Finca Altozano - Tucson Baker meets Baja Chef
Flavors from Chef Javier Plasencia and Barrio Baker Don Guerra
Ensenada, Mexico and Tucson, USA are both cities that have been designated by UNESCO as Creative Cities of Gastronomy. I was happily surprised when I found that two of its more prominent food ambassadors have collaborated in the past.
Restaurant Finca Altozano
Chef Javier Plasencia is one of the most renowned gastronomy ambassadors of the Baja Peninsula, and I was happy to dine with family and friends at one of his restaurants in the Valle de Guadalupe: Finca Altozano. Naturally this establishment offers a cuisine based on local ingredients. The setting is just beautiful, the restaurant is open and you will enjoy the gorgeous views of the valley.
To Get Settled
Our waiter welcomed us to our table and was quick to offer us some drinks. Of course local craft beers were on the menu (the cities of Ensenada, Tijuana and Mexicali are home to some creative craft breweries) and naturally you will find a good selection of local wines. To get into the right mood and to settle down, make sure you try their cocktails, specially the Cadillac Altozano, their version of the classic Margarita Cadillac. Basil, Maestro Dobel Diamante Tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, orange juice, syrup from the flower of the basil and angostura bitters. Delicious and beautiful.
Let the Games Begin...
Ordering appetizers was a hard choice. Seafood, cold starters and hot appetizers all looked like great options. Being so close to the ocean, of course that seafood was first on my mind. So I had two different kind of clams: chocalata and reina. Both were topped with tomato ponzu, chile chiltepin, green olives, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Yep, great choice. But still I was hoping to try other appetizers, and to my luck, my companions ordered more of them, fried calamari and grilled octopus. I LOVED the octopus. It was nicely done with a soy sauce, some kind of citrus, ginger, cilantro and roasted peanuts. We ordered some rustic bread allowing me to soak the sauce and juices of the octopus dish and just bring a magic combination of flavors to my mouth (dang, I am hungry again just thinking of this dish).
Select your Wine then Choose the Food to Pair it With
Being in Mexico's most prominent wine regions, I was ready to try some local red wine so just needed to decide what food to pair it with. My waiter recommended a nice local blend and I ordered a house made sausage that was grilled and served on top of a herb salad and “pan tomate” which was also grilled.
Creative Minds get Together
While posting some pictures of this restaurant to my Instagram account I noticed that my good friend, Barrio Baker Don Guerra was also following Finca Altozano, so I took a picture of the restaurant and send it by text to him. He replied to me right away asking if I had tried the bread (yes I did, I dipped it on the sauce of the grilled octopus). He then replied that he had worked with Chef Plasencia to design the bread. Now it makes sense! This was not a coincidence but actually a match made in heaven. Thanks Don and Javier!
Javier Plasencia: Bio and Restaurants
Don Guerra: Barrio Bread
Finca Altozano: Menu
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