ingredients from an on-site garden, while an open kitchen means diners have full view of the food preparations.
Our refreshing lunch started with a watermelon salad topped with artisan goat cheese, followed by a succulent salmon with squid-ink risotto. The meal was capped off by a tantalizing mix of sweet and savory with a scoop each of chocolate and sea salt ice cream. Though we did not indulge, after their meal diners can head to the hotel’s tequila bar, also called 1826, which is stocked with 150 of the country’s best tequilas as certified by the Mexican government. (See a full run-down on the Rosewood San Miguel experience.)
Just a short walk away, the well-established Casa de Sierra Nevada takes full advantage of its collection of historic buildings to create an authentic atmosphere. The main restaurant, Andanza – an AAA Four Diamond establishment – sets the mood for dinner with a roaring fire in the fireplace and a mariachi band well-versed in Mexican classics.
Chef Felipe Ramirez Gorosica created a special tasting for our visit, but the dishes served were typical of his standard menu. First came scallops with saffron pumpkin flower cream, followed by plantain-wrapped tuna with pickled quince. The main course (pictured at left) presented duck two ways: a smoked duck breast accompanied by mole confit duck tamal. Of the trio of bite-sized desserts – which also included chocolate ice cream and eggnog cream – my favorite had to be the warm, gooey chocolate fondant. Be sure to end your evening with a Mexican coffee, an elaborately prepared (think flaming liquids) brew spiked with tequila.
For general trip-planning information, see our San Miguel de Allende Travel Guide.