Friday, July 15, 2016

A Mid-week daycation in Tijuana

It's easy for me to blog when I am traveling, and I am going to try hard to update this every day, and to upload photos to flickr with links in the posts. 

I just checked on my foreign currency order and oops it didn't go through on a major bank's website.  Scary that.

I've had an interesting week.  On Wednesday I joined some people on a trip to Tijuana MX for a food and wine tour and a party at The Kitchen Project by Josue Castro celebrating Vinos Maga  and Chefs Dona Esthela and La Guerrerense Sabina Bandera.

We met up at the Old Town transit center around 3:00pm and were picked up by Rogue TJ's own Fernando Gaxiola.  Four of us, and Fernando headed down the road to TJ, cracking open a bottle of white (I don't think any of us paid attention to what it was) wine for the transit across the border.  Kind of like christening a ship.  I joked "Maybe we should wait until we get through here before we open it up" and laughed along with everyone else.

Our first stop was a favorite of several guests (basically everyone but me since I had never been there and would never had "happened upon it" on my own.  Mariscos el Mazateno Tijuana-  located "on the hill" across from a soccer field near the corner of Technologico & Popotla.  The sign on the building says "Enchiladas" so you wouldn't know you were in the right place until you see the building that is like a "V" and is right on the corner.  I'll upload photos later to make it easier.

Fernando ordered for us, and we all had "broth" to start which was the broth the seafood was cooked in.  We had the crunchy shrimp and pulpo (octopus) taco which was something that was so great it will be a must have every time I pass over the border from here on in.  It was soooo yummy.  We also had a second taco of chiccarones & a fish in batter that was fried.  It was great too, but the shrimp and pulpo is exceptional.

We hopped back in the car and headed to stop 2, for a drink.  I'm not quite sure where we went, but it was a series of alleys with craft beer places on either side.  We walked one way and made a right and passed several places stopping at Fernando's favorite  Border Psycho Brewery.  I neglected to note that between getting out of the car and entering the maze of pathways we stopped to take a picture of one of the guests in front of a sex shop. LOL.

I shared a "sampler" of 5 x 4oz brews with another guest -  (1) FAUNA  Penelope Coffee Porter 6.2% (2) Belga Sicotica Black Saison 7% (3) Muneca Prieta Peanut Butter 6.3% (4) Brutal c/cafĂ© Nitro 10.5% and (5) Guera Prieta Caffe Cream w/vanilla. 

#1 was good, but ordinary
#2 we both liked this alot.
#3 this was really interesting and the peanut butter scent seemed to grow stronger with each taste.
#4 was the winner of these 5 (and also the largest alcohol content lol)
#5 was a "white" beer which seemed odd because of the coffee, but was interesting and tasty.

Time to pick up a latecomer at the border, so we hopped back in the SUV and drove to pick her up.  We then headed for a restaurant since she hadn't had anything to eat yet, called La Corriente Cevicheria Nais.  Some of us had a bite to eat, some didn't.  I have been reading about Aguachile and asked Fernando what the difference between a ceviche traditional and Aguachile was.  He told me that ceviche is usually chopped up seafood mixed with vegetables.  Aguachile is a lime and chile marinated seafood  that may be butterflied, but is not chopped up, and it is made with different types of chiles.  He told me where he grew up, in Sinaloa, there was a place where they give a prize for whoever can eat Aguachile with the greatest number of chiles.  He showed me the latest winner at one restaurant who had over 300 chiles in the dish.  Yowza!!!  I ordered the Micha y micha aguachile which was Shrimp & Sea Scallops and cucumbers in piquin chile sauce. It was spicy but not too much and really light, refreshing and yummy. 

We went back to the car, and figured out it was still too early to go to the party at The Kitchen Project so we voted, and ended up at Telefonica park -  a place with many food trucks and tasting rooms.  I had read about this place in Scott Koenig's blog "A Gringo in Mexico" in 2015 when a friend and I slipped down to TJ to do a day long food and drink tour on our own.  We hadn't had time to get there so I was very excited.  It wasn't at all what I had pictured in my mind.  It was a very cool group of trucks and wood buildings  serving all sorts of food and drink, with comfortable tables outdoors and under shade cloth -  this evening, just after dark they have "Movie Night" and a movie was projected onto the wall outside of the wine/beer place that we spent a bit of time in. 

I had a glass of a merlot/cab blend selected by Fernando from the offerings at that place.  It was good, but I couldn't tell you what it was.  Later in our visit I shared tastes of a couple of beers made with "volcano water" (whatever that is) that was fun and tasty.

We headed out again arriving at The Kitchen Project at somewhere around 8:30 or so.  There is no signage on the street, just a street number.  It is within a block or two from the southern end of the Jai Alai palace and would be easy to find again.  We walked up the stairs, and made a left into the open loft studio "The Kitchen Project by Josue Castro".  The space has an open loft visible from the ground floor, a small side room and full bathroom.  There is a great outdoor balcony that allowed you to move away from the crowd for a few minutes.  The two guest chefs and their staff prepared several yummy dishes and we all tried a selection of Sabina's salsas.  Vino's Maga's owner spoke to us for a few minutes, and during the event we all sipped on his wines while making new friends and chatting.  Lots of local TJ natives in the crowd along with a few Americans - everyone was really friendly and welcoming- it was a very fun evening. 

I'm guessing it was around 11:30PM when we headed back for the border.  One guest didn't have the Sentri/Global entry card so we used the "Ready Lane".  I'm guessing that only took us maybe 45 minutes or so to pass across - with the excitement of a young lady getting busted for something two cars in front of us.  All the border lanes shut down for maybe 5t minutes while the border guards descended on our lane, got her out of her car and into the building, and then we were back in business.

Fernando dropped me off at my car and headed back for Old Town parking lot with the rest of our crew.  I got home around 1:00am on Thursday morning safely and ready for bed.  I'd do this again in a heartbeat.  Fun people, great food wine and beer. 



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