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Best of Baja Culinary Weekend at Rancho Pescadero

Baja cuisine will be showcased once again when the unique oceanfront resort Rancho Pescadero and renowned Chef Rodrigo Bueno host the Best of Baja Culinary Weekend, Nov. 14-17, 2013.

Best of Baja Culinary Weekend at Rancho Pescadero

This three-night, four-day gala of good tastes will showcase the gastronomy of both Northern and Southern Baja, featuring guest chefs Javier Plascencia of Finca Altozano and Mision 19, and Diego Hernández-Baquedano of Corazon de Tierra. The chefs will create locally inspired dishes using farm-fresh ingredients, and will share their culinary secrets and techniques throughout the weekend. In addition, the Best of Baja event will include cooking demos, classes, and a chance to savor some of Baja’s most acclaimed wines. Phil Gregory, whose Vena Cava vintages starred at last year’s G-20 summit in Cabo San Lucas, will reprise his success by offering wine tastings at the event, and pairing his wines at Chef Tasting Dinners.

Oceanfront resort Rancho Pescadero

Oceanfront resort Rancho Pescadero is hosting a Best of Baja Culinary Weekend.

Rancho Pescadero, just minutes from the artists’ colony of Todos Santos and a short drive from Cabo San Lucas, is arguably one of Mexico’s most unique resorts, with its 27 over-sized oceanfront suites that flout the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. Each room is highlighted by palapa-covered patios, chaise lounges, luxurious bathrooms appointed with mosaic tile showers or sunken tubs and even the possibility of whale watching right from the soft comfort of bed. Dining is always a pleasure here, too, with the freshest Baja seafood and locally grown organic produce — so where better to wrangle Baja’s culinary talent in one big epicurean extravaganza!

rancho pescadero2

Packages for the Best of Baja Culinary Weekend at Rancho Pescadero begin at $1002 per person, double occupancy (single occupancy rates start at $1344). The package includes:

• 3 nights’ accommodation
• Breakfast basket delivery daily (includes coffee, fresh fruit and
Mexican pastries)
• Chefs’ Cooking class and demos
• Chef Tasting Dinners each night with wine pairings
• Cocktail tasting, Baja wine tasting, and tequila tasting events
• Sunday farewell brunch
• Welcome basket and amenities

RESERVATIONS: For reservations or additional information about the Best of Baja Culinary Weekend at Rancho Pescadero, call us toll-free at 1-855-BAJA-411 (855-225-2411).

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Have a Baja Moment! Boutique Hotels in Todos Santos

Have a Baja Moment! Boutique Hotels in Todos Santos

Todos Santos has a sense of style that is all its own. Bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, the charming coastal town has evolved from its industrious days as a sugar cane capital, and is now one of three places in Baja to be legally designated as a Pueblo Magico – literally, a magical village. This evocative honorific perfectly captures the unique aesthetic of downtown Todos Santos: a festive whirl of colorful art galleries, red brick buildings housing bookstores and bodegas, and restaurants serving first-class fare amidst a clutter of surfboards. Luckily for overnight or longer-term visitors, this enchanting combination of chic appointments, laid-back attitude, and stunning natural settings – the inimitable Todos Santos style – also distinguishes some of the town’s best boutique hotels.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Rancho Pescadero typifies the Todos Santos style, offering upscale yet unpretentious accommodations.

Rancho Pescadero exemplifies the Todos Santos style, which values exquisite taste as well as a thirst for outdoor adventure and excitement. This adults only boutique lodging enjoys a gorgeous setting on 15 acres of pristine oceanfront, and offers flawlessly appointed suites and upscale amenities, including a pampering spa and a restaurant that serves up delicious dishes made from freshly caught seafood and garden grown fruits and vegetables. It’s also a paradise for active types, with world-class surfing available steps from your suite, hiking in the nearby mountains, fantastic fishing, and seasonal opportunities to kayak amidst migrating whales. Surf lessons and boards are offered onsite, and day trips are available to surf top breaks on the East Cape, the beautiful and largely undeveloped coastal area that stretches from San Jose del Cabo to Los Barriles.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Rancho Pescadero’s 27 suites showcase contemporary Mexican elegance.

Rancho Pescadero has only 27 suites, each decorated in sophisticated Mexican style, and boasting incredible ocean views. The elegantly appointed suites are designed to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living, and enormous glass doors provide an illusory barrier between elevated beds and sunken tubs, and palapa-topped patios showcasing chaise lounges, canopied daybeds, and the sound of waves breaking upon the beach. All suites are stocked with vacation essentials, from sarongs and sunscreen to iPod docks and  handmade toiletries. Best of all, you’re mere steps from the shore, and a short drive from downtown Todos Santos. So whether you prefer privacy, a bit of shopping, or a night on the town, your options are conveniently close.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Rancho Pescadero’s magnificent setting lends itself to destination weddings and other special events.

After enjoying your complimentary fruit and coffee in the suite, relax body and mind with morning Pilates or yoga sessions on the beach, or sample the sensuous delights at the oceanfront spa pavilion. The spa offers a full slate of treatments, including aromatherapy, restorative facials , relaxing and deep tissue massages, and Temazcal therapy, a traditional Mexican sauna process using eucalyptus and other herbs. The onsite restaurant also provides plenty of healthy and satisfying selections, from banana pancakes to caramelized chipotle chicken enchiladas. Catering is available, and Rancho Pescadero is a popular spot for destination wedding services, receptions, renewal of vows ceremonies, and anniversary celebrations.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Casa Tota is a boutique 15 room hotel set in downtown Todos Santos.

If Rancho Pescadero embodies the beauty and romance of beachfront living Todos Santos style, then Hotel Casa Tota captures the spirit of the town’s historic downtown district. The intimate 15 room boutique lodging was originally a family compound, and the cantina once housed a general store. These days, Casa Tota is best known for its unbeatable combination of affordability and elegance, with chic yet comfortable accommodations and amenities that include rooftop cocktails and spa services. But the hotel retains the familial warmth of its earlier incarnation, as evidenced by its numerous grace notes, including complimentary purified water and Wi-Fi services, and custom-packed beach bags filled with seaside essentials.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Casa Tota’s cantina boasts a superb selection of beers, cocktails, mezcals, and tequilas.

Hotel Casa Tota showcases 15 rooms in four styles – Deluxe King, King, Queen, and Double – all boasting airy layouts with high ceilings and modern bathroom fixtures, as well as traditional accents like hand worked furnishings, original paintings from local artists, and Saltillo tile floors. Set in the midst of Todos Santos’ downtown shopping and dining district, guests at the hotel have convenient access to the town’s artistic and culinary treasures, as well as contemporary amenities like air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and cable television.

boutique hotels in todos santos

Casa Tota’s elegant rooftop deck offers sunshine and spectacular views.

Highlights at Hotel Casa Tota include a lovely courtyard pool and the superb onsite La Sañtena Restaurant and Cantina, which offers plenty of traditional Mexican pleasures, from freshly made tortillas to delicious dishes made with local vegetables, herbs, and cheeses. Cold beers, tropical cocktails, and premium mezcals and tequilas are also on tap, and at the you-call-it cantina the bartender doesn’t top pouring until you say “when.” Given its boutique size, Hotel Casa Tota is a perfect fit for group events. The property can accommodated up to 38 guests in 15 rooms for weddings, family reunions, and other special events, with unlimited access to the pool, rooftop deck, jacuzzi, and hammock lounge.

Planning a trip to Todos Santos? Talk to a travel agent at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Have a Baja Moment! Discover the Culinary Treasures of Todos Santos

Have a Baja Moment! Discover the Culinary Treasures of Todos Santos

Perhaps best known for its vibrant arts scene, and the beautiful brick buildings that are a legacy of its years as Baja’s sugar capital, the Pueblo Magico of Todos Santos also boasts some of the peninsula’s best restaurants. From laid-back sports bars and palapa-topped taquerias to internationally-flavored eateries and fine dining establishments, this charming coastal city, located less than an hour north of Cabo San Lucas, offers visitors a wealth of delicious dining options.

For the uninitiated, here’s a taste of the town’s top restaurants.

 

Planning a trip to Todos Santos? Talk to a travel agent at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

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Have a Baja Moment! Unique Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Have a Baja Moment! Unique Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Pueblo Magico means “magical village,” and there’s a reason Todos Santos was the first town in Baja California to receive this enchanting honorific, awarded by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism to places of great cultural or historical importance. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the rolling foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna, the mountain range that runs up the center of Baja Sur, this charming community boasts a thriving art scene and many of the peninsula’s best restaurants, as well as historic structures that date back to the town’s days as a sugarcane capital.

The coastal artists’ colony and surrounding area is also home to some of Baja’s most impressive hotels and resorts, including singular lodgings that showcase chic yet comfortable appointments, pampering amenities, and truly spectacular settings.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Arriba de la Roca is perched on a cliff, more than 150 feet above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Arriba de la Roca is one of the area’s most magical accommodations options, and more than lives up to its name (Arriba de la Roca means “on top of the rock.”). Perched atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this solar-powered hotel is the pride of Pescadero, a small community located just south of Todos Santos, and about a 45 minute drive from Cabo San Lucas.

Breathtaking vistas abound at Arriba de la Roca – waves crashing against the rocky shore, bursts of color from the pool deck as the sun seemingly sinks into the Pacific, profuse clusters of stars lighting up the tropical sky – and are particularly memorable when glimpsed from the embrace of a heated jacuzzi, or enjoyed from a toasty vantage point near a magnificent slate fireplace, and filtered through floor-to-ceiling glass.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Each casita at Arriba de la Roca is individually designed and decorated.

The boutique Arriba de la Roca features only four casitas, and each of the quartet is individually designed and decorated. Private patios and ocean views are common themes in all four, but every casita boasts its own singular touches, from sunken bathtubs and flagstone carved from the surrounding mountains to elegant international accents like leaded glass, Saltillo floors, and Moroccan-style showers. The largest of the four casitas, Casa Bonita, is available only when the entire hotel has been booked for a minimum of one week, a common enough occurrence for destination weddings or family and friends getaways. The remaining casitas – Casita Boca, Casita Laguna, and Casita Pacifica – are also popular as vacation rentals.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

The great room at Arriba de la Roca features a slate fireplace and a distinctive built-in bar.

There are no telephones or televisions at Arriba de la Roca, and that’s by design. This is a natural paradise. In addition to the solar power, all soaps and lotions are made with natural ingredients, and all food – custom ordered breakfasts are served in the casitas each morning, and cocktails and appetizers accompany each magnificent sunset – is grown locally or caught by area fisherman. Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations are a small concession to the modern age, but the Arriba de la Roca experience is premised on a relaxed appreciation of the surrounding grandeur. Read a book or enjoy floor-to-ceiling ocean views in the spacious great room, temper cool ocean breezes by gathering around the outdoor fire pit, or take advantage of complimentary chairs and towels for a restful day at the beach.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Serendipity’s many charms include an expansive poolside patio area.

It doesn’t take any happy accidents to find Serendipity. This expansive hacienda-style bed and breakfast is a favored destination for families, wedding parties, and those who crave pristine beaches and gorgeous ocean views, but also prefer a relatively close proximity to sightseeing and shopping in Todos Santos. With Serendipity, you get the best of both worlds: a serene yet stunning setting on Baja’s Pacific Coast, and a short scenic drive to reach the fine arts galleries and fine dining establishments scattered throughout downtown Todos Santos.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Serendipity is like a home away from home…assuming your home is a rustic oasis bordered by ocean, desert, and mountains,

In addition to its striking vistas and convenient location, Serendipity offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere courtesy of owners Harry and Sharon Morris. There is none of the efficient yet impersonal service found in other area lodgings. Sharon and her staff prepare a bountiful breakfast to order each morning – freshly baked pastries, fresh fruits, custom-built omelets, and syrupy pancakes – one of many personal touches that set Serendipity apart. It’s a bit like a home away from home…assuming your home is a rustic oasis bordered by ocean, desert, and mountains, and boasts an enormous swimming pool, as well as easy beachfront access.

Spectacular Places to Stay in Todos Santos

Serendipity is a perennially popular location for destination weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies.

The strategically situated property comprises ten rooms and casitas, and can accommodate groups or families of up to 25 people. Ocean views are par for the course, and the glittering blue waters of the Pacific are not only visible from every room and casita, but also from the comfort of the pool deck. Each casita features appointments that include a full kitchen, a bedroom with king-sized bed, and a large living room with a queen-size sofa bed, as well as two bathrooms and walk in closet. The expansive layouts of the casitas are perfect for visiting families, and Serendipity is a perennially popular location for destination weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies.

Planning a trip to Todos Santos? Talk to a travel agent at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Hacienda de Los Santos: Todos Santos Vacation Rental Showcases Family-Friendly Amenities, Ocean Views

Hacienda de Los Santos: Todos Santos Vacation Rental Showcases Family-Friendly Amenities, Ocean Views

From the rooftop viewing platforms one can see mountains painted against the horizon, swaying palm trees, manicured gardens, desert vistas filled with cholla and cardón cactus, and ocean waves as they ebb and flow and break upon the beach.

Hacienda de Los Santos

Ocean views are abundant at Hacienda de Los Santos.

Hacienda de Los Santos has two homes located side by side in the lovely neighborhood of Las Tunas in Todos Santos. The homes are a short walk from the beach, from soft sand and the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. To say these comfortably appointed vacation rentals occupy a privileged location is to vastly understate the surpassing beauty of the views, and to greatly undersell the property’s many other fine features, since the two-bedroom Hacienda houses are also among the best family-friendly rentals in all of Baja Sur.

Hacienda de Los Santos

Hacienda de Los Santos is one of the best family vacation rentals in Todos Santos, with kid-friendly amenities like a trampoline, swing set, and tetherball court.

The owners of Hacienda de Los Santos have three children, so the property is chock-full of games and activities options. Vacationing kids will love onsite amenities like the swing set, tetherball court, bocce ball and horseshoe fields, and perhaps best of all, the 15′ trampoline (No se preocupe, Moms. It’s surrounded by a safety net). If that doesn’t excite the youngsters, how about a fire pit that practically screams out for hot dogs and s’mores, or the proximity of the beach, or the flat screen satellite televisions, DVD player, WiFi and video game consoles with Wii? The two homes are set side by side, and are perfect for families traveling together, or parents that would like to preserve a little privacy.

Hacienda de Los Santos

Hacienda de Los Santos occupies a privileged site in the Las Tunas neighborhood of Todos Santos.

The homes at Hacienda de Los Santos may also be rented singly, and you don’t have to have kids to appreciate amenities like the bbq grill and fire pit, or the palapa-shaded rest and recreation area, or the hammocks and romantic ocean views. First-class surfing and fishing are a stone’s throw away, and downtown Todos Santos – home to superb shopping, fine art and fine dining, as well as historic sites like the legendary Hotel California – is easily accessible by bicycle or rental car. Both homes feature casual chic appointments and comfortable and convenient furnishings that include king-sized beds and full kitchen facilities. Of course, if you don’t feel like cooking on your vacation, private chef services are also available.

Hacienda de Los Santos

The palapa-shaded activities area is perfect for recreation or relaxation.

The beauty of Hacienda de Los Santos – apart from the spectacular views – is that although you’re minutes away from the charming Pueblo Magico of Todos Santos, you really don’t HAVE to go anywhere. The property is completely self-sufficient. Stock up on groceries when you arrive, then enjoy your own private world of patio-shaded afternoons, beachcombing, bbq, gentle coastal breezes, and majestic Baja sunsets. Visit during the winter months, and you may even witness whales breaching just offshore.

Factor in the affordable rates, and this is one of the best vacation rental values in Baja Sur.

SPECIAL RATES AVAILABLE ONLY THROUGH 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.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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Have a Baja Moment! Dive into the Seasonal Marine Scene With Todos Santos Eco Adventures

Have a Baja Moment! Dive into the Seasonal Marine Scene With Todos Santos Eco Adventures

Summer and early fall are two of the most active times for marine wildlife in Baja California Sur, and therefore two of the most exciting times to dive into the local activities scene with Todos Santos Eco Adventures.  Here are three incredible seasonal adventures that should definitely be on your bucket list:

Sea Turtle Camp Adventure: Volunteer Nest Monitoring Program

This is a thrilling opportunity to work with local biologists on the Pacific coast of Baja as they take action to protect endangered Olive Ridley marine turtles. This overnight adventure is available to volunteers for only 6 nights in August and 6 nights in September, and space is limited to just 10 volunteers each night.  In each month we’ve chosen nights around the time of the full moon when viewing is optimal for spotting the 100-pound female turtles as they haul their bodies out of the ocean and – driven purely by instinct – make their way to the rolling coastal dunes to find the ideal nesting spot. Each female will leave 90-120 white ping-pong shaped eggs in a sandy hole, camouflage the nest with a characteristic belly dance, then leave the offspring to chance.

Todos Santos Eco Adventures

Summer is the perfect time to join Todos Santos Eco Adventures in helping to protect endangered marine turtles.

That’s where the biologists and volunteers come in. Predators, coastal development and illegal poaching all threaten sea turtle populations throughout the world. At this sea turtle research station volunteers can help combat declining populations by working with biologists as they collect the eggs and relocate them to a protective nursery. In many cases volunteers will also be able to see mature nests bubbling with turtle hatchlings and have the opportunity to guide the hatchlings on their way to the sea.

The adventure starts in Todos Santos, where a late afternoon shuttle takes volunteers to Sea Turtle Camp. Volunteers  arrive in time to settle into comfortable, safari-style tents with raised cots during daylight, then watch the sun set over the magnificent Pacific beach that is home for the evening. A simple but tasty dinner is followed by an orientation by the wildlife biologist. When it is good and truly dark there is a magnificent bonfire in the specially-designed firepit that shields the firelight from prying turtle eyes; those so inclined can indulge in s’mores.

Todos Santos Eco Adventures

With a little help from their friends: turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea.

Volunteers can then sleep for a few hours until the patrol starts in the wee morning hours, or they may decide to stay up and feast their eyes on the gorgeous moon and a sky free of light pollution. The biologists will gather everyone around 1:00 AM to start the 4-kilometer roundtrip patrol of the beach on foot to scout for nesting females and assist in relocating the eggs to protected corrals. Some nights volunteers may see several turtles, some nights they may find the nests after the females have returned to the ocean. And with any luck they’ll see some nests in which the baby turtles are hatching and have the opportunity to help the hatchlings make their way into the sea. In the morning volunteers enjoy a full Mexican “Turtle Camp Graduation” breakfast then head back to Todos Santos. One short night, but a lasting contribution to the revitalization of the marine turtle population in Mexico.

2013 Sea Turtle Camp dates: August 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 and September 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25.

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Well, is it a whale or is it a shark?! Hint: it is the world’s largest living fish species (whales are mammals, sharks are fish). In other words, it’s a whale of a fish! The Sea of Cortez is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to see these mammoth fish (up to 40 feet and 20 tons!) and snorkeling with these amazing creatures is an incredible life experience. And while your mother probably told you to stay away from sharks, these gentle giants are only interested in plankton—all human flesh is safe!

Todos Santos Eco Adventures

Want to swim the world’s largest fish?

The whale sharks generally start arriving in the Bay of La Paz around mid-to-late July and stay until the food supply moves out. While in other parts of the world you may have to take a boat ride of an hour or three to have such an experience, in the Bay of La Paz the whale sharks feed in the shallows just 10 minutes from shore.  We generally like to leave Todos Santos early in the morning so that we can get out on the water before the wind picks up and makes spotting the whale sharks more difficult. We usually spend about two hours out with the whale sharks, then head back to town for an afternoon siesta. Pure summertime bliss!

Fishing

The 4th generation fishing captains who ply their trade off the shores of Todos Santos will all tell you that August, September and October are absolutely the best months for fishing in Baja California Sur, and that the waters around Todos Santos are some of the richest on the Cape. The Pacific here is chock full of Dorado, Roosterfish, Marlin, Tuna, Cabrilla – and many Todos Santos restaurants are happy to cook up your catch of the day, or make it into a nice ceviche!

Todos Santos Eco Adventures

Baja Sur is famed for its spectacular sportfishing.

For more information on any of these exciting summertime adventures please contact Todos Santos Eco Adventures.

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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Have A Baja Moment! Todos Santos Hosts 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival

Have A Baja Moment! Todos Santos Hosts 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival

What better way to spend a sunny, gorgeous Sunday afternoon than drinking fine Mexican wines accompanied by samplings of great Baja cuisine! The 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival brought over 700 people out to the plaza of the Pueblo Magico, Todos Santos on Sunday, May 5th, to celebrate the food and wines of Baja.

Gastrovino Festival

The 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival was held on May 5th in Todos Santos.

Eleven wineries offered tastings of some of the finest vintages from the Valle de Guadalupe and elsewhere in the Baja. Combined with tapas from 17 different local restaurants and caterers, the large crowd was treated to the many different flavors and creations that represent Baja cuisine.

The competition was fierce, but the crowd voted Cavas Valmar’s Chenin Blanc as their favorite white and Vinos Shimul as their favorite red. Local winemakers Sierra Laguna won the favorite rose category with their unique fruit-wine showcased in a beautiful bottle painted with scenes of Todos Santos.

The gastronomy was just as special, with a guest visit from San Jose del Cabo Chef Drew Deckman, who wowed the crowd with his octopus and pork belly tacos. Todos Santos’ favorite chefs Sergio Rivera from La Casita served up hearty paella, Angelo Dal Bon from Tre Galline shared a rich pasta with duck, and Dany LaMote from Santo Vino featured his Barbacoa. There were some wonderful healthy choices served up as well. Whole wheat crepes by Dominique Catering, spring rolls and vegan “cheesecake” from Pura Vida, and a choice of yummy options from Bistro Magico, one of Todos Santos’ newest restaurants.

Gastrovino Festival

Eleven top Mexican wineries were represented at the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival, showcasing wines from Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe.

But Gastrovino is so much more than just the Sunday afternoon event. Throughout the weekend there were several wonderful opportunities for a more intimate experience with food and wine.

On Friday night, thirty lucky guests enjoyed a wine pairing feast combining the culinary artistry of our own Chef Dany LaMote from Santo Vino with the wine creations of Cava Maciel, a small family-run winery from Valle de Guadalupe. The diverse menu started with the local bounty of fresh shellfish, paired with chardonnay from stainless steel, and organic local produce with duck breast and chevre with an oaked chardonnay. The main course of panfried local halibut in green mole was partnered with the Cava Maciel Luneo Mouvedre, and a barbacoa of rabbit with wild mushroom risotto was beautifully complimented by their Merlot. They poured their Chardonnary and an herb dessert wine, along with Damiana to accompany the Drunken Thyme cake and zabaglione. This feast was truly a gastronomic dream!

Gastrovino Festival

The 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival was hosted by La Bodega de Todos Santos, one of Baja’s best wine shops.

The festivities continued on Saturday with “Bubbly Time” – a tasting of Freixenet sparkling wines paired with tapas by guest caterer Stilleto & Spyce from San Francisco. It was another lovely afternoon at our host, La Bodega de Todos Santos, with music to accompany the creative preparations of gazpacho, crostini, sesame-crusted ahi, and lemon chia tapioca paired with four varied champagnes. Cavas Freixenet originated in Spain and has expanded throughout Europe, California, and South America, and they are now producing their great “espumas” on mainland Mexico, in Queretero.

Saturday night featured a choice of events. Chef Dany was at it again at Hotel California presenting a selection of appetizers, accompanied by eight select wines from Cava Valmar, Cava Maciel, Freixenet and Vinart. It was an elegant affair with live music. The Distillery also hosted a special showing of the ever-apropos film “Sideways” while offering tastings from Sierra Laguna, L.A. Cetto, Casa Madero, and MD Vinos.

All of these great events led up to the big day on Sunday, where all of the guest wineries shared their vintages, and the phenomenal local chefs displayed their culinary talents. The plaza was alive throughout the afternoon with musical performances by Los Shamanes, Sexto Sentido, and Alex Torra and Kurtis Parsons. And a fashion show even graced the stage which was beautifully adorned with murals by artist Sebastian Diaz Duarte, specially designed for Gastrovino, and featured in the program and posters. The festivities continued on Sunday night at the Hotel Guaycura after-party on their rooftop deck.

Gastrovino Festival

Los Shamanes perform live at the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival.

While indulging ourselves, those less fortunate were not forgotten. The silent auction raised nearly 40,000 pesos to assist the Bomberos and the local DIF, who provide much needed health services. Clearly, Gastrovino is quickly becoming a proud, signature event for Todos Santos. A full weekend of gastronomy, Baja wines, music and friendship is a privilege to share on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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.

Photos by Mayra Diaz Vivian.

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2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival, May 3-5 in Todos Santos: Have a Baja Moment!

2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival, May 3-5 in Todos Santos:  Read More for a special offer by Boutique Hotel Guaycura!

Home to the historic Hotel California and one of Mexico’s most celebrated artists’ colonies, Todos Santos is also celebrated for its celebrations. The scenic Pueblo Magico – literally, magical village – throws some of the best parties in Baja, including annual festivals that celebrate art, cinema, music, and, for the second consecutive year, food and wine. And then there is the Gastrovino Festival!

Gastrovino, which premiered last year to widespread acclaim, returns Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 3-5, with more food and wine tasting, wine pairing dinners, live music, and a silent auction to raise money for the local fire department. Organizers Mac Sutton and Perla Garnica of La Bodega de Todos Santos, the best wine shop in Todos Santos (heck, all of Baja Sur), are promising this year’s event will exceed the inaugural festival in both size and scope.

festival

Baja’s best wineries are promoting the region’s liquid treasures at the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Baja Food and Wine Festival in Todos Santos.

The three-day event will promote the food and wine of Baja California, as well as the small-town treasures of Todos Santos, a charming community on Baja Sur’s Pacific Coast, and a one hour journey by car from Cabo San Lucas. La Bodega de Todos Santos, a shop specializing in wines from Baja’s best wine making region, Guadalupe Valley, will spearhead the event, but area sponsors will also include Baja.com, Hotel California,  Wide Open Excursions, and Cabo Mil.

food

Todos Santos’ top chefs will showcase their talents at the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival.

 

Gastrovino 2013 will include three days of  food and wine-related fun, with dinner on Friday, a cocktail party, champagne tasting, and movie screenings on Saturday, and plenty of wine pouring on Sunday, May 5th. Participating wineries will include Baron Balche, Bodega de Santo Tomas, L.A. Cetto, MD Vinos, Vinart, and Sierra Laguna, with plenty of food pairing options from top area restaurants, wine bars, and bistros like Guaycura, Santo Vino, La Santena, La Casita, Bistro Magico, Carlito’s Place, and Hotel California.

la bodega

Local wine shop and tasting bar La Bodega de Todos Santos is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Baja Food and Wine Festival

 

Speaking of oenophiles…for those not familiar with La Bodega, the festival provides a perfect opportunity to become better acquainted with this local landmark. When the festival is not taking center stage, La Bodega is the center of wine culture in Todos Santos. Stop in, peruse, and taste the peninsula‘s best selection of Baja-based wines and olive oils. Regularly scheduled weekly events include Flight Night Mondays, with samplers of Baja wines, tapas, and live music; and Big Red Wednesdays, with bold Baja reds paired with tamales, tostadas, and classical Mexican guitar courtesy of Tolin.

Traveling for the festival? Todos Santos treasure Guaycura Boutique Hotel is offering the best deals in town. Known for its luxurious accommodations, pampering spa, and culinary mastery, Guaycura is located in the historic heart of Todos Santos. Their current promotion promises an unbeatable combination: upcale luxury lodging at affordable rates. Choose comfortable Classic rooms from $117, decadent Deluxes from $166, and elegant Oasis suites from $220 nightly.

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Few places manage to be both hip and historic, but Guaycura Boutique Hotel manages the trick. The chic lodging is offering discounted rates for Todos Santos’ upcoming Gastrovino Festival.

If last year’s virgin voyage was any indication, this year’s Gastrovino food festival promises to be a rousing success.  After all, many of the same sponsors and wineries are back on board, and throngs of food and wine loving visitors are expected not only from regional resort areas like Los Cabos and La Paz, but from the U.S.,Canada, and beyond. And why wouldn’t they come? Didn’t I mention that Todos Santos knows how to throw a party?

For more information on the 2nd Annual Gastrovino Festival, visit the Baja.com events page with detailed information.  And for more info about tickets and sponsors, visit www.gastrovino.mx, email festival@gastrovino.mx, or call (612) 152-0181, or (612) 176-1910.

For help with your travel planning please do not hesitate to call Baja.com, toll free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA (2252)-411 or email info@baja.com to reach one of our expert travel agents.

Want to find out more about Todos Santos and what other things to do while you are visiting the Gastrovino Festival? 

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.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411.

Photos courtesy of La Bodega de Todos Santos.

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One of the Top Todos Santos Restaurants, La Garra Claws its Way Back

One of the Top Todos Santos Restaurants, La Garra Claws its Way Back from Fire Damage.

The fire in Todos Santos in February, 2013, did some serious damage. Not only were homes lost, several local businesses were affected, perhaps none so much as the popular restaurant and sports bar La Garra, one of the top Todos Santos restaurants. Despite the best efforts of owners, employees, neighbors and the volunteer fire department, the popular local hangout lost its palapa roof, and sustained a good deal of additional property damage. But when your name means “eagle claw,” you don’t quit. You fight your way back.

fire in La Garra Restaurant bar Todos Santos

The palapa roof was a casualty of last month’s fire, but the restaurant remains among the top Todos Santos restaurants.

Owners Jesus and Happy Cota are a resilient couple and with the help of their family, friends, and the Todos Santos business community, they hope to repair and replace that which was damaged or lost. The fact that the fire occurred hard on the heels of La Garra’s hugely successful 3rd anniversary celebration was a tough blow, but there is never really a good time for adversity. And despite the misfortune, the restaurant remains open, and remains busy.

“It’s been very humbling,” Happy said, “to see the huge support from the community.”

aniversary La Garra Bar

Things have changed since January’s 3rd anniversary party, but La Garra is still pulling in the crowds.

A little more than one month removed from the fateful day, La Garra is still trying to get back to normal. In addition to the building of a new taco stand out front, repairs continue in the interior dining areas, and it may be several more months before the restaurant begins to resemble what it was before the fire. But the important thing is that La Garra survives. The restaurant is still keeping the same hours, and is still dishing up some of the best Mexican food in Baja Sur.

chiles food

Comfort food and healthy seafood and salads have made La Garra one of the top Todos Santos restaurants.

The chile rellenos are as good as they ever were, which is to say spectacular. Made from an old family recipe, the shrimp or cheese  stuffed chiles are certainly La Garra’s most celebrated dish, although Jesus’ special fish and scallop sashimi is rapidly gaining ground. La Garra excels at serving up comfort food favorites, but they manage to do so without artery-clogging cooking methods (their excellent fish tacos are neither breaded nor deep fried, for example), and their heart-healthy salads are nearly as beloved amongst locals and expats as the hamburgers and cold beer.

interior

Artsy appointments and vintage Mexican movie posters add to La Garra’s charm.

 

Although several televisions were damaged in the fire, this is still the best sports bar in Todos Santos, and you can still show up to cheer on your favorite teams, whether they play baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer. On the subject of entertainment, most of the restaurant’s beautiful old movie posters – donated by a relative who owned a theater during the golden age of Mexican cinema – also survived, although there were a few casualties. For those who know love popular Mexican culture and remember movie stars like Maria Felix, Pedro Infante, and Cantinflas, these framed posters are a priceless part of La Garra’s charm, and virtually irreplaceable. Luckily, the bulk of the collection was unharmed.

music

Live music and live sporting events are staples at La Garra.

 

Live music remains the big draw on weekends, from jazz and blues to reggae, rock and roll, and traditional Mexican standards. A benefit is the planning stages that would help local families who lost homes during the late February blaze, and other community-based recovery efforts are also expected. In short, La Garra was bloodied, but unbowed. So, too, the town of Todos Santos, which banded together to protect its own.

But don’t take my word for it. Stop by and see for yourself, and help support the repairs and renovations. And find out more about Todos Santos and places to stay 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 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.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Photos courtesy of La Garra Restaurant and Sports Bar.

 

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Spirits Live On at the Historic Hotel California in Todos Santos: Have a Baja Moment!

Spirits Live On at the Historic Hotel California in Todos Santos

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, Todos Santos is one of Baja Sur’s most charming and picturesque towns. Long popular as a haven for artists and expatriates, the legally designated Pueblo Magico also consistently draws visitors eager to visit its many fine arts galleries, attend its well-received art, music, and film festivals, explore its cobblestone streets and colonial-style architecture, and bask in the year-round warmth offered by its tropical climate.

 

Hotel California logo

Given this litany of enchantments, it may seem somewhat strange that the town’s most popular landmark isn’t a gallery, a cinema, or a golden sand beach. Instead, it’s a lodging: the legendary Hotel California.

 

Construction on the Hotel California began in 1947, and the doors were opened to the public three years later.

Construction on the Hotel California began in 1947, and the doors were opened to the public three years later.

The Hotel California has been welcoming guests for over sixty-five years. The town’s top accommodations option was originally founded in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong, whose ill-fated attempts to acclimate to Mexican culture included changing his name to the somewhat florid Don Antonio Tabasco, conjuring images of a respected hot sauce hacendado. The locals called him El Chino (the Chinese man) anyway, but his family’s 16-room hotel proved popular with visitors and locals alike. The former were drawn to the comfortable lodgings, the latter because the Hotel California served the only cold beer in town.

Nestled between the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Todos Santos boasts one of Baja’s most spectacular natural settings.

Nestled between the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, Todos Santos boasts one of Baja’s most spectacular natural settings.

Eagles legend Don Henley has disputed claims that the landmark Todos Santos lodging helped inspire the group’s 1977 hit song Hotel California. Nonetheless, the legend persists. Perhaps it is hotel’s bohemian boutique chic atmosphere, or the eerie similarities between the Baja Hotel California experience and so many of the song’s lyrics. Guests arrive after traveling down a long “desert highway,” will frequently hear the “mission bells” from the nearby church, and, at least during the 1970s, the warm smell of colitas (marijuana joints) was often “rising up through the air.”

Bold colors and artful design are signature touches at the new look Hotel California.

Bold colors and artful design are signature touches at the new look Hotel California.

The Hotel California’s renaissance began a dozen years ago, when the property was purchased by Canadians John and Debbie Stewart. The couple oversaw an award-winning renovation of the historic hostelry, fusing traditional colonial-style appointments with vibrant colors and an aesthetic sensibility that reflects Todos Santos’ artistic heritage. The new look lodging features distinctive eye-catching decor, the superb La Coronela Restaurant & Bar, and an art gallery/curio shop on the site where Don Antonio Tabasco had formerly installed the town’s first gas station.

Bold colors and artful design are signature touches at the new look Hotel California.

Bold colors and artful design are signature touches at the new look Hotel California.

The Hotel California isn’t terribly expensive, but it is exclusive. There are only eleven rooms and suites, each individually decorated with original art and colorful furnishings from around the world.  Relax on a private terrace amidst lush foliage and fragrant tropical flowers, or soak up the warm Baja sun poolside. The hotel’s eccentric charm and luxuriant setting make it a popular choice for weddings, receptions, and renewal of vows ceremonies, and Todos Santos’ fine arts galleries and historic monuments are within easy walking distance.

The bar at La Coronela is a perfect place for a Happy Hour cocktail.

The bar at La Coronela is a perfect place for a Happy Hour cocktail.

La Coronela is one of Baja Sur’s best restaurants, with eclectic cuisine courtesy of Belgian chef Dany Lamote. Lamote’s reliance on organic and locally grown ingredients reflects the environmentally-friendly ethos prevalent throughout Baja Sur, and his creative menu and attention-getting presentation mark him as one of Todos Santos’ most talented artists. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and live music is a staple on weekends. Belly up to the bar for tropical cocktails anchored by generous helpings of the house tequila, or dance the night away to romantic Mexican ballads around the festively lit, colonial-style fountain.

Hotel California’s signature tequila is available at the onsite Emporio Gallery & Store.

Hotel California’s signature tequila is available at the onsite Emporio Gallery & Store.

Todos Santos is home to a thriving artists’ colony, and the local creativity is on full display, not only in the hotel’s individually decorated rooms and suites, but at the onsite Emporio Gallery & Store. From funky trinkets and charms to hand-crafted jewelry and original paintings by the town’s top artists, the Emporio bazaar is the perfect place to commemorate a visit to the historic hotel. You can even pick up a bottle of Hotel California Tequila. The signature house spirit packs a bit more punch than pink champagne on ice, but you’ll be reminded of your visit to this unique lodging every time you pour a Heavenly Hotel (2 oz. Hotel California Blanco Tequila, 2 oz. of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a slice of lime).

For more information about Todos Santos and the Hotel California, visit 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 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.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us atinfo@baja.com.

All photos courtesy of Hotel California.

 

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