A Gringo in Mexico: The Best of 2014

The year's best food, destinations, culture and personalities.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – As we enter 2015, it’s time to take a look back at some of the destinations, events, cuisine and people that were featured here on the A Gringo in Mexico blog, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds in 2014. And to thank you, our readers, for following El Gringo on his adventures south of the border, in Southern California, and – at least on one occasion this year – across the pond.


Our family rang in 2014 during a 2 week trip to Oaxaca, exploring the region’s rich culture. We ate our way through Oaxaca’s restaurants, markets and street stalls. We visited cocinera Carina Santiago and her family in Teotitlan del Valle and learned about traditional Zapotec cuisine and rug weaving. I decompressed from all of the activity by participating in a temazcal ritual.


The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is an unusual resort in Baja California Sur. Unusual in that it is the ONLY resort around for miles and only one of two in the municipality of Loreto. I had the pleasure of joining a FAM trip to the resort and was pampered, well-fed and taken on several adventures in the area over a long weekend. Tranquil Loreto is a must-visit in Baja Sur.


Our first Escape to Baja’s Wine Country tour rolled down to the beautiful Valle de Guadalupe for tasting, facility tours and dining. The region is well-known for it’s imaginative winemakers and a burgeoning foodie scene. In 2014, some of Baja’s talented Valle chefs were featured on this blog, including Martin San Roman, Javier Plascencia, Ryan Steyn and others.


The 2014 Chowzter World’s Tastiest Fast Feasts Awards were held in London, and I was there to represent my nomination of Carina Santiago’s Mole Coloradito. Chowzter is an organization of over 60 food writers who recommend dishes in over 100 cities around the globe. El Gringo is “Chief Chowzter” for Tijuana, the Valle de Guadalupe, Rosarito Beach and Oaxaca.


El Gringo fired off an Open Letter to Anthony Bourdain after the May 4th episode of CNN Parts Unknown questioning the episode’s editorial direction. Bourdain fired right back in the post comments. We dined with some of San Diego’s top Mexican chefs at Finch’s Bistro & Wine Bar in La Jolla, Allure in the Gaslamp, Zarco and La Tequila in Chula Vista and El Agave in Old Town. During these dinners, we enjoyed wines from Baja Wine + Food and LMA Wines.


El Gringo joined a press tour sponsored by the Baja Tourism Board and the Rosarito Beach Hotel to experience Rosarito’s growing sea and farm to table offerings. We toured two local organic ranches, drank local wine from Claudius, ate everything in site from Tacos El Yaqui to ceviche in Popotla and attended the city’s first annual Craft Beer Festival. Urp!


La Terrasse San Roman at Alximia winery in the Valle de Guadalupe – chef Martin San Roman’s latest restaurant – opened in July. Baja Secretary of Tourism Oscar Escobado was on hand at the opening to help cut the ribbon and great food, music and wine ensued. Some other excellent restaurants and campestre kitchens also opened in the Valle this year.


Bo and Dennis Sein of Mi Casa Supper Club in San Antonio Del Mar, threw their second annual culinary bash, Sabor de Baja at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. El Gringo was honored to be one of the judges for the white attire event, sampling 17 dishes and pairings with culinary notables Javier Plascencia, Sam (The Cooking Guy) Zien, Javier Gonzalez and Joaquin Fernandezrizo.


The 2014 Chowzter Latin America’s Tastiest Fast Feasts Awards were held at Astrid y Gastón Casa Moreyra in Lima, Peru. El Gringo’s nomination of the birria de chivo from Tijuana’s El Rincon del Oso won Best Soup. We ate at top restaurants like Maido and attended the Mistura food expo and Pelligrino’s 2014 LatAm’s Top 50 Restaurants awards. Upon return to the US, El Gringo was a judge in San Diego’s 2014 Latin Food Fest at the embarcadero.


To sum up October In one word, Tijuana! El Gringo drank too much at the Tijuana Tequila Fest, attended the Iron Chef style Batallia Culinaria, partied with foodies at the BC Culinary Fest’s Opening Dinner at Mercado Hidalgo, and joined KPBS on-air personality Su-Mei Yu on a culinary location scout of the city for an upcoming episode of her series Savor San Diego.


The 2014 World Forum on Mexican Gastronomy (or FMGM for the Foro Mundial Gastronomia Mexicana) was held in Puebla, Mexico. The event brings together traditional cocineras, top Mexican chefs such as Enrique Olvera and slow food producers from all over the country. All part of the effort to petition UNESCO for Intangible Cultural Heritage status for Mexican cuisine.


El Gringo and family attended the first two tapings for Master Chefs TV, a new Baja Cable television show from chef Erick Saenz that highlights the cuisine, chefs and restaurants of Baja California. And we crashed the party at photographer Josue Castro‘s “The Kitchen in Tijuana to scarf down some mind-blowing ceviche tostadas from La Guerrerense’s Sabina Bandera. We ended the year in the Valle de Guadalupe with excellent food/wine at Bodegas F. Rubio.

Thank you and gracias for reading and taking this journey with us. Here’s to a prosperous New Year to our readers, amigos and amigas. And for 2015? Un poco mas…

Your Gringo in Mexico,


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