Chefs’ Trip to Baja was a Blast!

Part One

Rick Bayless Baja Chefs' Trip

Rick Bayless and Richard James
Baja Chefs’ Trip

What a whirlwind chefs’ trip we had the end of September in Baja Norte, where in 5 days 16 food professionals coming from all across the country participated in 5 cooking classes with Chefs Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz as well as with local chef Diego Hernández from Corazon de Tierra located in the center of the wine country of the Valle de Guadalupe. Javier González, director of the beautiful Culinary Arts School and his staff and students were extremely accommodating. We also had three extensive wine tastings where the owners treated us to some of their finest bottles. It was quite an honor.

Ricardo Muñoz

Ricardo Muñoz, Baja Chefs’ Trip

One day the group spent the morning on several boats off the coast of Ensenada viewing the mussel and oyster floating nurseries and enjoyed sampling them all.  And of course, we ate! From exquisite seafood tacos made from almost any living thing from the local water–shrimp, marlin, crab, abalone, octopus, sea snails, mussels and even uni, to some of Baja’s most adverturous fine dining restaurants.

We had dinner our first night at the highly acclaimed El Mision 19 where Chef Javier Plascencia prepared a special meal for us, then in Ensenada we ate at La Manzanilla, and although Chef Benito Molina was out of town, his wife Chef Solange visited with us. Probably the group’s favorite meal was at La Querencia where Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero, a hunter-gatherer-fisherman, farmer, and diver shared his passion for the local ingredients with those of us around the long table.

Caesar's Tijuana

Caesar’s Tijuana

And, of course, who can go to Tijuana without visiting Caesar’s where we watched a Caesar salad for over 20 people be tossed. Here is the recipe that they use.

Newer Version used at the Restaurant
Serves 2
1 head romaine lettuce
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tablespoon ground mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
coddled egg
1 lime, juiced
Fresh grown black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 sliced baguette oven baked garlic croutons
6 anchovy filets

Clean lettuce thoroughly and refrigerate until crispe, at least 1 hour or more. In a wooden bowl, combine olive oil, mustard, anchoives, garlic and part of the grated parmesan, whisk with a wooden paddle until it forms a paste.

Once cooled, crack the egg and whisk yolk into dressing until thoroughly blended. Add whole romaine lettuce leaves and gently roll them into the dressing. Serve on a platter and add the rest of the grated cheese, croutons, fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

Culinary Art School

Culinary Art School, Tijuana

The following recipe was given to us by the granddaughter of either Alex or Caesar Cardini, who I met at the Culinary Art School where she is a student.

Original Caesar’s Salad
Serves 2

3 medium heads romaine lettuce, chilled, dry, crisp
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Grated parmesan cheese, 5 or 6 tablespoons
Croutons, about 1 cup
Salt
Garlic flavored olive oil, about 1/3 cup
Wine vinegar, 1 to 2 tablespoons
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 minute coddled egg
freshly ground pepper

Chefs Trip Baja 2012

Chefs Baja Norte 2012

You can see more pictures here.

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