Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Wine and Culinary Experience in Ensenada Baja California

I just returned from a great weekend in Ensenada which was highlighted by tasting artisan wine created by a charming and diverse group of up and coming local wine producers. I was fortunate enough to attend at this year’s Guateque wine festival held at the sprawling vineyards of Liceaga in San Antonio de las Minas Ensenada Baja California Mexico.

2009 Guateque Poster

Vinos Liceaga,

It was very exciting to sample so many new quality wines by Cruz, Tres Mujures, Enigma, VI, Agosto, and so much more. I was not taking notes but I do remember some of my stand out favorites. One of the stand outs for me was Palabra by Adrian Gonzalez.
Adrian Garcia Vino Palabra Producer

Adrian works at Vinos La Contra (Restaurante Del Parque) and has helped me with wine recommendations before, I was not aware Adrian was producing his own wine. It’s very funny because when I ran into Adrian at Guateque I asked him for some recommendations. Adrian threw out a few names and then in a very humble tone asked me if I had tried his wine. It turns out Adrian has produced a fabulous young Zinfandel. I ended up purchasing a bottle of Palabra that I plan on pairing with cochinita pibil. Palabra is available at Vinos La Contra.

Vino Palabra

Baja wine authority Steve Dryden, who was also in attendance, seemed to be fond of Adrians wine as well. Steve recommended a Tempranillo by Encino that I really enjoyed. I look forward to Steves commentary on this years Guateque event, he did a nice piece on last years. A number of winemakers are also producing beer, which I found interesting. One beer I particularly appreciated was the handcrafted La Nina En Malta Amber by El Parral.

La Nina En Malta Amber by El Parral.

A nice selection of cheese, olive oil, and much more was available for tasting. After grabbing an Ice cold amber beer from El Parral, I hooked up with Javier Martinez from Restaurante Manzanilla; Javier was representing Manzanilla with some delicious handmade sausage on the grill. The natural hog casings were provided by Jay from the Linkery. Thanks Jay!

Handmade sausage Manzanilla Guateque 2009

Grupo Manzanilla also had some very cool shirts available for purchase.

Manzanilla Shirt

My wife and I were very delighted to see Sabina of La Guerrense showcasing her amazing Mariscos.

Sabina La Guerrense

La Guerrerenses ceviche tostadas were a hot item, but I preferred some simple cuts of the tender and juicy pulpo (octopus). Sabina just cuts a few pieces and adds chili and lime and I’m set.

La Guerrerenses Octopus (Pulpo)

Another dish that seemed to be a hit was Caprichos paella, which looked very delicious.

Resturante Caprichos Paella at Guateque 2009

I could not pass up on the cachete (beef cheek) tacos provided by none other than the Plasencia group which runs Tijuanas Villa Saverios, Erizo Cebicheria, Guiseppis, Casa Plasencia and Caffe Saverios. Javier Plascensia will be opening Asador Campestre Saverios,his seasonal Ensenada restaurant, starting July 1st 2009 . Asador Campestre Saverios will is located on the beautiful grounds of Liceaga; I will provide more detail after opening.

Asador Campestre Saverios - Guateque 2009

I thought I was hallucinating when I heard Pink Floyds “Another Brick in the Wall” being played by the live Norteño band but it was true. I recorded it on video and I will post something up as soon as I fix my video computer. The band was very entertaining.

norteno copy

The grounds of Vina de Liceaga provided a perfect location for the festival. Beautiful large trees lined the festival area. All in all it was a great time with family and friends, and I hope I’m fortunate enough to attend next years Guateque wine festival. It’s an exciting time in Ensenada with more and more wine makers producing excellent wines.

2009 Guateque wine festival at Liceaga in San Antonio de las Minas Ensenada.

Ensenada Updates

I had a chance to visit Restaurante del Parque which recently changed hands from Jair Tellez to Hugo and Gloria D' Acosta . I will provide a full update soon but I’m pleased to say I had a great dinner on Saturday night. One of my favorite young chefs “Isemene” is still running the kitchen. Isemene whipped up an unforgettable rosemary and honey infused mousse that turned out to be one of the culinary highlights of the weekend. Isemene has worked under the tutelage of both Jair Tellez and Benito Molina.

Ismene - Chef Restaurante del Parque

Benito recommended I try a new restaurant near the Mercado Negro called La Cocedora de Langosta, I have never been disappointment in his recommendations, and I did not hesitate to check it out. It turns out another great young chef Fabio, who also worked with Jair and Benito, is running the kitchen. Fabio made a delicious baked clam I will not soon forget. A full report on La Cocedora de Langosta will be posted in a few days.

Favio - La Cocedora de Langosta Ensenada Baked Clams

The Oaxacan restaurant at Viento has moved. They are now operating out of their beautiful house with breathtaking coastal views. I had breakfast their on Saturday and I did not want to leave. This is another report that will be coming in the next week.

The view from Las Chapulinas Restaurant

As I stated before it’s a very exciting time in Baja it’s unfortunate the media in the U.S tends to focus on all the negative aspects. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences in Baja.


cindi said...

it sounds like you eat a lot masa

KirkK said...

Hey MA - That's a fantastic sounding event.

micaela said...

oy! I feel like crying for having missed such an amazing sounding festival... I bet those sausages and that paella were delish. I bet ALL of it was! *sigh*

On a lighter note ;-) we have Guateque festivals in Puerto Rico too, I thought that was a Taino indian word... now I need to find out its origin.

Kathleen said...

Hey! We were at Guateque, too! We've been to many, many wine events and truly found this one to be the best to date. We also enjoyed the Palabra Zin which was quite a pleasant surprise as the Mexican Zins tend to be on the sweet side, almost a dessert wine. Another wine we were quite fond of was Aquiles and we bought 2 bottles of that to bring home.

We also sampled La Guerrense's Seafood Cocktail which was divine. She ran out of food long before anyone else. Can't wait to get right up to their stand in Ensenada. This time we'll get the grande!

And thanks for the tip on La Cocedera. We ate at Muelle Tres (again) a couple of weeks ago and took a little tour of La Cocedera on the advice of the other Benito's (the distributer/exporter with the office above Muelle Tres; he had lunch with us). That's on next week's hit list.

Masa Assassin said...

Hi cindi.... yes indeed Baja seems to have that effect on me. I eat like a bird during the week, just to have my fix on the weekend, otherwise I Dont think I would be able to see my toes.

Hi Kirk... For sure it was fun you should come along someday.

Hi Micaela...Dont cry :) Yes the food was great maybe you can make next years.

Hi Kathleen..Glad you enjoyed the event as much as we did. I dont remember if I tried Aquiles so many wines were good. Yes you must try la cocedera, get the baked clams. Thats cool you had lunch with Benito. I want to check out the abalone farm some day.

Anonymous said...

La Nina En Malta Amber sounds good to wash those clams down with


Anonymous said...

That looks like a great event. Maybe some day we'll make it down for one. I wanna hear that Norteño version of ABITW, BTW...

--The Office Goat

LaMesita said...

Wow. Masa I'm so jealous, looks like life has been treating you very well lately huh? I cant wait to go to Viento and possibly the Vendimia this year. It was nice seeing you and your family yesterday. As always great posts!

edfromyuma said...

Great report. Micaela told me I should check out your blog and it is fabulous. This sounds like a great event.

Back in March (I think) there was a wine tasting in San Luis, RC, Sonora, but I didn't hear about it until the day before. Now I wish I'd gone.

I need to look over more of your posts. Thanks for all the work!

Masa Assassin said...

Hello Juan, Thanks! It was great seeing you and farra, we cant wait to make it to one of your fine dinner pairings.

Hello Ed, Thanks for stopping by I really enjoy your post on mmm-yoso. Yes the event was awesome I wish I could make it to more of these. Dont be a stranger.

edfromyuma said...

I have been really enjoying the blog. Except that I'm out here in the desert and would rather be in one of those places in Ensenada. Please keep at it. This blog is a joy to read.