San Miguel dining: farm to table at De Temporada

The San Miguel dining scene was made richer when De Temporada opened in October 2012. Chef/owner Iliana Lanuza is “living her dream.” The intense thirty-something woman is passionate about food and not just the cooking of it. Everything about it fascinates her. Its origins, its history, where it’s grown, and how its sourced. I discovered De Temporada online

Lanuza was born and raised in San Miguel de Allende. When she was 19 she moved to London. The draw: her big brother was living there. She went for a year and ended up staying for nine. While there, she held down a number of jobs. A stint at London’s Mezzo, a hip dining spot owned by the Conran Group, showed her what a great restaurant could be like. It was a light bulb moment. From there she went to university to study food sociology. Her thesis on food culture brought her two loves together. To her “food culture” encompasses sociology, anthropology food habits, ecology, politics and the “economy of food.” She called De Temporada “the thesis of my academic education put into reality.”

 A bit about De Temporada

De Temporada, farm to table dining in San Miguel de Allende photo Dteve Collins

Arriving at De Temporada, photo/Steve Collins

De Temporada, located in San Miguel Viejo, is about 15 minutes by car or cab from El Centro. It’s part of Rancho de Trinidad, an organic farm her mother and step-father own and run. You won’t find Mexican food here. Lanuza, who was raised in Mexico eating both European and American food, cooks the foods she grew up with.

Lanuza opened De Temporada along with a partner (who left the restaurant after less than a year). The duo built the mostly outdoor restaurant by hand using recycled materials including 90 wooden packing skids. Paint choices are bright and the mostly open-air restaurant is welcoming. “Funky” was the word that came to mind when I first saw it. It took me back to hippie cafes in the late 60s and early 70s. If you’re a food-lover but are a décor snob, get past it. The food is well worth it! Lanuza gets that some people are put off. “It’s like Marmite,” she jokes. “You either love it or hate it.”

De Temporada chef-owner Iliana Lanuza in the eatery's open kitchen,

De Temporada chef-owner Iliana Lanuza in the eatery’s open kitchen, photo/Steve Collins

When the eatery opened, her partner was the chef and Lanuza did everything else. Lanuza, who had a passion for cooking, took over the kitchen when her partner moved on in July 2013. These days Lanuza’s the chef, the hostess, and the server. She does it all with the help of one person in the kitchen. Her long days often begin with menu planning based on what’s in season. Then she’s off to a local vegetable and fruit shop. From there she heads to the fishmonger or butcher and then to buy fresh-baked bread. The menu changes about twice a month, but because Lanuza cooks what she wants, when she wants, changes can be more frequent.

De Temporada (meaning in season) feels earthy with a seasonal as the name implies. For Lanuza, eating seasonally has a component of eating in synch with your body ; honoring how it feels that day. This creative chef walks her talk. She’s committed to sustainability and protecting and preserving the earth. She even recycles all of her cooking oil. A “crazy American” takes it all and turns it into biodiesel for his own use. The grey water is used to water non-edible plants. Her food waste is recycled for compost or as dog food. Most ingredients are sourced from the family farm or local purveyors

The food  at De Temporada

The menu board at De Temporada San Miguel de Allende, photo Steve Collins

The menu board hangs on the wall at De Temporada, photo Steve Collins

In good weather (if the sun’s not too hot) dine on the outside patio. Table repursed from recycled wire spools. The view is expansive, overlooking El Presa, a large reservoir and the distant mountains beyond. Due to an excess of rain this year El Presa was really full when we were there. Ibis and other water birds were spotted in the field beyond the patio.

The food is creative and delicious. Start your meal with the refreshing agua fresca of the day – it was honeydew and guyava (guava) the day we were there. As you sip, decide what appeals to you from the hand-written menu board. Lanuza brought us a sampling of what was on offer that day to share. We start with her unusual falafel, made with oats, carrots, zucchini, onions, and sweet corn is served in pita. It’s accompanied by a mixed lettuce salad dressed with a tangy pear and miso dressing. We’re also served a fennel and couscous salad with a yogurt dressing. Our last dish is house-made gnocci, sauced with a wine and tomato sauce with small meatballs and broccoli. It’s generously topped with grated cheese. “Because of the altitude it’s a challenge to make them,” she says about the gnocci.. It took her a while to perfect theses. Everything we eat is fresh and delicious.

Gnocci at De Temporada San Miguel de Allende photo Steve Cpllins

The hand-made gnocchi topped with lots of cheese, photo/Steve Collins

Save room for dessert. While she does offer panna cotta, ice cream is the star here. Lanuza grew up with it as a big part of her life and she loves it. Her mother and step-father opened a San Miguel franchise of Santa Clara, a popular Mexican chain in 1990 (they’ve since sold it). “I have found that ice cream is the ultimate happy dessert,” she wrote in a autobiographical essay. Dessert here is a selection of French-style, house-made ice creams. There are at least six flavors on offer each day, (on occasion that number has gone as high as 12). Her favorites are parsnip/maple/nuts and lemon verbena. Flavors that are usually available include maple/ginger, lavender, chocolate, pecan, and honey and nuts. We had the velvety pecan which reminded both of us of the butter pecan of our childhoods.

The view from the patio at De Temporada San Miguel de Allende photo Steve Collins

The view of La Presa from the patio at De Temporada, photo/Steve Collins

Iliana Lanuza says when you come to De Temporada, “Expect the unexpected.” She trys to be as creative she can with both the food and the surroundings. “I love my project,” she says, “and I always find way to improve it. Slowly but surely.”

De Temporada serves lunch only from Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5pm. There’s no bus service to San Miguel Viejo. Driver, take a taxi or ride a bike to get to the restaurant.

What’s your favorite San Miguel dining spot?

Read more about San Miguel:

Overview posts
SMA 101: a basic San Miguel guide for newbies
San Miguel de Allende: mural at the Instituto Allende
Photo of the week: Sunburst balcony in San Miguel de Allende

Our November Santa Fe Travelers Newsletter
Posts for other sites
Falling in love with San Miguel de Allende
Explore the Historic Streets of San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
San Miguel lodging: Hotel Matilda, contemporary chic in a colonial town
Visiting San Miguel? Pamper yourself – stay at the luxe Casa de los Chiqueados

San Miguel dining: from street food to chic food
San Miguel dining: put a little Moxi in your life

Author’s note: We were guests of De Temporada for lunch, opinions are our own. Our round-trip cab ride exceeded the price of our lunch.

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