Tag Archives: the lusty napkin

Wine Pub San Diego Baja

The Wine Pub Unveils Meet the Baja Winemaker Series
Maciel Winery, Villa Montefiore scheduled first to bring Valle de Guadalupe to Point Loma Village

Valle de Guadalupe is home to some of the most untouched and spectacular wineries on the coast. To share the charm of Baja-made wines without leaving Point Loma, The Wine Pub invites renowned wine experts and San Diegans to the local patio for its newest series, Meet the Baja Winemaker.

The guided, four-course dinner begins on April 12 with Cava Maciel winery’s Jorge Maciel and followed by Villa Montefiori winery’s Paolo Paoloni on July 31. Both wineries were discovered on The Wine Pub’s group trips to Valle de Guadalupe, and quickly favored. Food will be prepared by The Wine Pub’s resident chef and owner of Baja California restaurant Mancha de Castro, Sergio Castro.

“The more I travel across the border and get to know these winemakers, my list of experts to invite to The Pub grows longer,” said Owner of The Wine Pub, Sandy Hanshaw. “It’s always been important to me to provide our guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with renowned experts, especially within my favorite wine country. When we brought in our culinary gem who happens to be from Baja, I knew it was time to launch this series.”

Reserve your below spot to any of the upcoming Meet the Baja Winemaker dinners. Each experience includes a four-course dinner paired with wines by Baja California’s finest. Tickets are $65 a person. Reservations are required. Tax and gratuity are not included.




Adobe Food Truck

Adobe Food Truck at Adobe Guadalupe winery is a perfect change of pace for your Valle de Guadalupe wine tour.

My team and I visited last Saturday to enjoy AFT’s delicious food and garden setting.  The Adobe Food Truck experience is a galaxy beyond burritos in foil thrown through a window of a taqueria on wheels.  Here are my top 5 reasons to visit AFT:

5. The scene is peaceful in a beautiful garden with ample shade.  You are at a picnic in the wine valley.

4. The menu and food is always evolving with fresh choices and a variety of options.

3. Service by owner/chef Leda(photo center) is outstanding. Seeing Leda and team scurrying from table to table to assist customers with information, food an beverages is a fun people watching event.


2. Beverage choices are good with beer and wine available to quench your thirst.  The Adobe Guadalupe wine tasting room is in the adjacent building so you can sample and purchase their outstanding wine.  New for me was AFT’s IPA beer with lychee.

1. The food and beverage value is excellent.  You can feed four people on a frugal lunch budget while sharing several different flavors from Adobe Food Truck’s kitchen.

Sandwiches, salads, Iberian ham and small plates are all part of AFT’s offerings.  The chalk board menu inspires your taste buds as you smell the food being prepared in the truck.  You can also check out the choices made by other guests while you wander through the garden.


Our food choices included a salad, shrimp and a savory mushroom dish this Saturday.


This was our “surprise me” dish from Leda with Polish sausage, shrimp and spuds, yum.


Adobe Food Truck gets our 5 road flare award(out of 5 flares possible) to guide your way to the fabulous food and fun at AFT in the Valle de Guadalupe.



Find Adobe Food Truck from the El Porvenir Road that parallels Hwy 3.  At the north end of the El Porvenir town, you will find excellent signs guiding you to the Adobe Guadalupe winery.  phone: 52 646-117-0627

Adobe Food Truck Facebook Page

Ophelia Restaurante


Dined at Ophelia Restaurante for first time this past weekend.  It was a dark, dank and duck friendly Saturday with unusual May rain, so there were only two other tables being served at our 7PM arrival.

Other than the small sign on the highway, the entrance is very quiet, with design work like that of a Japanese garden.  Upon entry at Ophelia, the lighting level was low, staff provided warm welcome and seated us next to the crackling wood burning fireplace.

Server asked if I needed an English menu, as she brought one of each language.  I’m fine with a Spanish menu.  Explained that this was my first visit and the server went through a few of their specialties.  One ingredient that was a new translation for me was “semillas de ajonjoli”(sesame seeds).

This blue fin sashimi platter was fun. I’m always up for blue fin tuna and decided upon this “naked” version vs. a seared entree version available.

Also ordered a “dressed” yellow tail that was seared and served with carrots, zucchini(hidden below the tuna) and arugula.  The mole sauce was a lighter flavor touch than it appears on this approx 8 ounce filet.

We brought our own wine and Ophelia staff was attentive about re-pouring as we sipped.  Failed to check the wine list. One thing noticed was that every single server rotated turns in attending to our 80% completed dishes to ask if we were finished.  I’m usually a slow eater when dining out.  The server attention became comical as we likely took 30 minutes to finish the remaining bites.  Certainly, they were not needing to turn the table for waiting guests on this slow night.  Maybe they were practicing their English on me?

Restaurant staffing is always a challenge when the expected Saturday night crowd is smaller than expected.  Did take note of the full bar service available.

An out back outdoor patio is also available at Ophelia.  50F degrees and drizzles will save my return to this spot for a sunny day.

Food was good, service was exceptional, atmosphere was warm and value was good.   I will return to Ophelia, but, it did not wow me as much as others from online reviews.  Ophelia gets three out of five tuna harpoons, with a nod to return for other menu items.

Ophelia is located at K103 of hwy 1 on north side of Ensenada, west side of road, just south of the 16 story condo landmark, Entremar.  Calimax El Sauzal is across the highway, inland side.

Ophelia Facebook

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.      http://provinoac.org/

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.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grana_Padano 


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 Baja.com.  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        aguamala.com.mx

The American Pale Ale is my favorite…

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!

La Concheria Restaurant

by the Lusty Napkin          

Two friends and I visited La Concheria this Tuesday for the first time.  Chef Roberto de Anda and team gave us some fun suggestions, descriptions, delivery and presentation of fresh seafood at this hidden gem of a restaurant in Ensenada.

A market style window of the fresh sea dwellers available along with the menu is part of the greeting.

La Concheria’s wine selection is a good sampling of  a handful of Valle de Guadalupe varieties.  Negra Modelo and Modelo Especial beers are also on tap.

We started our feast with Negra Modelos and Kumamoto oysters.  A few salsas, lime and hot sauce are a great beer pairing with these morsels from the ocean.

A steaming bowl of Roberto claim chowder was served with crisp bread to continue our flavor discovery.  This chowder is full of clam chunkies.

Here is the bonita fish ceviche.  My team and I prefer this style of rustic hunks of fish and veggies in our ceviche as it shows care for the flavor combos and guests.  One team member said this dish was very Vietnamese in style and flavors.

Yes, with Roberto’s help, we selected a Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc to add to the mix.

Next up was the octopus and fish mixed ceviche.  The pulpo was so tender that we pressed chef Roberto on how to prepare our own at home.

Fish of the day is always available at La Concheria, but, we were already full.  But, here is a grilled sampling with veggies.

The menu is limited to the day’s availability of fish so you can expect a caldo/soup, risotto, pasta and the catch of the day to add to the conchas on hand.  Roberto is bilingual and happy to prepare your dish according to your needs.

The flavors wafting from the kitchen to the street bring the attention of nosey hungers.

La Concheria is located on 1st Street/Lopez Mateos close to the Mercado Negro Fish Market at Gastelum.  Hours are 10am – 6pm. phone 52 646 178 3271   Facebook page


We will give La Concheria 4.5 out of 5 perfectly shucked oysters for our first visit.  Hope to get to more of the selections soon.  Gracias Roberto, Memo y Equipo La Concheria.

Lucky Irish Pub 2

                                                                                                                           by the Lusty Napkin         


My first visit to Lucky Irish Pub 2(there are 3 of them) on Av Reforma in Ensenada this Friday.

Have been to L.I.P. #1, but, Numero Dos is located a bit closer to home.  Upon entry, this is a much bigger space than what you see from the street.  Guessing that they can seat 200+ here.

Yep, this was a OGITH(only gringo in the house) emporium, just like I LIKEY!

Local craft beer was represented in approx 14 taps.  Add in the usual popular Mex bottles, international craft beer, an OK wine selection and a variety of hard liquor choices and you have a real bar here, Crazy Guggenheim.  I chose a Wendlandt Pale Ale.

Was also hungry so I checked out the menu.  Sandwiches, burgers, salads, pasta, pizza and wings all looked good on the Lucky Irish Pub 2 menu.  Ordered a grilled chicken salad that was fresh and a large serving.

Only slight downside to Lucky Irish 2 is lack of parking.  They have approx 12 spots on south side lot and maybe 6 in front.  I parked on street 150 yards down the road.  There were only approx 30 drinkers in the bar when I arrived.  Things picked up at 6PM, which was also a shift change.

For the beer variety selection, simple food and festive pub atmosphere, Lucky Irish 2 gets or 4(out of 5) shamrock award.

Lucky Irish Pub 2 opens at 1PM and closes late, as in the wee wee morning hours.  Facebook page.  They are located on Av Reforma, a few miles south of downtown Ensenada.  If you can find the Ford dealer and Smart and Final on south end of ‘Nada town, point your lucky horse shoes in the middle of that block.




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