A Week in NorCal

September 3, 2014
Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz

Being able to escape the normal every day scenery for a week was more than needed. We love being able to visit NorCal, and even more so with family. Our first stop, Santa Cruz. My brother has lived there for 8 years now, and I can’t believe that it took us this long to pay a thorough visit. We spent time walking through the redwoods, hitting the local coffee shops and wineries, and tasting our way through the farmers market in the downtown area. The produce was not only beautiful, but absolutely delicious as well! Antonio and I shared a BLTA sandwich, and let me tell you those tomatoes were at the peak of ripeness, and probably my favorite part of the sandwich.

Another favorite of ours, was picking up some bread from the Manresa Bread Project in downtown Santa Cruz’s HEY POPUP space. Savory ham and cheese brioche, a sweet brown butter hazelnut cake, and of course we had to take home a loaf of their levain. It was sliced, heated up, and then smeared it with butter. I could easily eat that every day.

My birthday dinner at Bantam was unforgettable. An evening filled with lovely local wines, an amazing meal, even better company. It was a happy birthday indeed!

Giovanni had the time of his life cruising the boardwalk, hopping on and off rides, and eating cotton candy until his hearts content. We also had to make a quintessential stop for funnel cake, I mean who can resist that?

Santa Cruz, CA

Hallcrest Winery | Santa Cruz, CA

Hallcrest Winery | Santa Cruz, CA
Wine tasting at Hallcrest Winery | Santa Cruz, CA

Verve Coffee Roasters | Santa Cruz, CA

Verve Coffee Roasters | Santa Cruz, CA

Verve Coffee Roasters | Santa Cruz, CA

Verve Coffee Roasters | Santa Cruz, CA
Verve Coffee Roasters |Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Farmer's Market

Manresa Bread Project | Santa Cruz, CA

Manresa Bread Project | Santa Cruz, CA
Manresa Bread Broject | HEYPOPUP, Downtwon Santa Cruz

Bantam | Santa Cruz, CA

Bantam | Santa Cruz, CA

Bantam | Santa Cruz, CA

Bantam | Santa Cruz, CA
Birthday dinner at Bantam | Santa Cruz, CA

San Francisco

San Francisco is absolutely one of our favorite cities in the world! We do not get the chance to visit often enough. We only had 24 hours this trip, in which we tried to fit as much in as we possibly could. We always make lists of spots to visit, wherever our destination may be. We hit a couple of new spots, as well as old favorites. Giovanni and Camila had their first run at using the underground transportation.

A lasting memory of mine, was the McEroy Olive oil ice cream from Humphry Slocombe. The Ferry Building never gets old. Our Saturday morning was spent visiting the Farmers market, which we are completely envious of.

Dearest San Francisco, we will try our hardest to visit you more often. Until next time!

Bay Bridge | San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Blue Bottle Coffee | San Francisco, CA

Blue Bottle Coffee | San Francisco, CA
Blue Bottle Coffee at the Ferry Building | San Francisco, CA

20th Century Cafe | San Francisco, CA

20th Century Cafe | San Francisco, CA
20th Century Cafe | San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Ferry Building | San Francisco, CA

Ferry Building Farmers Market | San Francisco, CA

Ferry Building Farmers Market | San Francisco, CA
Saturday’s Farmers Market at the Ferry Building | San Francisco, CA

Hollow Cafe | San Francisco, CA

Hollow Cafe |San Francisco, CA
Hollow Cafe | San Francisco, CA

San Francisco International Airport

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Valle de Guadalupe: Lechuza Vineyards

August 22, 2014
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Valle de Guadalupe is a destination of solitude, relaxation, and simply just brings us pure joy. Whether Antonio and I make the trip down by ourselves, or bring the two littles along, we love the journey of exploration. The times that we pay visits to new spots, we always make an effort to visit the ones that have left a lasting impression. Such spots share wonderful stories behind them, and contribute to the overall narrative of the valley.

Lechuza vineyards is indeed that. A gorgeous property, with a more than generous and passionate family behind the project. It was established in 2005, with its first vintage released in 2007. Ray Magnussen and his daughter Kristin are more than happy to fill you in on what their labor of love means to them, and more importantly pour their delicious wines for you. Their buttery unoaked Chardonnay is perfect on a hot summer day. I could not resist leaving without a bottle of a favorite of mine, their “Amantes” red blend.

They are neighbors with Laja Restaurant, and I mean talk about jealousy when Kristin mentions that she can smell the wonderful aromas that come out of their kitchen on a daily basis. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

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Lechuza Vineyard
82.5, Carretera Tecate-Ensenda, Valle de Guadalupe
Ensenada, Baja California

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Valle de Guadalupe: El Pinar de 3 Mujeres

July 22, 2014
El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

I officially made my first trip down of the summer down to Valle de Guadalupe, and not only that, it was also Miss Camila’s very first trip. Giovanni was so thrilled to show his sister the spacious grounds that he likes to run on, as us parents sit back and enjoy a glass of wine. It was so wonderful to venture to El Pinar de 3 Mujeres. It was our first time there, and we couldn’t have been more relaxed or in awe with our entire lunch experience. Chef Ismene Venegas runs the outdoor “kitchen”, whose aromas alone left us inhaling and exhaling releasing the sweet sounds of “ahhhh” with each breath. Just like the smells of charcoal burning grills at our favorite taco spots in Tijuana, that same smokiness lingering in the air as you drive through Mexico’s wine country, will always remain a lasting memory of mine.

We sat down for our six course lunch, under the beautiful shady pine trees, and just let the rest of the afternoon pass us by. Camila stayed snuggled up close to me in her wrap, as Giovanni raced his cars through the dirt. In between car races, he repeatedly asked to go and visit the property’s ducks and chickens. He couldn’t get over the fact that the ducks had their own personal bathtub that they could take dips into as they pleased.

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

So on to the food portion of the afternoon. The meal was enjoyed with glasses of their Merlot wine.  A chilled white grape and almond gazpacho was the first to hit our taste buds. It was incredibly refreshing. Next out came a lovely garden salad, and lentil and arugula salad. Prior to the main dish, we crunched on tostadas piled high with fish tartare. The cucumber, and purple onions kept this dish nice and bright. The main part of the show, pork ribs with potato salad and grilled vegetables. Let me tell you, I could have eaten 5 more of those ribs if I had the chance. The char on the outside, with the sweet tender meat underneath. Pure bliss!

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres, Valle de Guadalupe — © Life & Food

It was such a welcomed change, just taking in the natural scenery of our beloved Valle, sipping local wine, and enjoying yet again another memorable meal.

Here’s to as many trips down there as we can make possible this summer season!

El Pinar de 3 Mujeres | MAP
Km. 87 Highway 3 Tecate-Ensenada (Same exit as Viñas de Garza)
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California
+52 646 101 5268

Thu – Sun: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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La Terrasse de Martin San Román — Valle de Guadalupe

July 15, 2014
La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

Over the weekend Chef Martin San Roman opened up his new restaurant La Terrasse San Roman at Alximia vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe. The Baja Provençal menu will focus on rustic French recipes using local ingredients from the region. France and Baja coming together in one place, that right there combines two of my greatest passions. Enjoy the beauty of dining al fresco in Mexico’s sprawling wine country, with a touch of French feel, and all of the richness of the Valle in this beautiful spot. Congratulations to both Chef Martin San Román, and Álvaro Álvarez of Alximia wines!

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse de Martin San Roman — © Life & Food

La Terrasse San Roman
Km.3 EL Tigre
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California CP 22766
Phone: +52 646 196 7803

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VIDEO: Mesamérica 2014 – Expresiones urbanas, comida callejera.

May 21, 2014
lacahua002_tijuana-©lifeandfood

Mésamerica, one of the most notable food focused events, is taking place right now in México’s capital city. Hundreds of renowned chefs, food & drink personalities from Mexico, as well all over the world get together to celebrate and discuss the industry in a series of panels.

For Mesamérica’s inaugural event, we were asked to collaborate with a series of street food stand photos from Tijuana and Ensenada. Take a look at the video and enjoy!

Special thanks to ¿Donde Comere?!

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Life As We Know It

May 8, 2014
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Here is a glimpse into our lives over the past month or so. It was filled with more quesabirria cravings than I would like to admit, a wonderful private outing with Club Tengo Hambre, enjoying delicious local eats in Tijuana, Ensenada, Valle de Guadalupe and San Diego, and a beautiful Easter Sunday with family.

Our little lady is set to make her arrival any day now, and to say that we are anxious is an understatement. We can’t wait to see what the upcoming summer season brings, all I know is that it will involve unforgettable meals, sipping of different wines and beers, and amazing times with friends and family are to come.

This is life as we know it. Each and every day proves to be an adventure, as we continue to explore the world around us.

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Tacos de NY from Don Esteban — Tijuana

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La Cacho’s La Stazione — Tijuana

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The Lunch Box Food Truck — Tijuana

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Chicharrón prensado with roasted chiles salsa at The Lunch Box — Tijuana

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Cenaduría La Once — Downtown, Tijuana

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Jalisco style Menudo at Menudería el Tapatío — Tijuana

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Tacos El Gallito — Otay Dristrict, Tijuana

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Mercado Negro — Ensenada

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Jacu Brew Bar — Downtown, Tijuana

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Satisfying birria cravings at Birrieria Don Rafa — Chula Vista, CA

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Rancho El Mogor — Valle de Guadalupe

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Lamba caja china tacos with an Agua Mala craft beer — Valle de Guadalupe

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View of Tijuana from San Diego — San Diego, CA

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Duck confit salad and pork belly torta at MIHO’s Juke in North Park — San Diego

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Take-out from Filipi’s — Little Italy, San Diego

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Fish tacos from Mariscos El Prieto — Chula Vista, CA

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Gio hunting for Easter Eggs

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Tuna fin and moronga + olive oil octopus taco at La Cahua del Yeyo — Tijuana

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La Cahua del Yeyo — Tijuana

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Pico de gallo from curbside cart — Tijuana

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Verde y Crema’s Chef Martin Vargas preparing a tiradito dish — Tijuana

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Yellowtail tiradito with jicama, rainbow radish and ash based salsa at Verde y Crema — Tijuana

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Verde y Crema — Tijuana

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View of Tijuana from Colinas de Agua Caliente — Tijuana

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Birria tacos at Fernandez Restaurant — San Diego

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Homemade carnitas

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San Diego Chef Taco Collaboration Night at Puesto — The Headquarters, San Diego

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Braised lamb taco by Chef Matt Gordon, Suckling pig taco by Chef Joe Magnanelli, and California fish and chips taco by Chef Brian Malarkey at Puestos SD Taco Collaboration Night — The Headquarters, San Diego

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Jai Alai — Downtown, Tijuana

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Life As We Know It

March 20, 2014
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Here is a glimpse into our lives over the past couple of months. We have ventured down to the Valle, enjoyed some wonderful meals, explored some new restaurants, and eaten more tacos than we would probably like to admit.

We are also currently awaiting the arrival of our newest family member, that will be joining us in May. We are all so thrilled, and Giovanni can not wait to become a big brother.

This is life as we know it. Each and every day proves to be an adventure, as we continue to explore the world around us.

Tacos de birria in Tijuana's Colonia Cacho
Tacos de birria in Tijuana’s Colonia Cacho

Pozole at El Rincón del Oso at Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana
Pozole at El Rincón del Oso at Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana

Roadside barbacoa burritos in San Antonio de Las Minas, Baja California
Roadside barbacoa burritos in San Antonio de Las Minas, Baja California

Viñas de Garza, Valle de Guadalupe
Viñas de Garza, Valle de Guadalupe

Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe<br />
Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe

Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe<br />
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Duck, swiss chard, pickled quail egg, carrot puree at Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe

Mariscos El Güero, Ensenada
Mariscos El Güero, Ensenada

Tacos at Ta'Costeño at Estación 55, Tijuana
Tacos at Ta’Costeño at Estación 55, Tijuana

La Torta Plaza, Tijuana
La Torta Plaza, Tijuana

La Torta Plaza, Tijuana
Torta Tijuana at La Torta Plaza, Tijuana

Goat and beef birria tacos at Birrieria Don Rafa, Chula Vista
Goat and beef birria tacos at Birrieria Don Rafa, Chula Vista

Street art in Tijuana's Avenida Revolución
Street art in Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución

Panza de cerdo - Arepas + miel de lavanda + chicharrón + salsa de manzana at La Justina, Tijuana
Pork belly, arepas, lavender honey, chicharrón, salsa de manzana at La Justina, Tijuana

La Justina Gastrobar, Tijuana
La Justina Gastrobar, Tijuana

Tacos de Birria de Res y Lengua in Tijuana's Colonia Ermita
Tacos de Birria de Res y Lengua in Tijuana’s Colonia Ermita

Coffee at Das Cortez in Tijuana's Colonia Cacho
Coffee at Das Cortez in Tijuana’s Colonia Cacho

Calexico Creamery, Golden Hill Farmers Markett
Calexico Creamery, Golden Hill Farmers Market

Tacos de carne asada at Taquería Hipódromo in Tijuana
Tacos de carne asada at Taquería Hipódromo in Tijuana

Taquitos de lengua at Tacos Meño in Tijuana
Taquitos de lengua at Tacos Meño in Tijuana

Chef Ryan Steyn's foie gras dish during Club Tengo Hambre + Misión 19's night of four courses of Mexican foie gras Chef Ryan Steyn’s foie gras dish during Club Tengo Hambre + Misión 19’s night of four courses of Mexican foie gras


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Mariscos Yujajay

March 10, 2014
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Spring is just around the corner, and the warmer weather is in full swing. In the midst of higher temperatures comes the yearning for delicious mariscos, and icy cold refreshments. Having our lives and time being split in between Tijuana and San Diego, often times has us running errands on both sides. Whether we cross to visit Antonio’s side of the family, or just fill our stomachs that are yearning for tacos, and even just the smell of charcoal burning the air, we head to Tijuana.

Of course we have our favorite spots that we visit time and time again, but it’s the times that we find new little gems that make for just that much more excitement.

Meet Mariscos Yujajay. Their current location in Tijuana’s Colonia Ermita has only been up and running for a few short months. Prior to taking up shop on their busy street corner, they were located at a tiny restaurant just a few blocks down the way. They love their new location, and the interaction with the public, which was very apparent during our visit.

We grabbed a seat at the shade covered table, and were immediately greeted with friendly hellos, and a cup of fish consomé. Their menu offers items ranging from Cahuamanta to traditional battered fish tacos. We went ahead and ordered their “Te Acordaras” and “The Chuck Norris.”

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We definitely will be remembering the camarón encebollado taco. Plump shrimp sautéed in butter, and topped with rich caramelized onions, and a nice drizzle of their chile de arbol and olive oil salsa. I absolutely love caramelized onions, and you know what? They absolutely do work with seafood! I have had them on both raw ceviche dishes, as well as cooked preparations, such as this taco, and again I must say yes, they are wonderful!

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Another one of their featured tacos is “The Chuck Norris”. Sometimes you just don’t worry about asking why the name, and simply just dive in. The smoked Marlin stew was tender, and the bits of onions and peppers added lovely bursts of flavor.

This is only the beginning. There will be many more trips to this stand, with more mariscos cravings to be satisfied.


Mariscos Yujajay
Calle Alba Roja and Ramón Lopez Velarde
Tijuana, Baja California | MAP

Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

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Saludos de Ensenada: The Cinderella of the Pacific

February 17, 2014
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This year, Antonio’s birthday wish was to spend a day in the beautiful coastal city of Ensenada. He would indulge in callo de hacha tostadas, fresh almejas preparadas, and of course I had to fit my latest craving for fish tacos in there somewhere. Needless to say, we came and we conquered. Giovanni also had the time of his life, making sure to get plenty of sliced cucumbers, at our fish taco stop at Tacos El Fenix, and exploring the streets on foot.

Mariscos El Gordito, Ensenada – © Life & Food

This little beauty was the first bite of the day, fresh almeja preparada (pismo clam) at Mariscos El Gordito. The clam is shucked and prepared right in front of you. In with the meaty bits of clam goes, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped tomato, onion, and, cucumber, and a healthy dowse of hot sauce and salsa maggi.

Ensenada – © Life & Food

Tacos El Fenix, Ensenada – © Life & Food

Tacos El Fenix, Ensenada – © Life & Food

There is always room for at least two (maybe even three) tacos de pescado at Tacos El Fenix. I can never get enough of their salsas, and it’s incredibly difficult to choose a favorite between the red and green.

Tacos El Fenix, Ensenada – © Life & Food

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This little guy did the best job at making sure to scare away any pigeons that came close to our food.

Mariscos El Güero, Ensenada – © Life & Food

There you have it folks, the callo de hacha tostada at Mariscos El Güero. Just mouth watering, isn’t it?

Mariscos El Güero, Ensenada – © Life & Food

We can never get enough of Baja California! There are an abundance of options, that often times it’s even difficult to choose. I can tell you one thing though, there’s nothing like the salty air, ocean views, and amazing seafood in Ensenada.

Mariscos El Gordito | MAP

Tacos Fenix | MAP

Mariscos El Güero | MAP

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