Nonie and I took a cooking class today from Sazon Cooking School, which is affiliated with Casa de Sierra Nevada Hotel, here in San Miguel. The Casa de Sierra Nevada is an Orient Express property, so you know it's quite the thing. I can say that their cooking school is quite the thing, too!
Our experience started with a visit to the local market. We bought some carnitas....
We got some flors de calabaza, squash blossoms, for our quesadillas.
And since this is the season for pomegranates, we sampled a cup of the seeds. I love pomegranates.
We shared an ear of roasted corn with chili and lime juice. Both Nonie and I think lime juice on roasted corn is delicious and we plan to eat our corn that way from now on.
We stopped at a tortilla factory to buy masa so we could make our own tortillas and sopecitos "baskets."
Now, this may not look like much of a photograph, but it is very important to me. I was gawking when I should have been walking and managed to sort of fall/stumble/collapse to one knee on the way back to the cooking school from the market. I was fine, no problem, but my camera took quite a hit on the sidewalk. GULP! The above photo shows that all was well and Nikon does build a very sturdy product. (Thank you, Nikon, for saving me once again!)
Here we have a plate of corn smut(huitlacoche), ready to be cooked.
The Chef had several pans going at any one time and we had fun watching him keep all things properly stirred. Nonie said he was rather like a Chinese acrobat who could keep may plates spinning on sticks at one time. The pan in the foreground is full of cactus paddles, nopales.
The Chef preparing the squash blossoms.
Nonie making tortillas. Hers were pronounced "perfect." She always has been a show off.....
Here we have a mochajete (a basalt stone bowl used for grinding spices, making salsas and guacamole) full of the local salsa, Salsa Ranchero. It's spicy and delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. I am going to have to invest in my own mochajete when I return home. (Frankly I would love to have one from here but I hesitate to pay the price of shipping home something so heavy.)
The huitlacoche quesadilla heating through....
....and the Chef putting the little sopecitos baskets on to heat up.
Here's the guacamole I made (with a lot of direction!).
The chorizo is cooked and ready to be added to the sopecitos.
Behold this full-to-the-brim plate of good eats, as Alton Brown would proclaim, that we had for lunch. From the top, moving around the plate clockwise, guacamole with tortilla chips and pork skins, sopecitos with refried beans, carnitas or chorizo, lettuce, creme fraiche and lettuce, then two kinds of quesadillas (with the huitlacoche and squash blossoms), the green vegetable is nopales (cactus paddles cooked with garlic, onions and tomatoes) and finally some pollo in the center from the little shop that sells delicious roasted chicken. It was a meal fit for a Queen. Surprisingly easy and quick to prepare, this traditional Mexican meal stresses fresh, local ingredients quickly and simply prepared to let the flavors of the ingredients shine through. You don't need a lot of fancy flourishes when the food is so good to begin with. Chef Cervantes knows his ingredients and how to showcase them.
Chef Emanuel Cervantes
Photo by Nola UngerAnd here is the Chef's somewhat clumsy assistant....