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The Bajío: The Cooks and Vineyards in the Heart of Mexico Part 5

por Elsie Mendez Enriquez

By: Elsie Mendez @sabormexico

As closure to this culinary and gastronomic tour in Mexico we had two surprises prepared: The first, a cooking demonstration class with Chef Monica Solis, and finally, a farewell dinner that Camino Real prepared for us in a very special way.

Monica Solis is a friend, talented businesswoman, and a great lover of Mexico and its cuisine. Who better than her to take us on a tour of Guanajuato, where she was born and inspired as a Chef. In Monica’s hands we went through the culinary history of this state, and where better to start than the market.

We all followed Monica from position to position where she explained the ingredients that she was going to use to prepare the dishes of that afternoon with her sweet but confident voice.

Quinces, cactus, cheese, jicamas, onions, and the list of everything that is bought on a typical trip to the market.

Tour Culinario y gastronómico en México

Chef Monica Solis en el mercado de Guanajuato

We made two stops on the way to the incredible place where the class would take place. The first was the house-workshop of the ceramist craftsman Gorky Gonzales, a distinguished artist who works with the very traditional majolica, a representative and historical art of this region. The next stop was to appreciate the best view of all of Guanajuato from the Casa Colorada Hotel. Our guests all had their cameras at the ready as they learned about this property that belonged to a president of Mexico.

Without a doubt, Monica knows how to share the best of her city and we thank her on behalf of everyone who was a part of this marvelous trip.

Villa Maria Cristina Hotel Boutique, member of Relais & Chateaux, received us with all its splendor for the cooking demonstration class. They made a special assembly on the terrace of the last floor of the building, where the view of the bufa accompanied us as we enjoyed the creations of Monica and Mauricio Navarro, Executive Chef of the hotel and Dina Butterfield, Executive Chef of Dos Casas Hotel in San Miguel de Allende. They are an unrivaled trio that truly shows how teamwork allows us to grow more in this industry, as people, and as a country. We admire the work they do very much.

Tour Culinario y gastronómico en México

Chefs Monica Solis, Mauricio Navarro y Dina Butterfield

For the menu, Monica and chefs Dina and Mauricio started off by showing us how to make a cucumber boat stuffed with pico de gallo made from jicama, mango, fresh cheese, piquin chili and lemon; We continued with a ceviche with xoconostle, tomato, green apple, cilantro, lime juice, orange and hibiscus powder; next the made duck tostadas; and to finish, they made tacos stuffed with cottage cheese, bathed in chili meco sauce, beans, tomatoes and coriander wrapped in banana leaf. We had an iced quince dessert. All of the dishes were paired with a double blanc 2008 by Baron Balche who was kind enough to send us the bottles so that our guests could get to know the great variety of excellent quality Mexican wines that we have in the country.

An afternoon full of sun and good weather accompanied us in the experience that would round up our trip.

Taking advantage of the afternoon that we had before the farewell dinner, some of the guests decided to go back to the city and see those corners of Guanajuato that they hadn’t gotten to know and take the most beautiful shots of the sunset to leave testimony of this trip.

Hotel Camino Real Guanajuato

Camino Real Guanajuato is located in one of the high parts of the city. It is in one of the most significant buildings because its walls come from the mining that gave wealth and splendor to this state during the conquest and the viceroyalty. The hotel is located in the former Hacienda de Beneficio de Metal, in San Francisco Javier, which began construction in the 17th century. Thanks to the creativity of the Mexican restaurateurs, the historical and traditional value of each tile was taken care of and rescued. They were able to catalog the building protected by the INAH and the Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity.

And so we began the dinner that would conclude our trip. 

As appetizers we had to choose between a variety of wines and spirits from the best brands, as well as strawberry martini cocktails (a very traditional ingredient in this region of Mexico). The menu prepared by Chef Heriberto, Executive Chef of the hotel, started with an ancho chile stuffed with shrimp in a tomato sauce. with an omelet soup in the most traditional style. As an entree we had filet in tamarind sauce with nopales, potatoes and chamray onions, perfectly cooked. For dessert, cheesecake with fresh strawberries, crystallized strawberries, and guava sauce. All our dishes paired with a V3 from Casa Madero.

Pastel de queso con fresas frescas y cristalizadas, Hotel Camino Real Guanajuato

What began with a trip between 8 strangers, ended between people who felt like we knew each other for many years. It is true that sharing food together at the table always unites people, but added were wonderful hotels that made us feel at home, and the service and attention of wonderful hosts that we were lucky to have been with. We all felt that nostalgia on the way back to Mexico City of not wanting to end the trip, and to continue like this for days and days. We had found that we had something in common: Mexican cuisine.

I did not say goodbye to simple clients or tourists, but rather I left new friends at the airport who filled our eyes with tears when we gave each other the last hug before going through the security doors.

El grupo con el Chef Heriberto de Camino Real Guanajuato

This trip left me full of pride. I love showing and sharing Mexico, its people, its corners, and most of all, its cuisine.

Again, thanks to all who supported us and allowed us to share this incredible experience that will mark our professional and personal life forever.

Aeromexico, Tourist Promotion Council of Mexico, Westin Santa Fe, Paxia Restaurant, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Queretaro, El Caserio Restaurant, Hotel Mesón de Santa Rosa, Sabor a Queretaro Competition, Association for the rescue of traditions, La Redonda Vineyards , Boutique Hotel La Puertecita, Hotel Casa de Sierra Nevada, Hotel Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato, Hotel Quinta Las Acacias, Hotel Villa Maria Cristina, our drivers, guides and operators who were always friendly and very attentive with all of us.

But especially to all our Chefs: Daniel Ovadia and Ricardo Carrillo de Paxia, Ada Valencia, Daniel Pizarro, Caty Castrejon and Sergio Salmon de Queretaro, Carlos Hannon in San Miguel de Allende, Monica Solis, Mauricio and Dina in Guanajuato, for their love , passion and dedication to the cuisine and Mexican gastronomy.

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