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First Annual Baja California Culinary Festival (Tijuana)

October 10, 2011 1 comment

Travelling Angelo is spending the weekend in Tijuana.

The most important message I have is, “Don’t let your fear control you and prevent you from having experiences.”

I told co-workers I was going to Tijuana and three expressed concern for my safety. Why is that? On this trip I met an American woman in her 50s that has bee routinely visiting Tijuana and Ensenada for 30 years and, impressively to me, driving her own car across the border. If she can do this we all can.

The trip I’m on makes it easier for me to navigate and approach the city. I’m on a foodie excursion with a host of food bloggers, tweeters, and other periodistas ( e.g., dine editor from Los Angeles magazine and a food writer from L.A. Weekly.)

We’re down here to experience the First Annual Baja California Culinary Feast courtesy of Bill Esparza @StreetGourmetLA who has graciously shared his relationships with people in the industry to construct a fantastic weekend.

Our troupe of ~50 left Union Station in Los Angeles bound for Tijuana. We arrived and learned our reservations had been upgraded to the Grand Hotel Tijuana.

Surprisingly in addition to hosting food devotees, the Grand Hotel was also hosting devotees of Catholicism and the lobby was filled with Priests, choral processions, and friars. This did not deter my first request for a margarita.

The majority of this foodie nation chose to have dinner at Mision 19. However, I was quite pleased by the company of the eight travelers who chose to eat at La Querencia

At La Querencia, we were graced with meals from Miguel Angelo Guerro (executive chef of La Querencia) and chef Benito Molina who owns several restaurants in Ensenada. We also had two Los Angeles mixologists. Steve and Pablo. creating 5 cocktails to accompany the meal.

The cocktails were as follows:

• a fig based tequila cocktail

• a cucumber based margarita

• a watermelon based Michelada

• a digestif of reposada Tequilla, peach bitters, and orange perfume

We also had several red and white wines from Valle de Guadalupe. This is a wine region I’d had no knowledge of prior to this trip and now we’ll actively seek out in LA.

The winery I recall from the region is Monte Xanic. A woman familiar with the region recommended the label. I had a bottle of a Chenin for $20 and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for $40. If you are looking at wine lists you will probably find Monte Xanic listed.

If you’re staying at the Grand Hotel Tijuana I encourage you to try the brunch for Mexican flavors if machaca (shredded beef) and eggs, nopalines (cactus) and eggs, fresh tortillas fashioned into quesadillas, and a colorful selection of freshly cut fruit.

One stop on our foodie tour close to my heart was Cervecia Tijuana a local microbrewery. They brew an award winning dark lager named Morens. It is malt-centric and has a smooth mouth-feel.. Another dark lager, the Brava, is more carbonated and hoppier. We were able to speak with the brewer about their operation.

We were visiting Tijuana on a tour led by StreetGourmetLA. We had come for the first annual Baja California Culinary Festival. Chefs from Tijuana, Rosarito, and Ensenada cooked the entire weekend. One of the main events of the festival was a gathering of restaurants in a fair.

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