Mid-Summer Festival Update – Part I

We’ve been spending SO much time eating and drinking in Baja . . . we haven’t had time to blog about it! Here’s a recap of what we’ve been doing . . . and, because we’re in high season, very soon we’ll post a peek at what we’re looking forward to.

2017 Festival de las Conchas y el Vino Nuevo

What a way to kick off the Baja food festival season! This great event, held every April at Hotel Coral just north of Ensenada, brings out the best chefs and wineries and feels like a homecoming of sorts. Yes, it DID get a bit crowded this year, so go early, grab a table and settle in for an amazing afternoon. This year’s “friendly” oyster competition had chefs striving to outdo each other . . . and we attendees were the beneficiaries!

Great to see Leonardo Torres Lerdo de Tejada of Torres Alegre (although I did not recognize him without his beard) and his colleague at Conchas!

Chef Javier . . . is everywhere.

Loved seeing Chef Roberto Alcocer from Valle de Guadalupe’s Malva!

Team EatDrinkBaja is growing every year and gives Conchas multiple THUMBS UP!

Rosarito Art Fest 2017

OK, it’s not technically a food fest, but this annual FREE event offers plenty of opportunity to eat and drink . . . and serves up HUGE portions of art, music and dance. Takes place every Memorial Day weekend and for the second year was held at Rosarito’s CEART, a lovely venue south of town, just off the road to Popotla.

Check out these really cool masks. You can display one one your wall as a piece of art when you’re not wearing it!

Jorge, our Rosarito wine amigo.

Eating & drinking . . . ah, that’s what we do best.

Vinedos en Flor 2017

Held in June, this Valle de Guadalupe family-friendly fest was hosted for the first time by Finca La Carrodilla. Now, most Baja food fests we’ve attended have seating in the middle, with wine and food opportunities scattered around the edge. Probably due to lack of shade at Carrodilla, the vast majority of wineries, chefs and local product purveyors were clustered under a huge tent in the middle, with tables and hay bales for attendees strung along the outskirts. But there were great wineries represented, and of course, we managed to have a wonderful time! Gracias to Natalia of Mogor Badan, who seemed to be a ringleader of this fun event.

It was a bit hectic under the giant tent.


Team EatDrinkBaja @ Vinedos 2017!

Coming soon: previews of the upcoming Verbena Campestre, Fiestas de la Vendimia, Latin Food Fest, Baja Blues Fest, Vendimia Paella Fest and Sabor de Baja. Stay tuned!

Gracias por fotos by Bob Gove.

2017 Baja (& Baja inspired) Fests!

It’s warming up; daylight savings time has begun; and (I hope) the heaviest rains are behind us. We’re heading into Baja festival season! Here are a few of our faves; check back for updates and additions.

Sabor Latino – Saturday, March 18, Fashion Valley, San Diego – We were impressed by this event last year, and it looks like even more Baja chefs and wineries are participating in 2017. Lineup includes Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense; Bo Bendana of Mi Casa Supper Club; Giannina Gavaldon of Olivia El Asador Del Porvenir; Ruffo Ibarra of Oryx Capital; and Omar Armas of Mantou Gastropub, with Border X Brewing, Lomita, Adobe Guadalupe, Torres Alegre, Villa Montefiori and Casa Magoni pouring. All part of the San Diego Latino Film Fest, and proceeds benefit the very worthy nonprofit Media Arts Center. I’ve been told that the promo code DRINKGREATBEER will get you a $5 discount, and we highly recommend going for the VIP package. Details & tickets>>

Chef Giannina Gavaldon with her comadre from Olivia at Sabor Latino 2016. Not only is her food delicious, it’s great to see her in SD and we covet Chef’s cool ikat apron!

Festival de Las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo – Sunday, April 23, Hotel Coral, Ensenada. This event, which kicks off the Baja Food Fest season every year, is a REAL winner. It got a bit crowded last year, but still plenty of opptys to taste great wine & cuisine while meeting some of Baja’s top winemakers & chefs, all in a fabulous setting along the Coral’s marina. Get ready to sample fantastic clams, mussels, oysters, abalone + latest wine releases, all included! Tix are just a tad over $30. Read my post about Conchas last year and get your 2017 tickets here!>>

Why do we love Conchas? It educates you about the variety of Baja seafood while you enjoy a lovely afternoon sampling delicious shellfish and wines. And you meet cool folks, too!

Rosarito Art Fest – Saturday & Sunday, May 27-28, Rosarito Beach – Dates have not been posted for 2017, altho it’s regularly on Memorial Day wknd. This FREE event features great art, crafts, music and dance, and there’s usually plenty of food and drink to go around, too. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more info>>

Art is the main attraction, but you can definitely enjoy eating & drinking at the Rosarito Art Fest.

Vinedos en Flor – Saturday, June 3, Finca La Carrodilla, Valle de Guadalupe – Last year this event was at Bibayoff on a drizzly, gray afternoon. Since food was not included and there was no live music, it didn’t seem as great a value as some of the other Baja festivals. But we managed to commandeer a table, taste some great wines and make new friends. We have high hopes for the 2017 edition, to be hosted by one of our faves, Finca La Carrodilla! More info>>

Friends enjoying wine from the wonderful Lechuza at last year’s Vinedos en Flor.

Verbena Campestre – Saturday, July 29, Vinedos San Cosme south of Ensenada – This may be the best-kept secret of all Baja food fests; it doesn’t seem to be on the gringo radar screen! Get ready for a fun, relaxing afternoon with folks who will become your new BFFs. With great live music and a big outdoor dance floor, this family-owned winery knows how to party! Tip: book a room in the vicinity; driving back after THAT much fun can be challenging. Or, is it just us? Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more info>>

And . . . even more friends at Verbena Campestre 2016!

SAVE THE DATES:

Fiesta de la Vendimia Paella Fest – Sunday, August 20, Valle de Guadalupe – you can’t miss this tradition, the grand finale to the annual grape harvest festival. Although it’s huge, there’s plenty of paella and wine to go around, along with two stages with live music and tons of tables under the trees. All paella is cooked over wood fire, and there’s a competition among the paella-producing teams. Tix usually go on sale in May and you should get them ASAP; it always sells out! More info>>

The annual Vendimia Paella Fest is not only delicious and fun, it’s also very photogenic!

Sabor De Baja – Wednesday, August 30 – Rosarito Beach Hotel – we were very impressed with Sabor last year. The caliber of restaurants and wineries was excellent at this well-organized event, which pairs dishes by Baja chefs with delicious local wines and cervezas. Look for more details in the coming months!

We look forward to Sabor de Baja 2017!

Gracias for photos by Bob Gove and Rafael Rush.

A Tale of Four Food Fests: Part III

Imagine a sunny summer Sunday afternoon in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe. Sure, it’s hot, but you’ve secured a great table for your entourage to soak up the atmosphere under expansive oak trees. There’s plenty of great wine for tasting, and a bevy of bottles for sale once you’ve found your fave. And with so much delicious food to go around, you’ll certainly not go hungry!2016-paella-wine-pour

dscn1717crop

dscn1703Welcome to the Ramón García Ocejo Concurso de Paella, the traditional closing event of the Valle’s annual Fiestas de la Vendimia, or grape harvest festival. Each year, Vendimia organizers add more and more events, but the Paella Fest remains one of the Valle’s best bets.

dscn1726

dscn1728_resize

dscn1729

With about 90 paella-producing teams (all cooking over wood fires; no propane allowed!), 50 or so Baja wineries, and two stages with live music, it’s a most enjoyable way to spend a hot August afternoon. Tickets to this über-popular event go fast and are usually first offered online in late May. Click here for information about this and other Vendimia events. Don’t miss this perennial favorite next August!

Gracias for photos by Bob Gove, and for the friends who accompanied us! 

 

Best of Summer Events!

It’s high season for Baja-related food and fun festivals! Here are our recommendations.

Saturday, July 30 – Verbena Campestre, San Cosme Vineyards, Baja California, 2pm. We had a ton of fun at this event last year. South of Ensenada, a bit south of Maneadero, but not too far. Since it’s not in Valle de Guadalupe, this doesn’t seem to be on many gringos’ radar screens. Great atmosphere, wine tasting, good live music, wonderful people, food options for purchase. A fantastic afternoon, and this is the 5th Annual! New this year: buy tix online!

Verbena Campestre 2016San Cosme

 

13728974_1472872529404889_3730724601881159241_n

Part of the eatdrinkbaja entourage caught in action on the dance floor at last year’s event (. . . and where was I?)

Friday – Monday, August 12-15, Latin Food Fest, Embarcadero Marina Park North, San Diego. It’s the 4th Annual in San Diego! You don’t want to miss the Grande Tasting on Saturday, with tons of food, beverages, chefs & cooking demos. It’s become an annual tradition. Get your tickets now!

Latin-Food-Fest-Family-Fiesta-41-Pano1

Saturday, August 20 – Baja Blues Fest, Rosarito Beach Hotel – Another great lineup this year! The food & drink offerings were a bit mundane on Saturday last year, but we’re hoping for an upgrade this year. Should be a wonderful afternoon. Buy tickets online!

BBFPoster2016

Sunday, August 21 – 2016 Vendimia Paella Fest, Vinas de Liceaga, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California – There are a TON of events this year for the Valle de Guadalupe’s Vendimia, or wine harvest festival. We love the Paella Fest, which closes the 3-week-long festivities. With more than 50 wineries and 80 paella-cooking teams on hand, it’s a true happening. Add live music on two stages and the opportunity to chat with chefs, it’s an afternoon you should not miss. Although attendance is over 1,000, it’s easy to grab a table under trees as your base camp, then wander amidst the wine and paella offerings. And at this moment, tix are available online!

DSC_3949

Blues + Paella = A Very Filling Weekend

We survived – even thrived – during our Baja mega-weekend. Our first visit to the annual Baja Blues Fest @ Rosarito Beach Hotel was thoroughly enjoyable. We grooved to Missy Andersen, the Bayou Brothers w/our friend Sista Judy Seid (rubboard player extraordinaire) + Michelle Lundeen, Backwater Blues Band, Tijuana-based Hola Soy Lola and headliner Tommy Castro + The Painkillers. Great set up/sound, not crowded, colorful folks, great friends and reasonably-priced beverages.

DSC_3784DSC_3794

DSC_3877DSC_3847

DSC_3832DSC_3858

Then to Tapanco south of Rosarito for a lovely dinner with a great bottle of Emeve wine (which we won as part of a fantastic raffle prize at the Blues Fest) followed by a sampling of Tapanco’s secret delicious housemade ice cream: pumpkin, coconut, beet, tres quesos & tequila.

IMG_1151

But hey, the fun didn’t stop there! Sunday: Valle de Guadalupe for the Granddaddy of all Baja food fests: the Vendimia Paella Contest. What a wonderful scene! With 80 paella-making teams, 50 wineries, 2 live music stages + (my estimate) 2,000 attendees, it was well-organized with plenty of food, drink + fun to go around. Paella is, however, very filling and after two to three bowls, it can be a bit difficult to differentiate.

DSC_3901DSC_3968

DSC_3959DSC_3933

DSC_3957DSC_3949

DSC_3910DSC_4038

DSC_4016CR & JP crop

My favorite team names? Las Ovejitas Disobedientes (the Disobedient Lambs) and La Flaca + El Gordo (the Skinny Gal & Fat Guy). And altho we didn’t sample his paella, always great to see favorite Baja Chef Javier Plasciencia participating. Don’t miss this fantastic festival next year! Thanks to technology, tix were available online in May, but sell out as fast as a Rolling Stones concert. If you’re interested in going next year, let me know soon; wouldn’t it be fun to put an eatdrinkbaja group together?

Muchas gracias for photos by Bob Gove.

Big Baja weekend: Blues Fest & Vendimia Paella Contest

What a weekend we have in store! Saturday is the Baja Blues Fest at Rosarito Beach Hotel, with music from noon to 8pm. Hope we’ll get there for Bayou Brothers w/Michelle Lundeen, and gotta stay for headliner Tommy Castro. Then Sunday we’re down to Viñas de Liceaga in Valle de Guadalupe for the venerable, ever-popular and sold out Fiestas de la Vendimia Paella Contest. It’s been more than 15 years since I last attended; will it be as cool? Maybe even better? 50 wineries, 80 paella-making teams! Check back for the scoop.

BBFPoster2015150finalBaja Paella ChefsBaja Paella PanBaja Paella seating

Update! Eat Drink Baja Calendar

We’re in high season for eating and drinking in and around Baja! Here’s what’s on our radar screen.

BAJA logo

Saturday, 7/25, 2pm: Verbena Campestre at Vinedos San Cosme south of Ensenada, at the beginning of the Baja wine country’s “Ruta Antigua.” Sounds like fun; we’ll be there and will report on it!

Saturday, 7/25, 6pm: Wine Tasting & Baja Ingredients at Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. If you can’t get south of the border this weekend, this is the next best thing.

Friday, 8/7 through Sunday 8/23: Fiesta de la Vendimia – Various events in Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada. Prices vary. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Vendimia, so it promises to be extra special. We’ll be at the closing event, the Paella Fest, on 8/23, at the very least.

Sunday, 8/9: Festival del Pescado y el Marisco, Rosarito Beach Hotel. This event is free and open to the public.

Friday, 8/14 through Monday 8/17: Latin Food Fest on and around Broadway Pier in San Diego. Although Friday’s Spirits of America event and Monday’s Havana Super Club are invitation only, you can get tix for the Grande Tasting on Saturday and/or the Family Fiesta on Sunday.

Friday, 8/21 through Sunday 8/23: Baja Blues Fest, Rosarito Beach Hotel. Haven’t been yet but are looking forward to it this year! Our friends the Bayou Brothers are in the lineup.

Wednesday, 8/26: Sabor de Baja, Rosarito Beach Hotel. This event sold out last year, its debut. Looks classy and fun, hope to attend! Be sure to wear white.

SAVE THE DATES: Baja Culinary Fest, 10/8 through 10/11. We’ll see what the organizers have cooked up this year!

 

Vendimia Paella Fest tix!

It’s a miracle: tix for the perpetually sold out Fiestas de la Vendimia Paella Fest are available online tonight! Move quickly, as they may be cut off any minute. Believe me, they’re as hot as Rolling Stones tix, and a lot cheaper! http://bit.ly/1CNhru5

IMG_0497

Eat Drink Baja Events Calendar

Here @ eatdrinkbaja, we noted the need for a calendar that curates, promotes and links to interesting Baja-related culinary & beverage events & festivals on both sides of the border. Presenting our first draft; look for it to grow as we head into the busy Vendimia & Baja Culinary Fest seasons over the next few months!

Ruta del Vino

Saturday, July 18: Ruta del Vino Bike Ride

The inaugural 40-mile race and 20-mile fun ride through Valle de Guadalupe promises wine tastings, cuisine from award-winning chefs and live local music (oh, and clean restrooms, too). Put on by the Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride folks, so it’s gotta be good, right?

Verbena Campestre

Saturday, July 25: Verbena Campestre, Vinedos San Cosme, south of Ensenada

A best bet; we’ll be there! $20 (or a bit less if you can figure out where to buy tix in advance) gets you a commemorative glass, wine tastings, live music and a fun, festive atmosphere. Not sure if food is included; we’ll find out! Look for a report after July 25. We’re really looking forward to our first visit to this annual event, which seems to be completely off the gringo radar.

vendimia

Saturday, July 25: Wine Tasting & Baja Ingredients, Mingei International Museum, Balboa Park
If we weren’t heading to Verbena Campestre to actually BE in Baja, we’d be here for sure. Mingei has recognized the important connection to Baja for years, thanks to the direction of Rob Sidner & outreach of Johanna Saretzki. Four or five years ago we learned about wineries like Lomita (off our favorite Valle de Guadalupe back road, the road to Ejido Porvenir) and food purveyors such as Baja Terra through Mingei events, and have since become fans/patrons of both. If you can’t get to Ensenada or the Valle, don’t miss this great taste of Baja in Balboa Park!

AUGUST CALENDAR: Stay tuned! It will be posted this weekend.