Animalón, chef Javier Plascencia’s pop-up in the Valle de Guadalupe, opened for its third season to the public on April 18 with a preview for media, friends and family held on the 17th. Guests were once again treated to the experience of fine dining in the boughs of a 200-year old live oak tree on the property of Finca Altozano, Plascencia’s award-winning campestre restaurant.
Los Angeles chef Oscar Torres was invited back this year to helm the kitchen and worked with chef Plascencia to design the first month’s menu of Baja California Modern cuisine. All dishes are crafted of top-quality local ingredients. Highlights include grilled octopus in pipián (a rich green mole made of pumpkin seeds), an aguachile of sweet shrimp in a salsa of toasted cucumber, and a seared breast and leg confit of local duck that was cooked to perfection.
Los Cabos designer Marianna Idirin was responsible for the interiors again this year and set another well-appointed table – many actually – situated among the tree’s sprawling branches and surrounded by rustic equipale chairs. At night, diners eat under the light of a number of meandering cloth lanterns. The result is warm and welcoming and the dining atmosphere is one of the most unique experiences anywhere in the world.
Several changes were made this year. “The restaurant now offers a refreshed outdoor lounge which will become a destination of its own,” according to chef Plascencia. Tijuana’s Distilieria Agua Caliente greeted guests during the friends and family dinner with craft cocktails made from their Enmienda 18 line of straight and infused gins and vodkas. And this year, the kitchen will only serve either a three, five or eight course tasting menu, with no à la carte options.
The menu will change monthly throughout the season, which will end in November or December, depending on the weather. Reservations can be made via Animalón’s website at www.animalonbaja.com.