by Carla White
At my age, birthdays become less about partying and more about celebrating: celebrating good friends, good luck and a good life that has become so much richer because I live in Baja California. So, how appropriate was it that my dear pal, Jo Ann Knox Martino, took me to Baja’s wine country – the Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada – to lunch under the pine trees at Drew Deckman’s new seasonal restaurant at the charming Mogor Badan winery? (Deckman’s will only be here through October, so now I have the opportunity to re-enjoy it many more times!)
Now, let us note that there is no dearth of fine eateries in the Ensenada area (look at Corazon de Tierra, Barra Azul, Nomada, Kalifa, Hacienda Guadalupe, Laja, Manzanilla, Boules, and so on and so on). And all take full advantage of what the region offers including organic produce; regional cheeses in both the farm and European styles; hand-crafted wines that are winning accolades throughout the world, and meats and seafood that are cultivated locally. Ensenada, in particular, is known for its farmed abalone and oysters, freshly harvested Bluefin and yellowtail tuna, and for quail, venison and other game from the area.
So what makes Deckman’s a perfect choice? For me, it was the pairing of nature and gastronomy in a delightful outdoor setting! As I savored an oyster on the half-shell in what I can only describe as a scintillating broth of sorts, I heard the breeze brush through the trees and rustle the grape vines all around me.
The soft warm country air seemed to carry just a hint of ocean tang that blended well with the smell of beef grilling on an outdoor oven. Sous chefs diligently bent over counters in the open-air kitchen, prepping foods and herbs for later in the day. I could almost see the magical culinary wand of Drew Deckman — a Michelin Star recipient and saveur of all things sustainable and delicious — wave over everything that was served on our table.
As we left, bathed in a sweet glow of culinary fulfillment (probably enhanced by a bottle of crisp white Chasselas de Mogor wine), the staff presented me with a bouquet of sunflowers and basil flowers, the fragrance of which I shall never forget. These are the moments of our lives—the Baja moments that are so evocative. I am not waiting for another birthday to roll around to celebrate again!
Deckman’s, at its remarkable location is almost always packed. Reservations are really important. And so is knowing how to get there!
How to get to Deckman’s: From Ensenada, take Highway 3, Ensenada-Tecate, to kilometer 86.5. You will see a discreet stone entry gate on the right hand side of the road. About a quarter-mile up the road, on your left, is a parking area. Deckman’s is on the right hand side of the road, amongst the vineyards.
Opening Hours: Monday- Sunday. 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
What is your favorite Deckman’s dish? Let us know!
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