If you have ever wanted to master a mole or be able to prepare pitchers of agua fresca for your next holiday party, the chefs at the Sazón cooking school at Casa de Sierra Nevada can guide you through the process.
Students of the day-long Market Tour and Class program begin with a guided visit to the markets of San Miguel de Allende, a postcard perfect 500-year-old colonial town outside Mexico City. The hotel’s chef, the charismatic and engaging Paco Cardenas (who, thankfully, speaks flawless English) explains the differences between habaneros, poblanos, and other chiles of the Mexican kitchen as well as basic shopping Spanish with opportunities to sample cheeses and other ingredients.
Sazon Cooking School
Students then return to the Sazón school, located in an 18th-century home near the hotel, and don their aprons. Hands-on lessons in preparing traditional Mexican dishes follow, with the results consumed at the end of class. During our visit, the favorite dish of most students was a nopal salad, made from the cactus plant of the same name, but what is on each class’s menu is determined by the ingredients at their peak of ripeness and available at the market. Other classes (which cost 600 pesos) focus on the country’s regional cuisines and signature dishes.
While classes are open to visitors who aren’t guests at the hotel, a stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada is a highlight of any visit to San Miguel. The Orient-Express property has 15 rooms and 22 suites, decorated with Spanish colonial–inspired furnishings, and distributed among four different colonial mansions and the larger Casa del Parque, a few minutes walk from the hotel. If you pay a month in advance and stay at least two nights, you’ll receive a 10 percent discount on any stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada, including the Sazón Culinary Package, which includes one market tour and one cooking class.
Casa de Sierra Nevada
While Casa de Sierra Nevada, like many San Miguel hotels, is all about carved headboards and bathrooms in traditional blue-and-white Talavera tiles, their are also more contemporary options that shake up this hill town. The 32-room Hotel Matilda celebrates the arts scene of San Miguel with a gallery like atmosphere that is focused on the works of three emerging Mexican artists: Aldo Chaparro, Nacho Rodriguez Bach, and Bosco Sodi. Photographs by Mexico City’s Eduardo Zaylan hang on the walls of the guest rooms. Don’t worry, however: the scene is chic and celebratory, not studious, from the hopping Bar Matilda to the 4,700-square-foot spa. In celebration of its opening, all rooms are $195 per night, including breakfast, through the end of the year.