Category Archives: Baja Food

In Ensenada, Cheap Mexican Charms Await

 

TRAVEL
In Ensenada, Cheap Mexican Charms Await
Jan.14.2015

For as long as I can remember, Ensenada has had a whiff of south-of-the-border excess and spring-break stigma. Less than two hours from San Diego, down the Baja California peninsula, it’s one of the easiest and safest places to experience Mexico on a budget — which makes it easy to think of this small coastal city and cruise line layover as a sort of Mexico for Beginners. But dismissing northwest Baja is a mistake. Beyond the souvenir shops selling sombreros, knockoff artesanía (handicrafts) and tacky T-shirts, there’s a college town, a port town and a budding culinary capital that invite exploration. While Ensenada and the surrounding area can require a bit of patience, its pleasures are worth the time it takes to find them — and all the more so because they can be had so affordably.

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A restaurant at La Bufadora, a powerful blowhole where families pose for photos as the Pacific sprays them with sea mist. Credit Freda Moon

 

I’ve had an affection for Ensenada since childhood, when it was a daylong car ride from my Northern California hometown and my introduction to international travel. In those days, I’ll admit, its beaches looked cleaner and the Pacific Ocean felt warmer. My brother and I would sip virgin piña coladas and spend hours scouring the beach for sand dollars. In college, it remained exotic in my mind — a place Tim, my then-boyfriend (now-husband), and I could go on winter break and feel like adventurous runaways. These days, Ensenada is simply the closest we can get to the Mexico we love without a plane ticket.

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Parental Indiscretion

 

Parental Indiscretion
Like Old Times

BY RACHEL LAING
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Published: 2014.10.23 03:12 PM

The superiority of the American childhood of the ’70s and ’80s to that of today is pretty well chronicled on the Internet, but missing from those nostalgic lists (Atari! Underoos! Riding in the back of a pickup!) are memories exclusive to those of us who spent part of our childhoods in San Diego: Baja adventures.

ILLUSTRATION BY KRISTINA MICOTTI

ILLUSTRATION BY KRISTINA MICOTTI

There were the family day trips—lunch at Calafia, curio shopping, maybe a stop in Tijuana for a photo with a zebra-striped donkey if we had an out-of-town visitor along. As teenagers, my friends and I took the trolley to San Ysidro and walked across the border, treating TJ like an exotic mall. San Diego kids went to Baja to surf and camp and eat fish tacos and drink Coronas. (Let’s not discuss the nightclub shenanigans we partook in once we could pass for 18.)

Baja trips were just part of growing up in San Diego. But by the time my kids were old enough to enjoy their first family trip to Puerto Nuevo for cheap lobster, going to Baja was no longer a simple thing you could do on impulse. I wasn’t scared by the dire warnings about drug cartel violence, which I always thought were overblown. But you now need a passport, and the reports of hellishly long border waits were definitely a deterrent. I couldn’t imagine sitting for hours at the border waving off peddlers of gaudy Last Supper paintings while my kids whined in the back seat.

“Kids went to Baja to surf and camp and eat fish tacos and drink Coronas.”

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Chefs, wine give Baja a new flavor

 

Chefs, wine give Baja a new flavor
Region’s gastro scene is boosting tourism and its image
By Michele Parente6:13 P.M.OCT. 18, 2014Updated12:14 P.M.OCT. 21, 2014

Last Sunday, chef Javier Plascencia was in Buenos Aires promoting Baja cuisine, having just taped an episode of ABC’s “The Taste” in L.A.

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Tijuana‘s new taste: The rustic chic interior of El Taller Baja Med Cocina. — Photo by Michele Parente

On Wednesday, chef Flor Franco was in New York cooking for about 160 editors at Condé Nast, publishers of such titles as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Condé Nast Traveler.

And during the first week in November, chef Miguel Ángel Guerrero will be in Paris, serving up rustic Baja Med cuisine to the French.

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Javier Plascencia’s popular Finca Altozano in the Valle de Guadalupe.— Photo by Michele Parente

The trio, with about 12 restaurants between them in San Diego, Tijuana, Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe, are Baja’s Emissaries of Eating. While out promoting their own businesses and brands, these globe-trotting gastro ambassadors are at the same time shifting the narrative of a region once known more for kidnappings and cartels than quail and kumamotos.

More than just reputation burnishing, Baja’s food and wine are driving new development around the region as well as an influx of first-time visitors from within Mexico, Europe, Asia and Latin America. It’s also reviving tourism from north of the border, which plummeted in 2008 as the global economy sunk and Tijuana’s death rate skyrocketed.

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