Restaurants & Bars

Los Quesotraficos take on the TJ Cartel:KR and SGLA do TJ and Ensenada

streetgourmetla | Jul 7, 200809:10 PM     45

I started out smuggling extra bottles of alcohol past customs, but when I began to smuggle Mexican cheese and Chicharon prensado, I had now hit rock bottom.Like KaireRaisu, I had to air out my bag after crossing the border on Sunday to get rid of the queso sicho de Guerrero smell out of my backpack.Actually, I didn't mind at all.If Homeland Security didn't have enough to worry about............

This weekend, KR and I did 36 hours in Tijuana and Ensenada where we ate at 16 different restaurants/stands, by my count,reconed another dozen establishments, smoked Cuban cigars,"tasted" fine Mexican beers, drank Baja wines,slammed tequila con vivora,did a tequila tasting, a barrel tasting at La Escuelita,braved the mean streets of Tijuana in the wee hours of the morning, and experienced the "Miles Davis" of the culinary world in Benito Molina, a true bon vivant.

This report shall be a joint effort between KR and I, who will also be throwing up those delicious photos as the narrative unfolds.Here are the highlights of our trip.

Chapter 1)Ensenada the Benito way.

The mission.Meet the chef extraordinaire for a little taste of Ensenada and trip to La Escuelita, the wine school located in Francisco Zarco and run by the great Valle de Guadalupe winemaker, Hugo D'Acosta.

After stopping for a fabulous fish taco located about 5 blocks behind the main drag, and having an Ensenada style ceviche tostada at El Guero, we were ready to hang with Benito.Now, I like Mariscos El Guero, the guys are great and the mariscos fresh and tasty, but alas, I will not be returning.Why?Benito took us to El Guerrerense, the place he mentioned on a previous post about Ensenada for the best seafood stand of our lives and I will now only go here for mariscos on the street.This place is the Water Grill sobre ruedas.Exquisite tostadas of bacalao,sublime tostadas de herizo(urchin) topped with the profoundly delicious local clams, a huarache(giant oyster), and fresh abulon served unadorned.The superlative Ensenada style ceviche de pescado tostada, finely chopped. The agua fresca de cebada!Amazing! I never imagined such a level of street cuisine, in fact, I don't know many fine restaurants that could achieve such amazing flavor and creativity.We are ruined.Sorry El Guero, but I have to move on.

The genius of Miles Davis(Benito is a fellow jazz lover) was his ability take fine local ingredients and let them play.In the 50's, Coltrane,Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and "Philly" Joe Jones;the 60's,Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock.This is the brilliance of Benito Molina, and his restaurants Manzanilla, Silvestre, and Muelle Tres, the latter of which we had the priviledge of dining with the maestro himself.Benito's cooking talent is only rivaled by his generosity and passion for the finer things in life.That fresh cut rose and view of the Valle.... It takes a sybarite to know one, verdad?Bigotes, eres mi hermano, totalmente!Super bien chido,buey! Anyways, go to Benito's restaurants when in town,any or all of them.Go to La Guerrerense and any of the places Benito talks about in his posts.If you miss these places you are not in Ensenada and will be forgoing true chow worthy destinations.

More to follow:
KR, the barrel tasting at La Escuelita and degustacion at Muelle Tres.Go!Let 'em
see those pix.

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