Category Archives: Tijuana

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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Baja Is Back

 

Hip and delicious. There’s no reason not to get in your car and go.
By Elizabeth Salaam from the San Diego Reader, July 24, 2013

In a December 2011 Vanity Fair article, writer Dana Vachon described Chula Vista as “a sputtering neon error of beauty academies and pawnshops, recently terrorized by a homicidal Tijuana drug gang skilled at dissolving bodies in chemicals.” He also referred to the year 1989 as a time before “Mexicans were festooning highways with one another’s severed heads.” When the article came out, Chula Vistans and their mayor responded with vehement demands that Vanity Fair writers check their facts (there is only one beauty academy, damn it) and come visit this beloved seven-miles-from-the-border town before taking their stories to print.

Hip and delicious. There’s no reason not to get in your car and go.

Hip and delicious. There’s no reason not to get in your car and go.

The same month the article was published, my husband and I bought a house in Chula Vista, and so I understood the embarrassment over the description. At the same time, factual or not, the writer had aptly summarized the images that presented themselves to me whenever I considered a day-trip across the border. While I hardly felt terrorized in Chula Vista, I was clear on the fact that I would not be going to Mexico anytime soon.

And then, this past Easter weekend, less than a year and a half later, I was hit with the realization that half of everyone I know was either currently gallivanting around Mexico or had just returned. Yes, I’d seen articles in the New York Times about the burgeoning art scene in Tijuana, and in the Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast Traveler about the wine country of Valle de Guadalupe. But somehow, as hip and delicious as all that sounded, I’d never relinquished my fear. Here it was, Semana Santa (holy week), and I was home in Eastlake wondering when Mexico had stopped being a scary place to visit and whether I was the last person still hung up on beheadings, while everyone else was living it up in Baja.
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New fusion cuisine flourishes in Baja California

TIJUANA, Mexico — Until recently, Baja California’s culinary contribution to the world amounted to the Caesar salad, a dish hardly associated with Mexican food. Beyond that, this long, thin peninsula was known more for its Chinese food and pizza thanks to the thousands of migrants from all over the world who began to settle the Mexican state south of California in the 19th century.

 New fusion cuisine flourishes in Baja California


New fusion cuisine flourishes in Baja California

Now a group of chefs wants to change that, working to create a unique cuisine largely based on fresh seafood caught in the seas flanking Baja and the produce from its fertile valley. The new culinary craze, known as Baja Med, is a fusion of Mexican food with influences from the Mediterranean and Asia.

The movement has resulted in dozens of restaurants that are helping to pull a new kind of tourist to the beleaguered border city – one who enjoys great food and art rather than a brothel and a cheap drunk. People attending conventions in San Diego think of crossing the border for dinner in Tijuana, said Javier Plascencia, the chef of Mision 19, whose quest to put his city on the culinary map was the subject of a New Yorker magazine profile earlier this year.

Baja Med mixes uniquely Mexican ingredients such as chicharron and cotija cheese with lemon grass and olive oil. Signature dishes include tempura fish tacos and deep sea shrimp served with fried marlin, baby farm tomatoes, scallions and a sauce made with local cheeses.

“What Baja Med proposes is for the ingredient to be the main actor in the kitchen,” said Miguel Angel Guerrero, chef of La Querencia, a Tijuana restaurant serving such dishes as beet carpaccio with blue cheese and mint vinaigrette. “Geographically, we are privileged because throughout the year we have a variety of products available. And yet, many generations have passed, and we still don’t have a regional cuisine.”

The port of Ensenada, 40 miles south of Tijuana, is one of the country’s largest for mussels, oysters, clams and shrimp, as well as a hotbed of blue tuna sea farming. Baja California is the fourth largest producing vegetables in Mexico, according to the state government. read more »

New San Ysidro To Tijuana Border Crossing Begins Operations November 1st.

The new San Ysidro to Tijuana Border Crossing (also known as “El Chaparral”) has 22 lanes equipped with the latest technology for fast access to Mexico.

On November 1st, “El Chaparral” will officialy open as the new port of entry to Baja California.

New Sany Ysidro To Tijuana Border Crossing Begins Operations November 1st.

New Sany Ysidro To Tijuana Border Crossing Begins Operations November 1st.

Vehicles headed southbound on I-5 will turn right once they reach the border, onto the modern facilities of the new San Ysidro border crossing. “El Chaparral” features 22 lanes equipped with cutting-edge technology, creating amore convenient crossing into Tijuana and other destinations.

“El Chaparral” also connects to a set of new bridges leading to tourist destinations like Rosarito Beach, Ensenada (it is recommended travelers take the lanes on the right hand side and look fo signs “Playas de Tijuana – Ensenada Cuota”) as well as Downtown, Avenida Revolución, Zona Rio and different ares of Tijuana.

This new crossing conveniently facilitates the movements of residents and visitors.

For more information on these changes visit: www.discoverbajacalifornia.com or dial 078 while in Mexico for toursit assitance.

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Crime In Mexico: Is Baja Safe For Travelers?

by Dave Seminara

Fifteen years ago, my brother who lives near San Diego took me to coastal Baja in Mexico and the experience has stayed with me ever since. We ate fish tacos, went swimming at a sublime, deserted beach and fell asleep on the beach to the sounds of the surf. In December, I’m heading west to visit my brother again, this time with my wife and sons, ages 3 and 5, but when I asked him to take me back to the same places we visited long ago he told me that it wasn’t safe.

Beach in Rosarito

Beach in Rosarito

“No one goes down there any more,” he said. “Those places are all ghost towns.”

And after contacting Budget, the company we’d reserved a car with at its LAX location, and being told that we weren’t allowed to take our rental car down to Mexico, I wondered if perhaps my brother was right.

Crime in Mexico is serious business and anyone who suggests that safety isn’t a legitimate concern is kidding themselves. But I’ve been traveling to different parts of Mexico for years, including recent trips in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and I still believe that there are parts of the country that are safe to visit.
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San Ysidro “Stacked Booths” will speed up border crossing. By: Miguel Sedano

San Ysidro Border 2011

Even though demolition at the San Ysidro Port of Entry will be closing as many as five re-entry lanes at a time in the next few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Thursday that traffic may actually flow faster through the busiest border crossing in the Western Hemisphere.
Traffic will be “channeled” into fewer lanes, the pace shouldn’t slacken because Customs will be opening additional inspection booths at each gateway to process two vehicles at a time. The so-called “stacked booths” are being used at other border crossings according to officials and have proven efficient.
San Ysidro is undergoing a massive, three-phase, $577-million reconstruction which requires the contractors to tear down existing structures that sit directly over the top of the 24 lanes of wall-to-wall, bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Since June, the Colorado-based Hansel Phelps Construction Co. has been “surgically” dismantling the sprawling administration complex above the traffic. Central to the process is a towering yellow crane that dominates the border landscape.
Starting at the end of August through Thanksgiving, the project enters a particularly tricky phase as remaining shell of the building must come down. To accomplish this, processing booth areas will be closed off as each section is torn down, affecting up to five lanes.
When it comes to figuring out which lanes are functional, Customs and Border Protection will try to remove the guess work for border travelers. A traffic engineer in Tijuana has been contracted to design a strategy for channeling vehicles to the “stacked booth” gateways.
By the end of August, Customs will have operating 10 gateways with “stacked booths” to process two vehicles simultaneously.
When completed, the reconfiguration and expansion of San Ysidro will have 62 northbound inspection booths, expanded processing facilities, a dedicated bus lane and express lanes for the “trusted traveler” programs – SENTRI and Ready Lane vehicles.
This first phase is fully funded and is on track to be completed by the summer of 2014, officials say.
The second phase, which includes the construction of the new administration building and pedestrian route and Phase 3, the realignment and expansion of I-5 south with expanded capacity and a transit center on the Mexican side of the border are as yet unfunded.

If you are thinking in moving to Mexico, don’t think more act today.  We Can Help.  Call today 858-433-0561 or email Miguel Sedano  info@rentinginmexico.com the perfect home is waiting for you.

First Look At Salma Hayek & Mathieu Demy In ‘Americano’

Written by: Oliver Lyttelton – THE PLAYLIST

It’s always said that when it comes to breaking into the film industry, it’s not what you know, but who you know, and it’s hard to deny that nepotism is rife in the industry. But when it’s meant that talents like Sofia Coppola, Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, Drew Barrymore, John Huston and, uh, Clint Howard, to name but a few, it’s hard to complain too much. Today we’ve obtained an exclusive first image of a project that utilizes a number of members of famous film-making families, and it’s looking pretty promising.

First Look At Salma Hayek & Mathieu Demy In ‘Americano’

First Look At Salma Hayek & Mathieu Demy In ‘Americano’

Actor Mathieu Demy comes from famous film-making stock, being the son of French film-making giants Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy, and he’s already racked up an impressive career in front of the camera, in films like “God is Great, But I’m Not,” “Aram” and “The Girl On The Train.” Now, according to a press release from BAC Films International, who’ve picked up all of the worldwide rights to the project, he’s made his directorial debut, on a self-penned project entitled “Americano,” and he’s attracted fellow filmmaking family members to the cast like Chiara Mastroianni, daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Carlos Bardem, the older brother of Javier Bardem. But the film will be toplined by Demy himself, opposite international star Salma Hayek.

Demy will play Martin, a man grieving from the death of his mother, and escaping a failing relationship, who returns to Los Angeles, where he grew up, to sort out his inheritance. Troubled by childhood memories, he goes off to track down Lola, a Mexican woman (Hayek) who he knew in childhood, eventually finding her down at the Americano club in Tijuana, where she works as a stripper. Mastroianni will play Martin’s ex-girlfriend, while Chaplin will play an old friend of the family who kicks off his quest.

Demy comments in the press release “”Americano” is a film I have been working on for years. I wanted to tackle a theme that directly relates to my history, my identity: transmission. What do you inherit from your parents? How do you deal with it? And how do you write your own story?” And it seems like he’s using the unique advantages of his own upbringing: “I used footage from one of my mother’s film, “Documenteur”, where she filmed me when I was 8 and was living with her in LA. Those images find a special echo in the film, and question our relationship to fiction and reality. But I also wanted to do a universal film, that will travel and please all type of audiences. That is why I decided to gather a very special cast, whom I must thank for their support and their faith in the project.”

The film’s now in post-production, having recently wrapped its multi-lingual, globe-spanning shoot—it lensed in Paris, L.A. and Tijuana, and will be in French, English and Spanish—and should apparently be ready for the festival season in the fall, so a bow in Toronto or Venice wouldn’t be out of the question. Les Films du Losange will distribute in France, and BAC Films will be the sales agent. It all sounds fairly intriguing, and Demy’s parentage alone is reason enough to make us very, very curious about what he’s come up with.

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Baja California Responds To Safety Concerns And Eyes Rebound In Tourism

By Jeff Barnes, Editor, Mission Times Courier

(Mission Times Courier, San Diego, CA) – If safety concerns have kept you from visiting Baja California, the State wants you to know security has been stepped up across the region with your safety in mind.

Baja California Responds To Safety Concerns And Eyes Rebound In Tourism

Baja California Responds To Safety Concerns And Eyes Rebound In Tourism

The mayors of Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Mexicali and Tecate recently invited media on a three-day tour of the region to discuss the changes that have been made to ensure the safety of tourists. The Mission Times Courier was one of several media outlets from California, Arizona and Nevada that joined government officials on the tour.

Tijuana’s new mayor and police chief say public safety for tourists is a top priority. Mayor Carlos Bustamante says media reports of crimes involving drug cartels over the past several years have led many to believe Tijuana has turned into “a crime city”. Today, officials say that perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. Police Chief Gustavo Huerta credits heightened enforcement and training for turning the city back into a safe place for residents and tourists. Thanks to greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement, the city has seen a higher number of seizures of drugs. The city has seen a 30% decrease in crimes involving cartel members and a 40% decline in violent crimes and robberies.

The police chief says new training standards and procedures have also been implemented to make sure officers are fulfilling their obligation. More than 500 officers have been fired for failing to comply.

“We’re not going to put up with any corruption,” Chief Huerta said.

A new “tourist police” force has been put in place in tourist areas, including Avenida Revolución, a downtown area known for its restaurants and shopping. The bilingual officers are more easily recognized and are eager to help tourists during their stay.’ read more »