Discover Baja California symposium in San Diego, California

On April 16, 2015, Discover Baja California presented a symposium at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. The speakers gave their perspective of the Baja California experience. Sam Zien, host of Sam The Cooking Guy and Culinary Ambassador for the Baja California Ministry of Tourism spoke about his first and subsequent visits to Baja California. It was an informative session on the culinary and cultural Renaissance that the region has experienced in the last few years.

As the emcee, Sam introduced Jorge Meraz, host of Baja California adventure TV series Crossing South. Jorge showed the audience a highlight of his series. The format is similar to that of Andrew Zimmern and Tony Bourdain, where the hosts explore the regional highlights, from the history, natural resources, wildlife, cuisine, and people.

Chad White, chef and owner of La Justina in Tijuana, was next on the speakers list. As a child, he spent spring breaks in San Felipe with his grandfather. Chef Chad started his career in the Navy as a cook making S.O.S and other large quantity meals for the hungry crew stationed out of San Diego. After the Navy, he opened Común Kitchen in San Diego and had the opportunity to open La Justina in Tijuana. He is part of the culinary renaissance that is happening now in Baja California. He has hired 13 graduates from the Culinary Art School (Escuela de Arte Culinario) after being impressed by their work ethic and vast knowledge of the culinary elements and techniques. No doubt, they will create edible works of art beyond imagination.

Derrick Chin, creator of the Turista Libre Project in Tijuana, spoke about how it all started. He moved to Tijuana and just loved it. He started a blog to get his friends excited about Baja so they would come and visit. Derrick now leads tours of the places that he had blogged about. He presented a slideshow of photos from previous tours. The guests appeared to be having a blast visiting monuments, historic sites, and more.

At the end of the symposium, the gallery opened up to five stations of Baja Med cuisine to taste:

Chef Abraham Vizcarra of UVE in Ensenada prepared Bluefin Tuna Tostada paired with Melchum 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. The tostada was topped with a mixture of Bluefin tuna, olive oil, ginger, lemon, sesame seed, avocado, chipotle mayonnaise. The presentation was beautiful! The corn tostada was crispy with an intense corn flavor. The Bluefin mixture was a poke and ceviche combination of flavor. The lemon acidity did not cook the Bluefin through so the sweetness of the fish could shine. The avocado added a creamy flavor and texture to the mix. Rating: 5/5

Chef Rosa Maria Plascencia of Puerto Nuevo II prepared a Lobster Burrito paired with Baron Balche Auro Chardonnay. The lobster burrito consisted of lobster chile California, bell pepper, garlic, tomato, chile serrano, onion, rice, and beans. It was more like a lobster soft taco with rice and beans. Not the prettiest presentation. The beans and rice were flavor forward so the lobster was a little lost. Rating: 4/5

Chef Giovanni Brassea of Humo Charcuteria in Tijuana prepared Ciabatta Bacon paired with Magma Alximia 2012 Carignan Grenache. The sandwich contained bacon sausage, Dijon mustard, sriracha sauce, mayonnaise, chopped bacon, and brown sugar. This bacon sausage sandwich was awesome! Although the sausage and sauce flavor was very subtle the salty bacon brought the flavor back to the party. Each bite was muy delicioso! Rating: 4.5/5

Chef Mariela Manzano of El Lugar de Nos in Tecate prepared Tostadas Nos Duo: Jamaica Tostada with Requeson and Tostada Octopus in Love paired with Lomita Pagano 2012 Grenache. The Jamaica tostada contained rice vinegar, chile de arbol, olive oil, Jamaica flowers, brown sugar, white onion, and requeson. It was almost dessert-like. It was very sweet and tart like a cranberry marmalade with a little spicy kick. The requeson was comparable to a soft cream cheese. The octopus tostada contained white onion, ginger, parsley, chile de arbol, olive oil, avocado, octopus, green onion, coriander, garlic, soy sauce, yellow lime, salt, and pepper. It was absolutely amazing! The octopus was cooked perfectly and tender as could be. The marinade pushed the octopus flavor forward. Rating: 5/5

Chef Bianca Castro-Cerio from Biscotti’s Reposteria in Mexicali prepared Chocolate Aburlita Tamales with Stout Ice Cream and Bacon paired with Nocturna Beer. The chocolate tamale contained chocolate, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and tamale masa. It was really good. The deep rich chocolate flavor was reminiscent of a brownie with a hint of masa. The stout ice cream was very bitter from the stout, but when eaten with the chocolate tamale, the flavor balanced out. The ice cream was a little difficult to eat by itself. Rating: 4/5

Wouldn’t you like to experience this renaissance happening less than an hour away from San Diego? Discover Baja California on your next vacation!

For more information:
Discover Baja California