Monthly Archives: January 2012

Papel Picado and the San Miguel Sky

San Miguel street adorned with "papel picado" (cut paper) Christmas banners.

Shopping for Folk Art in San Miguel de Allende

Last week, I stopped by my favorite folk art shop in San Miguel de Allende, La Calaca Arte Popular. Owner Evita Avery reports that after 28 years, she’s on the brink of closing shop because business is so bad. This would be a heartbreaking turn of events. Evita has deep knowledge of Latin American folk and decorative arts and her shop is full of antique treasures you can’t find anywhere else. Please check out her fabulous website (she ships internationally) or visit her at Calle Mesones 93 if you’re in town.

Mother-Daughter Spa Day at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende

My mom and I checked out the Hotel Matilda Spa this week. The Matilda, which opened a year ago, is located in the charming neighborhood near Parque Juárez on the site of the former Hotel Villa Jacaranda.

Gina and Leigh at the Hotel Matilda Spa. The artwork in the background is titled "Aránea" by Angelo Musco.

The property has been completely transformed from its Colonial roots. It’s now sleek and modern, decorated in a subtle palette designed to showcase the hotel owners’ serious collection of contemporary Latin American art, along with San Miguel’s brilliant blue sky.

Leigh enjoying lime tea and cookies in the spa relaxation room.

The intimate spa has a Zen-Mex-Moroccan vibe to it. We were treated to side-by-side pedicures in a private room that looked out on a rock garden planted with cacti, wild grasses, and bamboo. While our feet soaked in hot water, therapists Alma and Esther rubbed camellia-scented avocado oil into our hair and massaged our scalps. The spa offers many scrubs and wraps that utilize indigenous ingredients, such as nopal, coffee, and coconut.

After the pampering, we enjoyed lunch on the terrace. The restaurant has a new chef, Jorge Boneta, whose upscale menu riffs on Mexican street food. It’s a winning concept that feels just right for the Matilda, which is about world-class, yet unpretentious hospitality that’s steeped in the flavors of 21st century Mexico, as opposed to generic fancy “continental” cuisine and style.

We shared four appetizers: Yucatecan suckling pig tacos cooked in banana leaves, spicy sea bass ceviche topped with a tangle of cucumber ribbons, Zihuatanejo shrimp cocktail, and chopped salmon served in lettuce cups with garlic sauce and crispy fried leeks.

Pickled onions and steamed tacos

Shrimp cocktail

My mom and I agreed that it was the freshest seafood we’d ever tasted in San Miguel. The shrimp cocktail, in particular, was transcendent. The succulent shrimp were served in a dark beer-hot pepper sauce on a bed of citrus with whisper-thin slices of radish. My mom said, “This shrimp cocktail is so good, it makes me forget every shrimp cocktail that came before it.”

Leigh at Hotel Matilda

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