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Paella Contest Caps Annual Harvest Festival in Baja’s Wine Country

Paella Contest Caps Annual Harvest Festival in Baja’s Wine Country

Paella Contest

One of the most celebrated culinary creations of La Cocina Español is the famous preparation known as paella. There are many regional recipes for this popular dish, some which incorporate rabbit or even escargot. Most of the entrants in La Vendimia’s annual paella competition, however, favor the classic Andalusian version that combines clams, shrimp, chorizo, chicken and pork with colorful saffron rice.

The annual paella contest generally marks the conclusion of Ensenada’s Fiestas de la Vendimia, or Harvest Festival.

Over the years, the annual Concurso de Paella has become is a wildly popular event that traditionally marks the conclusion of  Ensenada’s Fiestas de la Vendimia, or Harvest Festival. This is truly a family oriented celebration, and is held in Valle de Guadalupe at Vina de Liceaga, adjacent to a massive canopy of old growth oak trees, under which a virtual armada of long tables are assembled.

Competitors go all out in their attempt to capture victory for their respective teams.

Early in the afternoon, you can stroll around the picturesque grounds and take in the smells of wood fires mixing with the captivating aromas of the simmering peppers, garlic, onions and fresh seafood. Later on, a team of official judges work their way around the large contingent of competitors to evaluate the many entries and determine which one will ultimately reign supreme. Shortly thereafter, the remaining paella is doled out to throngs of hungry visitors waiting in line to sample the gastronomic delights at hand.

This popular family-friendly event draws visitors from both sides of the border.

Two separate stages feature a variety of live musical entertainment, and dozens of local wineries provide samples of their esteemed wares to help keep spirits high.

Dr. Miguel Angel Ortiz Hidalgo, shows off his prize winning wines at Concurso de Paella.

As with most of the events affiliated with Ensenada’s yearly harvest festival, tickets to the Concurso de Paella tend to sell out rather quickly once they go on sale, and it is not unusual to have a few hundred people end up on the waiting list, even though over 1500 gate passes may have been initially available. But luckily, because off the spacious grounds and ample parking at this beautiful pastoral venue, this regularly sold out event never really seems excessively crowded.  (For additional information on the winners of the famous paella competition, read this story).

Some might even say that this is a perfect note upon which to end Ensenada’s yearly celebration of La Vendimia. It does, after all, bring together two of the region’s international claims to fame; a variety of wonderfully fresh fruits from the nearby seas, and the ripe, rich fruits of the vine, which account for almost the entirety of Mexico’s annual wine production.

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About Tom Gatch

For over a decade, Hooked on Baja author, Tom Gatch, has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and columnists focusing on travel and recreational activities in Baja and southern California. His company, El Puerto Creative Consultants provides professional copy writing services and creative support for business entities on both sides of the border.

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