Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Gourmet Awards 2012

October 25, 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

The second annual Travel + Leisure Gourmet Awards were held at The University Club in Mexico City. This year we were honored to be nominated in their “Mejor Blog Independiente” category. The morning of the awards we boarded a flight to Mexico City, and we were on our way. This was our very first trip to DF, and unfortunately it went by way too fast. Actually, we are already trying to make plans for our return trip there. Even though we only got to spend less than a day, in this beautiful city, we loved every second of it.

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

The pre-awards show cocktail hour was held in the kitchen of the University Club. This created the perfect ambiance and set the tone for the evening. Bohemia and Ron Zacapa sponsored the event, so we all got to hang around chatting and sipping refreshing beers and mojitos. We had the pleasure of meeting the creators of Donde Comere and Vinus Tripudium, which were the other blogs nominated in our category.

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Then the time came to move into the room where the award ceremony was being held. The seats were filled within what seemed like seconds, and the speakers began to announce the different categories. A year prior to this, I couldn’t have even imagined that we would be in these seats amongst so many influential people.

Even though we didn’t win for our category, Baja still rocked it at the Gourmet Awards. Congratulations again to Chef Javier Plascencia for Misión 19 taking Best New Restaurant, and to Chef Diego Hernandez for Corazón de Tierra taking Best Restaurant from a hotel.

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

Following the awards ceremony we headed upstairs to be greeted by more beers, rum, and a couple different little bites. Music played as everyone mingled and congratulated each other for the awards won.

Travel and Leisure Magazine's Gourmet Awards 2012

We are more than thrilled to be shown in the November issue of Travel+Leisure Mexico. Seeing our name, and blog in print, is pretty surreal. We want to thank all of our friends and family for joining us on this journey that is Life and Food. Thank you so much for the constant support, you keep us inspired, and striving to do more.

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Pitiona: Cocina de Autor

October 19, 2012

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

As you may know by now, our trip to Oaxaca was truly an enchanting experience. There are so many photos, and experiences to remember, that just being able to re-live it all again in my mind while writing it down, is indescribable. I could literally write for days, as I begin to day dream and look back at all the photos, but I am not writing a book here, so I will keep it to a minimum. Of course the first questions that we were asked upon our return, was about the food, and what was our favorite thing that we ate. Everything, and each restaurant or cafe that we ate at, has its own little place in my memory, but Pitiona was an evening that I will never forget.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

We decided to choose our last evening to dine at Chef Jose Manuel Baños restaurant Pitiona. Believe me we walked by it numerous times during the week, and we could not wait to experience it for ourselves. Chef Jose Manuel has worked in some of the top restaurants in the world, including El Bulli and Arzak. He describes his dishes and creations as a “Gastronomic tour of the Mexican state of Oaxaca.” His inspiration stems from his devout passion for his homeland. The restaurant is located in the historic district, transformed from an old colonial house, with modern touches and art pieces in the interior from local Oaxacan artists. While you savor each bite of a dish, you can feel that love and admiration, and you know that this will be a meal to remember.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The evening started off with a glass of Baja wine for me, and a Pitiona martini for Antonio. The restaurant is named after this plant or herb that is used in a variety of dishes from soups, to bread, and now in this case their house martini. The herb was even growing in the window sill behind our table. They want this herb to remain a memory of yours, in time to come, and that it has. The restaurant itself is simply elegant, and the dish ware that came along with our meal, I would absolutely love to have on my own table at home.

We ordered the six course tasting menu, and here you can choose the exact courses that you would like to enjoy, or in our case we asked to just have the Chef send them out at random.

A little palate teaser was the Prickly Pear Granita with Coconut foam, and a sprinkle of chile on top. I have become an absolute fan of Prickly Pear lately, and this was the ideal way to get our taste buds rearing and ready to go for what was about to come.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The meal started off with a Memela de Venado. A fried corn tortilla filled with juicy venison. The star in this dish was of course the venison, there was nothing masking its natural flavors and beauty.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The second course, Jamon Serrano de Pato (Duck) on a toasted piece of bread with fresh tomatoes. Each ingredient shined on its own, and these couple of bites were packed with textures of flavors.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The third course, their lettuce of the land salad, with Goat Cheese, croutons, and avocado criollo. The flavors all together were earthy, you could almost taste the humidity and surrounding weather of Oaxaca in this salad. I know that sounds extreme, but it is so true. The tangy goat cheese and avocado together are a delightful pair, and their creaminess really comes through next to the greens.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The fourth course, Mero fish rubbed with cacao and bathed with “Salsa de Tierra”, sharing the plate with carrot puree, I can still remember the first bite that took into the fish, It was so incredibly buttery. The waiter explained to us, that they make the salsa from washed local soil. I found that to be an intriguing fact. It had such a unique flavor, that went perfectly with the slightly sweet carrot puree and tender piece of fish.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The final savory course, Baby pork ribs with mole coloradito and Haba puree (Fava bean). They asked that you try the rib on its own, prior to adding the sauce. The mole was an added bonus, the perfectly cooked ribs had their own show going on for themselves.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

The dessert course, Passion fruit and Chocolate mousses in the glass, to the left of that a mango sphere, and on the right is mamey with 25 spices. This dish was both pleasing to the eye, as it was to the palate. From the rich mousses, to the mango sphere that goes from its sphere like solidity, to liquid the second that it touches your tongue. It’s fair to say that this dessert was simply magical.

Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez' Pitiona Restaurante in Oaxaca

Pitiona prides itself on having 70 percent of their product be Oaxacan, and the other 30 percent comes from the rest of the country of Mexico. What a beautiful display of local ingredients and flavors. Pitiona, thank you for remaining one of my all time favorite memories of Oaxaca.

Pitiona
Allende 108, Centro.68000
Oaxaca, Oax. México
Tel. (951) 514 0690

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Renowned Chefs and Culinary Arts icons from the region come together for Tijuana Innovadora

October 17, 2012

Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts

What a weekend was had! Both the Baja California Culinary Fest and Tijuana Innovadora began on October 11th. The BC Culinary Fest continued throughout the weekend, and the Tijuana Innovadora will run until October 21st. We had the pleasure of attending different events at each, all the while joining forces to launch Club Tengo Hambre, and its first tour. Sunday afternoon we attended the Culinary Arts Panel at CECUT.

The first panel was titled “Our Gastronomic History: An Intangible Legacy”. The guest speakers spoke all about Pre-hispanic Mexican food, and how important it is to preserve that. The panel stressed that it all starts at home, with learning different techniques and how to cook the traditional dishes at a young age. This then should continue to carry on from generation to generation. Eating a meal, that takes you back to your home, or even brings you down memory lane somehow, will always have a special place in one’s heart.

Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts

“Cuisine from Tijuana to the World”

The guest speakers that made up this panel from left to right are: Chef Javier Plascencia, Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero, Javier Gonzalez Director of the Culinary Art School in Tijuana, Chef Martin San Roman, Chef Jair Tellez, and Luis Ricardo Bonilla Cazarin. Each and every Chef and speaker drew the crowd in with their passion for the cuisine that hails from Baja California. Whether the Chefs were talking about their own style of cooking, with the use of these local ingredients, or how they are incorporated into their Baja Med dishes was so intriguing. Each individual on that stage has their own interpretation of what their dishes mean to them, as well as where their inspiration stems from. This is among the many reasons that I love Baja California. You can go to each of these Chef’s restaurants, and taste that each of their dishes are not only absolutely delicious, but they each have their own character. That was even further examined when the panelists were asked on the spot, what dish they would each make to represent Tijuana/Baja California.

Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts
Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts

Chef Javier Plascencia answered with the soup that he had made in the Culinary Battle the day before, he described that the smokiness of the dish was there to remind the judges of the smell of the burning charcoal as you drive down the streets. Just even thinking about that aroma reminds me of Tijuana. Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero answered with “Cordero a la vuelta vuelta”, he stressed that the lamb from Baja California is different than anywhere else. Javier Gonzalez answered with a Carne Asada Taco, which I am sure many can vouch for that answer. Chef Martin San Roman said a Pastel de Crepas. That has to be one of my all time favorite desserts. Finally Chef Jair Tellez answered with making a salad from the vegetables in his garden. I personally will always have a great memory of the salad that I had at Laja.

Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts
Tijuana Innovadora 2012: Culinary Arts

Just walking away from the panel, you could still feel and hear the words of passion behind Baja California cuisine. If you have yet to try the food, you are missing out on a whole new world.

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Club Tengo Hambre embarks on its first Baja Gastro Outing

October 15, 2012

This past Saturday we launched Club Tengo Hambre with our first Tijuana Gastro Tour. What better way to begin, than showing our first group three of the most innovative taco stands in Tijuana. First off, thank you to all that came along on our first adventure. It was such a fun day, and it was more than nice to meet so many new faces. You can never hear enough of all of the amazing comments. It’s just that fact the everyone thoroughly enjoyed their tacos, Tamarindo martinis, Chef Javier Plascencia appearance with the tasting of the original Caesar salad..and who can forget the added bonus of the BCB Craft Beer tasting.

A special thanks to all of the stops on this tour:

Thank you El Mazateño for the amazing as always Camaron enchilado and Marlin tacos.

Thank you Tacos Kokopelli, I think the fact that people can say that they ate chapulines, and let alone enjoyed every bite is just a wonderful experience on its own. Keep doing what you are doing, you are continuing to blow people’s minds with your talent and creations.

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Gourmet Meets the Streets: A Tijuana Taco Outing

October 11, 2012

We are delighted to kick-off Club Tengo Hambre this Saturday October 13th, in celebration of the Baja California Culinary Fest. We have joined creative forces with Bill Esparza and Jason Thomas Fritz to bring the wonderful world of Tijuana street food cuisine to the people. Come with an empty stomach, and an adventurous state of mind. You will get the chance to indulge in some of the most innovative tacos that Tijuana has to offer, Oh, and did we mention enjoying a Tamarindo Tequila martini while chatting it up with Tijuana renowned Chef Javier Plascencia? Tacos Kokopelli will even be serving up a special to us surprise dish. This Saturday prepare to have your taste buds experience flavors, that some may have never before. We look forward to meeting you, and showing you a little piece of what Baja California has to offer.

To learn more and purchase your ticket visit: clubtengohambre.com

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Mercado 20 de Noviembre & Benito Juárez

October 10, 2012
oaxaca_mercados-29

Months prior to our Oaxaca visit, we started slowly jotting down places, sights, and food that we all wanted to see and devour. Anyone that knew we were going to Oaxaca told us that we absolutely could not miss their mercados. Markets have always been top spots to fuel my imagination and mind with all different kinds of ideas and inspiration. Let me tell you, Mercado Benito Juárez in Oaxaca is just phenomenal. Do not enter on a timed schedule, if you are anything like me, you will get lost somewhere between the piñatas and bowls of different chiles and spices. No, I wasn’t physically lost, my mind just decided to venture on its own course grasping all of the gorgeous colors, textures, and fragrances.

Mercado 20 de Noviembre & Benito Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Mercado 20 de Noviembre & Benito Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Mercado 20 de Noviembre & Benito Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Mercado 20 de Noviembre & Benito Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico

Walking around the market with empty stomachs, is not highly recommended. All of the different vendors in the 20 de Noviembre section of the mercado are waving their arms and menus at you, to get you to sit down at their own eatery. We chose to eat our breakfast at Comedor Chabelita. It was packed full of people, but we managed to grab a bench and section of a table to ourselves. We started off by sharing a Chocolate con agua, and a piece of pan de yema. Antonio ordered the Mole amarillo, and I decided on a Tlayuda sencilla. For the moment I wasn’t really craving meat, and the Tlayuda sencilla more than conquered my hunger. I had quite a few over our week stay, but was never actually able to finish a whole one.
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Oaxaca Mágico – Part I

October 8, 2012
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Where to begin. Let’s start off by saying that our trip to Oaxaca has been on our minds since we first booked our airline tickets at the beginning of the year. I know that it’s only natural to constantly think about an upcoming vacation, but this time it was just a different feeling. I never really like to get all worked up, and have a bunch of plans for vacations, because more often than not there can be a little bit of a let down. This trip the only plans we made were our flights, and the hotel stay. Other than that, we would roam aimlessly through the beautiful city of Oaxaca, and of course eat until our hearts delight.

Oaxaca, México
Oaxaca, México
Oaxaca, México
Oaxaca, México

This plan worked out absolutely perfectly. Not too mention, that we were traveling with our nearly 2 year old son, and actually having a set schedule doesn’t really seem to matter any more. He was so good, and could not get enough of his new surroundings. I mean, you can’t blame him, being about 2 and a half feet tall, running around the Zocalo, and playing with his new favorite toy, a balloon that was twice his size.
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Suzie’s Farm Second Autumnal Equinox Dinner

September 24, 2012
suziesfarmautumnalequinoxdinner-23

Such a magical night was had at the second annual Suzie’s Farm Autumnal Equinox dinner. It was an evening filled with enchanting scenery, great company, and delightful food and wine pairings. The event started out on Suzie’s Farm with appetizers and refreshments in the middle of their towering Sunflower maze. As the sun began to set, and the temperatures began to drop, we found ourselves crunching over leaves and fallen sunflower stalks heading in the direction of other people’s chatter. The sounds of bees buzzing past your ears, and the foliage under your feet, transforms you into this tranquil state as you explore this living piece of art. There were different rooms to be found, other than the center hay filled meeting place. Of course with the temperatures still being in the eighties at 6pm, making it to the beverages and appetizers almost felt like a reward. We snacked on pickled vegetables, Chayote and eggplant crostinis, Lambcetta dipped in a charred vegetable “dirt”, and savory cannolis. We sipped a Cucumber Lemon Verbena water that was more than refreshing. The dinner portion of the night was held at their Sun Grown property.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

We mingled during the cocktail hour taking in the intoxicating aromas floating around from the outdoor kitchen. Hello, Caja China so nice to see you again. We enjoyed a glass of Vesper Vineyards Carignan, as we waited for the dinner bell to be rung. The dining area with long tables covered in crisp white linens and twinkling lights above was just gorgeous. This was like a scene that came out of my imagination. Oh wait, not everyone day dreams about dinner parties in rustic settings and farms? Well, I do, and I could not wait to see how the night would unfold.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Four local Chefs came together to create a four course meal and pairings for all of the attendees. Now that I have described the scenery, let’s get into the indulgent part of the evening, the food.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Chef Joe Magnanelli – Cucina Urbana
Blistered Little Gem Lettice with soft boiled hen egg, pickled red onion, squash blossoms stuffed with sunflower seed puree

Pairing: Brother Levonian Saison with Basil Flowers and Sancho Buttons, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

The first course by Joe Magnanelli of Cucina Urbana was a lovely start to the dinner. The charred flavors from the blistered Little Gem lettuce, that soft boiled egg, and let me say have you ever had a squash blossom stuffed with sunflower puree? The flavors and textures of this dish were outstanding. The pairing was a Brother Levonian Saison with Basil flowers and Sancho buttons by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. I could honestly say that it is one of the best beers that I have tasted. The Basil came through with bright notes, and the Sancho buttons left your lips and tongue feeling a bit numb. It was quite the pairing.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Chef Max Bonacci – El Take It Easy
Handmade Japanese eggplant noodles with beet and radish kimchi, fermented chickpea sprouts, smoked carrots, and Cayenne chile sauce with Turkish eggplant-infused Ensenada Olive Oil.

Pariing: Alsace, Kuentza-Bas

The second course by Max Bonacci of The Linkery & El Take it Easy was a dish that had us and everyone around us asking,”How did he do this?’ The handmade Japanese eggplant noodles were so tasty, and the their texture was just fantastic. There was a nice heat from the Cayenne chile sauce, and how could you possibly go wrong with Turkish eggplant-infused Ensenada Olive oil. The Alsace, Kuentz-Bas wine pairing cut through that heat, and was simply delicious.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Chef Javier Plascencia – Misión 19
Caja China roasted goat with Green Zebra salsa, yellow chard, burnt onions, and goat cheese quesadilla.

Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Syrah, “El Take It Easy”, Villa Montefiori

The third course by Chef Javier Plascencia of Misión 19, is where that Caja China came into play. Mouthwatering goat with Green Zebra Salsa, and quesadillas with thick flour tortillas hailing from Sonora filled with Goat cheese from Tecate. I can not stop thinking about that goat, everything about this dish was just so right! The red blend “El Take it Easy”, Villa Montefiori wine pairing tied in perfectly with all of the flavors.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Chef Karen Krasne – Extraordinary Desserts
Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Pairing: Smoked Porter, Stone Brewing Company

The fourth and final course by Chef Karen Krasne of Extraordinary Desserts was a pleasant sweet ending to the whole evening. Chocolate and Croissants together, have always been a divine pair in my book. The Smoked Porter by Stone Brewing Company pairing was rich, and full of similar chocolate notes.

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox Dinner

We really had an amazing time at this event. It will be a night that I will always remember, and look back on as a wonderful beginning to my favorite season of the year, Fall.

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Mercado Hidalgo: A whirlwind of aromas, colors and textures

September 18, 2012
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The weather for the past week in both San Diego, and Tijuana has been quite the scorcher. Of course, we weren’t going to let that pesky 109 degree heat get in our way of making a visit to Mercado Hidalgo. Okay, so maybe we weren’t walking around for hours or anything, but I just can’t resist spending some time there on a Saturday morning. You may have seen me write about Mercado Hidalgo before, but there is no possible way to capture all of the beauty in one, or even twenty visits, at least in my opinion. Here are some photos, to show you guys a little bit of what our visit was like over the weekend. As you can see, there was no way that we were leaving without a mini Buzz Lightyear piñata, he is one of Giovanni’s favorite Disney characters after all. Mercado Hidalgo always leaves me feeling inspired. Just being able to capture the aromas, colors, and even touching the different textures is an experience that you will not forget.

Mercado Hidalgo de Tijuana

Mercado Hidalgo de Tijuana

Mercado Hidalgo de Tijuana

Mercado Hidalgo de Tijuana
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