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.
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 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.
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.
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!
Grupo Manzanilla also had some very cool shirts available for purchase.
My wife and I were very delighted to see Sabina of La Guerrense showcasing her amazing Mariscos.
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.
Another dish that seemed to be a hit was Caprichos paella, which looked very delicious.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.