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Gaia: Life Awareness in Baja

By Yesica Pineda

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.  — Lao Tzu

Gaia in Greek mythology was the mother of all. We used it to call to the Earth. So in the present, when we see the name Gaia, we think of our mother Earth–She,who provides our life needs. Which is exactly what Gaia, the store and workshop, offers to us, right here in San Jose del Cabo.  Gaia:  Life Awareness in Baja…

Gaia ~ Store and Workshop ~ is a Baja land experience; one that awakens us to a real-earth consciousness.  It is a food store which makes available healthy and organic sustainable foods that are not genetically modified and are created without chemicals or additives.  This is clean and living food like nuts, seeds, grains, spices, alternative flours, vinegars, oils, alternative pastas, breads, crackers, fresh goat milk, yogurt, and cheese, soy yogurt, agave syrup, honey, stevia, turbinado sugar, seed crackers, sprouted cereals, seed and nut milks, fresh  juices, fresh vegetables in season, a natural personal care line, and so forth.  They are the things that are really needed to sustain and nurture.

Located at the Montessori school, Educarte,  in San Jose del Cabo, this space hosts community workshops in the afternoons and evening, that focus on sustainability and permaculture,  healthy, vegan and raw nutrition,  and holistic wellness.

“I realized how passionate I was to be able to share shifts in nutrition, permaculture and  sustainability awareness. Helpful skills so that we can all be healthy and autonomous in our care for the planet, lives, food choices,” says Kim Clapham, the owner.

How to Get There: Gaia ~ Store and Workshop ~  address is PADRE MANUEL GARCIA 1339 COL: MAURICIO CASTRO C.P. 23443 SAN JOSE DEL CABO, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR.

What to expect at Gaia: An organic food store and a Urban Garden that offers workshops that teach how to cultivate food in your own home and how to prepare and cook healthy dishes.

Have you been to Gaia?  What did you think?  Share your comments and experiences with us below.

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 and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Finding the Perfect Restaurant in San Jose del Cabo

by Yesica Pineda

Perfection is always relative to the eye of the beholder; it is interdependent with the moment at hand, and the moment at hand is always changing.

Chef Tadd Chapman's Chicken Voodoo

Thus, let us just say that perfection is recognized by a sensation of happiness. Also, in Mexico we have an adage that says: Estomago lleno, corazon contento. This translates as: in a full stomach, a happy heart.

Restaurants in San Jose del Cabo are as international as the world; your experience can go from the most native taste at El Mercado de San Jose to your international cuisine of preference: Mexican, Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, American. Nonetheless, what makes San Jose del Cabo culinary culture a gourmet experience is the use of local ingredients and concepts with international flavors.

Our locally renowned Chef F. Tadd Chapman has coined the term “Mexican Fusion” Cuisine to best describe this mix. In 2010 Tadd was voted “Best Chef in Los Cabos” by the general public in the Cabo Social “Best of Cabo Awards.” In summer of 2012, the prestigious Mexico Traveller Magazine featured Tadd along with 2 others as the top Celebrity chefs of Mexico. Canadian Chef F. Tadd Chapman and his restaurants, Habaneros Gastro Grill and Don Sanchez, have become important pieces in the Los Cabos dining and social scene. When in San Jose, I make sure to always eat at his restaurants at least once.

To help you in your quest for the perfect Restaurant, he has provided us with an excellent description of our gastronomic tradition in Los Cabos:

Los Cabos, Mexico is well recognized in the world for its rich gastronomic tradition that offers a great variety of dishes and beverages prepared with innumerable ingredients. The taste, aroma and texture of these ingredients can charm even the most demanding palate and thus turns Los Cabos into one of the most important destinations in the North American Hemisphere offering eclectic international cuisines.

The Mexican cuisine has drawn from its pre-Hispanic origin various culinary techniques, which are still in use to this day at a variety of restaurants in the Los Cabos area. When the conquerors came and founded the Spanish Colony in Mexico, the native ingredients and techniques fused with the ones from the Old World, Asia and Africa. This gave birth to various exquisite dishes that currently represent traditional Mexican cuisine like mole, chiles en nogada, pozole and a whole range of salsas, beverages and desserts.

Many of the ingredients that are nowadays widely used all over the world were initially “domesticated” in Mexico during the pre-Hispanic era. These gifts that Mexico has given to the rest of the world include corn, Quinoa, different kinds of chilies and vanilla, which gives taste and perfume for many sweet and salty dishes. What should not be excluded from the list either is the tomato, which originally came from Mexico and has become appreciated most world cuisines.

Like all arts, the culinary art is developing continuously in Los Cabos. During the past years, a variety of chefs locally have experimented with different techniques and ingredients from other parts of the world and have managed to fuse them with the Mexican flavors. The result of this is a unique trip of savors and sensations in the world of Mexican contemporary cuisine that can be enjoyed in various recognized restaurants all over the destination. In these restaurants the never-ending creativity of the chefs and their unique flavors season the original dishes, which are capable of satisfying and surprising even the most demanding palate.

In Chef Tadd Chapman’s own words: “The best food, or best dish is in the eye of the consumer, because what is great for one my not be so good for the next. I have always tried to work with foods that my guests can understand and recognize all the while presenting it in a new and interesting form while still appealing to a wide range of diners. For the most part, I tend to stay away from the ‘shock and awe’ cuisine of un-natural foods.”

Good luck in your quest! Certainly, we at Baja.com would love to hear about your experience of the perfect restaurant.

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 and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

 

Alta Cocina Mexicana: Five Ways to Experience San Jose del Cabo Gourmet Cuisine

By Yesica “Yeye” Pineda

Image by Angel Carbajal de Nick San

Food that nourishes the body also nourishes mind and spirit. Pay close attention: food not only affects your health at the physical level, but science and meditation both confirm that food is directly linked to your mood and the quality of your thoughts.   “We are what we eat” is not just an old adage, but a true natural law that proves itself every time we bring something to our mouth and ingest it. Keep this in mind when you travel to San Jose del Cabo.

San José del Cabo is known for its culinary trend called alta cocina mexicana, gourmet creations of traditional Mexican dishes. Rich in organic produce and ancient mexican food culture, chefs around the world find in San José del Cabo an inspiring creative environment for their practice.

A good chef knows that combining, preparing, and cooking  food is not only a matter of good taste, but also a matter of well-being. A dish can taste delicious but make you feel sick afterwards, drain your energy or leave you in a dull state of mind; so always seek food that will have positive effects on your body.

Here are five ways you can experience San Jose del Cabo Gourmet Cuisine:

  1. Go to the Restaurants

Chef Jacobo Turquie

Mexican chef Jacobo Turquie, who owns La Panga Antigua in San Jose del Cabo, has lived here the last 14 years. His restaurant has been awarded the “Excelsis Award” by Global Quality Foundation and has appeared in magazines such as Food Arts, Vanity Fair, Concierge.com, Chicago Tribune, Savoir French American, Northwest Airlines World Travel, Palm Springs Life, México for Beginners, Baja Traveler, la Guía de Restaurantes, and Estilos Gastronómicos.

As a chef, his curriculum speaks for itself as a graduate of the Culinary Institute in America in New York.  Today, Jacobo is not only the Municipal Director of Tourism in Los Cabos, but his role as President for the Baja California Sur Chefs Association has brought San Jose del Cabo into the spotlight as an epicenter of Baja culinary paradise. Every year, under a full moon by the ocean, he and his team at CANIRAC service more than 1,000 people in our Historic Center, marking  San Jose del Cabo as an original gastronomic international destination.

Jacobo’s favorite restaurants in San Jose del Cabo are Casiano´s, Nick San, Market, Agua, The Restaurant, Flora Field Kitchen and of course La Panga Antigua.  He reminds us all that most of the restaurants in San Jose del Cabo use local ingredients, organic produce and seafood from Mar de Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, so he recommends that regardless of which restaurant you choose, try any dish that uses produce of the region.

2. Experience a private chef

Many Baja travelers choose the Villa experience; a Vacation Rental Home for your stay is an excellent option and it is very likely that you will be offered the opportunity to enjoy a private chef. If that is not the case, do not hesitate to ask for the service. Our town priority is your happiness. Even better, we at baja.com will take care of it for you.

In case your Villa or Hotel does not have private Chef service available, here is a list of links to favorite chefs in San Jose del Cabo:

Chef Casiano Reyes
Angel Carbajal
Alex Thiel
Fabrice Guisset
Volker Romeike
Drew Deckman
Pia Quintana

Don’t get discouraged thinking that our celebrity chefs are most likely busy or expensive, the worse that can happen is that you will get their recommendation of an excellent chef that suits your timing and specific needs.

3. Take a class

Have you ever taken an international gastronomic tour? A great way to experience food in San Jose del Cabo is taking a culinary class.

Chef Pia Quintana

San Jose del Cabo is home to excellent Chefs like Pia Quintana, who owns PQ Culinary Consulting & Catering. Pia Quintana moved to San Jose del Cabo 8 years ago. For two years she was Sous Chef of Ventanas Al Paraiso High End Resort before she created and designed the first organic restaurant in Los Cabos in partnership with chef Angel Carbajal. After a journey of extraordinary educational experiences in Europe, USA, and Mexico in the world of cuisine, she now herself  to her intimate interests that include Mexican Gastronomy adapted to foreign taste, International Gastronomic Tours, and teaching how to cook. Pia Quintana is a specialist in healthy Mexican Cuisine and focuses in organic products. To be part of her cooking classes, private events, and demonstrations is one of a kind experience–a San Jose del Cabo kind of experience.

Enrique Silva, owner of the famous Tequila Restaurant  gives a harvesting, cooking and wine tasting class at his organic farm  “Los Tamarindos”, not more than 5 miles from San Jose del Cabo.

Patrick and Gloria Greene at Flora Farm offer not only regional cooking classes, but they also invite you to bring your family together by preparing and sharing food and creating traditions to pass down through generations. Stay at one of their Culinary Cottages, let the season suggest what you eat, and live life on the land you farm.

In San Jose del Cabo you can also find walk-in Creative Culinary Classes at the cooking school Aroma at Plaza Peninsula. They also offer Summer Cooking Camps for children!

You could also include a road trip and visit the magic town Todos Santos. Once there, you can stay a week for a cooking adventure with Dany Lamote, head chef of the famed Hotel California and Iker Algorri, owner of the Todos Santos institution Café Brown, and experience cooking as seen in the segments featured on Chef Rick Bayless’ PBS Show Mexico, One Plate at a Time.

4. Celebrate your event in  SJC

Are you getting married? Is it your anniversary? A family reunion? Maybe you are celebrating your honeymoon? Organizing a yoga retreat? A conference? A concert? A romantic rendezvouz? An organic food workshop?

Whatever the inspiration for your event, let your favorite Chef or Restaurant cater for you. The options are endless.

5. Be your own chef

Last but not least, be your own chef. In San Jose del Cabo you will find organic produce at the Farmer’s Market, and local ingredients are available in our Mega store and several local businesses. Courtesy of president of The Chefs Association of Baja California, here is our gift to you, a San Jose del Cabo Gourmet recipe from chef Jacobo Turquie:

Trilogía de Mariscos
Seafood Trilogy

Serves four

4 jumbo shrimp size U-10, peeled and de-veined
2 – 2 lb red or rock lobster, split in half lengthwise
8 sea scallops, shucked
1/4 cup salted butter
1 tsp salt
1 lime, juiced
2 bok choy stalks washed, rinsed and split in half lengthwise
1 lb organic baby vegetables (zucchini, patty-pan, carrots, French beans)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Spanish chorizo risotto

Grill the shrimp, lobster, and scallops with butter and a dash of salt until they are cooked
but tender. Once done, squeeze a lime over the seafood for extra flavor. Grill the split bok
choy and place on a side of the serving dish. Sauté the organic baby vegetables with olive
oil and season. Place the split lobster next to the bok choy and arrange the shrimp and
scallops over the lobster tail and the organic baby vegetables on the side.
Scoop some Spanish chorizo risotto over the lobster head as an accompaniment.
Serve with optional melted butter, garlic butter, or any other sauce for seafood.

Do you have any special ways that you experience food and dining in San Jose del Cabo? Let us know!

Can You Eat Organic in San Jose del Cabo?

By Yesica Pineda

One of the greatest pleasures of travel is the opportunity to encounter new cultures through local food. In seaside San Jose del Cabo, you will find an eclectic assortment of foods and styles, from fresh fruits and veggies to seafood, Italian, California-style, European, Turkish, Spanish, French, American, Chinese, Japanese—and of course, traditional Mexican tacos.

Did you know that many of these local restaurants source their ingredients from the San Jose del Cabo Organic Farmer’s Market? Here, you can find produce from a variety of local organic farms, such as that produced by Sabor de Amor (Taste of Love).

A branch of the organization Raices y BrazosSabor de amor is located at Colonia Chamizal San Jose del Cabo. Its mission is to “reach out and nourish folks through homegrown local organic foods infused with love and intention.” Raices y Brazos is an integral center for the exploration of individual and collective evolution. Its areas of exploration include: art, music, yoga, dance, healing, spirit, ecology, activism, education, organizing and community building.

The growers are a mix of volunteers who travel from all over to sustain the gardens and the local community that works on it; it is a significant community effort, directed and founded by Peter Domecq. You will find them as a strong presence in the Farmers Market, offering the veggies of the season. You can find out in detail which veggies and fruits are in season at San Jose del Cabo Organic Market’s website.

What is organic?  Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality. Organic foods are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

You will find variations of this definition often, but they are incomplete. What is special about our Farmer’s Market in San Jose del Cabo is its resonance with what many of us feel and believe. Being organic is a natural way of life in spirit, in words, and in actions.

So yes, you can eat organic in San Jose del Cabo!

How much do you know about organic food in Mexico or even organic food in general? Comment with your experiences and knowledge.