Category Archives: Food & Beverage

Ensenada Riviera Remodel


A historic investment will come to what is now the Riviera Cultural Center with the approximate amount of one million dollars, which will be allocated in remodeling work, in addition to the construction of the Parque Lineal to one side of one of the most representative buildings in Ensenada.

With this investment, an important part of the city would be regenerated, which, as an effect, will improve the image of the city center of Ensenada in one of the places preferred by the tourists that visit the city, besides being a location where the best events of the Port are held, such as Beer Fest or wine tasting, events that mark the beginning of the Celebrations of the Harvest.

According to data, the Riviera had not received an investment of such amount for improvement works since 1990.

It is noteworthy that the creation of the Parque Lineal, as well as the Culinary and Artisanal Plaza, which will be on the side of the Ensenada stream, will offer more space for visitors, where they can buy a good souvenir or a nice food plate.

In the same way it will reinforce the lighting and illumination, which will stand out thanks to the improvement of the gardens with new fountains.

Tex Mex or Real Mex?

Ensenada Beer Fest 2017 Review


Thousands of people went to what was the most important beer event in Baja California until now. Last Saturday, the best of the craft beer industry gathered in the city of Ensenada, demonstrating that for the brewers in the region, the industry is living one of its best moments.

The Beer Fest is the Disneyland of beer lovers; The attractions were the 120 breweries between regional and national that were present, same that showed new connoisseurs what’s really important about craft beer.

People from all over Baja and other parts of the country came to the Beer Fest Ensenada.

This Beer Fest is the only event that has options for everyone, from finding the favorite beers that are in the Tap Rooms of the state, to the opportunity of discovering secrets of not so popular breweries; this without forgetting that in the event there were other breweries from Mexico with great name recognition and prizes to their name.

Le Brú de Michoacán participated for the second time in the festival, bringing their award-winning beers in bottles like this one, with extracts of blue corn.

This edition not only had the best of the industry, but this time the food also was part of the highlight, another virtue of the state, where the best exponents presented the best dishes to accompany them with beers.

Fun and diversity did not end there, as the afternoon passed different musical groups made attendees dance in three different stages designed for all musical tastes.

Three stages were settled this time, so the dance did not stop.People kept arriving as the event progressed, many were waiting in the early hours for the opportunity to have access as the last tickets sold out.

Many breweries took the opportunity to present novelties, such as Agua Mala, which had an edition of its “Hierba Santa,” an endemic plant of Ensenada.

Without doubt the organization of the Beer Fest of Ensenada has a challenge for its 2018 edition as it seems that the space is getting small for the thousands of people who attended this year, and not only that, but to maintain the union between local brewers and the harmony among brewery houses.

Thousands enjoyed the Beer Fest Ensenada this Saturday Photo: Chema Gónzalez

Eat Bugs in Mexico

Grasshoppers, left, go well with guacamole and cheese.


Bugs are ubiquitous in Mexico. You see them driving down the cobblestone streets in the historic center of town or along the highway, packed with family members.

I’ve seen eight people in a Volkswagen bug, five kids in the back seat, the driver behind the wheel, and his wife with a baby on her lap next to him. These bugs have been around a long time. Some are shiny with aluminum wheels. Others are rusted out and spitting smoke, and you wonder whether they have enough oomph left to get moving when the light turns green.

But these are not the bugs I’m talking about here. I want to focus on the edible kind: ants, grasshoppers, worms, beetles, larvae and grubs. Now, I hear you. You’re saying eeewww or ugh. If you are a visitor or expat who does not venture beyond the ken, your utterance might be particularly vocal.

 More often than not these delicacies come disguised, flavored, ground, seasoned, chopped and otherwise undetectable to the naked eye if they are served as garnish at an upscale restaurant.

Those of us who live here or visit often are used to seeing strange creatures floating around in a bottle of mezcal or tequila, often settling to the bottom like a sleeping denizen waiting to be revived. Heaven forbid it should escape and get poured into someone’s glass.

We roam the weekly markets and see strings of worms tied neatly together like Christmas popcorn garlands, ready to eat, suspended between two poles. The chapulines are mounded in pyramids atop hand-woven reed baskets. Women with bandannas dish out 10 pesos’ worth with a tiny clay dish, grasped by weathered hands.

Mexicans have developed a taste for these things. Eating bugs is part of their pre-Hispanic, indigenous heritage. Their food source developed long before the time that sheep, cows, goats and other four-legged animals were introduced from Spain.

In Mesoamerica, eating closer to the food chain became an essential part of survival and protein consumption. The tradition continues today and I think of it as part Mexico’s cultural heritage. No one here is squeamish when a bug arrives at table.

Which is why I thought it was about time I tasted escamoles, chicatanas and gusanos. I became a fan of chapulines a few years ago. Ah, you may be saying, what IS she eating? On the menus of upscale restaurants, the dishes are translated from Spanish to English, though most have a Nahuatl origin.

If you venture out to more local venues, no translation will be provided. You might be surprised at what you are eating when it is presented to you or you may not even recognize it.

Let me offer a quick summary of bug food:

Avocado, cilantro, radish and jalapeño pepper slices with escamole mayonnaise adorn a gusano and chapuline tostada.

• Escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of ants harvested from the roots of the agave cactus that produces either tequila or mezcal. Chefs say they taste buttery and nutty, with the consistency of cottage cheese.

• Chicatanas are flying ants that come with the first spring rains in Mexico. First you roast them to get rid of wings and head. Then, you pulverize them with a mortar and pestle, adding salt, pepper, garlic, maybe garlic and tomatoes, to make a spicy salsa, good to spread on a house-made tortilla.

• Gusanos are moth larvae that populate the agave plant, so you could call it a caterpillar or worm, and it is.

Grasshoppers flavored with chile, lemon, pickled onion and parsley.

• Chapulines are commonplace, found in every indigenous Mexican market, red, roasted, salted and spiced with chile pepper, drizzled with lime juice and dried. Yes, these are grasshoppers. Better we eat them than they eat our bougainvillea.

Recently, I ran an experiment with friends at two Oaxaca restaurants, Los Danzantes and Casa Oaxaca. Here, as well as all over Mexico, innovative chefs experiment with ways to present edible bugs.

Sometimes the bugs are disguised with sauces, seasonings, hidden among the lettuce or avocado curls. Sometimes, they are artfully displayed on a crunchy tostada adorned with radish slices and cilantro as a distraction.

At Los Danzantes, I ordered memelas de escamoles con mole amarillo, larva de hormiga salteada con cebolla y epazote, or ant larvae with yellow mole sauce, sautéed with onion and epazote (a native perennial herb that is like oregano). The English translation here was limited, purposefully, I presume. I know a memela is a fist-sized corn pancake with a rim to hold things.

I offered to share the dish with any takers. Secretly, I hoped the four women sitting around the table at Los Danzantes would all join me, thus making my portion smaller. Only one agreed. A medical doctor, she was used to seeing the underbelly of things. The vegetarian turned the other cheek in polite declination.

A week later at Casa Oaxaca I ordered a tostada de gusanos de maguey, chapulines, mayonesa de chicatana, aguacate, cebolla, rábanos. That is: fried corn tortilla served open face with agave worms, grasshoppers, chicatana ants, guacamole, onion and radishes.

This time there were 12 sitting around the table and a few were more adventuresome than at the previous sitting. My friend the doctor was sitting across from me. Her eyes opened wide and she went for a bigger wedge than the others, who only wanted “a little taste.”

The camouflage on this dish made it more acceptable and about half took a morsel, marveling at the deep red color of the chapulines, their appendages imperceptible.

I’ve been known to sit around the kitchen table with my indigenous Zapotec friends who live in the Oaxaca valley, picking a seasoned whole grasshopper from the bowl, pulling off its long legs, discarding them on the flower-adorned oilcloth table covering, and popping it into my mouth. This can go on for a while, picking, pulling, popping, chewing each one. It’s taken me 12 years of living here to try the ant larvae.

Wikipedia says that eating bugs is called entomophagy. You can look it up. Bug eating is prevalent around the world. Cave dwellers did it. Nourishment comes in different packages and presentations.

Today, in the developed world, we may prefer a hunk of cow or pig, but think about what it means to eat a small crustacean we call shrimp or crawfish.

Environmentalists are turning to bugs as an alternative to meat, looking at lower-cost ways to capture protein that has minimal environmental impact. Experiments are going on in Mexico to make roasted grasshopper flour, too.

I haven’t yet tasted chahuis, the edible beetle that feeds on the mesquite tree. I hear it must be well toasted in order to enjoy it, otherwise it can be bitter. Something to look forward to!

Norma Schafer is a writer and photographer based in Oaxaca, and contributor to the guidebook, Textile Fiestas of Mexico. She travels the country to explore its art and culture and offers study tours and workshops that investigate the textile traditions of weaving, natural dyeing and related handwork. Her bio, blog and website is at

Cerveceria Transpeninsular


  by the Lusty Napkin

Baja seems to be adding a new beer brewery just about every 3 months.  Visited Cerveceria Transpeninsular for St Paddy’s Day.

I rarely go out for Paddy’s day as it is one of five “rookies’ nights out” holidays. Valentine’s/Paddy’s/4th of July/Halloween/NYE provide plenty of danger and bad dining values. But, I have been monkish at home since first of year and needed to get out and disturb the peace.

Transpeninsular(“T.P. is 8 fewer syllables than the whole thing) is located on north side of downtown ‘Nada, just south of Hotel Coral.  For us South ‘Nada Cerveza Cabezas, there is a U/left turn available on northbound Hwy 1 at the brewery.  Parking is easy, with plenty of backup space for exit onto busy Hwy 1.  They opened in January 2017.

The Transpeninsular is spacious with a two story ceiling and warehouse styling.  Plenty of natural light is available by day and the lighting at night is also comfy enough to read your menu(geezer alert!).  I arrived at my favorite beverage time: dusk.  Noise level is low for easy conversation.

My meet and greet was excellent with a youthful and enthusiastic staff.  Yep, I was at the bar, but, 3 different servers were regularly checking on me.  See my spot?

The “T.P.” bar seats approx 20 and it seemed that the rest of the hall, including upper level balcony, seats a total of approx 100.  It appears that they are targeting serious beer drinkers and not the usual mob 0f 2 for 1 Bud Light happy hour zombirazzis.

I enjoyed a Pilsner and an IPA for my quality pint quaffs.  Also ordered the slider triple play of beef, chicken and pork with a heap of gnarly papas fritas.  Warm, delicious and the slaw crunch on the pork loin was a fun surprise.

The T.P. food menu offers a simple variety of bar chow made to enhance your sipping.  I always add a bonus rating when everything on the menu is less than $10USD.*  Also love a printed beer menu, plus complete description and alcohol %.   They also have a few guest brews in addition to their own.   Transpeninsular speaks gringo, as the opposite side of menu I am holding is ingles.

Need an overpriced meat dish on a big white plate of swirls, sprinkles and swooshies?  You’ll have to move on down the road for your thirty dollar entree.  T.P. is not a foodie paradise.  It is a brewery with pub comfort food.

Had plenty of fries hanging with me after finishing the sliders.  Decided to order the Roganto Piccolo red wine for my dessert.  This cab, temp, cab franc, merlot “mut” was way above my expectation.  It seems that it was only a few years ago that wine writers would dismiss blending as blasphemy against the wine goddesses. A quality $4USD glass of wine is a rare find.

I’m giving Transpeninsular the complete 6 Beer Flight Award(out of possible 5* for atmosphere, food, bar stools, seats <100, several item less than $10USD).

Open 7 days a week, noon – midnight.   646 175 2620 phone.    facebook  Slainte! and see you soon T.P.

Mantou Gastro Pub

Duck tamal at Mantou Gastropub. Photo:

sandiegored  by W. Scott Koenig

ENSENADA.-“Mantou” are a type of Chinese steamed bun and a carb staple of northern China, where wheat is more readily available than the rice grown and consumed in the south. It’s believed that the Mongols introduced the meat-filled version to the region during the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century.

While affable Mantou Gastropub owner and chef Omar Armas may lack the surly demeanor and tableside manner of the typical Mongol, he should be given no less credit as a global culinary explorer who brought mantou – the dish and its namesake restaurant – from northern China to Baja California in early 2016.

Chef Armas’ globetrotting began after a year at the Tijuana Culinary Arts School. “I left my home in Baja California to study in Florence. That’s where my interest in cooking really began,” he explained during a recent visit. “The Italians really put a lot of love into their pastas. That’s why it’s the number one comfort food in the world.”

Armas discovered mantou steamed buns while cooking in northern China via the Mayan Riviera. “One of my first jobs was as a cook at the Banyan Tree Hotels in Playa del Carmen. In 2008, tourism dried up due to the global recession, so I accepted a colleague’s offer to work with him in the restaurant of a new hotel in Macau.”

Driven in part by a feeling of isolation – Armas confessed that it was difficult for any immigrant to make friends in provincial northern China – the chef headed west and began a circulation in restaurants throughout Europe and the Americas. During this period, he worked with Quiquie Dacosta in Spain, Alex Atala in Brazil, and David Chang in New York.

Winemaker Lourdes Martinez Ojeda & chef Omar Armas. Photo:

The menu at Mantou, which Armas refers to as “eclectic cuisine and fun comfort food”, is a reflection of the chef’s time spent in these international kitchens. “We call the cuisine eclectic, as it’s influenced by many cultures. Chinese, Mexican, French. Everything we serve is made fresh and by hand in-house.”

Four types of mantou are on offer at the restaurant. The steamed buns are filled with locally sourced ingredients, such as grilled octopus in cilantro vinaigrette and smoked pork belly in chipotle mayonnaise. The dense, naturally sweet and succulent pork belly is cured for 24 hours and then smoked in-house.

Smoked pork belly mantou (steamed bun). Photo:

Though small plates also span the globe, many of the offerings stick close to home. You can taste the influence of Armas’ time spent in Mexico City with Enrique Olvera at Pujol, and enjoy his take on some local Baja California classics. The savory Ceviche Mantou is served in a molcajete and features lightly smoked local yellowtail, redolent of the sea with a slight, favorable hint of mesquite smoke.

Ceviche Mantou. Photo:

The taco of flor de calabaza (squash blossom) with nopal tatemado (burnt cactus paddle) finished with aioli, pickled onion, and chili morita is a revelation. A central Mexican delicacy is lightly fried in Baja California style beer batter and thoughtfully arranged with the other ingredients on a house-made tortilla, creating a singularly satisfying dish.

Taco of flor de calabaza and grilled nopal. Photo:

Armas’ first love, Italy, is represented on the menu by three classic tagliatelle pasta dishes, served with local proteins from both sea and farm. Though not currently on the menu, it was Armas’ duck carpaccio that won first place for chef and restaurant at the 2016 Sabor de Baja culinary competition.

The chef really gets excited about one entree in particular, the 18-ounce New York strip. “It took a year to find beef that I’d feel good serving,” he disclosed. “I finally found it close to home in Mexicali. I went to the ranch, tried it, and it was beautiful.” The very tender steak is grilled with tomato, thyme, and garlic and served with frites and three very good sauces in which to dip meat and potato: a 3-day bone marrow reduction, a broth and raw butter blend, and Mantou’s house-made ketchup.

The 18oz. grilled New York strip. Photo:

Pairing wines with Mantou’s dishes introduces another influence and taste — France. Mantou is one of the first Baja California restaurants to offer young wines from Bodegas Henri Lurton, the esteemed Bordeaux winemaker who recently began production in nearby Valle San Vicente. The connection here is Armas’ fiancée, Lourdes Martinez Ojeda, who worked with Lurton to bring modern French winemaking techniques to Baja California’s wine country.

Both food and wine can be enjoyed on Mantou’s spacious, rustic patio, or in their smaller dining room. The restaurant is located about 20 yards back from Avenida Adolfo López Mateos, providing ample parking and a tranquil dining experience. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

Mantou is located on Avenida Adolfo López Mateos #2030-A, Colonia Granados, Ensenada, Baja California. +52 646-206-0391.

We were invited by chef Omar Armas to visit Mantou Gastro Pub, and enjoyed complimentary food and wine as the guests of our generous hosts. No compensation was received for writing this article, and all opinions are those of the author — who would happily spend his own pesos at Mantou in the future.

San Diego-based culture, food and travel journalist W. Scott Koenig has explored Mexico and Baja California for over two decades. He founded in 2012 to report on south of the border destinations, food, culture and adventure. The website has since become an invaluable source of information on the burgeoning food and culture scene in Baja California, as well as the wider scene throughout Mexico. Visit Scott’s websites and social media via the links, below.

A Gringo in Mexico, FoodieHub, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.

Ensenada Beer Fest

More than 120 breweries throughout the country, as well as more than 100 styles of artisan drink, which are already a reference in Baja California, will be part of what can be enjoyed in the seventh Edition of the Festival Beer Fest Ensenada.

Paco Talamante Frías, organizer of the event, mentioned that the purpose of the event is to promote and promote the Beer Fest Ensenada beer culture, to be held on March 18 in the gardens of the Riviera Cultural Center.

He explained that on 15, 16 and 17 March there will be presentations by invited speakers, experts in the subject, as well as local gastronomy, music and malt-based beverage competition.

Growing Industry

The artisan beer producer also highlighted the growth of artisanal beer in Baja California, a state he said is spearheading all over Mexico, behind Nuevo León, Jalisco, Colima and Mexico City, he said.

“Generating brewing culture is the idea of ​​the festival, that the people of BC knew that there are brewers, now we have a variety of tasting rooms, regulations, laws and people are following the movement,” he said.

He referred to the beginnings of the festival that in its first edition counted on the participation of 27 “amateur” brewers, all from Baja California, today said they are 120 from all over the country including Hermosillo, Guadalajara, Monterrey, San José del Cabo, Texcoco and Mexico City.

“The authorities turn us to see (the brewers) for the economic spill, we bring: Tourism, work, 140 direct jobs to Ensenada and reactivate the industry in other branches of the economic chain,” he reported.

Improve quality

The owner of Cannería Cervecería also spoke about the quality of the product, he said “We competed directly with the San Diego beers, at the beginning was to try to imitate them, now it is to compete with them, we are on par”.

Finally, Paco Talamante noted that the Beer Fest Cove is one of the largest in the country but the only one that has been preserved independently, dates in which an economic spill of 9 million pesos and 100% hotel occupancy is estimated.

In the press conference were present the organizers Paco Talamante Frías and Hector Ferreira Ramírez: José Eduardo Arce, president of the Brewers Association, and Marco Padilla, representing the delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in the state Héctor Rosas Rodea.

In numbers:
120 brewers
100 beer styles
40 judges in the competition
25 gastronomy stands
100% hotel occupancy
100% independent festival
9mdp is estimated the economic spill
6 thousand attendees / Staff included (approximately)


Plastic Bag Ban in Ensenada

ENSENADA BC MARCH 7, 2017 (AFN) .- The Cabildo unanimously approved an opinion related to the ban on the delivery of plastic bags other than fast biodegradation.

Councilor Jorge Emilio Martínez Villardaga, who presented the proposal, mentioned that, from now on, establishments and businesses will have a grace period of 180 days to comply with this provision.

“After this period, the gift of these in the various commercial establishments will be prohibited. With the adoption of this measure we would stop producing annually the equivalent of 9 times the weight of 423 patrols that are with us in Ensenada, “said the mayor.

Martínez Villardaga noted that, with this action, Ensenada becomes one of the most avant-garde in the world in terms of inhibiting plastic waste in favor of the environment.

He commented that in 2002 there were 5 billion plastic bags in the world, and today more than 500 billion plastic bags are consumed globally. “As a consequence 1 million birds and more than 100 thousand marine animals die each year as a result of contamination by plastic bags.
The overuse of polyethylene plastic bags has a negative environmental impact because they degrade between 100 to 400 years, “he noted.

He indicated that some particles that emit plastic bags when they disintegrate are toxic; The unrecycled bags become trash, a part of them ending up in the pipeline causing flooding.
The approved proposal consists of:

1. Include the activity of use, facilitation and gift, by commercial establishments in the text of article 40, which regulates the management of solid waste such as polyethylene plastic bags.

2. Include the activity of utilization, facilitation and gift, in the text of article 41, which empowers the administrative unit to apply this new provision in its field of competence.

3. The prohibition of the provision of polyethylene plastic bags (which degrade between 100 and 400 years) by the commercial, commercial or service centers, on the other hand, allow the gift of reusable bags (cloth bags) or Those made with materials of early biodegradation, the above by means of the creation of article 43.

By tying the regulation of this activity with the Environmental Protection Act for the State of Baja California, article 141 and in compliance with the state and federal provisions:

General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes.

Law of Prevention and Integral Management of Waste of the State of Baja California.

Open That Bottle Night Feb 25

Bajadock: Discovered this little holiday, “Open That Bottle Night“, last year.  I forget what bottle I opened that night in 2016.  Grab your best friend(s), family or neighbor(s) and enjoy an informal feast.  I may move beyond my $10-$12 bottle comfort zone and try something new that I have been saving.  “Release your wine prisoner”. Saludos!

Whether it’s the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands, just about all wine lovers have that very special wine that they always mean to open, but never do. This is why “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher invented Open That Bottle Night, the world-wide celebration of friends, family and memories during which all of us finally drink that wine that is otherwise simply too special to open.

On OTBN, which is celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year, thousands of bottles all over the world are released from prison and enjoyed. With them come memories of great vacations, long-lost loved ones and bittersweet moments. The whole point of the weekly “Tastings” column is that wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It’s about history, geography, relationships and all of the things that are really important in life.

If you plan to participate in Open That Bottle Night, here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

1. Choose the wine. This is the all-important first step. You don’t necessarily want to open your “best” wine or your most impressive wine, but the wine that means the most to you, the one that you would simply never open otherwise. Maybe it’s Grandpa’s garlic wine. You’re looking for a bottle full of memories. On the other hand, if you have, say, a 1929 Lafite that’s just sitting there, it’s tough to argue with that.

2. Stand older wine up (away from light and heat, of course) for a few days before you plan to open it — say, on Wednesday. This will allow the sediment, if there is some, to sink to the bottom.

3. Both reds and whites are often better closer to cellar temperature (around 55 degrees) than today’s room temperature. Don’t overchill the white, and think about putting the red in the refrigerator for an hour or two before opening it if you’ve been keeping it in a 70-degree house.

4. With an older bottle, the cork may break easily. The best opener for a cork like that is one with two prongs, but it requires some skill. You have some time to practice using one. Be prepared for the possibility that a fragile cork may fall apart with a regular corkscrew. If that happens, have a carafe and a coffee filter handy. Just pour enough through the coffee filter to catch the cork.

5. Otherwise, do not decant. It’s safe to assume that these are old and fragile wines. Air could quickly dispel what’s left of them. If the wine does need to breathe, you should have plenty of time for that throughout the evening.

6. Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case your old wine really has gone bad.

7. If you are having an OTBN party, ask everyone to say a few words about the significance of the wine they brought. This really is what OTBN is all about, sharing.

8. Serve dinner. Open the wine and immediately take a sip. If it’s truly, irretrievably bad — meaning vinegar — you will know it right away. But even if the wine doesn’t taste good at first, don’t rush to the sink to pour it out. Previous OTBN participants have said they were amazed how a wine pulled itself together and became delicious as the night wore on.

9. Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.

10. Drop Dottie and John a note at about your evening. Be sure to include your name, city and phone number, in case they need to contact you so that they can share your account with other readers.

This article was adapted from a Tastings column by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher published in January 2007.

Conchas y Vino Nuevo 2017

Rompehielo / Comité Pro-Vino
Lugar: Por Confirmar Hora: 19:00 hrs Hrs.
Parrillada / Comité Pro-Vino
Lugar: Hotel Coral & Marina Hora: 13:00 hrsHrs.
XVIII Festival de las Conchas y Vino Nuevo / Comité Pro-Vino
Lugar: Hotel Coral & Marina Hora: 12:00 hrsHrs.                                                                                                                                                                            
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