Category Archives: Food & Beverage

Conchas y Vino Nuevo Fest 2017

Festival de Conchas y Vino Nuevo last Sunday, 23 April, at Hotel Coral brought out the best from talented local chefs and wineries.  Finally enjoyed Lechuza chardonnay first sips, yum.  I have only missed this party once(2016) in ten years.  It is usually in early April.  Here are some highlights of the day(click to enlarge):




Chef Ryan Steyn’s sushi oyster was the most bold and creative bite.  If you are not a fan of oysters and mussels(ostiones y mejiollenes), this fiesta is not for you.  Ok, you can go if you enjoy unlimited samplings of wine.  The event is always on a Sunday, noon -5PM.  Some food runs out around 3.

Restaurante Tre Galline


Carpaccio, Brunello wine and a panoramic view of the valley begins this fun evening at Restaurante Tre Galline.



Saw this UFO, what is it?  Bread?


Parm cheese wheel. 


Tre Galline valley view


Details matter, when the chef honors your request to share a main course and provides the same detail on the split plate presentations as he would for the full order.  Corvina fish with a savory sauce and veggies.


Made my first visit to Tre Galline in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe this week.  Made dinner reservation at +52 1 612 119 9718 and confirmed that this was the Tre Galline in the wine valley, not in Todos Santos.  I did not realize that I was speaking to Chef Angel until meeting him later that evening.

Tre Galline earns our cinque galline(5 hens out of 5) award for venue, scenery, service, food and value.  This is a fine example of rustic Baja dining.  Minimal decor and infrastructure yields to the flavors and panoramic views.  I gotta go back and get the pasta dancing in that cheese wheel bowl.


Tre Galline is located on the Porvenir road(parallels Hwy 3) at Vinos Montefiore.  Signs are good and they recently graded their dirt road leading to the restaurant from the paved road.

Photo from  Paolo Paoloni, owner of Villa Montefiori winery, and Angelo Dal Bon, Tre Galline.

Chef Angelo is from Salò Italy, on Lake Garda.  Everyone has stories of successes and failures  and sometimes the backstory opens up the motivation for success.  Chef Angelo gave us 5 minutes on his history, his city and the connection to Benito Mussolino.  Ok, my Spanish was only sufficient to pick up 25% of Angelo’s story.  So I did a bit of reading to understand more:


Wikipedia: From 1943 to 1945 Salò was the de facto capital (seat of government) of Benito Mussolini‘s Nazi-backed puppet state, the Italian Social Republic, also known as the Republic of Salò: Villa Castagna was the seat of the police headquarters, Villa Amedei was the head office of the Ministry of Popular Culture, Villa Simonini (nowadays Hotel Laurin) was the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Stefani Agency, which distributed official press releases, was located in Via Brunati.

Following from interview in Journal del Pacifico, 2014:

Angelo Dal Bon is a third-generation chef. His grandmother opened their family restaurant in Northern Italy in 1950. His mother was the second chef in the family, and today his sisters run the restaurant. Angelo studied to be an accountant, but started working in the family restaurant after graduation. He has continued working as a chef to this day. Magda worked with Angelo and his sisters for 10 years, then went on to open her own very successful restaurant.

In 2004, Magda moved her restaurant to a magical location–a 16th century Italian villa on Lake Garda. On November 24th, after being open only 54 days, disaster struck. A 5.3 mb earthquake hit their town and the villa was split in two. It had to be demolished. When Magda recovered from the shock and heartache, she realized that the earthquake had opened a new door in their lives. She decided that they should start over and open a new restaurant in Baja California Sur, where they had enjoyed visiting since 1992.

Angelo and Magda packed up all their restaurant equipment and furniture, and shipped them to Mexico. After exploring several towns in Baja California Sur, they choose Todos Santos, and settled here in 2005. The doors to Tre Galline, their Italian restaurant, opened in February, 2006. They purchased Caffé Todos Santos in October of 2009. Angelo and Magda’s son, Constantio (named for Angelo’s grandmother), now lives in Todos Santos and works with them at both Caffé Todos Santos and Tre Galline.

This past summer(2014), Angelo opened Tre Galline del Vale Guadalupe at the Villa Monte Fiori vineyard, in the wine country outside of Ensenada in Baja California. It is located at km 9.8 on Carretera El Porvenir.

1989    Slow Food Movement Manefesto
2000    The James Beard Foundation

Agua Mala Cerveceria

Visited Agua Mala Cerveceria this warm and sunny Friday to get some cool refreshments for friends.

Entry is very industrial as I thought I might need a hard hat and steel toed boots.  The building is made from shipping containers.  But, the stairway to barley and hop heaven leads you to a unique bar that is Agua Mala Tasting Room.

The bar area combines a small bar counter surrounded by tables with an open air setting and view out to the Pacific from this perch.  Outdoor seating is available.  This is your perfect neighborhood bar to bring your buddies or meet new ones.

I have enjoyed Agua Mala beer previously at a few Ensenada restaurants including Deckman’s.  Today’s visit was a quickee with only a six pack sampler beer purchase.  Will need to dive into the food menu on my next visit.

Agua Mala Tasting Room opens 2pm-ish and I think they are closed Mondays.

Signs?  We don’t need no stinkin signs.  Just look for the shipping containers.  Location is Hwy 1 in El Sauzal(north Ensenada), approx 1/4 mile south of the 16 story Entremar condos and just north of Belio restaurant.

646 248 4638       Agua Mala Facebook

The American Pale Ale is my favorite…

Tacos al Pastor or Adobada?

Bajadock: The information that I have received on the differences between Tacos al Pastor and Tacos Adobada are as varied as the dozens of stories of the origin of the margarita.  But, when I want to get my meat on, Tacos Adobada are what are served at El Original, Los Chavalos and El Trailero in Ensenada.

What’s yours???

Tacos El Original, foto por Bajadock

Los Chavalos, foto por Bajadock

El Trailero, foto por Bajadock

Al pastor is a popular style of tacos that are most commonly found in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, although they can be found in other places around Mexico as well. In the United States, tacos al pastor are much harder to find, though they are increasingly common in American cities with large Mexican populations. The way to cook and serve tacos al pastor is unique in that the meat is cooked on a grill and then shaved or cut from it at the time of serving. Spit-style cooking of beef taco is not commonly found outside of Mexico, and the counter-intuitive placement of pineapple on top of a taco makes it the hardest to reach taco, making many confuse it with similar but distinct dishes.

The method of cooking with a grill is similar to the way gyroscope or shawarma is prepared. It is believed that the shepherd style was developed due to the influence of Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Over time, the method of meat preparation has gone from being somewhat similar to Lebanese shawarma in the style that can be found nowadays in the tacos restaurants of all the center of Mexico.

Unlike beef shawarma, which is usually lamb, carne al pastor is marinated with pork in a mixture composed of vinegar, a variety of peppers, and other herbs and spices. Pork is allowed to marinate from a couple of hours to a couple of days, and is folded over the vertical rotisserie and cooked using a gas flame. It is not a particular recipe to create meat marinade to the shepherd, and many restaurants take care of their recipe as an important secret.

Tacos al pastor is usually served with a thin slice of pineapple, along with cilantro, onion and salsa. All pineapple normally rests on the top of the meat while it is cooking in the saliva, and is then left to release the bromelain, a pineapple enzyme contained that softens the flesh by breaking down its proteins. When serving the dish, a slice of pineapple is cut and placed on the taco, where it provides a sweet and bitter addition to the flavor profile.

This dish should not be confused with adobada, which means ‘marinade’ in Spanish. Meat marinated in tacos is often marinated with a recipe similar to that used for al pastor. Adobada tacos are usually made with pork, but the meat is not cooked on a grill and the tacos dressed with pineapple slices. These last two traits identify authentic tacos al pastor.

  • Tacos al pastor are something difficult to find in the US.
  • Al pastor tacos are often served with sweet sauce and cilantro.
  • Al pastor has similarities with gyroscopes in the way they are prepared.
  • Al pastor is a popular style of tacos that are most commonly found in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, although they can be found in other places around Mexico as well.
  • Pineapple is commonly served with tacos al pastor

La Cevicheria Oyster Bar


Continued my Friday Food Frolick trend at La Cevicheria, battling the Semana Santa traffic in Ensenada.  OK, per Surfer Dude’s counsel, road crowds ain’t nearly as bad as in Orange County or L.A.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ample outdoor seating at La Cevicheria.  This Friday saw a good crowd with only 2 or 3 tables available at 5:30PM.  There are approx 6 seats at the bar and I’m always comfy in a bar stool.  This spot feels like your little neighborhood bistro.

The interior at La Cevicheria is a small space with room for approx 36.  Exterior seats maybe 24?

La Cevicheria has the usual bottled beer subjects plus a few craft brew selections like Wendlandt and Lagunita IPA.  Bohemia Clara was my choice.  Meet and greet was friendly and the menu was in my hands pronto.  Wine, mixed drinks, tequila and mezcal are also served here.

My bartender made a few suggestions and asked “How hungry are you?”.  Started with the Tuna Al Pastor taco due to the creative combo name.  Yep, that’s pineapple, and although hidden by the mild red salsa, there were plentiul meaty chunks of tuna in this fun taco.  Food trivia nuts: Tacos al Pastor are called Tacos Adobada in Baja.

You also are served a salsa flight at La Cevicheria.  Left to right in photo above is habanero to chipotle,  tongue torch to mild.

Bohemia #2 was accompanied by 6 fresh oysters.  I hate to admit that I’m a whimp on hot salsas.  A little heat is good, but, too much overwhelms the flavors.  I had to try a couple of drops of the habanero on one of these “snots on a shell” and it brought me to tears.  Stayed within the salsa verde and chipotle zone for the rest of my visit.

When I see “house special” or “de la casa” in the menu, my frolick nerves jump at the chance.  But, I was on Bohemia course #3 and was semi-full of seafood and suds already.  OK, I ordered the half portion of Ceviche de la Casa.  Yes, above photo is the HALF portion on a full dinner plate.  I asked for verification that I was not served a full portion.  Yowzers, a full portion could feed 4 people.  This Montaña de Mariscos had clams, octopus, fish and shrimpies. 

I did not want to expand into a new belt size this early on a Friday, so requested “para llevar” and my server gladly took away the dish to put into a container, with the tostadas packaged separately, thanks.

On taking home your saved dinner at a restaurant, do you prefer DIY scooping at the table into your container, or would you rather have a server handle it back in the kitchen?

La Cevicheria is a perfect spot for a sip and nibble, sharing tapas with friends or a full seafood orgy session.  The one page menu(Gracias Dios!) is easy to navigate and gets my coveted 6th star award, because all menu items are less than $10USD.

La Cevichera is located inside Villa Mexicana, a shopping mall, on the inland side of Lopez Matoes(1st street), or seaward side of Calle Segunda.  Easiest way to find it is entry from Alvarado.

FYI for Ensenada visitors, Alvarado runs into the water at the Big Flagpole and Riveroll runs into the 3 Heads Park.

All of my posts are plotted by our team of cartographers on the Ensenada Interactive Map(includes Valle de Guadalupe wineries/restaurants).

Parking is best for La Cevicheria if you just move just inland from Calle Segunda(2nd), you will find a spot with patience and willingness to hike 2 or 3 blocks to your target restaurant in ‘Nada Centro.  Circling endlessly on weekends around Costero, 1st and 2nd will cause dizziness and loss of appetite.

La Cevicheria gets our coveted 6 oyster award(out of 5 possible).  Will be bringing friends back to this fun spot soon.  Ooops, and I was the only gringo in the house(OGITH)!

La Cevicheria Facebook

Punta Banda Horseshit and Gastronomy

foto por Bajadock

Bajadock: Wowzeritos Punta Banditos!  A Gastronomic Corridor is shovel ready for the neighborhood, as soon as the horseshit is mitigated.

The peninsular and Estero area of ​​Punta Banda registers contamination of canyons, streams and beaches by garbage, discharges to the sea of ​​commercial and restaurant waste water, as well as horse excrement in the sand, so that civil authorities and associations will attend to the problem.

During a meeting in which representatives of the three orders of government participated, it was determined that a series of actions and plans will be undertaken.

They pointed out the risks to the physical integrity of people by traffic of motorcycles and horses by the beach, as well as the increase of population of dogs, cats and wild animals killed in the beach, besides cloud of agrochemicals in inhabited zones, originated by spreading pesticides In agricultural areas with aircraft.

The meeting was held on April 7, where the Community Environmental Monitoring Committee of Estero de Punta Banda, with the support of Pro Esteros, AC and the authorities, emphasized the attributions of the different departments competent in environmental matters.

Gabriel Camacho Jiménez, from the coordination of Community Strengthening Pro Esteros, AC, stressed that in the meeting, citizens and officials, a series of cooperation actions were determined.

Cooperation actions
It was agreed to follow up, is the construction and operation of a collection center, separation and transfer of domestic waste.
For this, the Environmental Monitoring Committee of Estero of Punta Banda already has economic resources for the construction of the first stage of the project and the ejido Esteban Cantú would be lending a land.
Gabriel Camacho explained that environmental surveillance tours and operations will be carried out jointly with various environmental authorities, talks will be held at local schools and there will be brigades to clean beaches and streets.
Likewise, work will be done on the formation of a local lifeguard group, as well as delimiting horseback riding to a trail or route, in conjunction with the service providers.
He emphasized that development will be planned in the area to generate economic benefits, conserving landscapes and natural resources, which endow the area with a high potential for the development of the ecotourism sector.
Two projects were designed to be compatible with the Punta Banda Estero Ramsar Site, which are a high-performance sports center and gastronomic corridor.

The meeting was attended by Oswaldo Santillán, delegate of the Profepa; Érika Jiménez, representing the Sub-Directorate of Municipal Ecology; José M. Sánchez de la Parra, on behalf of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection of the State (SPA).
In addition to the César Agustín Martínez, municipal delegate of Maneadero; Officer Rodolfo Amador, commander of Public Security of the delegation of Maneadero; Saúl Sandoval, president of Ejido Commissariat of Ejido Esteban Cantú.

Damage and pollution:
Contamination of creeping streams and beaches by garbage
Burning trash
Discharge of sewage from shops and restaurants to the sea
Horse excrement on beaches
Transit of motorcycles and horses by the beach
Population increase of dogs and cats
Dead animals on the beach
Cloud of agrochemicals in inhabited areas scattered in agricultural areas with aircraft

Mountain Bikes and Cheese Cellar

Bajadock: followup to our Casa Marcelo Restaurant post, I still have not visited their Ojos Negros cheese cellar.  Trip planner?

Hotel Burbuja(Bubble)

Bajadock:  Hmmm, count me as a questionable curmudgeon on “glamping”(glamorous camping).  At $200USD/night at Burbuja, am I in an observatory or part of a zoo(privacy)?  Wait, these are “state of the art” bubbles, not just any bubbles, Lawrence Welk.

Just met a couple who stayed at Encuentro‘s little boxes.  They described it as an “anti-resort” getaway from their San Francisco fast paced lifestyle.  $400+USD/night is certainly not my pop-up tent.  

Back to Burbuja, where is the complimentary champagne offer?  C’mon, Bubbles, pop your cork!

+52 (664) 380 6467


Decantos Winery

by the Lusty Napkin     

One of the newest and most impressive wineries in Valle de Guadalupe is Decantos Vinicola.  This architectural jewel offers one of the best panoramic views of the wine valley while you enjoy their extensive wine selections.

If you have time, a tour of this unique winery is highly recommended.

We enjoyed Decantos Petite Syrah and Tempranillo to get acquainted with the quality of the wine production.  Alonso Granados is the winemaker.

We arrived too late to enjoy the tapas menu from their kitchen.  But, the kitchens now on site at the wineries is a welcome trend.  Just a few years ago, it seemed that the Valle de Guadalupe food choices were only upscale/special occasion or taco stand.  Now you can sip and snack at wineries as if you were at a good friend’s home.

We did manage to get a tour of the winery from Decantos‘ Alex Ford.  Behind the open seating vista is the engine of the grape processing, fermentation, barrells and a bar for more wine consumption.  Soon, Decantos will be releasing their sparkling wines for consumption.

Here are the stainless steel tanks, a stemmer and the sparkling wine storage.  The sparkling wine storage allows for the turning of several hundred bottles at once, like a lobster trap.  What could be better than champagne and lobster?

Old, make that ancient school concrete tanks are used for some wine aging.  This trend is becoming more popular.

These stainless tanks are patented for their gravity feed and made in Spain.

Down deep in the ground is the barrell room.

Decantos is open 11A – 7P every day and located on the El Porvenir side of Valle de Guadalupe.  Signage is excellent.  Phone 646 688 1019   Facebook  


Viña de Frannes Winery and Restaurant

by the Lusty Napkin        

A Valle de Guadalupe winemaker friend just introduced me to Viña de Frannes this weekend.  I had read a little about this new winery and restaurant, but, was waiting for Idon’tknowwhat to explore.


The setting places you in the middle of a canyon of moutains and vineyards.  The building design is modern, but, the interior decor is rustic to match their wine styles.  The patio faces east to the vineyard and shades you from the afternoon sun.  Inside are two spacious levels with terrific views.

The winery enjoys the creativity of winemaker Michel Rolland, from Bordeaux.  We had some time to visit with  Manager Emanuel Morena(photo right), and Chef Saul Flores to discuss the history of the property, wine and food.

Emanuel gave us a few nice stories on the beginnings of the winery and the team philosophy of relaxing with friends, wine and unpretentious food.

As I have shared in past, a traditional “flight” wine tasting of 5-6 samples is not my thing.  Frannes had a tasting available, but, I’m more of a goforthegusto kind of guy.

The Cabernet Franc was my choice, as that grape is normally only used as a 5-10% splash for other varietals like cab and merlot.  Terroso(“earthy”) is a good descriptor here with dark berries.  Cab and Merlot are in the supporting actor roles for this bottle.

We also tried the Chardonnay, that was light on both the oak and that whole butter thing.  This Chard was perfect for our coming seafood selections.


This little silo of bluefin tuna, avocadoes, beets and fruit was a good start to enjoy Chef Saul’s creativity.  No, it did not offend my cab franc.

Here is Chef Saul and his smoked marlin quesadilla dish.  This flavor is still on my mind and tongue, thanks.

Our third tapas dish was the swordfish on cucumber with pineapple, onion, scallops and a jalapeno pepper cap.  While my host properly used a knife and fork on of these morsals, I decided to devour one whole, sushi style.  The explosion of flavor combos along with the little pepper cap sliding down my throat had me smiling through my tears.  That chardonnay came in handy to ease the flames.

Always like seeing a simple printed menu.  A menu that resembles a wedding album usually tells me to run away. A simple menu tells me that they are all about fresh, as well as change. Tapas, salads, pizzas, a few entrees and dessert are all that I ever would need.  This is a winery, so the emphasis is on enjoying the grape juice here.

We are awarding Viña de Frannes 5 out of 5 French oak barrels for their wine, food and service.  Will return early and often.

Viña de Frannes has good signage from El Porvenir road(the northern road that parallels Hwy 3).  General location is toward north end of Valle de Guadalupe, toward the little town of Guadalupe.  Phone:  646 -155-2433    Hours are 12 – 5pm     Facebook

Thanks to Bibesia!

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