Best Food in San Miguel de Allende: Two Day Itinerary

Magical and mysterious, San Miguel de Allende is nestled in Mexico’s central highlands, a 90-minute drive from Guanajuato International Airport (BJX).  Its twisting cobblestone streets somehow seem to always crawl uphill.  The flow of traffic is a polite dance between vehicles and pedestrians—there are no stop signs or lights marring the picture-perfect vistas.  While San Miguel de Allende has gained attention in recent years—the city was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008, and Travel + Leisure named it “The World’s Best City” in 2017—it seems to be preserving both its beauty and its identity as an epicenter of art, culture and cuisine.  Legend has it that the city sits atop a bed of healing crystal quartz, which casts a spell of enchantment over visitors.  Legends aside, there is an undeniable “vibe” in the air—perhaps supernatural, perhaps the altitude.

The comparison to New Orleans makes sense, with the locals’ reverence for and celebration of the dearly departed (particularly during the first week of November for the Festival La Calaca—the Skull Festival); the ornately carved wooden doors that obscure fantastic open-air courtyards around the city (there are said to be over 2,000 of them); and the serious food scene.  But San Miguel de Allende is an original, particularly when it comes to its food.  World class coffee, mezcal, tequila and farm-fresh Mexican fare—at shockingly affordable prices—make San Miguel de Allende a “must” on every traveling foodie’s list.

Below is a two day food itinerary that will take you around the Centro, easily done by foot, and give you a glimpse of this enigmatic destination.

Day 1

Desayuno (Breakfast)

Lavanda Cafe.  Lavanda, a charming little cafe tucked away on Dr. Ignacio Hernández Macías street, is serious about coffee.  Indeed, their coffee options take up twice the menu real estate as the food.  Don’t miss your chance to try one of the infamous lavender-infused coffee creations.  And while chilaquiles can be found on most menus around town, Lavanda has some of the best—crunchy tortilla chips atop black beans, smothered with salsa verde, cotija cheese and a perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg.

 Almuerzo (Lunch)

Dôce-18 Concept House, Taco Lab and Casa Dragones The Dôce-18 Concept House is a ritzy collection of eateries and boutiques, including a coffee bar, chocolatier, florist, library, art gallery and more—all under one roof.  Though most of the treasures found here are on the pricier side for San Miguel de Allende, head toward the back of the building and check out Taco Lab, started by California chefs Joe Hargrave and Donnie Masterson.  135 pesos will get you 3 tacos.  Don’t miss the charred octopus (pulpo) with avocado, fresh lime and cilantro on a hand-pressed corn tortilla.  The reasonably-priced lunch will allow you to splurge on a tasting at Casa Dragones (20 steps away), the small batch 100% blue agave sipping tequila with a cult following (it has landed on Oprah’s annual king-making list of “Favorite Things” for six consecutive years).  Taking home a bottle of the Joven will set you back about $180 USD; $100 less than retail in the States.

Cena (Dinner) 

La Mezcaleria.  Everything on the menu at La Mezcaleria is incredible.  Everything.  The restaurant was born out of owners Monica and Alexander’s passion for cooking and entertaining for their friends and family.  When you dine here, you are eating at their table.  The decor—from the handcrafted obsidian Oaxacan light fixtures to the art on the walls (painted by Alexander himself)—is reflective of the artifacts you will find in their home.  The short yet highly curated menu is filled with unique and inspired Mexican dishes.  The quality is impeccable.  The flavors are bold.  After landing from your 3-part flight of the house mezcal—served with fresh orange slices and chile salt—work your way through the menu.  You can’t go wrong.  Don’t miss the arugula salad with grilled pear and goat cheese; fresh tuna tartare with thinly sliced red onion, black and green olives and habanero chiles; grilled jumbo prawns with roasted cherry tomatoes and rosemary; coffee and dry herb crusted beef with grilled guava; the platter of grilled zucchini, pickled beets and roasted sweet potatoes; and the vanilla panna cotta and fresh berries drizzled with local honey.

Day 2

Desayuno (Breakfast)

Ki’bok Coffee.  What began in hip Tulum has made its way to San Miguel de Allende, thanks to owners James and Veronica. The beans are 100% Arabic, grown by a co-op of organic farmers in Veracruz.  The preparation is elite—the manager Joel honed his skills serving discriminating Italian customers in the original location.  The atmosphere is relaxed boho chic.  Don’t miss the double Americano with hand-mixed chocolate (a heavenly blend of cacao and fragrant spices like cinnamon); the poached egg in a ham cup served on a bed of vegetables and quinoa, topped with hollandaise; the halved avocado stuffed and baked with eggs and manchego cheese; and a selection of locally-made pastries.

Almuerzo (Lunch)

Don Taco Tequila.  If you walk too fast, you might just miss it.  And that would be a tragedy.  The dining room is stylish, yet understated.  The hand-shaken margaritas are frothy and fresh.  The house salsas (four of them) are addictive.  But don’t miss the restaurant’s eponymous taco: tequila flamed ribeye, caramelized onions, and garlic wrapped in cheese crust.  Thank me later.

Cena (Dinner) 

La Parada.  An authentic taste of Peru in San Miguel de Allende.  A variety of fruit and spice infused pisco sours? Check.  Assortment of interesting ceviches? Check.  But don’t miss the hidden gems on the menu, including the incredibly fresh salad of chopped tomatoes, peas, lima beans, sun dried tomatoes, sweet corn, queso fresco and a light drizzle of pesto; and the Que tal lomo, a masterfully prepared fillet of beef sautéed with onions and tomatoes, served with sweet corn jasmine rice and crispy smashed gold Peruvian potatoes.

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Taste of Adventure 

48-Hour Food Itinerary for New Orleans

FullSizeRender“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.”                           ‒Tennessee Williams

(Updated April 28, 2017) New Awlins. The “Big Easy.” A round-the-clock street party where pretty much anything goes.  The seemingly endless list of culinary extravagances can be daunting, particularly for those with limited time.  So, Taste of Adventure has developed a 48-hour food-centric itinerary that promises to maximize your time in this vibrant city, and give you a taste of the French, Spanish, African, German, Italian, Irish and American-influenced Creole cuisine that makes NoLa so special.

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Day 1

New Orleans 2016© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Some people say you should save the best for last. Ignore them.  Head on over to Coop’s Place for a late lunch or early dinner.  You’ll probably have to wait in line outside for a half hour, maybe more —it’s worth it.  The space is no-frills, the waiters are snarky, and the food is true New Orleans-style home cooking. Don’t miss: a cold  Abita, marinated Louisiana crab claws, and blackened redfish expertly seasoned and seared in a hot cast iron skillet.

Cane + Table

Save room for desert and head next door to Cane & Table.  The space is elegant and the drink menu is a work of art with modern riffs on classic cocktails. Don’t miss: the Silver Tongue (a perfectly balanced blend of ginger, bourbon, Arrack—an exotic Indonesian spirit—and cream sherry), Mexican chocolate tart, and chia seed & coconut milk parfait.

From here you’re just a quick 6-minute walk to Frenchmen Street where you can take in world class live music.

Day 2

Orange Couch

Jumpstart your morning with a stop at the Orange Couch coffee shop in The Marigny, one of New Orleans’ up-and-coming neighborhoods with a distinct bohemian vibe. Don’t miss: the smooth-as-silk iced cold brew or hot cortado. Early morning is a great time to stroll around this funky, artsy neighborhood.

Old Coffee Pot

After a bit of exploring, head over to The Old Coffeepot Restaurant in the Quarter. Opened in 1894, this spot is beloved by locals (especially local chefs) for its excellent and affordable creole and Cajun cuisine. Don’t miss: possibly the best jambalaya in the city; a flavor-packed blend of chicken, Andouille sausage, tomatoes and rice.

Spice & Tea Exchange

After lunch, take a quick 5-minute walk over to The Spice & Tea Exchange on St. Louis Street. There you’ll find a vast offering of unique spices, salts, powders, and teas from around the world. Don’t miss: the bourbon black walnut sugar, pinot noir sea salt, and St. Augustine datil pepper.

Craving something sweet? Leah’s Pralines is just a block-and-a-half away.  Sample the pralines and the bacon pecan brittle. Don’t miss: the semi-sweet coconut and dark chocolate haystacks.

Oysters

For dinner, head to Jacques-Imo’s in the Riverbend/Carrollton area of Uptown New Orleans for one of the best meals in NoLa.  No matter what you order, you can’t go wrong.  Creative dishes like eggplant Jacques-Imo’s with oyster dressing and wild mushroom sauce, and shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake put this place on the map. Don’t miss: hot coal-fired oysters with caramelized parmesan cheese, butter and lemon. Top off the night with live music next door at The Maple Leaf, one of the oldest and most important clubs in the city.

Day 3

Boozy brunches are a New Orleans institution. And there’s no place for boring scrambled eggs.  Like most everything else, this city does brunch in style.  Located in the edgy, on-the-rise Bywater neighborhood is The Country Club — “a neighborhood secret for over 35 years.” Don’t miss: the Saturday drag queen brunch, shrimp and grits, and bottomless mimosas.

After lunch, take a leisurely afternoon stroll through the Bywater to your final stop, Bacchanal Wine.  Located where the Mississippi River meets the Industrial Canal, it takes some effort to get here, but the reward is worth it.  Step inside and find a curated selection of Old World-style wines, chesses and more.  Make your way to the outdoor courtyard where local bands play music seven days a week.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!  This is New Orleans living at its finest.

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Taste of Adventure

Top 10 Things to do in Ubud, Bali

 

Ubud, Bali 2014© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Magical Ubud.  The cultural center of Bali, rich with artists, non-conformists, health enthusiasts, yogis, spiritual seekers, wanderers, eccentrics, mystics, gurus and everything in between. There’s no denying that since Elizabeth Gilbert penned “that book” (as the locals refer to her bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love), the streets have become a bit more chaotic. But don’t let the increased attention dissuade you from visiting.  The bewitching power of Ubud is very much alive.  Those “in the know” will set aside as much time as possible to slow down and take in everything this captivating destination has to offer (check out the Top Three Cooking Experiences in Ubud).  And, as the ever-expanding expat community suggests, you might end up staying much longer than you ever intended. Will you find love in Ubud like Ms. Gilbert? Perhaps not in the form of Javier Bardem, but you are certain to find love all around you in the warmth of the Balinese people and in the palpable spiritual energy.  Culinary explorers will be spellbound by the abundance of fresh produce and exotic spices.  From spicy chili sambal to rich coffee, fresh tropical juices, and spice-laden spa treatments, Ubud offers sensory experiences not to be missed.

Puri Sunia Resort, Ubud, Bali

Puri Sunia Resort is an ideal base from which to explore Ubud. Located in a tranquil village about ten minutes outside the hubbub of the city, Puri Sunia is a special slice of Balinese paradise. Nestled among the rice paddies and towering coconut trees, this stylish boutique property offers superb service, beautifully manicured grounds and spacious guest rooms. Start the day with a classic yoga session in the open air pavilion perched among the tree tops, followed by a complimentary breakfast. The chef goes all out with a 3-course offering. Don’t miss the dadar gulung – thin, crepe-like pancakes scented with tropical pandan leaf and filled with sweet grated coconut – and the nasi goreng (fried rice) topped with a delicate ribbon of egg and served with spicy chili sambal and savory prawn crackers. A courtesy shuttle runs to Ubud on the hour, but the more adventurous can grab a seat on the back of a zippy motorbike for a few rupiah. Spend a day (or three) at the exquisite spa, which offers indulgent multi-hour treatments that incorporate local Indonesian herbs and spices. Take advantage of fun activities like morning trekking through the rice fields and nearby Abangan Village; a market tour and cooking class with the hotel chef; and daily afternoon high tea. Personal touches like homemade gingerbread cookies at Christmas make Puri Sunia one of those rare finds that leaves you misty-eyed when the staff hugs you goodbye.

Seniman Coffee Studio, Ubud, Bali

Coffee shops are ubiquitous in Ubud, but for an exceptional java experience head over to Seniman Coffee Studio, tucked away on Jalan Sriwedari just off the main road. Seniman specializes in high-quality house-roasted coffee, prepped by knowledgeable baristas using funky devices like Taiwanese siphons. But the brilliant coffee is only part of the fun. Take a seat at the communal table in one of the comfy “bar rockers” (an ingenious design that outfits a standard plastic chair with a reclaimed teak wood base, transforming it into a gently swaying seat) and strike up a conversation with a fellow journeyer – never in short supply in Ubud.

AlthoughPineapple & Guava Jam, Kou Cuisine, Ubud, Bali Monkey Forrest Road and Jalan Dewi Sita have a fair share of shops peddling standard tourist tchotchkes, there are some unique locally-owned boutiques worth checking out. Yogis, hippies and bohemians will love the beautifully crafted gold and silver jewelry in designs inspired by nature and ancient symbols at Yin Jewelry for the Soul. Kou Cuisine specializes in handmade soaps, jams and sea salt. The soaps, made from a base of pure coconut oil, are infused with flowers and herbs like sweet orange, frangipani and vanilla bean. The 20g squares are wrapped like fancy candies and make great gifts. Toko Paras is a treasure trove of enticing bath and body potions in gorgeous glass vessels. Try the Organic Lulur body scrub – a fragrant blend of frangipani flowers, sandalwood, pandan leaves and turmeric – and the Organic Chocolate body scrub – a confection-like mix of honey, coconut cream, chocolate and cinnamon. Stop into Juice Ja Cafe for a fresh pressed juice (pineapple, turmeric and ginger is a favorite) and browse the section of local products like raw cashews and cacao beans, and cold pressed coconut oil infused with vanilla bean pods.

Karsa Kafe, Ubud, Bali 2014© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

Feeling refreshed, grab your walking shoes and head West (away from Ubud Palace on Jalan Raya Ubud) for a 15-minute walk to the Ibah hotel where you can access the Campuhan Ridge. This walk offers stunning views from atop the ridge, which is flanked by two sacred rivers, and winds around peaceful villages, organic farms and tiny art galleries. If you buy a painting or a piece of art here, you will likely make a friend for life. Continue to the top of the ridge to Karsa Kafe, a family-run outdoor eatery with sweeping rice field views that is the definition of “off-the-beaten” path. This is the kind of place adventuresome travelers dream of. Snag a seat under one of the stilted overwater pavilions and enjoy a freshly opened young coconut and Balinese dishes like nasi campur and charcoal roasted sate.

Karsa Spa, Ubud, Bali 2014© Credit: Krystal M. Hauserman @MsTravelicious

After lunch, indulge in a luxurious spa service at nearby Karsa Spa, one of the best spa experiences in Ubud. The gifted therapists are highly professional, and the outdoor treatment rooms are spectacular. Try the “Spicy Balinese Boreh,” which includes a massage with fragrant Ayurvedic oils; a piquant body scrub of cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander; a hydrating mask of fresh tamarind and Borneo honey; and a warm spice bath. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself booking your next appointment before you leave.

Bali Buda, Ubud, Bali While there is no shortage of healthy dinner options in Ubud, Bali Buda is credited with spearheading the organic food movement in Bali. A member of Slow Food International, and supporter of sustainability and Fair Trade practices, Bali Buda serves uber-healthy farm-fresh fare in a treehouse-like hideout. A gado-gado salad of steamed organic veggies and spicy peanut sauce, fresh lemon ginger soda, and homemade coconut ice cream is the ideal end to a day exploring Ubud. Om shanti shanti shanti.

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Taste of Adventure

 

Four Fitness Vacations That Will Change Your Life

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1. WILDFITNESS Kenya, Spain, Greece, Tanzania and England

Imagine arriving at a private villa ensconced in palm trees steps away from the warm Indian ocean in Kenya, or savoring freshly prepared lamb and farm fresh vegetables at sunset while you overlook the mountains on the Greek island of Crete. The Wildfitness locations and accommodations alone would be enough for most travelers, but add in a carefully-crafted program of physical activities, nourishing meals, and the camaraderie of like-minded “tribe members” from around the globe, and you have something truly life-changing. A team of highly-skilled coaches will motivate you through outdoor sessions focused on “wild” movements like running, swimming, boxing, agility, and a few other surprises. There is also plenty of time for rest and relaxing massages. Meals showcase the best local ingredients with a focus on meat (Pan Roasted Chicken in Whole African Spices), fish and an abundance of vegetables in multiple preparations; there are even a few “wild” treats like Avocado Chocolate Mousse.  Best for: Those of any fitness level looking to completely disconnect from the outside world and get back to their “primal” nature.

2. BIKINI BOOTCAMP Tulum, Mexico

Located at the Amansala eco resort on one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand and turquoise water in the world, Bikini Bootcamp is a “tune up for the mind, body and spirit.” The six-day all-inclusive camp offers a mix of fitness classes (zumba, boxing, circuit training, yoga, dance) with top instructors, superb massages and local excursions. Extras include sessions with Mayan healers, a temazcal (sweat lodge), tarot card readings, and more.  Meals focus on healthy fare like tropical fruit and housemade granola, grilled seafood and colorful salads (those who tire of the menu can find solace at nearby hotspots like Hartwood, Posada Margherita, Casa Banana, El Tabano and Restaurare).  Famous Bikini Bootcampers include Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon and Demi Moore. Best for: Ladies looking for a girlfriend getaway or a safe solo excursion who don’t mind casual beach accommodations and a bit of disorder.

3. BACKROADS Worldwide

Backroads is your one-stop shop for a turnkey active getaway, with a seemingly endless selection of adventures. Whatever your dream (a gourmet walking tour through the Tuscan hill towns; a walking and hiking tour of Bhutan; a trekking tour in Peru), Backroads likely has the perfect trip to make it a reality. A focus on high-quality trip leaders, impeccably-designed itineraries, authentic local experiences, and above-and-beyond service makes Backroads an industry leader in group travel. Best for: Those with little time or patience to plan and orchestrate an unforgettable trip and willing to pay a premium to have someone else do the work.

4. NINJA CAMP Canggu, Bali

Located on the magical island of Bali, Ninja Camp is an exclusive health and fitness retreat located in Canggu that embraces the mantra “eat well and play hard.” Ninja Camp is an immersive fitness experience, offering a variety of training activities, tailored nutrition and local adventure activities to small groups of fitness lovers. Freediving, mobility training, yoga, surfing and CrossFit are all on the menu, as are scheduled blocks of free time to rejuvenate. A private chef sources local ingredients and prepares Paleo meals and snacks focused on lean meats, fish and vegetables. “Ninjas” stay in a spectacular, modern villa on beautifully maintained grounds with rice paddy views. Program expansion plans include Guatemala, Iceland, the Philippines and Japan. Best for: Thrill-seekers with a fairly strong baseline level of fitness.

Taste of Adventure