Category Archives: Food & Beverage

Zoo Food Wine and Brew




This tasty night for wildlife benefits the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. San Diego Zoo Global is a nonprofit organization committed to saving species worldwide and leading the fight to end extinction.




Taqueria Trailero Reforma

Trailero Reforma opened 13 Sep 2017.  On Reforma, north edge of Smart & Final.  Porvecho!


Valley Girl Baja Wine Tours

Taste the area’s flavors with Valley Girl Wine Tours, catering to lovers of fine wine and great food. Offering a chance to choose from over 130 vineyards, the operator specializes in private behind-the-scenes tours of boutique estates producing award-winning wines. Your trip will allow you to sample a range of wines at each location, where you’ll also learn about the winemaking process and unique local techniques. After the final stop, you’ll have an opportunity to stop for a bite at a local eatery, where your plate will be prepared by a Michelin-starred chef. And if you just don’t get the world’s obsession with wine, relax–craft beers are also available in this area, so you can always add hops to your tour. With our custom trip planner, Ensenada attractions like Valley Girl Wine Tours can be center stage of your vacation plans, and you can find out about other attractions like it, unlike it, near it, and miles away.






San Diego El Grito Dinner

El Grito de Mexico – Mexican Independence


Chef Flor Franco

Chef Daniella de la Puenta


Chef Doña Esthela



Cali v Baja Ceviche Contest Photos

by W. Scott Koenig

SUPER LATE POST! Here are some photos from the Baja vs Cali Ceviche Challenge over Labor Day weekend at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa. Since I was busy with emcee duties, I turned my camera over to Ursula Koenig, along with a verbal list of what to shoot. I think she did a great job! This round, Baja took the prize and Gilberto Morales of Restaurante Nómada – cocina Itinerante‘s Kumeyaay-inspired ceviche was the people’s choice. Thanks again to all the chefs from Baja and Cali who participated, to our attendees and friends, and to Michael Poompan and Aaron Obregon for organizing such a fun and delicious event!

Danilo B. Tangalin Jr and Zach Stofferahn

Julio C. Rodriguez Rodas

Aaron Obregon

Claudia Sandoval and Scott

Rael C. Rivera

Mauricio Parra and Gilberto Morales.

Baja Wines
Zach Stofferahn

Restaurante Nomada

I was a lucky guest this past Saturday evening at Cava Maciel winery and Chef Gilberto Morales’ Restaurante Nomada.

Upon entry along the rustic stone walkway, we were greeted with a cloud refracted sunset in its last half hour of glowing.  Met Jorge Maciel and enjoyed our tour of the property.

Temperature approached high 90sF this afternoon, but, we were in cooling mid 70s now at 7PM.  Having no idea what food we would be ordering, Jorge had us select a bottle of our liking.  We picked a merlot off the shelf, but our gracious host, pulled that bottle and replaced it with one from his wine cooler for us.  I have not had a merlot in 2017.  So many cabs and grenaches get in the way.

This merlot had more fruit than others and worked well with the food fun we were about to enjoy. Oak background was ok(see “12 meses en barrica del roble”) and second glass was slightly more mild here.

Chef Gilberto highlighted some suggestions.  We went along with them and asked him to bring us three plates of his recommendations.

Here is Chef Gilberto with his sea snail platter and salsa verde.

Just last weekend, Chef Gilberto and team won the Cali vs. Baja ceviche competition on Coronado Island, San Diego.   This tuna, chile, veg and guacamole ceviche was like no other.  The textures and a bit of heat were so much fun.

Lamb burritos with nopales were another surprise along with a different salsa verde.  Lamb is not my normal favorite, but, I have been tasting unique dishes like this one that are changing that opinion.  A perfect pairing for lamb happens to be a quality Merlot.  I’m guessing either Jorge or Gilberto knew this and provided the combo.

This duck breast with pozole and mole was full of juicy fat and way too much food for us.  But, we got our beaks deeply into it.  This was the best duck plate I have ever enjoyed.

As the flyer indicates, Nomada moves to a new location every season.  Happy to find them at Cava Maciel.

We give Cava Maciel and Restaurante Nomada five out of five possible Kumiai clay pots as our award appreciation of their unique ingredients, combinations, flavors, presentation and relaxing setting. It was the best dinner I have enjoyed in 2017.

Gracias Jorge, Gilberto, amigas y amigos del Valle de Guadalupe!

At K92(approx 1.6 miles north of the San Antonio de las Minas traffic light) you will see Hotel Plaza Fatima. Approx 300 meters beyond Fatima(north) on the right will see Cava Maciel’s sign and a big “Las Lomas” brick wall sign.  Take that right turn from the Hwy 3 to the end.

Cava Maciel Facebook

Restaurante Nomada Facebook





Splash Restaurant

Visited Splash(version 2) for first time Saturday.

Splash 2 is much bigger than the old version, although the oldy had a playful, funky atmosphere.  Service here is always friendly, although they forgot to bring us water.  Maybe it was because we were full from late breakfast and not ready to eat lunch.

It was a gorgeous Saturday for shopping, sightseeing and sipping mango margaritas.


I have never been amazed with the food at Splash.  It’s ok, never bad.  Decided to enjoy a taste of shrimp ceviche and it was a very good light choice.

Just south of Primo Tapia, you will see the double Palacio del Mar Towers.  First exit south of the towers is Cuenca Lechera(Dairy Basin).  Splash is about 200 meters south of that exit.

I’ll give Splash  3 waves out of 5  as worth repeating, but, not in my top tier of Baja restaurant experiences.

For fun memories, here is Splash version 1, the original:

Ensenada to San Diego Coffee Tour

Started my trip to San Diego with a visit to the 7/11 in Chapultepec(Pemex 1 block south of Tacos El Original).  Coffee was good and fresh at 7AM.

This little shop is convenient for northbounders with a drive thru and friendly service.  Coffee Express is on east side of Costero, south side of CEARTE.

I’m not much for the flavored coffees that these 7/11’s offer like Hazelnut.  Got a regular small cup of black coffee here in San Miguel, just before the Ensenada toll booth.  Yes, this Pemex accepts credit cards.


When I spotted the “huevo con jamon” sign, I decided on a 5 minute break for a burrito.  At 12 pesos, these little rolls were a very light snack.  3 or 4 might make a meal, but, just the warm smell and cheese oozing from the 1 inch tube with my coffee got me in the mood for the haul to the border.  Is the trap door behind him his kitchen or to the gasoline tanks???

Love the shrine in background.  His salsa and veg offering were weak.  But, the trail of ants running up his little wood stand let you know that this is authentic mexican food.  Street food is fun.

1K north of the Rosarito toll booth is a clean rest room and snack shack stop.  The coffee here is iffy, but, the convenience stop is in a good stop to prepare for the border bladder test.  Photo tells you that this is where to carbo load before your next marathon.

On the north side of the store is the “zoo”, where pigeons and squirrels put on a show if you share your snacks.

I have never ordered anything at the San Ysidro border.  But, the D’Volada coffee guy hit me up and I got a smokin’ hot cup, complete with little heart sticker to hold my straw in place. Did not see the “distribution” guy/gal that runs the coffee to the “sales” guy.  Interesting.

85F degrees this Sunday morning at 9AM in TJ.  And it is humid due to after glow of Tropical Storm Lidia.

The Ready Lane here is much more interesting than SENTRI.  TJ culture is full of characters and props.  Today/Sunday was 35 minutes wait in Ready Lane.  Guessing this fairly easy wait was due to Monday, Labor Day, being the true return to USA crunch day.

Panera Bread at Otay Ranch is my normal coffee stop on a shopping day in San Diego.  Coffee is fresh and time marked when it was brewed.  Only thing that I’m curious about is the 20 foot ceiling here.

The presentation is lacking, but, this ham/egg/cheese omelette was perfectly delicious in warmth, texture and flavor combo at Panera.

Monday morning coffee was at “The Bean”(Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) in Mission Valley.  This place always seems police/highway patrol officers in the morning.  I could not sleep, so the 5AM opening time was appreciated.  Ordered a delicious lattee to get my busy day going.

Our winner is D’Volada.  It is a chain with much better atmosphere and coffee than Starbucks.  I used their South Reforma Ensenada location in 2007 as my office to design my house, because I had no internet in my 6 month rental house.

Baja v Cali Ceviche Competition

Coronado Times by Coree Cornelius

On Sunday, September 3, 2017 my husband Mike and I attended our first ever Ceviche Challenge at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa. Hailing from the east coast, we had never even tasted ceviche until we moved to California. The first time I ever ordered it, I remember feeling confused because I had never eaten fish with a spoon before, and I wondered why it was served in an ice cream sundae dish. Of course, once I took a bite of it, I learned quickly that it doesn’t necessarily matter how it’s served as long as the fish is fresh and its accompanying ingredients are complementary and flavorful.

With San Diego County being just minutes from the Mexican border, a friendly rivalry has long existed between the chefs of Baja, Mexico and Southern California. The Ceviche Challenge would have been fun on its own, but when it was turned into a Baja vs. Cali cross-border challenge, it became even more intense. Chefs competed not only for personal bragging rights, but for national pride.


With so many ceviches to sample, Mike and I needed a plan of attack. I procured a high top table under an umbrella while Mike went station to station to procure two of each ceviche offering. While seven chefs were in attendance, Host Chef Aaron Obregon, who works at the Marriott’s Current & Tides Restaurant and Lounge, prepared two different ceviches, including one that was vegan. While it felt like there was a lot of food on our table all at once, it gave us the opportunity to readily compare and contrast each creation that was carefully and thoughtfully prepared by the chefs.

Ceviche Challenge

Ceviche Challenge
Which ceviche chef would get our votes? Each guest was given one ticket with which to vote.

Wow! What an array of flavors, textures, savory/sweet combinations, and beautiful presentations! I can honestly say that there were no ceviches I disliked, but there were definitely ceviches that I preferred a little more than others. I was thoroughly surprised by Chef Aaron Obregon’s vegan ceviche, made from beets. I know beets are healthy, and I’ve tried incorporating them into my diet, but I’ve never fancied them until now. It was hard deciding which ceviche I liked best, but, because this was a challenge, and we were expected to vote, Mike and I were “forced” to take additional bites of each one. We narrowed down our two favorites, noticing that one was from Baja while the other was from Cali.

Chef Zach Stofferahn's ceviche
Chef Zach Stofferahn’s ceviche with edible flower

Chef Zach Stofferahn’s ceviche looked stunning with its vibrant colors, and it had a zesty zing with hints of fresh citrus. To me, Stofferahn’s ceviche tasted like summer, and since we were outside along the bay in the midst of a heat wave, it tasted extra refreshing. It was interesting how Stofferahn, who works at Fire Pit Sushi in San Diego, incorporated Asian elements into his ceviche. Mike said, “The citrus and fish mixture paired with a fried wonton wrapper was very unique, and I liked how the chef was really thinking outside the box in terms of cultural fusion. I never imagined Japanese elements would fit so well with ceviche, but it not only worked, it was delicious.”

 Baja vs. Cali Ceviche Challenge
The Baja vs. Cali Ceviche Challenge was held outdoors on the bayside lawn.
Chef Gilberto Morales' ceviche
Chef Gilberto Morales’ ceviche

Our other favorite ceviche was prepared by Chef Gilberto Morales. Morales of Baja, did the opposite of Stofferahn, highlighting the commonalities between Baja and Southern California. Ceviche Challenge guest Clyde Van Arsdall, a chef and Coronado resident, shared, “I loved that the chip had seaweed and blue corn so it tied in the ocean and the Mexican aspect of it. I loved the fact that it had acorn oil from the Kumeyaay tribe, even made with local acorns. We have Kumeyaay descendants here in San Diego as well as in Tijuana, and if you judge it on the blending of the Cali-Baja tie, I think Chef Morales did it best. The crispness and saltiness of the chips went well with the ceviche.”

Clyde Van Arsdall (left), Chef Gilberto Morales' (right)
Clyde Van Arsdall (left) cast his vote for Chef Gilberto Morales’ (right) ceviche.

Mike and I weren’t able to articulate why we liked Morales’ ceviche in the same historical terms as Van Arsdall, but we both agreed its flavor was exceptional. With sneaky bits of heat, the ingredients practically melted in our mouths. “I could eat that every day,” Mike said.

music at ceviche challenge
Live music

While guests were there to judge the ceviches, there were also fresh shucked oysters as well as smoked oysters to feast upon, further delighting everyone’s palates.

Ceviche Challenge

In addition to the ceviche and oyster offerings, guests were also given the opportunity to make artwork from fish. Yes, you read that correctly. Fish. A local organization known as Slow Food Urban San Diego was there to educate guests about sustainable fish in the San Diego area. According to their mission statement, Slow Food Urban San Diego “seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the local food system, rediscover food traditions and cultural heritage, and educate the community about the plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food.”

The ancient Japanese art of gyotaku was taught to those guests willing to get their hands a little dirty all in the name of good fun.  Jena Perez of Slow Food Urban San Diego shared, “Before photography, this is what the Japanese would do to document their catch, including the size and the shape. Now it’s a beautiful art method. We’re not professionals, but we’re letting people try it out here today. We have three types of local fish that were caught here today: sheepshead, mackerel, and perch, and the fishermen who caught them are in attendance today.”

Ceviche Challenge gyotaku fish art
Representatives from Slow Food Urban San Diego were on hand to teach those in attendance about sustainable food, including local fish. Jena Perez (left) helped teach guests like Coronado local Georgia Ferrell (right) the art of gyotaku.

Sarah Shoffler, Vice Chair & Seafood Liaison at Slow Food Urban San Diego, said, “We promote good, clean, and fair food for all. Today we’re promoting our local bounty from our local fishermen. We try to connect people to their food sources and food producers, and connect the food producers to the community.”

Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa’s General Manager, Nusrat Mirza, was in attendance, and was so excited as he discussed how it was just as meaningful to him to have locals such as myself and my husband attend the event at the Marriott as it is for him to entertain out of town guests. Locals frequently ask Mirza what events they can look forward to attending at the Marriott, and Mirza is proud of events like the Ceviche Challenge, where guests can enjoy the stunning bay views while feasting on world-class cuisine.

Chef DJ Tangalin's ingredients
Chef DJ Tangalin’s ingredients

When asked if he had sampled all the ceviches yet, Mirza smiled and said, “I’m going to, but, as always, the guests come first. I want our guests to be the ones who decide who the winner of the Ceviche Challenge is. Our goal at these events is to attract people from Coronado. While we love our guests from all over, we want our neighbors here in Coronado to feel at home here just like those who stay here over and over again do.”

ceviche challenge
The De Quillien Family

As we waited with anticipation for the announcement of which chef would win the Ceviche Challenge, Mike and I had fun mingling with other guests. The De Quillien family, who just moved to Laguna Beach from New York, were guests at the Marriott, and wanted to go to the Ceviche Challenge as soon as they heard about it. “We love seafood, even the kids,” Mrs. De Quillien shared. When asked which ceviche was his favorite, her youngest son chose the second of Chef Aaron Obregon’s ceviches, the non-vegan one. (For those interested in trying it, it’s a regular menu item found at the Marriott’s Current & Tides.)

ceviche challenge
Of being the only female chef to compete at the Ceviche Challenge, Chef Lety McKenzie said, “It’s really cool, and it’s why I wanted to do this. I’m excited to represent myself, represent other females, and represent my restaurant, Uptown Tavern.”
ceviche challenge
Latasha Al-Jarbua

Another guest at the event, Latasha Al-Jarbua, who’s staying in San Diego on business from Florida, was thrilled to attend the Ceviche Challenge. “I wanted to try some local California foods, and when I heard about this, I knew I had to come over to Coronado! This is as authentic it gets, and the food served here today is so different than anything I’d ever find back home in Florida,” she said. Like everyone I spoke to, Latasha also had a hard time choosing her favorite.

Also in attendance at the Ceviche Challenge was local food celebrity Claudia Sandoval, winner of the sixth season of Masterchef. Claudia, who’s just in nice in person as she is on TV, said, “I came today because I think it’s super important to support not only Baja chefs, but San Diego chefs too. I think it’s important to have borderless dining experiences, and I think that more and more we will continue to see the collaboration between Baja and California. It’s such a valuable thing, and, as a chef, I think competition is always a wonderful opportunity for chefs to learn from each other and push their creativity.”

Claudia Sandoval
With the season 6 winner of Masterchef, Claudia Sandoval
ceviche challenge winner Chef Gilberto Morales
The winner, Chef Gilberto Morales

Finally it was time to announce the winner of the Ceviche Challenge, even though those of us with copious amounts of ceviche in our bellies were technically the real winners. Chef Gilberto Morales was crowned the champion, and as the crowd cheered for him, his friends dumped a huge tray of ice on him in similar fashion to athletes dumping a cooler of water on their coach. Along with Morales’ win came bragging rights for all of Baja. The Ceviche Challenge, as advertised, truly was a friendly one, and it was wonderful to see so many people, including his fellow chefs/competitors, congratulate him on his well deserved victory.

Sabor de Baja 2017

Press Release:

Rosarito, Baja, Mexico (August 31st, 2017). The fifth annual “Sabor De Baja”, End of Summer, White Affair, occurred last night on August 30th to a record crowd on the ocean front gardens of the historic Rosarito Beach Hotel.

This year’s winners of the 2017 Sabor de Baja were the following:


52KOOL – Chef Oswaldo Flores

Miguel Aleman Valdez 2612, Colonia América
Tijuana Baja California

664 686 3361 L/

Paired with Border Psycho Brewery rPsychoBrewery/


Mi Casa Supper Club – Chef Jorge Cuadros

54 Estero, San Antonio Del Mar, Tijuana


Paired with Vinos El Cielo



Casa Plascencia – Chef Didier Hernandez

Robirosa 250, Aviación, 22014 Tijuana,

664 686 3604

Paired with Monte Xanic


Koi Sushi – Chef Yaron Del Moral

Paseo Playas de Tijuana 1185, Playas de Tijuana Seccion Jardines, 22500 Tijuana ushi-445298712272978/

Paired with Valley Girl Wines

Congrats to all the winner and all the participents, please stay tuned for more info and photos over the next 24 hours.

Sabor De Baja

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