And the Legend Lives On…
Over numerous decades, the Rosarito Beach Hotel has played host to a myriad of Hollywood celebrities, international dignitaries and discriminating visitors from around the globe. As a matter of fact, as the years have passed, some of its regular guests even began referring to it simply as ‘the legend’; paying homage to the fact that the hotel has remained one of the top properties of its kind on the Baja coast since the days of the early 20th Century.
As it turns out, during the past several years, the hotel along with Chef Bo Bendana of the Mi Casa Supper Club have worked together to create yet another legend, which now draws throngs of eager epicureans and wine lovers to the annual Sabor de Baja that features delightful samplings of our region’s finest wines and craft brews pared with gourmet cuisine from top local restaurants. Without a doubt, the 2016 event set a new standard in that regard.
This year’s affair was also upgraded with a new VIP section, which offered reserved table seating that was situated adjacent to the main stage. Guests who took advantage of this option enjoyed easy access to the wine and food along with a close up view of the featured entertainment and presentation ceremonies.
An increase in onsite staffing ensured that the general admission attendees were also well accommodated with additional chairs for their tables whenever necessary. As always, however, it was the exceptional performance of the many vintners, brewers, chefs and restaurateurs taking part in this annual event that elevated it to its new apex in 2016.
Although wine was the most predominant beverage being served, there were also a few wonderful craft brews available; most notably, the Veraniega Mexican ale provided by Ensenada’s Wendlandt Cerveceria.
Nonetheless, from velvety reds to crisp whites and an occasional well rounded blush or rosé, it was indeed the many fine wines available that created some of the best pairing opportunities. Evaluating the many varietals in an attempt to find a clear ‘winner’ can often become quite subjective; yet one of them must ultimately end up prevailing over all the others.
The judges at the 4th Annual Sabor de Baja had the daunting task of tasting food items from 20 different chefs and tasting 16 wines and 4 craft beers; and then had to determine the winners in each of those categories in a mere 2 hours.
In the end, they came to a unanimous decision. It was the cuisine of Chef Armas Gomez and his Ensenada restaurant Mantou Gastropub, paired with a fine red wine from Vinicola Corona Del Valle that ended up taking the top honors. Yet, the high quality of all the entries presented to them made for some very fierce competition.
Attendees also got an opportunity to weigh in on the many restaurants that took part in the event. Once again the voting was close, but it was the Rosarito Beach Hotel’s gourmet restaurant Chabert’s that ultimately took the People’s Choice Award for presenting the best cuisine at the competition.
The annual Sabor de Baja event not only continues to consistently set the regional standard for upscale wine and food pairings of this nature; it also plays an important role in drawing further international attention to the world class wines, chefs and exquisite gastronomic resources that are available in northern Baja California.
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