Paellas Event to Benefit the Recent Fire Victims

In a recent press conference Rubén Barrau, presented us with the “Paellaton” event, organized by business groups CANACO and CANIRAC, in order to provide support to all those who were affected by the recent fires in the region.

This event will present an approximate of 27 restaurants that will be offering paella; with several bands brightening up the event. In addition, assistants will have the opportunity to participate in raffles for free nights at participant hotels.

The cost of the tickets will be $350 MXN (about $19 USD) which will include a plate of paella and a glass of wine, with all the proceeds going to those affected by the recent fires.

Tickets may be purchased the same day of the event at the box office, which will be held this Sunday, November 10, 2019 at the facilities of Riviera, Ensenada Social, Civic and Cultural Center starting at 12:00 pm.

Luis Tirado, president of the National Chamber of Restaurants and Seasoned Foods of Ensenada (CANIRAC), mentioned that some of the restaurants which will be present on the day of the event will be: Agua de Vid, Cantera, Casa Frida, La 4ta, La Cevichería, Mesón de Don Fernando, as well as several wineries and more.

Accountant Marco Estudillo, also an organizer of the event, said that they will be extra careful on the handling of the collected funds, making sure they get where they are needed the most, in the most transparent way possible. All proceeds will be clearly inventoried and channeled to both the firefighters and more than 30 families that lost everything to the fires.

Finally, Jorge Menchaca, president of the National Chamber of Commerce of Ensenada (CANACO), emphasized that the idea of replicating the Paellaton each year could be an alternative to solve community problems from inside the society itself.

Creative Gastronomy Comes to Town

BY DANIELLE WILLIAMS

Tripping at Viaje is what I like to do on a mellow Sunday afternoon on the terrasse of the newer restaurant in town, VIAJE, COCINA DEL MUNDO.  Cool jazz from a 4-piece ensemble, a glass of Chardonnay, and having just polished off an order of enfrijoladas – a sort of chicken crepes in a luscious bean sauce redolent of pasillas chiles – takes me close to Nirvana, or maybe pig’s heaven with an ocean view.

Open with much fanfare in February, Viaje is located midtown Rosarito in the Quinta del Mar complex. You drive through the arch and it is a straight shot around the fountain.

The building had been a restaurant in a former incarnation some 15 years ago when it burned down.  In came Jerome Gombert, a talented and ambitious Frenchman with successful restaurant experience in San Diego (Vagabond in North Park).  He had the vision to turn the structure into the stunning establishment it has become. Assisted by designer Roderick Shade of Architectural Digest fame, he has created an airy, elegant, yet hip space. The design takes advantage of existing exposed structural elements: the cellar, the vintage tile and wide plank wood floor, and wall niches. It has two distinct areas: a refectory style room around an oyster bar with two dozen huge lanterns to offset the bare bone feeling; in sharp contrast you then proceed to an explosion of colors and textures for a 1001-nights feeling provided by kilometers of draped sari fabrics in the two cozy rooms adjoining the patio.

When alone, I sit at the bar for a chat with Jeser, the amiable bartender. As a bonus, it affords a full view of the open kitchen with pedigreed chef, Jonathan  Casas, and his team in action. Everything is prepared to order with mostly local ingredients: organic veggies from the Guadalupe Valley and seafood from Ensenada and San Quintin.

Viaje, meaning “travel” offers a culinary tour of the world with an eclectic selection of French, Peruvian, Moroccan, and Chinese preparations.  I have not tried it all, but the steak tartare is for me a near addiction: chopped to order fresh sirloin with assorted spices. Jonathan’s rendition of bouillabaisse, the French fish soup, is another favorite.  If you are fussy about your oysters, you’ll love these plump, sweet on the shell – the best anywhere.  My companions have raved about the various ceviches which  I have not tried yet, but looked like works of art.

Several times, the attendance was minimal making me think that Viaje has not yet appeared on everyone’s radar.  I have heard that some folks are intimidated by the exotic touch and fear high prices. In reality, the prices are reasonable and the place is unpretentious as is Jerome whose hospitality makes you feel at home. As of this writing, there is a happy hour from 5-7 on weekdays with music on Friday. Try it, enjoy it, and why not toss a coin in the fountain on your way out.

As Summer Draws to a Close Think “Sabor!”

As summer starts to wind down – wait – did summer ever really show up this year? Well, August is on its way out and that means Rosarito says an official “good-bye” to summer, as we do every year, with the popular White Attire event, “Sabor de Baja.”

And folks, “white” means white. Eggshell MAY be tolerated, but men, khaki is not white. And ladies, some leeway may be given to straw hats if it means you won’t be passing out in the late afternoon sun and drenching yourself in merlot.

The 7th Annual Sabor de Baja will once again be held in the beautiful gardens of the Rosarito Beach Hotel on Wednesday, August 28th, starting at 6:00 pm. Sabor will feature 25 of Baja California’s preeminent chefs pairing their fares with Baja wineries and a few locally produced artisanal beers. Among featured bistros are Casa Plascencia, Raices, Viaje Oyster Bar, Sokuna, El Meson, and Silvestre. Tickets are still available online through PayPal at SaborDeBaja@gmail.com. All pre-ordered tickets may be picked up at the Will Call desk the night of the event.

Gracious hosts Bo Bendana and Dennis Sein originally created this event to promote Baja California’s budding gastronomy and wine industries and to promote northern Baja tourism. Sure enough, Gastronomes attend Sabor de Baja from all over Baja and several states of the US.

All attendees will receive a commemorative wine glass. Everyone will also receive a ballot for the selection of the evening’s People’s Choice Award. So as you are eating and drinking your way through the evening, make a note of your favorite pairing. It’s easy. All of the choices are written on the ballot and all you have to do is circle your selection and place your card in the ballot box.

There are two tiers of tickets on sale this year. VIP Gold tickets sell for $90 each, and holders of these are treated to early (5:30 pm) entry and reserved seating for the evening. Silver tickets are $70 and you take your chances with seating options. Now I don’t know about you, but I do most of my noshing while walking between food booths. This is NOT a family-friendly event, so all ticket holders must be at least 18 years of age. Live entertainment will be provided, with time for dancing a bit later in the evening.

A professional judging panel selected by chef Bo Bendana and her husband Dennis Sein will meet earlier in the day to evaluate all of the entrant’s food and wine or beer pairings. The Judge’s Panel will award the Best Wine and Best Beer awards, as well as the coveted Best of Sabor being awarded to the finest wine (or beer) and food pairing of the evening.

Remember, white attire is not a suggestion, so prepare your attire while summer fashions are still available. I will be attendance in a new white dress (as I do every year) because I had a run-in with a wicked glass of cabernet last year (as I do every year), and there was no removing those stains. My suggestion to you is to bring along a purse (or pocket) size spray of your favorite “wine erase” product. It’s that or your dress goes into a tie-dye vat for your next Woodstock remembrance party like mine did.

If you missed out and didn’t get your tickets in time, the next Sabor de Baja is already scheduled for Wednesday, August 26, 2020, so mark your calendars now.

Don’t Miss The Seashells and New Wine Festival

Like every year, the Seashells and New Wine Festival opens the path of the regional wine festivities and although it’s not an official “vendimia” event because it’s a couple months before, its organized by Provino (the same guys that bring you the official wine parties) and its definitely a “mustn’t miss” for the season.

This year, the celebration will last for a whole week (packed with workshops, guided tours, lunch and dinner events in Ensenada and the Guadalupe Valley), starting on Monday, April 29 and ending with the main festival on May 5th on the grounds of Marina Coral Hotel.

The seashells and new wine festival represents an homage to local ingredients, with different activities that take the public to know, first-hand, how local sea products are handled, transformed and paired with local wines, reflecting all the goodness that this vast region brings to our tables.

Tickets cost 900 pesos (about 50 dollars), and you can get them online clicking here https://festival-de-las-conchas-y-el-vino-nuevo.boletia.com/. A wine glass that you’ll use for tasting more than 120 different bottles of local wines is included. Food samples from participating restaurants are also available and don’t have any extra cost.

If you don’t want to get your tickets online, you can also buy them at:

  • Hotel Coral & Marina
  • Viñas de Liceaga
  • Bodegas de Santo Tomás
  • Finca La Carrodilla
  • Lomita
  • Maglen Resort
  • Madera 5
  • Cuatro Cuatros
  • Hacienda Guadalupe
  • Cava Maciel
  • Decantos
  • El Cielo
  • Hotel Misión Santa Isabel
  • Muelle 3
  • Corona Hotel & Spa
  • Corona Del Valle
  • Viajes Kinessia
  • Acuacultura Integral de Baja California
  • Tienda de vinos La Contra

You can find the full program for all the events, online at: https://provinobc.mx/eventos/.

Samples are limited, so make sure to get there early to try everything! See you there.

 

Local Winery Honors Prominent Women

El Cielo Winery, located in the Guadalupe Valley, celebrated last month the contributions of women to the wine and food production by offering them awards during a gala dinner in their restaurant.

Marcos Flores, president of the Mexican Association of Sommeliers and Gustavo Ortega, founder, and director of El Cielo Wines presented the awards to 7 women, that with their professionalism, dedication and commitment to their crafts are revolutionizing the world of wine and gastronomy.

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“It’s an honor for me to be able to host these successful women in the world of food and wine to celebrate them. I’ve always admired women for their fortitude and dedication bringing a different vision to great projects as are the ones in wine production.” Stated Ortega during his welcoming speech.

El Cielo is planning to award different women every year, and on this first year the ones honored were:

  1. Lourdes Martinez. An experienced oenologist, born in Ensenada but with several years of experience studying and working in France, she co-founded “Bodega Henri Lurton”, named after the owner of Château Brane-Cantenac in France, Henri Lurton, with whom she decided to interpret the graciousness of Baja’s nature and terroir by producing excellent wines.
  2. Tru Miller. Owner of Adobe Guadalupe winery and pioneer of wine tourism in the valley. Dutch by birth, Mexican by heart. She founded the winery with her late husband Donald A. Miller in the nineties, planning on dedicating herself to breeding horses while her husband focused on the vineyard part of their property. After he passed, she successfully took over the wine part of the business too, improving on her husband’s legacy.
  3. Laura Zamora. An oenologist born in Ensenada, with more than 30 years of experience in high-quality winemaking, she was the first woman responsible of the winery Bodegas de Santo Tomas. Her success is based on the depth of her knowledge of the vineyards, the elaboration process and the different phases of production. She now runs her own winery aptly named “Casa Zamora”.
  4. Gina Estrada. Outstanding Sommelier, ambassador of El Cielo wines, Ultra-premium Emma Gin and spokesperson for Louis XII cognac, she is vice-president of the Mexican Association of Sommeliers and general manager of @GinaSommelier, a national leader in consulting for the wine and distilled beverages industry. She is certified by Court Masters Sommeliers and has been a judge in numerous beverage ranking contests.
  5. Myrna de Liceaga. Owner of Viña de Liceaga, a project that started with her late husband Eduardo Liceaga in San Antonio de las Minas back in 1982, she has successfully grown the legacy of her husband, receiving numerous award along the way. Her “wine forest” is one of the most sought-of venues for all kinds of events in the valley.
  6. Chef Sabina Bandera. Creator of “La Guerrerense”, the most famous seafood street cart in Baja and the world, having earned prizes in street food competitions worldwide. Originally from the state of Guerrero, she arrived at Ensenada at a very young age. Better known as “La guerita” or the “little blonde” Sabina is the star of her business. She offers 14 different kinds of ceviches and cocktails. Her street cart has grown into three restaurants in Ensenada, Mexico City, and Monterrey.
  7. Chef Yerika Muñoz. Renowned Chef with years of experience on international cuisine, with lots of influence from Peruvian cuisine, she is a goal-oriented woman with a passion for food that solidifies and structure her life. Yerika works only in what she believes in, and every day continues to conquer more palates.

All the food for the night was prepared by Chefs Sabina Bandera and Yerika Muñoz, paired by Gina Estrada with wines selected from Adobe Guadalupe, Casa Zamora, Henri Lurton and El Cielo.

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