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Sunday, July 19, 2009
48 Hours in Tijuana, Ensenada, and the Valle de Guadalupe
Bloggers, writers,chefs,and friends await the famous shrimp tacos at El Mazateno, Tijuana.
The sun sets on our Baja adventure at Silvestre, overlooking the Valle de Guadalupe.
Well, I'm officially fried. This weekend I led a talented group of the LA areas best bloggers, acclaimed writers, top chefs and restauranteurs from LA, assisted by dear friends Joanna Robles and Mynor Godoy, in concert with the Crossborder Agency, Cotuco(Tijuana Tourism Board),the Tijuana Canirac(restaurant association),and a few other Mexican tourism agencies.
What started out as a meeting between myself, Jahdiel Vargas(director of Cotuco), and Rodrigo Caballero of the Crossborder Business group was realized in little over a month.I've spent a decade on foot, in taxis, on buses, and by car exploring the places to eat, drink, and live life to the fullest in northern Baja which culminated in this media event.
The objective was simple.Expose these people to the reality not found in the false stories in the news,not found in any guide books, and not reflected in popular myth. Tijuana, Ensenada, and the Valle de Guadalupe are magical places of cuisine, wine, and experience, places that leave me to daydreaming quite often. After 20 dining experiences at restaurants, stands,fondas,taquerias,and wineries, a beer festival, a city tour, a walking tour,multiple Baja wine experiences at restaurants and wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe, I would say this group received a crash course in northern Baja.By the end of the trip, I think I found some new believers.
To Jahdiel Vargas, Maribel Moreno, Melani, and Rodrigo Caballero.Thanks for your faith courage and dedication.Melani! Thanks for the shot.
Mynor Godoy and Joanna Robles.You don't even know how much I appreciate you being a part of this, and how you both made everything run so smooth.You've been so supportive the whole way.Thanks.
Andrea Rademan, your guidance and advice before this trip was a tremendous source calm for me, and your personal assurances helped get me through.Allan was amazing, how did he make it through that first day? Allan, thanks for being with us.
Barbara Hansen, and Nancy Zaslazsky, the both of you were amazing forces of nature and were inspirational to us all.You are both true road dogs and food and wine Olympians!!Amazing.
Ramiro Arvizu,your love of cooking and Mexican food are of the truest heart.Your youthfulness, respect for cooking and vitality is why you and Jaime have one of the finest Mexican restaurants in LA.
Jim Farber, Andrea Adleman, and Anna Cearley,It was a pleasure getting to know you and share this experience with you.
From Sue Feniger's and Mary Sue Millikin's kitchens at Ciudad and Border Grill, Doug Rausen berger(general manager), Jeremy Tummel(Ciudad), and Raymond Alvarez(BorderGrill-Santa Monica), you guys are down.Smoking the puro Cubanos on the platform overlooking Benito Molina's zinfandel vines at Silvestre is one of my favorite moments of the trip.Yes Doug, now we can smoke.Thanks brothers.
Javier Cabral,and Abby Abanes, thanks for your friendship and help getting these wonderful bloggers together.I wouldn't have been able to put this together without your influences.Javier,you are brown,gifted,and just killin' it.Un abrazo.Abby, you have done so much for me in the past, and present.I look forward to our future collaborations.Hope you had a fun weekend.
Bricia Lopez,you are a champion foodie.You were still ready to go after that marathon on Friday.You and Barbara.You showed me that even a devout Oaxaquena, born in Oaxaca,from one of the greatest food regions on the planet, could be moved and and enamoured by the cuisine of Baja.Watching you play in the rain and stare off into the vineyards last night spoke volumes.
My bloggers and new friends!
Noah Galuten,I guess you could have done your 100 restaurants in 10 days at this pace?You were all over it, and handled the sheer volume of eats with ease.Man Bites Baja!!
Eddie Lin,I now know why Javier calls you the homie.Hanging with you was as easy as falling off of a log.I look forward to our new friendship.Hope you enjoyed a few extreme foods along the way.Pig brains! Not bad, eh?
Cathy Danh,thanks for all the water and laughs.Your a very special and unique person.I'm so glad you were with us and thanks for all your help.
Pat Saperstein,Beerfest!! It was blast sharing beers with you at the TJ Beer fest.An honor to have you aboard this weekend.
Josh Lurie,you also powered through this journey like it was easy.You are true professional and was with this from beginning to end.Hope to see you soon.
Gourmetpigs, I think we all lived up to the name of your blog this weekend.Ever since talking with you at STK I new that you were one of the people I wanted on this trip.You're ready for anything.
Matt Kang,I know I caught you at a moment, but you showed what you're made of this weekend.I'm very happy that you got on that bus.Thanks for the help on the Emevee situation.You,Barbara,Johanna,Andrea Rademan,and Andrea Adleman pulled me out of a jam.
H.C., representing the OC, it was a pleasure getting to know you more sharing this weekend with you.You are also another prolific eater and a hard core foodie.How did you do this trip and then help organize Blogger Prom?Amazing.
Johanna Jacobsen,thanks for your help in covering that winery for us and for all your hard work this weekend.I look forward to seeing those photos.
It was a tough week leading up to this trip which left me ill, hacking all over everyone.Sorry for those I've passed my cold to in advance.Hope you're able to beat it before it kicks in. And, I must apologize to all for such an ambitious agenda.I wanted so much for this as it has been a labor of love, and I guess a personal duty I felt in helping a part of Mexico I love dearly at a time when it could use a little help.It was a learning experience for me and a first time doing such an event, so I thank all of you throughout the weekend for the encouragement and kind words.Nancy Zaslazsky, you were just too gracious,and your understanding of my every step and misstep gave me peace, both you and Barbara.You all kept me going when I probably should have just drawn the drapes and hid under the covers.
This weekend, a blogger, took on the politicians, bad press stories, and bias in trying to create a new narrative about Tijuana, Ensenada, and the Valle de Guadalupe.But, without you guys and gals, it wouldn't have been possible.And, when I can get down to this post in the coming days, you are the story I will tell.Better than a new food find, a hit review, or racking up the hit counter, it was about people.The citizens of Baja, chefs,waiters, cooks, taqueros, cocteleros, independent business owners, the young minds at Cotuco and Crossborder,and us lovers of food, booze, and travel.I hope that when you've all had a chance to DIGEST this adventure and rest, you will all smile on your experiences this weekend.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart,
P.S.Oh, and I still owe all of you some KFB.Maybe on the way to the wine harvest in August?