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Cerveceria Wendlandt in Ensenada

Written for Baja.com by Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food.

Kristin Díaz de Sandi’s Life & Food blog, created in conjunction with her husband Antonio, has helped drive recognition of the gastronomic resurgence of Baja California.  She and Antonio have merged efforts with colleagues Bill Esparza and Jason Thomas Fritz to create Club Tengo Hambre, a roving supper club, that explores food and wine cuisine in Baja.

One of Ensenada’s newest additions: A Gastropub that features locally brewed craft beers and a menu to complement the beverages.

 


The weather in Southern California and Baja has been exceptionally warm this year. It is technically fall now, but the weather doesn’t show anything for it. I do have to say though, that the sunsets have been impeccable lately. The drive down the coast to Ensenada in the early evening boasts the most beautiful sky. It looks as if there are numerous paint brush strokes on a never-ending canvas, and the colors, whew! don’t even get me started. We are so fortunate to be able to witness such beauty, nearly all year long.
Cerveceria Wendlandt Ensenada

Cerveceria Wendlandt 3

With the warm weather carrying into the night, one can really begin to get thirsty. Located in Ensenada, Cerveceria Wendlandt will not only quench that thirst, but it will curb your hunger as well. They have been open for just seven months now.
The exterior of the building has nice clean modern lines, with metal accents, and dons the big “W.” The interiors are so warm and inviting, with exposed brick walls, and little details such as their chandeliers made from glass bottles. Even, the bathrooms tie into the overall theme, with artwork, and more glass bottle decor.
Naturally your eye will carry on to the back wall, where you will again notice the Wendlandt logo:  We learned that the “W” shape was developed from the way that the two beer fermenting units look side by side.
Brewmaster Eugenio Romero-Wendlandt was a complete pleasure. He walked us through the process of how they brew their beer there, and all about the different types that they serve. I have never thoroughly had the process explained to me, so it was truly a delight.
They offer 80-100 different beers on their menu, ranging from their own brews to other local Baja breweries, and even a couple from San Diego breweries. They also carry a variety of worldwide beers, as well as some US domestic ones. There is something for everyone, and If you aren’t an avid beer fan, they also offer a few different wines, including their own Tempranillo.
Cerveceria Wendlandt Ensenada

After being whisked through the process of brewing, and learning about all of the different types offered, it was time to sit down and taste them for ourselves. We were presented with beer flights, a trio of sliders, and a few different tostadas. The kitchen is run by Chef Krista Velasco, who gladly told us about how they only use fresh and local ingredients to prepare the dishes. You won’t find a freezer in their kitchen, and all of the produce must be in season, or you won’t see it on your plate. 

Cerveceria Wendlandt

I began with the plate of tostadas. The four that we were presented with were a tiradito with soy sauce, ginger, and onion, a vegetarian, shrimp aguachile, and a braised rib one. If I were to play favorites, it would be between the braised rib, which was braised in beer for 8 hours, and the bright and refreshing shrimp aguachile. The variety of tostadas were washed down with beer samplings of Tijuana Guera and Wendlandt’s own Summer Ale. 
Cerveceria Wendlandt

The trio of sliders came next, which also shared the plate with freshly cut truffle fries and a sprinkling of Queso Ramonetti. The ultra soft potato buns automatically sparked a childhood memory for me. I had potato bread toast for breakfast, more mornings than I can count. Who doesn’t love reliving memories through food? The trio were made up of a braised ribs slider, Pork Belly with local cheese, and a beef burger. Between bites of each, we dipped the fries into house made ketchup, and an Aioli/Pesto sauce. The fries were delicious enough to be eaten on their own, but I could not steer clear of that Aioli and pesto sauce. All three burgers were divine, and each were juicy and bursting with flavor. We sipped on Agua Mala’s Marea Roja, Stone Brewery IPA, and Border Psycho’s Imperial Stout.

The portions of the food are ideal while enjoying a couple of beers. You can throughly savor each and every morsel, without feeling weighed down. The next time you are in Ensenada, or even make the trip down especially for some craft beers, Wendlandt will greet you with open arms, cold beers, and some delicious bites.
Cerveceria Wendlandt
Blvd. Costero #248, 22870 Ensenada, Baja California

Open Tuesday-Saturday
6:00pm- 12:00 am

Kristin and Antonio blog at Life & Food and you can follow them on Twitter at @lifefoodblog and Facebook.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Sano’s Steak House: Ensenada’s Prime Choice

by Tom Gatch

Sano's Steak House: Great food and an inspired bar in Ensenada

After decades of political correctness, it has once again become socially acceptable for a person to admit that relishing the sheer primal delight of sinking teeth into a tender piece of steak, a juicy chop or a succulent slice of roast.  And, to our good fortune, Ensenada diners have been blessed with a gourmet quality purveyor of premier quality grilled and roasted meats that will delight even the most jaded gringo palate at Sano’s Steak House.

While it was certainly possible to enjoy a decent steak at a restaurant in Baja California during the later part of the 20th Century, finding a truly satisfying chunk of prime grade beef south of the border was not a given. In fact, up until the past decade or so, it was virtually impossible for restaurants in Baja to match the exquisite quality of beef found in high profile stateside steakhouses.  But, luckily, that is no longer the case.

 

Sano's Steak House is the Ensenada choice for grilled rib eye and all cuts of prime beef (their rack of lamb is a luscious favorite, too!)

Around these parts, the Hussong family name has long been associated with their world famous downtown cantina and a few other successful local businesses, but without a doubt, their Sano’s Steakhouse has now become one of their most revered operations; at least in the eyes of carnivores.

 

Sano's Steak House has recently undergone a huge remodel...but elements of the past still lend sunny charm.

Situated at the end of the toll highway, just before Ensenada’s commercial maritime basin, its mission style design invites visions of old Mexico.  Once beyond its rustically arched wooden doorway, guests find themselves in a beautiful Mediterranean-like garden that is burgeoning with bursts of color from a variety of foliage that abounds therein, and also festoons an antique horse cart that sits in the middle of the courtyard.

As in many other fine steakhouses, the interior décor of the dining room is darkly elegant and features a high staff to diner ratio, which helps to accommodate the impeccable service that Sano’s has gained the reputation for consistently delivering over the years.  But for a vast majority of their regular clientele, it is the quality of the meat that brings them back here again and again.

For starters, the house tortilla soup is rich and toothsome, with just the right density of chili and seasoning to awaken the taste buds for the wonderful meal yet to come.  Likewise, the spinach salad with its imported goat cheese and excruciatingly fresh greens is hard to beat if you are in the mood for something a bit lighter.

 

The Tower of Blue Cheese at Sano's Steak House is a wonder to behold...and to taste!

One of the most regularly ordered entrees at Sano’s is the rack of lamb.  Tender and expertly cooked to order, these succulent clusters of cutlets are topped with a densely flavorful demi-glaze that might prompt Emeril Lagasse to weep with joy.Also magnificent, are the generous cuts of New York and rib eye steak, which come with a fresh vegetable and your choice of potato.  But perhaps the best value in the house is their mouthwatering filet mignon.  Virtually fork tender, this thick, heavenly piece of tenderloin is wrapped in bacon, grilled to your specifications and covered with a luscious crème and mushroom sauce.

 

An erstwhile favorite at Sano's Steak House is filet mignon in a luscious, creamy mushroom sauce.

 

When paired with one of their fine Baja wines, like an L.A. Cetto Nebiolo, guests are set to enjoy an elegant, world class dining experience that would be difficult to match anywhere in the region.  But be sure to call Sano’s well in advance of your intended time of arrival to make a reservation; otherwise, you and your dining party may end up being unnecessarily disappointed.

Where is Sano’s Steak House:  Sano’s Steak House is located at Km. 108.5 on Highway 1, the scenic road to Ensenada, near the Hotel Coral and Las Rosas Hotel. Open daily, between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.  For reservations, call (local) 646-174-4061. MC & VISA accepted

What to expect:  Expect outstanding service, consistently excellent food, and upper-end prices (but worth every delicious peso).  This is a beautiful location and an elegant environment…a great special occasion restaurant.

Hooked on Baja author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.

Is your mouth watering for a juicy steak, right about now?  Find out where to stay and taste when you’re in Ensenada!  And don’t forget to subscribe to Baja.com’s newsletter to learn more about deals and opportunities available to Baja Travelers!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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The Red Snapper of Baja Norte’s Pacific Coast

Cook up some fun when you go fishing off of Baja Norte’s Pacific Coast:  Recipe below!

by Tom Gatch

“Look dad!” exclaimed my fishing buddy’s excited 6-year old daughter as she watched his brilliantly hued fish come to color as he cranked it up from the depths. “That fish with the big eyes is sticking its tongue out at us!!” she added, furrowing her young brow. Indeed…she was looking at a red snapper from the waters of Baja Norte‘s Pacific Coast.

 

The red snapper caught off Baja's Norte's Pacific Coast (Photo by Capt. Juan Cook)

After my friend and I finished chuckling, he quickly pointed out to her that our catch had been brought up from the rocky seafloor so quickly that the sudden pressure change had forced its air bladder and eyes to protrude.  Her brow remained furrowed, but she seemed to cautiously accept his explanation on faith, if not through reason.  But after several more of these bright, crimson beauties made it over the rail and into our cooler, she eventually began asking her dad how we were going to turn them into the fresh fish and chips dinner she had been promised for that evening’s meal.

There are over 20 members of the genus Sebastes that reside in the waters just offshore.  Some of the most generically popular of these are often referred to as ‘Pacific red snapper.”  Not to be confused with members of the true snapper family, Lutjanus, which thrive in Baja’s Gulf of California, there are two Sebastes species that are often referred to as ‘red snapper’ in Pacific waters.  Both of these fishes occur from Magdalena Bay, north into Canada.

Chili pepper Sebastes snapper found off Baja Norte's Pacific Coast

They respond well to standard dropper loop rigs with several ounces of weight at the terminal end, and one or two hooks up the line a distance of 12 to 16 inches from each other.  A good ‘hole’ will also often yield several other species of rockfish.  Smaller fish such as blue, canary and starry rockfish are usually found in the same areas as much larger ‘reds’ and other bottom species.

While these fish will quickly inhale sardines and anchovies, it is often a good idea to use a tough bait that is difficult to steal, such as cut octopus, squid or mackerel.  Bigger Sebastes specimens will also attack colored and chrome-plated conventional or jointed iron jigs that have been enhanced by a strip of squid pinned to the treble hook.

The smaller, Sebastes goodei, is sometimes referred to as achilipepper” by Baja anglers.  It has a head and body that is somewhat slender, as well as a protruding lower jaw and a pinkish color that gradually becomes off-white near its belly.  Chilipeppers are not taken as frequently as other rockfishes because they are rarely caught in depths less than 360 feet along our coast. They generally occur over rocky bottoms and have been taken as deep as 1,080 feet.  The chilipepper rarely exceeds 5 pounds in weight, and is the one member of the Sebastes family that is most likely to end up on a restaurant menu as red snapper.   On the other hand, the body of the vermilion rockfish, Sebastes miniatus, is moderately husky and compressed.  Its color is brilliant red on the body and fins, which also exhibit a subtle black and gray mottling.  Also commonly called a ‘red snapper’, this species is generally much larger than the chilipepper, and can sometimes reach weights over 8-pounds.

Private boaters and pangas as far north as Rosarito Beach are able to access an uncountable number of excellent inshore spots to fish for ‘reds’ in various sizes, often departing from the new marina at Puerta La Salina.  A few miles south of there, The waters off the rugged point directly below the El Mirador outlook are miles away from urban development, and offer a deep, jagged terrain that is an ideal habitat for various rockfish species.  In addition to the excellent fishing for Pacific red snapper that can be found adjacent to Islas Todos Santos west of Ensenada and off the tip of Punta Banda, there are several other areas further south that can be even more productive.  The somewhat primitive conditions in places like Puerto Santo Tomas and Ejido Erendira are counterbalanced by the greater proliferation and larger size of fish that are generally encountered there.

Certainly one of the most dependable places to pick up a cooler full of fat ‘reds’ is Bahia San Quintin, where deep holes around San Martin Island manage to kick out chunky bottom fish throughout most of the year.  Although it’s a bit longer drive, the northern end of the bay features a solid cement launch ramp as well as lodging, food and outstanding charter fishing accommodations.

 Pacific red snapper yield thick, white, delicate fillets that are absolutely toothsome.  For those with a desire to try something a little different, here is a tasty suggestion from the California Seafood Council that is delivered in the true spirit of La Cocina Mexicana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Seafood Council’s Recipe for Pacific Red Snapper Veracruz Style

Ingredients:

1 lb. Rockfish (Pacific red snapper)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper (red, green, or yellow), thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. jalapeño or serrano chile, chopped (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1 lemon sliced, Juice of 2 lemons

1 ripe Hass avocado, sliced
Cilantro sprigs

Method:

Place the fillets in shallow baking dish. Sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil until vegetables are limp. Add herbs, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture over fish and arrange lemon slices over top. Cover tightly and bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, just until fish turns opaque in center and begins to flake. During last 5 minutes, check for doneness and add liquid if needed. Continue to bake uncovered until fish is done.

 This recipe serves four, and is especially good when accompanied by Mexican-style rice, spicy green salsa and warm tortillas.  But however you may choose to enjoy them, fresh Pacific red snapper fillets can truly be ranked among the sea’s most magnificent gifts!

Find out more about where to stay and play along Baja Norte’s Pacific Coast!  Visit Baja.com.

Hooked on Baja author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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The Iconic Nico Saad: Water Skier, Promoter, Hotel Founder and Honorary Citizen

Nico Saad’s life is legendary and iconic.  He is part of Ensenada‘s historical fabric.  As his hotel, the San Nicolas, enters a new era, Nico helps move the city into the future.

 

Nico Saad, founder/owner of the San Nicolas Hotel, is a former water skiing champion.

 

Nico Saad is an Ensenada native.  His family came from Lebanon in the mid 1930’s, originally engaged in the dry goods business but eventually moving into agriculture and then tourism.  It was here, in the world of travel, where Nico ultimately discovered what would be his future.

Until he was 12 years old, Nico attended Catholic school in Ensenada, and then high school at Brown Military Academy in San Diego, California — considered by many to be the West Point of the West Coast.   He attended college in San Diego, obtaining a degree in Business Administration.  Then, returning to Ensenada, he became an active participant in the family business.  At the young age of 24 years-old, Nico — with the help of his family –started building the San Nicolas Hotel, a small and exclusive boutique facility, which was actually founded on June 13, 1968.  Today, along with the excitement Nico exhibits when talking about the extensive remodel that is underway, there is still significant pride that he exhibits when talking about the San Nicolas.

But stepping back a few years:  By the time he built the San Nicolas, Nico had already succeeded in another career.  A talented water skier, Nico had become quite famous doing stunts such as barefoot skiing and flying the giant kite.  In 1961, Nico was invited by the World Water Ski Championship Committee to join the USA exhibition team. Nico was honored and it was one of the highlight’s of his career, especially given the fact that he was the only foreigner awarded this recognition, even though there were 32 countries participating.

 

Nico Saad has been a major promoter of Baja and Mexico tourism and events.

With the San Nicolas Hotel in place, Nico became a very active tourism promoter in Mexico:  He spearheaded the largest boat races, international beauty pageants (including Mexico’s national pageant which the San Nicolas Hotel hosts) , a Sister City Program with Redondo Beach  ( which was recognized by the Readers Digest Foundation 1967-69 as the best such program in existence), and other projects. His efforts on behalf of tourism were exemplary and Nico was invited by Governor Milton Castellanos of Baja to direct the State Tourism Office and Federal Delegation. This appointment gave Nico the opportunity to participate in the Commission of the Californias during Ronald Reagan’s time as Governor.  He was responsible for beginning an alliance with the San Diego Cabrillo Festival back in 1971, a festival event in which still he is active today.  He traveled to Portugal with the USA delegation and met President Gen. Ramalho Eanes; a gift exchange transpired in which Ensenada received from Portugal a bust of navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo ( under the Spanish Flag ) which commemorates the discovery of Ensenada.

Over the years, Nico Saad has received special awards from the Mexican Tourism Dept., the State of Baja, City of Ensenada (Honorary Citizen),  the State of California, the City of Los Angeles, the US Department of the Interior/National Park Service and keys of the city from Redondo Beach and Long Beach CA..  As a huge promoter and supporter of the famed SCORE Baja races, he was also the first Mexican citizen to be inducted into the Off-road Racing Hall Of Fame in the USA at Reno, Nevada.

According to Nico, “Meeting and making friends on both sides of the border has been one of the most interesting things in my life.” In a life that seems packed with interesting things, it is the connection to people that stands out for Nico.

Nico Saad and his daughter Michelle

Today, the San Nicolas Hotel & Casino, with 135 rooms and suites, is still known for its exclusive traditions, welcoming new guests to live and enjoy the experience of Ensenada, Baja California.  And Nico Saad is recognized for his hospitality and the part he continues to play in Ensenada’s past, present and future.

San Nicolas Hotel & Casino are located in downtown Ensenada, steps away from the museum of art, the Riviera Cultural Center and more.  Find out more about Ensenada!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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La Bocana, A Remote and Beautiful Cove with a History

by Martina Dobesh

La Bocana: A Remote and Beautiful Cove with a History (photo by Edgar Lima)

I’m bouncing along on a washboard road raising dust in great billowing clouds, wondering what the hey I am doing. My friend and I were struck by the Baja Adventure Bug at the same time and I talked her into taking a drive with me to a place I’d seen on the map, on the Pacific Ocean, south of Ensenada and west of the vineyards of Santo Tomas called La Bocana. I was actually hoping to get a story about early wine production and the shipping that was said to have happened there, predating the Russians in the Guadalupe Valley. But as sometimes happens, the adventure became the story — a tale about La Bocana, a remote and beautiful cove with a history.

We passed by great expanses of onion fields in a lush valley cut by the dark green mountains of Sierra Seca. I marveled at the production going on as workers sat with huge piles of green onions, the aroma reminding me I was hungry. I stopped to take a picture and waved. By the hearty response, you would have thought a party had just broken out.

 

The long off-road drive from the Santo Tomas valley takes you through the canyon of the Sierra Seca.

Still thinking  I was making a big mistake, we pushed on deeper into the valley toward the elusive Pacific. The hills became a mixture of red stone and golden sandstone. We stopped at a cattle crossing and the fence to the right had a sign that read Punta China. Later I would learn from Horacio Gonzales of Terra Peninsular that La Bocana (the mouth) was actually where in the early 1900s illegal Chinese immigrant were dropped to made their way to the fields of Mexicali.  Just south of La Bocana the point of land was named after the Chinese immigrants, uncountable numbers never made it to Mexicali.

Finally we arrived it to where the “mouth” (also “entrance” ) met the sea, and it was so foggy that we couldn’t see the ocean. I was really disappointed as I saw my “story” was turning into la basura (trash). The La Bocana store was closed and we wondered if it was actually ever open. A grassy area for camping was inviting with shade trees, a lagoon and bird sanctuary. At one time  this was a busy fish camp, but this day it appeared peaceful and quiet. Certainly La Bocana is ideal for fishermen and hardy campers who want to stay for awhile. We saw not a soul on the beach. Surfers, also a hardy breed, venture to La Bocana, because, as they say, an “exposed sandbar/point break has fairly consistent surf. Summer offers the favored conditions. The best wind direction is from the northeast. Tends to receive distant groundswells and the best swell direction is from south/southwest.  The beach breaks peel to the right, and there is a left hand point break, as well…and the beach is rarely crowded.

 

Romulo Gomez and LA Times columnist and author Jack Smith, whose book "God and Mr. Gomez" brought many chuckles and many Americans to Baja.

I didn’t get the collaboration I wanted about wine shipping by sea, but I happened upon a real find after I got home and did some research. As it turns out La Bocana is the location where a now famous book, God and Mr. Gomez, was set. Jack Smith, a LA Times columnist decided in 1969 to build a get-away home in Baja.  I had just driven the same 17 miles of dirt road (off the Transpeninsular Highway) that he had all those 43 years ago, and I realized it must have been even more of a nightmare then. I couldn’t imagine why he would have picked this spot to haul his materials to when the northern Baja Coastline was fairly untouched at that time. Jack met a man named Romulo Gomez, considered the patriarch of La Bocana. Together they built a house. Most who love Baja know the very humorous story, that originally appeared as columns in the LA Times. The legendary house still remains just north of La Bocana near Punta Santo Tomas. It represents Smith’s adventure of being in Baja and the surprises he stumbled upon along the way.

Find your own Baja map and go for it:  La Bocana, a remote and beautiful cove with a history.  It offers camping, good fishing, surfing, and even some literary fame and it is an adventure  on “a road less traveled.”

How to get to La Bocana:  Drive south on the Transpeninsular Highway, past Maneadero, on the road towards San Quintin.  You will drop down a steep mountain grade into the Santo Tomas valley (where you will see the Santo Tomas winery on your left) and you will take a right hand turn onto a road that heads due west.  This will quickly become a dirt road — not good after the rains, but not too deadly in dry times.  High vehicle clearance is a good idea.

What to expect:  A beautiful drive (especially in spring time) and maybe some rather questionable-looking fishermen who might ask what you want them to pull out of the water for you.  There is a small store for campers, and there is a restaurant further down the dirt road that parallels the ocean. Take a picnic, and take water.  

La Bocana is just about 75 minutes south of Ensenada, and near the famous Santo Tomas winery.  Why not visit both?  

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Restaurant El Rey Sol Celebrates 65 Years: Ensenada’s French Connection

by Tom Gatch

 

Restaurant El Rey Sol: Ensenada's French Connection

When visitors first see the prominent sign above one of Ensenada’s most popular restaurants, El Rey Sol, it is quite likely that many may assume that it is a reference to some ancient Aztec god.  Actually, it is meant to pay homage to France’s King Louis XVI, often referred to in his time as The Sun King.  He chose the sun as his emblem, which was associated with Apollo, god of peace and arts, and was also the heavenly body which gave life and regulated all things as it rose and set.  He was also a fastidious gourmet whose passion for fine food helped France gain its status as a culinary icon.  This, then, is El Rey Sol:  Ensenada’s French Connection.

 

Proprietor Jean-Loup Bitterlin in the lobby next to a painting of his restaurant’s namesake, King Louis XVI, who is sometimes referred to as the Sun King.

El Rey Sol, was established in 1947 and has a reputation as Ensenada’s oldest and most venerated French restaurant.  Owner, Jean-Loup Bitterlin, oversees the restaurant as well as the adjacent Posada El Rey Sol Hotel.

Jean-Loup offers, “The restaurant was originally founded by my mother, Pepita, when there were only about 10,000 people in the entire town. She was raised in France and loved to cook, so opening and running a restaurant seemed like a natural path  to follow.  In those days, French food was very foreign in northern Baja, and my mother ended up teaching many people about escargot, lobster thermidor, and everybody’s favorite, our French pastries.  To this day, we still make them using 100 year old recipes and only the best ingredients.”

El Rey Sol, Ensenada's French Connection, maintains a reputation for offering elegantly created contemporary dishes that remain true to the classic French standards of culinary excellence.

Although he acknowledges the importance of recent innovations in the fusion style coastal cuisines of Baja and other Mexican states, and features a few on his menu from time to time, Jean-Loup Bitterlin remains steadfastly committed to the classic standards of the French Cordon Bleu, which created the foundation for much of the epicurean fare that we still enjoy today.

In October of 2012, El Rey Sol restaurant happily celebrated its 65th  year in operation with a grand anniversary celebration that treated attendees to an exquisite 6-course dinner created by regional celebrity chefs along with a stunning audio visual presentation offering appropriate scenes and music spanning the many decades that they have been serving the community and promoting regional tourism…and serving as Ensenada’s French Connection.

Bitterlin adds, “Ensenada’s future is unlimited, it is a city with many gifts; the natural sea scape, our blossoming wine industry, the great local sportfishing, food and shopping.”

Bitterlin also sees this region as a great place for a weekend getaway, a second home and even an eventual retirement destination. “Its geographical location of being just a scenic hour’s drive south of San Ysidro makes it particularly accessible for southern Californians to visit.  Our tourism numbers continue to increase, and I believe that there has never been a better time to come visit.”

“Who knows,” Jean-Loup concludes with a smile.  ”You might even want to stay here and live.”

 

 

Want to find out more about Posada el Rey Sol hotel?  Interested in learning more about activities in Ensenada?

Hooked on Baja author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports andactivities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

 

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A Night of Pizza, Beer, Music and Art in Ensenada

A night of pizza, beer and art in Ensenada:  La Stella!

A night of pizza, beer, music and art took place at the end of August during La Stella Session’s first installment at Distrito Barra Pública in Ensenada.

The love for music and design of two enterprising youngsters culminated in an event that showcased local talent for hours.

 

La Stella Pizza and Distrito Barra Pública were the hosts of the night while people gathered at the bar and admired the exhibition of pizza boxes decked by guest visual artists like Acamonchi, Alberto Nájera, Anita Mejía, Cactus, El Juan, Emiliano Barajas, Enrique Alcántar (TR3Z), Esther Gamez, Kathy Pedrín, Kikeino, Roberto Mora and Rodolfo Gutiérrez; the participating bands got set and started to play just outside of the bar.

Reptilianos, Ocean Noise, Hipogrifos and Fading Leds, the local bands that participated in the “La Stella Mixtape 02” compilation, played live for hours for the delight of the audience.

La Stella Mixtape is a project of designer Luis Ariza, we’ll talk about him on another occasion but you can get to know him at La Stella Pizza.

 

For now, visual artists and bands from Tijuana can start pondering their contribution to the second installment of La Stella Sessions that is shaping up to become a tradition of the port.

Photos by Torres Photoworks 

Original Text: Gabriela Vidauri, Binomio 1+4 info@b1mas4.com http://b1mas4.com

Sandiegored.com is designed as the first portal in Spanish that provides information/entertainment and news in SanDiego and the Tijuana / Baja California region. Our main objective is that you find all the information that you need in SanDiegoRed and BECOME  your preferred portal. We are committed to working tirelessly to meet your expectations and deliver the best website in Spanish. Contact SanDiegoRed.com or call (858) 454-511.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Torres Alegre: Knowledge and Love Nurture These Wines in the Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada

Torres-Alegre: Knowledge and Love Nurture These Wines in the Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada
by Carla White

 Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada, Baja California — Far off the beaten path, on the road that runs behind Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards and Inn, there is a vineyard (seven hectares of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Grenache and Nebbiolo) and a very new winery…sort of a modern-day, high-tech palace where wine is king, and where winemakers serve its noble cause.  The symbol of the winery is, indeed, a Spanish-looking castle, but in reality the name of the operation – Vinicola Torres-Alegre y Familia — reflects the passion and dedication of Dr. Victor Torres-Alegre, one of the most important wine makers in Mexico.

 

Torres Alegre

Dr.  Torres-Alegre, the first enologist in Mexico to have a PhD in the science of enology,  graduated in agricultural engineering from the National Agricultural School of Chapingo, Mexico.  He received his doctorate in enology from the University of Bordeaux, France, and in that period formulated innovative concepts and practices for winemaking that have become accepted throughout the industry.  He and his family, including his wife Julieta and his winemaker-son Leonardo, who manages the winery on a day-to-day basis, have established the new winery (which is partially below ground level and required massive earth-moving to create its cava) incorporating these precepts.  The resulting wines — barreled in new or one-use oak – reflect the high quality and standards of the Torres-Alegre family.

Leonardo Torres, himself an accomplished winemaker, will by appointment, guide small groups through the winery to see the seven stainless steel, conical fermentation tanks and the grape crushers.  He explains the various processes, including the gravity filtration system and the winemakers’ desire to “let nature and natural phenomena” take their course in wine production. He expresses the family’s deep desire to promote sustainability in all aspects of their work…even pointing to the bricks that comprise the very walls of the wine cavern:  these bricks were created from the earth that was removed for the building of the winery.

 

From tour to tasting room, Leonardo tells the story of  Torres-Alegre, imbuing it with love and laughter and interesting family trivia.  For instance, the wine labels have been designed by Victor, himself, who is also a graphic designer.  These same labels tell stories, written by his sister who lives in Spain.  And, another tidbit…the Torres-Alegre Sauvignon Blanc (crisp but with a soft after-feel) has been aged 11 years in oak.  The Del Viko blend (named after his brother) combines Grenache, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The Cru Garage, of which 2,000 bottles are made annually, indeed had its beginnings in a garage. And so on…

The Torres-Alegre family winery is really the legacy of Dr. Torres-Alegre’s 30+ years of history of winemaking…and perhaps more than any other vinicola, it reflects the fact that  Mexico is finding its place in the royal family of world wines.

For more information or to visit the beautiful Torres-Alegre winery, email contacto@torresalegre.com…and mention that you read about them on Baja.com!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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The Blue Moon at Playa Saldamando Campground

by Martina Dobesh

Below me, the Pacific Ocean is blazing with sunshine; light is bouncing off of everything. The wind has whipped up frothy waves, forcing the pelicans to fly its currents. I and a few hearty women friends have come to Playa Saldamando to ‘get away’…although we laugh, because we live in Baja, and really there isn’t anything to get away from.

Playa Saldamando is 15 minutes north of Ensenada, and just an hour and a half from the US/Mexico border. The toll road clings to the side of the mountain, curving around the shimmering bay hundreds of feet below. This area is known as Salsipuedes, or “leave if you can.” It got its name before the toll road was built, when fishermen would risk the nearly vertical descent to go fishing. Going down was scary, but the trek back up gave it its name.
This is the greatest place for a safe family holiday, for guys that like to surf or ocean fish, and for women (like my group) to retreat to, as the location has a perfect safety factor: Although it is right off the highway, it is below the road, and there are security gates that are locked at 10 p.m.

 

Photo courtesy of Playa Saldamando

The campground stretches out along the shoreline for several miles. Instead, we have chosen a little comfort for our two-day stay: A 24-foot trailer which has a large enclosed front room, and a covered patio providing shade. It’s August, and the ocean breeze is delightful. We are all experienced campers, but this saves us from having to pack and unpack all the camping equipment. In the travel trailer off the living area, there is a tiny kitchen with propane stove, and most importantly an indoor bathroom.
Most of the time we spend out on the covered patio with the endless expanse of ocean and talk about non-ordinary things, things that we don’t often talk about with others. One woman took a long hike to discover a fresh water spring where fox are known to den. Others of us laugh a lot about how life had brought us here to Baja, and why we have no intentions of leaving. Our desire for tonight is to be far away from ambient light so we can see the rising of the Blue Moon (a reference to the third full moon in a season that has four full moons, instead of the usual three).

We dine on bountiful food, and suddenly the sun is setting and we have enjoyed a totally timeless day.

We light the campfire and wait. One woman is singing and playing her box drum. Her voice and presence is worthy of a stage and a much bigger audience. Now, the top of the luminescent orb is peaking up over the mountain top. Sounds of appreciation issue from us all. Very soon the Blue Moon is hanging suspended, bathing all of us in its glow.

All night long we follow its transit overhead, no obstruction gets in the way. Predawn, the moonlight sends a path all the way to the beach. Just before sunrise, I am up in time to see it glowing pink on the horizon, and then disappear into the sea.

As we are packing up in the morning we are already making plans to return. We feel like we have been on a week’s vacation in another part of the world called the ‘Paradise of Baja California’.

 

 

How to get to Playa Saldamando: It is an easy access place, at kilometer 94, approximately 50 minutes south of Tijuana, and just 10 minutes from Ensenada.
What does it cost?: Car and Day use is $13 per day and $15 car camping overnight. Tent Trailer and motor homes rates $17 per night for 4 people. Trailer rentals $35 to $55. (To maintain peace and quiet, there are no motorcycles or ATVs allowed. No firecrackers. Dogs are to be kept on a leash).
How can I stay there:  Advanced reservations are suggested for summer weekends. Off season there is no problem with finding a spot. For reservations, from the U.S., call 619-857-9242.

Camping is a great way to enjoy the Pacific Ocean.  But so is staying in a hotel or vacation rental!  Check it out…


Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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Up on the Hill: A View of Magical Punta Banda

by Tom Gatch, photos by Lynn Gatch

Punta Banda is a narrow, mostly barren, finger of land that pokes out into the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of Bahia Todos Santos near the City of Ensenada.  Standing not far from the tip, bus loads of bug-eyed tourists regularly stare out at the myriad of sharp, guano-covered outcroppings as they munch on fish tacos and wait for the next influx of water to surge through the legendary blowhole, then spurt up in the air and dissolve into a fine, cool mist.

Tom and Lynn Gatch: Their morning view

Shack-like concession stands line the end of the road leading to “La Bufadora.”  Eager vendors offer visitors everything from the usual array of curios, plaster deities, and metal sculptures to humble preparations of shellfish, or fried seafood.  Some of the other residents are fishermen, or charter skiff operators who make a good portion of their income catering to the needs of American anglers and scuba divers that come to this special hideaway to take advantage of the abundant marine life that still exists in the waters surrounding the rugged peninsula and its many hidden coves.

La Bufadora (The Blow-Hole) in the Punta Banda area, near Ensenada

 

The hand of nature has carefully scooped a beautiful crescent shaped bay from the land just south of the blowhole, providing a nearly perfect anchorage that is protected from the northern wind and swells.  On a calm day, the waters around La Bufadora turn Mediterraneanwith cool, clear turquoise hues that anoint the eyes of the weary.  Weekend and retirement cottages are interspersed with the austere, tack-board houses of less affluent local residents.

A crescent-shaped bay south of Ensenada's famous blow-hole, La Bufadora

The grandiose dream of a seaside hacienda stagnates as unfinished masonry sits on a neglected lot filled with scattered stones and chunks of hard, dried mortar.  Many of the homes are situated on a sloping bluff above the ocean, crowned by small windmills and black solar panels that help the frugal residents fully utilize the area’s natural amenities.   The earth behind the little sea colony quickly rises several hundred feet to form a huge, dusty brown hill from which the marvels of many miles of wild coastline can be observed.  To the east, the hill provides an unobstructed view of the massive Sierra Juarez that stands as a barrier between Ensenada and the Sea of Cortez.

Years ago, the road out to the end of Punta Banda consisted of little more than graded stones, and was challenged mainly by those who were lured by visions of scallops, abalone, and huge fish.  Standing on the hill today, it is apparent that the well-traveled, twisting line of neglected asphalt, which feeds La Bufadora’s tourist industry, has done little to affect the overall feel of the surrounding landscape.  Over time, a few colonies of neo-pioneers have settled in the area, but they have been unable to totally dominate the wildness that encircles them.  Copious numbers of quail, rabbits and rattlesnakes still blend into the rough chaparral, as the skies are patrolled by soaring Red tail hawks in search of a quick meal.

The two-legged mammals that live on Punta Banda are generally sturdy, fiercely independent nonconformists who are refugees from the eternal battle between those who like to be told what to do, and those who don’t.

There are many course gravel roads that wind their way through the dry brush, over mounds of dust, and then disappear into unseen depressions; paths that often lead to a dead end when they meet with a thick wall of sagebrush and cactus.  The bold, thrusting lances of flowering yucca plants stand in stark, solitary challenge to the brilliant blue canopy above them.  When the sun hangs at a certain point in the westerly afternoon sky, the surface of the ocean seems to erupt into a sparkling carpet of diamonds, which fills the fortunate onlooker with a feeling of untold wealth.

 In spring and early summer the hillsides are often smeared with a mustard yellow hue from scores of small wildflowers that bloom as brightly in the sunshine as if they were freshly wiped from the brush of Van Gogh.  The broad, stretching arms of a variety of succulent cacti bake in the midday heat, their moist, fleshy insides protected by many thorny soldiers that are ready to offer acute pain to any intruder foolish enough to encroach upon their domain.  It is hard to believe that the stressful overcrowding and traffic gridlock of Los Angeles,California, lies just over a hundred miles to the north of this magical hideaway…but that is an eternity away from here.

Up on the hill, the breeze blows freely through your hair.  The pelicans dive into the ocean for their breakfast, and all the creatures of the sea and land are filled with a wild lusting for life.  It is a life that is sometimes violent and cruel, but devoid of the many entanglements related to modern, human society.

It is a more primitive but, somehow, more credible world.

How to get to this magical hideaway?  Follow the Transpeninsular Highway, though Ensenada, past Meaneadero, and past Baja Country Club.  There will be a fork in the road, and a sign pointing right to La Bufadora.  Just following this road that curves with the bay, and runs along the base of the foothills.  From the turn-off, expect another 15-20 minute drive to get to Punta Banda and La Bufadora.

What to expect when you get to Punta Banda?  Nature, and the authentic feel of Baja.  Wetlands and estuary surround you, as do fun beach restaurants (like Sharkeys and Juniors).  Organic farms and stands selling honey and olives are everywhere.


Hooked on Baja
 author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California. He and his wife Lynn live in the Punta Banda area.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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