Spain had Picasso. France had Monet. Italy, Michelangelo. And Tijuana had Benjamin Serrano.

By Derrik Chinn

Credited as the first artist to usher the border city onto the international art scene, Serrano fused Mexican and American influences to make for a hybrid style that defied traditional classification on multiple counts. Much like Tijuana itself, his work is colorful, whimsical and carnal, an incomparably iconic blend of surrealism, pop and social anthropology.

Benjamin Serrano

The manner in which he reflected the city and offered its citizens’ a visual representation of Tijuana as a philosophy was something no artist had attempted before to such an extent. Or even really bothered to attempt. No small feat, for sure.

But his greatest legacy is the way in which he captured the aesthetic of a geopolitical entity as unique, complicated and unabashedly bizarre as Tijuana, which provided a new dimension of what it means to be Mexican.

All this comes together in “Benjamin Serrano, Transcendence and Vanguard from Tijuana,” which opened Friday in El Cubo — Centro Cultural Tijuana’s 2008, $9 million expansion. The most extensive gathering of Serrano’s works to date, the exhibit includes 55 paintings, sculptures, drawings and other significant works that span his career from the 1950s until his death in 1988, many of which have never been on public display before, as well as a collection of personal letters, postcards and documents on loan from family and friends.

“As a pioneer Benjamin Serrano knew how to observe, analyze and transform with acuity, irony and great humor the day-to-day living in a city where one finds culture in a way that’s very sincere, raw and for unfamiliar eyes maybe violent,” said curator Olga Margarita Davila.

An extended residency in Paris sharpened his avant-garde eye, while his travels to Oaxaca deepened his connection with Mexican artisan culture. But it was Tijuana’s physical and cultural proximity to the United States that allowed him access to Los Angeles and San Francisco, a key ingredient in his trademark fusion of surrealism and pop.

Among the pieces more obviously inspired by his bordertown muse are a tribute to Juan Soldado, a federal solder executed for rape and murder in 1939 who later became a would-be unofficial folk saint for undocumented migrants, an urban legend that continues to stir controversy in Tijuana today; and an epic mural depicting Hernan Cortes’ indigenous lover La Malinche perched atop a toilet, nude except for a pair of high heels, surrounded by warriors bearing newspaper armor and Pepsi shields.

While his take on religion, sexuality and authority proved to be too graphic for Mexico City — “too much for los chilangos,” Davila said — it was just as provocative as the American scene would permit. Serrano illustrates a vivid connection to not just the border but the city as a link to two separate cultural and political entities, a stigma that continues to relevantly illustrate Tijuana, Davila said, “with hope, courage and adaptation to change.”

Tijuana to a tee.

Located a mile from the San Ysidro border crossing on Paseo de los Heroes, Centro Cultural Tijuana is open daily; admission is free on Sundays. “Benjamin Serrano, Transcendence and Vanguard from Tijuana” runs through October. More info at cecut.gob.mx.

Derrik Chinn- From unassuming reporter to freedom-loving Turista Libre (free tourist), Derrik Chinn’s reputation as underground concierge to the traveler has grown. Chinn, who has been spidering about in Tijuana with groups of tourists looking for a different kind of Mexico experience, is now sharing some of his insights and perspectives 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 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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Baja Craft Beers will have its own Tasting Room

To open on August 10

By Alan Castorena. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

The Tijuana based distributor will open its own Tasting Room on August 10 with over 30 beers on tap and a wide variety of bottles and beers from the region as well offering beers from Southern California and the US.

The Tasting Room will be located where El Origen Restaurant used to be (a street away from where the Tangaloo nightclub was). “We will have a lot of beers” said Rubén from BajaCraft while he poured a glass of Betta Bretta, a collaboration between Lost Abbey and New Belgium.
A little spoiler we can give you is that the lamps are made of beer kegs; the venue has an urban style with metal rods, stones and a rustic-modern style reminiscent of a garage. They will offer a wide selection of snacks and appetizers to go with the beers; the Tasting Room promises to be a success.

It is the first one in the city to feature craft beer on taps and I think it is a very important step forward for the movement; besides La Tasca and Beer Box this is what the city needs.

Zesde Cervecería promises to open its own tasting room in late 2013. We will see what the future holds, long live local beer and the taste bud revolution!

We’ll leave you with a video of the beer that Rubén showed us at the Baja Beer Fest in Tijuana.

http://www.metatube.com/es/videos/146401/The-Lost-Abbey-New-Belgium-Collaboration-Mo-Betta-Bretta/

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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Turista Libre Bike Ride to Baja Beer Fest

To understand beer culture in Mexico, you first have to understand its recent lack thereof.
By Derrik Chinn

(Check out Derrik Chinn’s Press Release!)

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012

Mexico bows beneath the weight of a historical beer duopoly. Two companies, Grupo Modelo in Mexico City and Monterrey-based Grupo Cuauhtemoc-Moctezuma, dominate the domestic market with a familiar cast, namely Corona, Tecate, Pacifico and Dos Equis. Thanks to these brands, the general international consensus regarding Mexican beer is that it is meant to be consumed in large quantities, preferably in the sun alongside emerald waves, and always requires shoving a lime wedge down the bottle to enhance its flavor.

But just across the border, San Diego is home to a highly concentrated amount of some of the world’s favorite craft beers, so much that in 2009 Men’s Journal named the city the beer capital of the U.S. It was only a matter of time before that growing objection to the mass-produced likes of Budweiser and friends would begin to seep its way under the border wall and into Baja.

Such a shift in the tide of colloquial beer tastes eventually gave rise to the Asociacion de Cerveza Artesanal de Baja California (the Baja California Craft Beer Association), a group of 40 or so homebrewers that for the past two years has organized its annual Baja Beer Fest, usually held in Ensenada in March. Last weekend the fest made its Tijuana debut, a two-day run of some 100 local craft brews in front of the historic Jai Alai building (one of the city’s oldest) between Seventh and Eighth streets on Avenida Revolucion in downtown Tijuana.

This was the Baja Beer Fest, mind you, which isn’t to be confused with the TJ Beer Fest, a more commercialized ordeal orchestrated by Cerveceria Tijuana and San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. that was happening a few miles east in the parking lot of the Caliente casino. What exactly led two major beer fests to take place in the same city on the same weekend is a complicated tale, but the 20,000-peso stand rental (about $1,500) at the latter is essentially what led ACABC to organize another round of its own fest, this time in Tijuana and simultaneously, deliberately right under the TJ Beer Fest organizers’ noses. The competition proved confusing for many but for craft beer devotees, this was without a doubt the place to be.

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012

Seven in total turned out for Saturday’s cross-border ride to the fest from Bottlecraft beer boutique in Little Italy; not surprisingly most were seasoned cyclists looking to offset the impending cerveza buffet. (True bike folk rarely need a reason to ride but when it involves crossing an international border, an excess of home-brew waiting on the other end is definitely an incentive.) It’s not every day you embark upon a self-propelled journey from one urban extremity such as San Diego – one of the world’s most romanticized – to another that is arguably one of the world’s most misunderstood. Needless to say, the experience is as underrated as it is surreal.

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012

The 20-mile route took us from downtown San Diego along Harbor Drive over to Main Street, through National City and Chula Vista along the eastern stretch of the Bayshore Bikeway and into the sagebrush beyond Dairy Mart Road before finally arriving at the San Ysidro pedestrian border crossing. There, the peloton dismounted and front tires pointed at the sky, awkwardly shuffled through the turnstiles and into Mexico. Minutes later and now officially in Latin America, we were chaining up our rides at the fest alongside, appropriately, a zonkey named Monica. (Zonkey: a donkey painted to look like a zebra, timeless Tijuana icons for better or for worse; also known as a burro rayado.)

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012

Just on the other side of the gates was Francisco Talamante, ACABC president and founder of Ensenada-based Cerveceria Canneria, a Spanglish reference to the port city’s many fish canneries. Who better to ask where to begin the sampling marathon? Aside from the cup of Canneria’s La Bombera red ale in his hand, that is. For hoppy, Virgilio and Insurgente. For malty, Ramuri and Kudos. But more important, he recommended sticking to the 2-3 oz. samplers that each brewer was offering for around 10 pesos (75 cents or so), saving full pours – priced at 35-50 pesos ($2.50-$4) – for personal favorites.

Aside from a one-off walk-up at Cerveceria Kili – makers of an oaky Irish red ale and a stout brewed with Turkish and Guerrero coffees – and a random IPA at the Baja Craft Beers stand, a tasting room set to open in La Cacho in late July, that’s exactly how the afternoon played out. The strategy of asking each brewer where to head next in a sea of options proved productive, maybe even elitely curated, at least for an open-ended pallet like mine.

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012 Insurgente Beer

The rotary kicked off with Insurgente, run by brothers Damian and Ivan Morales. Tijuana’s would-be craft brew poster boys, the pair seem to wind up with multiple ribbons whenever awards are being handed out. While their La Luposa IPA continues to win popularity contests among their five brews the mid-afternoon sun called for a full cup of Tiniebla, a Witbier heavy on orange peel and coriander but the lightest of their roster. It’s intended for weaning people off Tecate, Ivan confessed.

From there it was on to Cerveceria Zesde. ACABC’s youngest members, Alan Castoreña and Enrique Seamanduras are a pair of Tijuanenses who are ironically barely old enough to purchase beer north of the border. Dutch for “six,” Zesde is a reference to Sixth Street, the epicenter of Tijuana’s recent nightlife renaissance that served as the birthplace for their brew. Their regular roster includes a vanilla stout, British and amber ales, the Das Falco IPA (named after one of the city’s celebrity graphic designer DJs) and a strawberry lambic. But today they were serving a coffee stout and a honey blond, both made specially for the fest.

Next up was Silenus’ Munich-style maibock, whose heavy caramel flavor hides its high-alcohol content (at 6.8 percent, slurring soon becomes unavoidable). This may have been the day’s overall champion. Two words: liquid flan. A side of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla was sadly nowhere to be found.

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012 Ramuri

Ramuri was a name that kept popping up over the course of the day, recommended by several brewers. While their Diablo Blanco (White Devil) “premium Mexican lager” came off as a sort-of deluxe Corona and the Saison (pale ale) for some reason had me thinking of bleu cheese (not necessarily a bad thing but neither necessarily intentional either, although Saisons are known for getting rather funky), their Lagrimas Negras (Black Tears) oatmeal stout — brewed with medium-roast Oaxacan coffee — was definitely another personal favorite. Also on tap was a cider that I’d normally pass on because of its sweetness but it was probably the most memorable brew that I tasted, solely for the fact that it was made with green apples from Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana’s most iconic open-air market.

Turista Libre ride to Baja Beer Fest 2012

Onward to Bosiger, the house craft brew at Swiss-themed sports bar Sotano Suizo in Plaza Zapato and probably the closest any beer at this fest came to keeping with the Reinheitsgebot, to try what one of the Silenus guys called the best Hefeweizen in the world. “And I hate Hefeweizens,” he said. Along with their porter, head brewer Demian Bosiger said it’s their most popular of their whopping list of 20 brews, even though his extended family back in Switzerland thinks it’s too much of a chore to drink. “Too complex,” he said. “They apparently also think I’m an idiot for brewing with habanero.”

The long return trek (albeit on the trolley; 20 miles is enough pedaling for one day) and the setting sun on the mind, it was time to head back north. In four or so hours I banked 13 beers, three full pours and 10 tasters. Not bad for an afternoon crash course on Baja craft brew, during which I came in contact with not a single lime wedge. Somewhere in there was a pitstop at Kokopelli, a mariscos stand that’s usually parked on the southern edge of downtown at Ocampo and Boulevard Agua Caliente. Run by graduates of Tijuana’s Culinary Art School, their pesto octopus and marlin pibil tacos are set to make their Travel Channel debut on Andrew Zimmern’s forthcoming food show “Border Check” sometime later this year. An hasta luego to Talamante, who invited us all to Mexicali’s installment of the Baja Beer Fest once temps drop into the 90s sometime in the fall, followed by a grand finale photo atop Monica, and back to the border we went.

I’ll stop short of wishing every brew whose name I bothered to scribble down were more readily available in the U.S., at least for now. Who’s to say whether Tijuana is destined to become the beer lover’s Mexican Field of Dreams. But judging by fests like this, it very well could.

One thing’s for sure, TJ. If you brew it, and brew it well, they will come.

Derrik Chinn- From unassuming reporter to freedom-loving Turista Libre (free tourist), Derrik Chinn’s reputation as underground concierge to the traveler has grown. Chinn, who has been spidering about in Tijuana with groups of tourists looking for a different kind of Mexico experience, is now sharing some of his insights and perspectives 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 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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L’Escargot Bistrot, a little piece of France in Tijuana

A perfect evening and excellent French Food

June 26, 2012  By Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

L'Escargot Bistrot Tijuana

Very few of you may know about my passion for French cuisine and culture. That passion is actually what first sparked my interest into the world of gastronomy, and my French cookbooks were my first friends in the kitchen. Well..that’s enough about me. Let’s talk a little bit about Chef Ryan Steyn and his wife who opened L’Escargot Bistrot just about a year ago. They will actually celebrate their doors being open for a year on July 18th. South Africa is where Chef Ryan Steyn was born and raised, as well as where he met his wife. She is a Sommelier with an incredible passion for French food. He moved to Tijuana just three years ago, and they embarked on their journey together of what is now known has this quaint restaurant.

Bread basket at L'Escargot

Cheese plate at L'Escargot

As soon as I stepped foot into the garden of L’Escargot Bistrot I felt as if I was transported into my own world and French dining experience. The warm summer evening could not have been a better excuse to enjoy dining al fresco. As the sun began to set, there were lit lanterns that filled the garden with a romantic light.

A basket full of fresh bread that was baked in their wood fired oven, was accompanied by an absolutely gorgeous cheese plate. Food really is art, and there are so many ways to embrace its natural beauty. The three cheeses that made up this cheese board were Brie, Goat Cheese covered in ashes, and a wedge of Roquefort. The bread has a wonderful crunch on the outside, with a pillow like soft interior. Brie is usually one way to my heart, but in this case the Goat Cheese came out as my favorite of the three.

Escargots in a red wine sauce that surrounded bone marrow at L'Escargot

Following that were Escargots in a red wine sauce that surrounded bone marrow. Escargots and bone marrow on the same plate? Hello lovely! If you have never tried snails, please put L’Escargot Bistrot on your restaurant list and come and taste these. It’s all part of the fun grabbing the shell with the tongs, and getting every bit of sauce possible with the meat of the snail.

Foie Gras at L'Escargot Tijuana

For those of you in California that need a Foie fix, head on down to Tijuana. I have always enjoyed Foie Gras, and growing up I always remembered my dad ordering it any time that it was offered on the menu. Take a piece of the crunchy toast, then slather on the apple marmalade, and top that with a bit of the buttery Foie Gras. That my friends is what it is all about. The flavors, and textures will knock your socks off.

L'Escargot Tijuana

frog legs cooked in their wood fired oven, and then placed on top of a ratatouille L'escargot Tijuana

So there may be a few of you that even hear the word frog legs, and then divert in another direction of food choice. I am not here to try and tell you, “Hey, you must eat these!” Okay, so maybe there is a little bit of convincing going on, but really they do deserve some attention. The frog legs are cooked in their wood fired oven, and then placed on top of a ratatouille. The olives and red pepper really let that juicy meat shine. The flavors together are just divine.

leg of lamb at L'escargot

The heartiest dish of the evening was the leg of lamb. The meat literally fell off of the bone, as soon as my fork touched it. The ideal bite of a piece of the tender lamb with a smear of potato puree, that is sitting there soaking up all of those juices is where its at. This is that dish of comfort food, that you just get an all around warm feeling in your stomach while eating it.

L'Escargot Tijuana

 creme brulee, 52% Cacao Chocolate Mousse, and an eclair filled with chocolate chantilly cream L'escargot Tijuana

If you have read any of my recent posts, you will see that I have slowly been changing into more of a dessert person. I have always loved sweets, but have much rather preferred savory dishes. So it continues, my love is growing more and more each day for the sweeter side of things. The dessert plate came out with three different desserts. There was a creme brulee, 52% Cacao Chocolate Mousse, and an eclair filled with chocolate chantilly cream. Dad, if you are reading this, you would have been envious of us devouring that eclair. The Chocolate mousse was served in an orange peel, which I loved that little detail. I am a huge dark chocolate fan, and this was nothing short of fabulous! My husband’s favorite was the creme brulee. Let me just say, it was so hard to pick a favorite from all of these, and looking back I would easily order each and every one of them again.
Whether you are looking for a spot to enjoy a nice romantic evening, or just a night filled with excellent French food, L’Escargot Bistrot is your spot. I want to thank Chef Ryan Steyn for his hospitality, and we will be paying you a visit very soon!

L’Escargot Bistro
Gobernador Ibarra 2730
Corner of Jalisco
Col. Cacho
(664)684 9999

For directions, click here.

Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California?  Read about it here!

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

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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La Querencia, combining Mediterranean techniques and asian flavors

Locally sourced ingredients for this Bajamed cuisine

July 6, 2012  By Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero from La Querencia

Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero

Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero has pioneered the Baja Med cuisine movement for the past 11 years.
You may have also heard of his other two restaurants El Taller and Almazara. We are so fortunate to have accessibility to a wide variety of fresh ingredients in Baja California.
The interior walls of La Querencia are covered in photographs of his own hunting and fishing experiences. You will also notice the stuffed birds and animals that take up their own little areas as well. It is another way to make you realize where your food really does come from. The menus are displayed on chalk boards on both sides of the restaurant, which honestly already had me drooling from the second that I sat down.
Chef Miguel Angel not only grows the produce in his own garden at his house for his dishes at La Querencia, but he hunts and fishes for the ingredients as well. There is such passion behind his plates, and I was ready to embark on this culinary venture. It is incredible how much you can taste the difference in locally grown and sourced ingredients. Chef Miguel Angel took us on a journey through his world of Baja med cuisine, and with an empty stomach I was ready to climb aboard.

Chocolata clam shot from La Querencia

The first taste to hit my palate was a Chocolata clam shot. As soon as that fresh meaty clam hits your tongue, your mouth is filled with the sweet flavors of the salty ocean. This is one of the many reasons that I am in love with Baja. The freshness of the seafood and its natural flavors are unreal. The shot glass was also filled with some sriracha sauce and touch of vodka. The heat came through, but did not overpower the clam at all.

 beet carpaccio from La Querencia

Yellow squash and zucchini carpaccio from La Querencia

The next two plates that we were presented with were two different vegetable carpaccios.
Both of them were prepared with fresh and organic produce right from his garden. I feel like most people have a love/hate relationship with beets. Personally, I love them, and all of their beauty.
The beet carpaccio had both a goat and blue cheese over the top, and then was drizzled with a tarragon mint oil. The earthy beet with the two cheeses together was just heavenly. The second carpaccio consisted of paper thin sliced yellow squash and zucchini. It was hard to pick favorites during this meal, but I have to say that this one came in at the top. Fresh lime juice, chile oil, cilantro, pepitas, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese gave this plate an explosion of flavors. Both of these dishes were full of such clean flavors.

Following that were two different grilled oysters. If you have only ever had raw oysters, I highly suggest that you jump on the grilled oyster train. They have just the right amount of smokiness to them, but you can still taste their natural essence of the sea.

smoked Ahi tuna tostada from La Querencia

After slurping down those two gems, a smoked Ahi tuna tostada followed shortly thereafter. The crunchy tostada was topped with tender ahi tuna, wasabi cream, garlic chips and avocado. Each bite had a little bit of each ingredient, and it was just divine. I tried to eat slowly, so that I got to savor each and every morsel, but I may have gotten a little bit carried away. It was quite the tostada bliss.
The next dish was the one that tied in close second with the squash carpaccio. Marinated duck, grilled Portabello mushrooms, and Goat cheese inside of a tortilla created a truly memorable taco. The ingredients are indeed rich together but oh, the flavors are just sublime.

rosemary olive oil seared fresh fish from La Querencia

The final savory dish was a beautiful fresh fish that started off by being seared in a pan with a little bit of rosemary olive oil. To finish the cooking process, the filet is then placed on the grill. Underneath the perfectly cooked fish was a bed of Japanese noodles soaking up a delightful broth. The broth itself added the perfect amount of saltiness to the dish. I could have literally sat there slurping up the broth all on its own, but adding a twirl of noodles and piece of fish, was an excellent bite exploding with flavors.

White chocolate crepe cake from La Querencia

We were told that we could not leave without trying their White chocolate crepe cake. Let me tell you, that is the absolute truth! Crepe cake where have you been all of my life? Well, now that we have been introduced, I will be seeing you more often. The white chocolate and thin crepes are such a match. The pristine white cake had even more depth when it was dragged through the assorted fruit syrups.

La Querencia Tijuana

La Querencia Tijuana

 

This was just a taste of the extensive menu at La Querencia. There is sure to be a dish that satisfies everyone’s palate.

Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California?  Read about it here!

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

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.

Possibly Related Posts:


Cataviña – World Class Cuisine in Baja

A delicious combination of flavors from all around the world

June 26, 2012  By Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

Cataviña – World Class Cuisine in Baja

Catavina, Cocina del Mundo it's one of the new spots in Tijuana's gastronomic scene. Kristin Díaz de Sandi

A newer addition to the ever changing gastronomic scene in Tijuana is Cataviña restaurant. Zaira and her staff opened up their doors just nine months ago in the Zona Rio area. Cataviña restaurant has a beautiful facade, with both brick and modern accents. You have the option to dine inside, or on their outdoor patio area. The patio area has fresh herbs growing on the outer perimeter, which is not only great to look at, but there are wonderful aromas as well. It is ideal for the upcoming warm days and nights, but it is also equipped with heat lamps, for when it begins to cool down. The interiors of this quaint restaurant are warm and inviting, and the ambiance is just lovely. There are jazzy tunes playing in the background, that are still at a low enough volume to enjoy conversation with friends or family.

Mixed ceviche of octopus, sea snail, both cooked and raw shrimp, and scallops that is presented in a green crunchy tortilla cup

Zaira presented us with a little taste of what their menu has to offer. This was a wonderful way to get a little preview of the various options. The meal started off with the ideal refreshing course. A mixed ceviche of octopus, sea snail, both cooked and raw shrimp, and scallops that is presented in a green crunchy tortilla cup. This was one of my favorites of the day. Each bite is full of acidity, fresh seafood, and a bit of heat from the Chiltepin chile. I love the idea of the tortilla cup, the bottom is full of the remaining juices, so you won’t miss a drop.

Carpaccio of scallops on thin slices of persian cucumber

The next course was a delicate carpaccio of scallops on thin slices of persian cucumber. The simplicity of this dish is what really caught my eye. There was so much flavor in each bite, I could have easily had a plate of this to myself.

Tacos de Pargo (Red Snapper)

The third course were Tacos de Pargo (Red Snapper). The nuggets of Pargo were coated in delicious asian flavors. It was served with their own house made fresh corn tortillas, and creamy avocado. This was the first time that I have experienced a taco with this flair of flavors, and I will be going back for more. The fish is absolutely divine on its own, but then creating your own taco with it, is just an added bonus.

salad made up of spinach leaves, mandarin slices, almonds, dried fruit, cheese, and tossed with a mouthwatering balsamic dressing.

Following the tacos was a salad made up of spinach leaves, mandarin slices, almonds, dried fruit, cheese, and tossed with a mouthwatering balsamic dressing. The dressing was on the sweeter side, but the hearty spinach leaves, and salty cheese balanced it out very nicely.

Pan seared chicken nestled on top of grilled mango, melted brie, and potatoes.

Just listening to the ingredients of the next dish got me excited. Pan seared chicken nestled on top of grilled mango, melted brie, and potatoes. Drizzled over that beauty was a Tempranillo reduction. There were steamed baby vegetables sharing the plate as well. Let me tell you, if you have never had the pleasure of enjoying juicy chicken, grilled mango, and brie all in one bite, you are missing out. Oh, and the Tempranilo reduction could have easily been eaten alone with a spoon, it was that delicious.

Sole wrapped in a zucchini carpaccio with a lime sauce, tomatoes and black olives.

The courses continued on the hearty path, and now is the time to wipe your mouth if you have started to drool a bit. The next plate to come out was Sole wrapped in a zucchini carpaccio with a lime sauce, tomatoes and black olives. At first I didn’t want to ruin the presentation, but there was no way around it. Creating that sought out bite of zucchini, flaky sole, tomato, and olives was easier than it looked. The dish is on the lighter side, for those of you watching your figure, and is full of bright flavors.

A piece of filet cooked to perfection, and smothered in a mushroom sauce and caldo de res reduction.

The following course literally melted in my mouth, and no there wasn’t any chocolate involved. A piece of filet cooked to perfection, and smothered in a mushroom sauce and caldo de res reduction. You barely even had to use a knife to cut through the meat, it was that gorgeous. I think I saw my husband close his eyes for a slight second to enjoy every morsel. This is a dish that will very well have you hear yourself saying “yum”, even if your mouth is full of food. This was the end of the savory courses, it was now time for a palate cleanser, and some dessert.

dragon fruit sorbet

Raise your hand if you have had dragon fruit sorbet before. If you aren’t one of those with your arm in the air, you need to put that on your “to eat” list. The color itself is magnificent, but the flavor is truly something special. Zaira informed us that these dragon fruit hailed from Sonora, and that there is a very short season for them, so get them while they are hot. It has this bouquet of floral notes, with a little bit of sweetness lingering in the background. This was an excellent way to prepare us for the next dish ahead.

crepas de cajeta

We ended this delightful lunch with crepas de cajeta. I am not a huge fan of sweets, but anything with Cajeta you can count me in. The crepes were so thin and buttery. Did I say that I wasn’t a fan of sweets? Oh well, then that wasn’t me swirling my piece of crepe in the cajeta to pick up every last bit.

We will be making a trip back to Cataviña to try out some of the other items on the menu, as well as their breakfast. On the weekends they also offer Menudo and Caguamanta.

A special thank you to Jorge D’Garay and Zaira Echave for inviting us to dine at Cataviña restaurant. It was an absolute pleasure, and the food was delicious!

Follow this map to Cataviña Restaurant

Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California?  Read about it here!

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

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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July is Beer Brewing Month in Tijuana

Two beer fests are on the way.

June 17, 2012.  By Alan Castorena. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com

As you may know by now, Tijuana will be hosting two Beer Fests on the 13th and 14th of July weekend.

On one hand we have the Cervecería Tijuana (Tijuana Brewery) as a host and on the other the Baja California Craft Breweries Association (ACAB for its Spanish initials) as the organizer.

We will present you with an evaluation of both so you can decide which one to attend.

Baja Beer Fest (Presented by ACAB)

A virtually new Festival barely on its third installment, it will be located on Revolución Avenue.

Over 90% of the expositors are local beer makers from Ensenada, Mexicali, Tijuana and Rosarito. This festival is held three times a year at the top 3 cities of the Baja state.

This time is Tijuana’s turn, and not only will you find brewers here but also the restaurant industry as well as the already famous “gourmet street food” whose chefs astounded us all with their BajaMed fusion; Kokopelli’s delicious Pesto Octopus being a fine example.

Music will be in the hands of local bands like La Sonrisa Vertical (The Vertical Smile) known for their fresh sound and innovative ideas; famous Tony Tee will help out, too.

Baja Beer Fest in its 3 stages is a contest judged by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) in which all breweries contend in different categories making this event the only competition festival of Mexico’s border.

Beer sampling in this event is up to each expositor, they will decide if their beer is given away for free or not; those who do charge customers will have a small fee of $1USD or less.

Cover: 70 pesos/5dlls. Sampling cup included.

TJ Beer Fest (presented by: Cervecería Tijuana)

TJ Beer Fest is celebrating its 8th year in a row inside the Caliente Racetrack.

The festival’s selling point is the music, one of the main attractions being Beatlemania, a The Beatles tribute band; there is also a homage to Guns N’ Roses and like every year, Javier Bátiz; Nortec Collective’s participation is to be confirmed.

As far as breweries go, American beer makers to attend will be Stone and Ballast Point from San Diego, representatives from DogFish Head; Mexican companies include Minerva and Tempus; local ones will present Cucapá, Baja, Frontera and Ramuri who will be participating in both events.

This festival is both recreational and promotional.

Every year TJ’s Craft Brewery shows its vast experience and planning in this event since not only does it draw tourists, the festival is also very well orchestrated.

Cover: 120 pesos/ 10 dlls; Includes three 4oz samples and sampling cup.

____

Alan Castorena belongs to the Baja California Craft Breweries Association and is also a writer for TJ Beer Blog as well as a promoter of the craft beer movement throughout Baja.

alancastorena@gmail.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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France Sets Its Eyes on Baja

The country is looking to have a stronger presence in the area.

June 21, 2012  By Alexandra Mendoza.  Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com.

The wines from the Guadalupe Valley could achieve the Protected Designation of Origin certification.

All through June 24,Baja California will be enjoying its first “French Week”, an event looking to propel France’s presence in this region.

Baja California has become a point of interest for France for of its cultural diversity, wine production, and economic potential as well as its strong aerospace industry, explained Dr. Rodrigo Rodríguez, President of the French Alliance in Tijuana (Alianza Francesa).

The Alliance’s representative said that since last year there has been talk about forging business associations in different sectors and there’s even the possibility of introducing charter flights directly from Tijuana to the Champagne Ardenne area.

“There is definitely an interest; they want to pay more attention to the northwest of Mexico, especially to Baja California since it is so close to the United States” mentioned Rodríguez.

There is also the possibility of bringing more investments from France to Baja California.

One of the projects already underway between the two countries is the opportunity for the wines from the Guadalupe Valley to achieve the Protected Designation of Origin certification; an initiative that has been discussed for over a year.

According to Rodrigo Rodríguez, back in 2011, representatives of the Champagne Ardenne region traveled to the Valley where it was determined that these Mexican wines complied with the qualifications required to achieve this denomination.

The “Week of France in Baja California” was made possible by an agreement signed by the State’s government and the French Embassy in Mexico two years ago.

A week full of events

The first “Week of France in Baja California” started the past 18 of June with the screening of French movie “7 years” (“7 ans”) at the Carlos Monsiváis Gallery in Tijuana’s Culture Center (CECUT) with great attendance from locals.

To continue with the celebration this Thursday, June 21st, when France commemorates their “Fête de la Musique” (World Music Day) Baja California will be hosting a concert of French music ranging from centuries past to Edit Piaf titled “La Vida en Rosa” (“La Vie en Rose”) also at the CECUT.

This event promises to be the keystone of the festivities in Baja California and it’s been informed that there are still a couple of tickets left.

A day later, on June 22, another concert will take place there, only this time it will be at the Agora, an open space inside the Culture Center; France’s best flute players, Trio d’Argent, will be performing a musical repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the modern era.

CECUT’s Film Archives will be screening a set of French movies every day at 8:30 pm while in the Museum’s lobby, the “Hecho en Francia” (“Made in France”) exposition of contemporary posters will be on display.

alexandra.mendoza@sandiegored.com

Original Text : Alexandra Mendoza

Translation: Karen B. Licea

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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Vecchio: Tijuana’s Trendy New Nightclub

Former “Cine Bujazán” has evolved and brings magic to the new generations

June 16, 2012.  By Alexandra Mendoza.  Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com.

It was once the largest, most elegant movie theater of its time, but now, the iconic spot on Constitución Avenue in Tijuana, will house what is said to be one of the most innovative clubs in the region.

After three years of planning, “Vecchio”, which means “antique” in Italian, finally opened its doors last Friday; a venture entirely from Tijuana, its main goal is bringing to new generations the magic that lived for decades in the “Cine Bujazán”.

Since its beginnings, this project has raised a lot of expectations south of the border and people were particularly curious to know how the features of the characteristic building would be used. Located in downtown Tijuana, Vecchio offers a unique concept in entertaining.

“The idea was to create a cutting-edge concept with an eclectic style” asserted Cynthia Valadez architect in charge of the club’s design “we wanted to salvage what this important place meant for Tijuana, something that attracted locals and people from far away back in the day” she added.

Established in 1951, Bujazán Movie Theater was one of the most important cinemas in the country, presenting black and white films, color motion pictures and plays as well as festivals and even official government addresses.

True to the intended scheme, the nightclub located in the previous theater lobby, kept the original building structures and spiced them up with a modern touch and a stunning set of lights that is sure to have a name of its own. The light set, brought from Bulgaria, uses LED technology to save energy without sacrificing any part of the show to be had every weekend.

The spot where 60 years ago was the movie screen will continue to be part of Multikulti, a separate notion from Vecchio which main focus is holding concerts, this area won’t be open for the clubbers.

One of the place’s strong points will be offering quality service for all of the clients according to Aarón Rangel, Marketing Manager of Vecchio “We want to make that commitment to attendees, give them a special service that makes them come back” he added.

“Every night around 30 people will be ready to cater to clubbers’ needs” said Rangel.

With this, they expect to raise the bar and deliver a club suited to aid the reactivation of Downtown Tijuana attracting more tourism to the region.

“With Vecchio we want to present a different concept to locals and people from out of town” commented Fernando Hernández, Vecchio’s Director.

Music will be left in the hands of 3 home DJs in addition to artistic guests every once in a while. Encompassing all electronic genres Dj Fries, Damian Wolf and Dj Mark will be in charge of setting the vibe every night.

The bar will offer flavored beers and molecular drinks as well as the traditional cocktails and beverages at reasonable prices.

With a capacity for 320 people, Vecchio Night Club, located on Constitución Avenue #1337, Downtown, will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 pm to 4 am.

Its first grand event is scheduled for June 21 with Tj act Nortec Collective. There will be no extra cost; with the cover charge people will get admission to the performance, said organizers. In addition, attendees can book a table at 01152 664-638-4002.

editorial@sandiegored.com

Original text by Alexandra Mendoza

Translations by Karen Balderas Licea

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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Tijuana’s Mosto Restaurante: An Enjoyable Experience and Meal

Locally sourced ingredients and craft beers in Tijuana

June 2, 2012  By Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

Great meals, craft beers, and local wines

Gracing Tijuana with its presence for a little bit over a year is Mosto restaurante. The owner Javier Esparza, has been in the industrial kitchen business for 15 years now.

After being around the planning and equipment for so long, he finally decided to make his passion come to life. He decided that it was time to open up a restaurant of his own, and supply his kitchen with top of the line appliances. As we got to talking with him, you could see more and more how much passion he really has for gastronomy. He absolutely loves what he is doing, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Javier states that the menu at Mosto is developed from a Baja Modern theme. They use all fresh and local ingredients, while fusing them with flavors from around the world. We were presented with a six course meal, which was paired with local craft beers and wine. It seriously does not get better than tasting ingredients and drinks, that have been sourced and made locally.

The meal started off with a ceviche trio that was paired with Diablo Blanco lager. All three of these ceviches had their own personalty and exquisite flavors. Even their tostadas have a unique twist to them. They are always baked, and each and every one of them is individually cut out with a cookie cutter design. These are the little details that one will always remember from a dining experience.

The first one I started with was Mero fish, strawberries, cucumber, chipotle, and just a drizzle of olive oil. At first thought, you may think that the strawberry would make the ceviche sweet, but it actually provides a lovely acidity, rounded out by the little touch of olive oil. The second was local scallops from San Quintin, with a salsa verde. This one tied in closely as my favorite of the three.

The scallops are sweet and meaty, and the tomatillo salsa was bright and refreshing. The final ceviche of the three came out on top as my favorite. Octopus, Oregano, green olives, and Cherry tomatoes all combined to create beautiful textures, and bold flavors. The cherry tomatoes really do add their own flavor, and with the oregano, it’s just so delicious.

The second course was Smoked Marlin and Gouda spring rolls paired with Frontera La Rumorosa Brown Ale. Let me just start off by saying, the caramel notes in this beer are fantastic.

An optimal bite was constructed by dragging the egg roll through the plum and dried chile sauces, and then finished with a sip of the beer. It is just so magical when ingredients are paired well with drinks, that is really what the whole experience is all about.

We were told that the next course is the restaurant’s signature salad. Grilled romaine with Ramonetti cheese, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, all drizzled with a toasted garlic dressing. The romaine had a delightful crunch to it, with a smokiness in the background from the grill. The cheese was mild, but went perfectly with the acidity from the sun dried tomatoes, and garlic dressing. This is on the heartier side of salads, and I could easily go back and just have this with a glass of wine for dinner.

The next two courses were both rich, but were presented as the perfect portion. We sipped a Malbec, with both dishes, and it was divine. The filet of beef is seared on the grill, and then finished off to just the right temperature in the oven. Sharing the plate was a grilled squid and poblano risotto, and some baby vegetables. I can admit that I have never had a risotto with these two ingredients together, but I do want them back in my life again. I am an avid fan of poblano chiles and squid, so this was a match made in heaven.

Following the filet was duck breast, that was nestled on top of duck tinga in adobo. Two entirely different preparations, and the duck was such a star. The plate had a brushed on smear of poblano sauce, which you can use to your advantage. Take a piece of the duck and run it through the sauce, collecting even more flavor.

As we were finishing up this course, Javier informed us that they make all of their own ice cream in house. I knew that dessert was in our very near future.

The evening ended on a luscious note. Out came a rectangular plate with a piece triple chocolate cake and two scoops of ice cream. The layers are made up of brownie, chocolate mousse, and then the whole thing is covered in chocolate. Next to that were two flavors of their house made ice cream. Each one was enticing in its own way, and there was no way that I could pick a favorite.

The first was a mexican chocolate ice cream, that had wonderful notes of cinnamon mixed with the dark chocolate. The other was a refreshing, yet delicate lemon cream mascarpone. Between devouring each bite, I sipped the Ramuri Bucéfalo Imperial stout that it was paired with. This deep and dark beer, was the ideal pairing and a lovely ending to the evening.

Mosto Restaurante will take your taste buds on a journey through their interpretation of Baja Modern cuisine.

Follow this map to Mosto Restaurant

By Kristin Díaz de Sandi

lifeandfoodblog@gmail.com

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

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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