San Miguel de AllendeA delight during my May trip to Mexico was a chance to join three fellow southerners for a cooking class in San Miguel de Allende. The lively day took us from market to table, with plenty of Mexican cooking basics to keep us occupied in between. A brightly hued soup of roasted poblano peppers was the perfect starter for a superb meal served with flair on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city.

 Shopping in San Miguel’s central market

San Miguel de AllendeWe met Chef Paco Cárdenas, owner of Le Petit Four French bakery and patisserie, at the Plaza Cívica, beneath the statue of Ignacio Allende on horseback. After introductions, en route to the nearby market, we stopped to peek into small eateries.

Once inside the market, we spent almost two hours shopping, meeting Paco’s favorite vendors, and picking up last-minute items for our class. Along the way, we had a chance to sample snacks and salsas, and pick up dried chilies to take home with us. Mangoes were especially plentiful and beautiful to behold. At one stand, we tasted Manila mangoes, juicy and sweet.

In Paco’s rooftop kitchen

Paco’s teaching kitchen is on the rooftop terrace of his home on a hillside overlooking San Miguel. For several blissful hours, we ignored the view of the city, and cooked our way through the booklet of recipes he had organized for us.

The instructions were straightforward, and Paco was ever ready with encouragement. My cooking companions, friends on a week-long holiday together, readily included me in their banter. It was a lively, stylish day, culminating in a lovely meal on a sun-flecked terrace.

San Miguel de Allende
Fresh ingredients, ready for the cutting board!
San Miguel de Allende
Paco gave each of us a recipe to work on, and answered questions as they cropped up.
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Dicing chayote for Chayotes Salteados en Mantequilla (Mirliton sautéed in butter)
San Miguel de Allende
Roasting poblano peppers over a gas flame, for an elegant blended soup.
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Paco demonstrates how to use a molcajete, before turning the salsa-making enterprise over to us.
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Caption: The main course, Tinga con Chipotle, shredded beef and pork with chorizo and smoky chipotle peppers, simmers in a traditional cazuela.

San Miguel de AllendePaco served a Mexican wine with our meal, a Shiraz from Casa Madero. Founded in Coahuila in Valle de Parras in 1597 (yes, the 16th century!), the wine estate was named Hacienda de San Lorenzo until 1893, when the winery was purchased by Don Evaristo Madero. Thanks to high altitude and a relatively cool climate, balanced ripening of the grapes makes for some very high quality wines. The one we had paired beautifully with the meal.

In addition to the wine, Paco presented us with two tequilas: a “blanco” to be used for the dessert; and a barrel-aged Don Julio Reposado, golden amber in color, with a rich, smooth finish.

At the table

We gathered for our meal around a table set with a colorfully embroidered  cloth, silver napkin rings and a vase of roses. It was a treat to see our hard work so beautifully presented!

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For our foursome, after a great morning in the kitchen with Paco, it’s time to tuck into a wonderful meal.
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Sopa de Chile Poblano Asado (roasted poblano pepper soup)
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Ensalada de Nopalitos (cactus paddle salad), avocado, tomatoes and feta cheese
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Three salsas, all pounded in the molcajete, all delicious—Salsa Verde con Aguacate (raw green tomatillo sauce with avocado), Salsa Ranchera en Molcajete (ranch-style sauce), and Salsa de Xoconostle (prickly pear sauce)
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Tinga Poblana con Chipotle, topped with Salsa Verde con Aguacate (raw green tomatillo sauce with avocado)

San Miguel de AllendePaco Cárdenas is co-owner of the popular patisserie El Petit Four in San Miguel, and when it came time to prepare dessert, our little group became observers and tasters.

We may have chopped, pounded and cooked most of the meal, but Paco prepared the dessert himself, with us looking on, explaining as he went. Seeing him melting, mix and shave the dark chocolate into curls had us all eager to get to the dessert course.

The result—dark chocolate and tequila delight—was indeed a delight!

San Miguel de Allende
Postre de chocolate y tequila–dark chocolate and tequila delight

The ambiance and the food in Paco’s class combined to create a special memory of my time in San Miguel de Allende. It was a splendid day! To create your own memories like these, visit the El Petit Four website and check out course information.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful post and now I’m so hungry! Delightful photos as always! My hubbie and I are going to Piccolo tomorrow night! Will remind me of our dinner together! Wonderful about Sweden! Can’t wait to hear more!

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