Tijuana Innovadora’s Culinary Battle | Oct 18-19, 2014

September 25, 2014
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The first edition of Tijuana Innovadora’s “Batalla Culinaria” was held two years ago. This year, the competition builds and presents battles in three categories: men, women, and pastry. Notable chefs from both the San Diego and Baja California region will compete in each category, while representing the event’s slogan, “Food Has No Borders.”

This year’s hosts of the Culinary Battle include chefs Javier Plascencia, Miguel Angel Guerrero, and Chad White. A well-known judging panel of influential chefs and food writers ranging from Valle de Guadalupe to Los Angeles, will come together under one roof to select the winning dishes.

Who will reign supreme?

Chefs Ryan Steyn, Drew Deckman, Martin San Roman and Adria Montaño amongst some of Tijuana Innovadora's Culinary Battle — © Life + Food

2014 Culinary Battle participants, chefs Ryan Steyn, Drew Deckman, Martin San Roman and Adria Montaño — © Life + Food

Chefs in the battles are:

Men’s Competition
Drew Deckman of Deckman’s en El Mogor, Valle de Guadalupe, George Morris of Beaumont’s, La Jolla; Martin San Roman of La Terrasse, Valle de Guadalupe; Jason McLoud of Ironside Fish & Oyster, San Diego; Rodolfo Luviano of Ta’costeño, Tijuana; Ryan Steyn of Jardin Adobe, Valle de Guadalupe; Antonio Santoyo of Elementos Restaurante, Tijuana; and Iker Castillo of La Justina, Tijuana

Bone marrow dish from Batalla Culinaria's chef participant Giannina Galvadon at Olivia seasonal campestre in Valle de Guadalupe — © Life + Food

Bone marrow dish from Batalla Culinaria’s chef participant Giannina Galvadon at Olivia seasonal campestre in Valle de Guadalupe — © Life + Food

Women’s Competition
Adria Montaño of Dandelion, Tijuana; Amy DiBiase of Tidal, San Diego; Christine Rivera of George’s at The Cove, San Diego; Karla Navarro of The Kitchen, Tijuana; Mariela Magoni of La Palette, San Diego; Sara Polczynski of The Blind Burro, San Diego; Giannina Galvadon of Olivia, Valle de Guadalupe; and Nancy León of Chan’s Bistro Tijuana

Pastry Competition
Bianca Castro of Biscotti’s, Mexicali; Elsa Fernanda Flores of Dolce Salato, Tijuana; Hermilia Corbala of Mily Sweets, Tijuana; Jordana Salas of Oh Bon Bon, Tijuana; Margu Plascencia of L’Artisan, Tijuana; Maribel Villareal of L’Apricot, Tijuana; Rachel King of Nine-Ten, La Jolla; and Donna Antaloczy of Ironside & Fish Oyster, San Diego

Follow Tijuana Innovadora’s Batalla Culinaria on Facebook | Website | Purchase Tickets

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Valle de Guadalupe: Clos de Tres Cantos

September 18, 2014
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Meet Clos de Tres Cantos. In fact, the winery is so new that they were still constructing a few added details when we made our visit. The grounds itself are breathtaking. There are so many eye catching architectural pieces, structural details, and overall just so much beauty. This winery is unlike any other in Valle de Guadalupe. I actually could not stop myself from talking about it with Antonio for the rest of the day.

The owners Joaquin and Maria developed Clos de Tres Cantos with the land in mind. Their concept behind the project is sustainable, and respectful to the surrounding areas. You will see this in the use of the local materials such as the laja stone that makes up most of the exteriors, as well as reclaimed wood, and recycled wine bottles that have created art in their own way. The light that shines through the different green tinted, and clear wine bottles in their future barrel room, is brilliant.

You can’t visit the land of Mexican wines, without tasting them of course. This day we tasted their “Nada”(Tempranillo & Petite Sirah), “Duda”(Carignan & Mourvedre),”Resilencia”(Petite Sirah), and “Noesis”(Tempranillo).

It was really difficult to pick favorites, but their Duda and Nada remained in my thoughts throughout the day. More than anything, I can not wait to return and see the finished project, and even more importantly experience their wines again.

Check out those cement covered chairs in the photos below! When this lovely heat wave decides to behave, you can bet we will be there with glasses of wine in hand, taking in the wine tinged Valle air, and most of all just relaxing.

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Clos de Tres Cantos | Valle de Guadalupe, San Antonio de Las Minas

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Clos de Tres Cantos
Rancho Santa Lucia, San Antonio de las Minas KM 81
Ensenada, Baja California

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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
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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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