Showing posts with label tijuana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tijuana. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baja Med: A New Culinary Movement in Mexico

Food in Baja is not just about Mexican food. It isn't just about the various Spanish or Argentinean restaurants either. A unique and exciting culinary movement is slowly pervading Tijuana and Ensenada. Baja Med, a mix of Asian, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisine with Baja ingredients.

And this is where it all started, La Querencia.

And here is the man who started it all: Miguel Angel Guerrero.
(Everyone also agreed that he was pretty good lookin!). He and Bill from Street Gourmet LA explained each dish and the Baja Med cuisine to us.

Though you couldn't see much from outside because of all the cars parked there, the inside is filled with interesting decor including these "flying" birds on the wall.
Our group of 20-something people were all seated outside, though.

It was a hot day in Tijuana and chef Guerrera perked us up with pitchers of Techape, a fermented pineapple drink.
This lightly sweet drink reminded me of the Indonesian fermented drink called legen and it's so perfect on this hot day that I think I drank 3 glasses of this (or more).

Having stuffed ourselves with suckling pig and Argentinean steak at Lorca and Cheripan, the light samplings at La Querencia were a nice change of pace.
We started with a plate of Beet carpaccio with goat cheese - a dish that would seem to be common these days were it not for the raw beets.
I never realized how different beet tastes when raw as opposed to roasted. While roasted beets are sweet, these were crunchy and tart and even tasted pickled to me.

Lengua (tongue) Carpaccio
Tender and flavorful, both thinly sliced tongue meat and the sauces/garnish were nicely done. This was drizzled with sea urchin cream, so how could I not love it?

Squash carpaccio with capers, fried nori, tomatoes, onions, seasoned with 9 chilis.
This fresh vegetable dish had some great flavors. Everyone loved the 9 chili confit and lucky for us this wasn't the last dish to feature it.

Cucumber cup filled with scallops, sturgeon, caviar, 9 chili confit oil, chipotle sauce, crispy chives and spring onions.
The scallops were local scallops and were very fresh and flavorful. The dish was mildly spicy and the cucumber cup served as the perfect palate cleanser. Everything in this dish came together perfectly - loved it. Too bad I was told this was an off-the-menu item!

Cornbread cake, sage sauce, tomato salsa, shrimp
We ended with a heavier dish, luckily it was small. I loved the sage sauce and the tomato and the cornbread was quite flavorful although a bit dry if it wasn't for the sage sauce.

At the end of this meal (the fourth one that day) we were all very pleased with how light the dishes were and excited by the innovation going on here that is pervading the rest of Baja. Who knew?

La Querencia
Escuadrón 201 #3110
Col. Aviación
Ph. (01152) (664) 972-9935 & 972-9940

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baja Media Trip: First Night in Tijuana. Tacos and Cerveza Obscura.

Thursday 6 PM, we all gathered at Union Station to ride the bus down to the first destination of our Baja FAM Media Trip: Tijuana, Mexico! (This trip was sponsored by Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau)

In tow were many of my foodblogger friends: Street Gourmet LA (the organizer, aka the don), formerly-teenage Glutster, LA&OC Foodie, Mattatouille, Food GPS, Gastronomer, Deep End Dining, and Eating LA and also some I have not met before including pro-writers Man Bites World (now with LA Weekly's Squid Ink), Table Conversation, and a few other food writers/photographer. There were also some chefs on board - Ramiro from La Casita Mexicana, and chefs and manager of Ciudad and Border Grill, and Brissia, the young owner of Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron.

The mediocre chicken salad sandwich I got from the station was barely enough to tide me over, so naturally the first order of business when we got to Tijuana was DINNER!

First Stop (OF COURSE we're making more than one stop! The night is young):

Tacos El Poblano
7813 Boulevard Diaz Ordaz
Tijuana, Mexico

This place is a bit of a drive from the center of the city, but trust me it's well worth it.
Tacos El Poblano serves carne asada tacos with a mixture of three different cuts of meat: lomo (loin), pulpa (round), and chuleta de res (sirloin) -- thanks to Street Gourmet LA for the information!
There is no doubt about it, this taco blows any LA taco out the water. Any.
I mean, seriously, can I bring these guys back to Los Angeles and open a taco truck?

One taco is not enough, of course, so we got a tostada also, with the same meat.
The tostada is topped with even more meat than the tacos, and the crispy tortilla was so good. Nothing could be more perfect for kicking off our Baja trip and satisfying our hunger. And I do think tacos taste that much better late at night!

We also had a plate of jerky-like pieces of meat.
I never quite found out what this was or which part of the animal it was from, but it was so addicting for everyone.

Next - washing down our tacos and tostadas, with cerveza.

La Vuelta
2004 Revolución, Zona Centro
Tijuana, Mexico

What you need to know about La Vuelta: 24 hours, cerveza (casta and more), and mariachi.

With an amazing mariachi band in the background, the night and our trip is off to a good, lively start.

We each had (at least) two beers, both dark/obscura beers: Casta and Bohemia obscura.

Both beers are pretty good . After much thought I decided I like the Bohemia Obscura better although Deep End Dining preferred the Casta.

Perhaps because there were so many of us, the management served us some chicken taquitos on the house.

The taquitos are good enough, though they don't compare to the El Poblano tacos and tostadas we just had. La Vuelta isn't about the food anyway. It's about the casta, the late night out, and of course, the mariachi.

That's it for the first night. We were back at the hotel just in time to get enough sleep before our early morning start and our food decathlon the next day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Baja Dining Experience: Tijuana/Ensenada Guide

Bill from Street Gourmet LA, we owe you one.
After what (I'm sure) could not be any less than a political battle and head splitting migraine in organizing this media trip, Bill smoothly guided 25 or so food writers, bloggers, restaurant chefs and owners for an epic (no, there's no other word for it) food triathlon in Baja, Mexico: Tijuana, Ensenada, and Valle de Guadalupe.

This was my first trip to Baja and frankly I didn't have any desire to go there before. Boring, dangerous, people tell me. But when an opportunity to join a media trip sponsored by Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, I certainly wasn't about to turn it down.

What is my verdict after 2 days, 3 nights, 17 restaurants, 2 wineries, and a beer festival? Amazing, I tell you. If you haven't been, go already.

I will be reviewing each restaurant fully very soon, but in the meantime, here's the list and a recap.


  • Barbacoa de La Ermita - Hidalgo style lamb barbacoa cooked overnight in a pit. Open on weekends only and there ain't no hangover cure like it.
  • Cien Anos - Like the name suggests, this restaurant features 'old' recipes that they have acquired from friends and families. Various seafood cebiches can be found here.
  • Cheripan -a great Argentinian restaurant with an amazing flank steak and a big martini list, including tamarind martini.
  • L'Abricot -a cute little French bistro (the only one in Tijuana?) with solid food and desserts.
  • La Diferencia - alta cocina
  • La Querencia - one of the most exciting places in Baja with the Baja Med food movement in the forefront.
  • La Vuelta -Fun place with some good beer offerings and a great mariachi band. Open late so get your party on here.
  • Lorca - a great little Spanish place with delicious paella and whole suckling pig.
  • Tacos El Poblano - Their carne asada tacos, made with 3 different meats, blow any carne asada taco in Los Angeles out of the water.
  • Tacos Los Salceados - Arguably the best taqueria in Mexico. Not your ordinary tacos as you can find exciting creation like the new york steak taco with strawberry sauce.
  • Mariscos el Mazateno - Perhaps the best seafood tacos in Tijuana. The smoked marlin taco and the mazatena (camarones enchilado) taco are both a must-try.
  • Villa Saverios Restaurant - Both Italian and Baja Med influence the cuisine of Chef Javier Plascencia at this gorgeous restaurant.

  • La Guerrerense - an amazing seafood tostada cart that has been there for 30+ years. Their amazing tostada offerings include uni, sea cucumber, bacalao (cod), fish pate, and more. A must stop.
  • La Manzanilla - Benito Molina is one of the most exciting chefs in Baja at the moment, and this is his flagship restaurant.
  • Muelle 3 - A small but amazing seafood restaurant by the pier. Raw oysters, ceviches, and more seafood by the great Benito Molina.
  • Silvestre - This was the ultimate experience. A getaway within a getaway. Outdoor dining with an expansive vineyard view with an outdoor kitchen and grill manned by Benito Molina.
  • Tacos El Fenix - This is THE Baja fish taco, with meat from a small shark.

Valle de Guadalupe Wineries
  • Vina Liceaga - This winery that specializes in Merlot is recently outfitted with a great and spacious tasting room and a picnic area where a seasonal restaurant will be open throughout the summer.
  • Villa del Valle (Bed & Breakfast) - I fell in love with this bed and breakfast. Beautiful view, stylish yet rustic decor, a vegetable garden you can walk through. They also make a lovely unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc and some great food including ostrich meat wrapped in kale.

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