Baja Day 1

Sam has crossed over! That is to say Sam the Cooking Guy has taken his show to Mexico. Sam is south of the border in Tijuana. He is on a quest to dispel concerns of traveling south to Baja and while he is there he samples local cuisine and visits with three chefs adding to the flavors of Tijuana. 

Sam’s starts the show by declaring some of the best food comes from the smallest places. Ceviche is what he tries first. The particular dish has a mix of five different textures of corn and of course, seafood. 

He visits a location, Telefonica Gastro Park, with several good places to eat in one location. He describes it as food trucks and stands in a permanent place. He stops by Otto’s Grill for fresh seafood, Seared Sesame Tuna. Sam describes it as an unassuming dish, but paring it with Oscar’s different sauces and tostado chips make it special. 

He visits with Giovanni Brassea owner of Humo and has Bacon Sausage with candied bacon. While it looks somewhat like a hot dog in the way the bacon sausage is served, Sam loves the candied bacon on top and the use of the mustard. Brassea notes his dishes are influenced by America and also by his Italian wife. 

Sam visits Tacos Teno for tostadas and tries three tostados; Tuna, Clam with Prickly Pear and Octopus wand Red Onion. According to Sam the seafood is delicious because of its freshness. 

Next, Sam goes to the Food Garden for Chilaquiles at Los Chilaquiles. Sam admits he didn’t like mole before this dish of half mole and half green chili got him hooked. Sam loves the flavor combinations of cheese, mole, green chili, refried beans, tortilla chips, etc. 

Sam’s next stop, La Justina, is co-owned by friend and American chef Chad White. It is a popular spot for Americans who travel south of the border, but the majority of patrons are local. Sam and Chad sample Chocolate Clams with Octopus and Oyster Tempura with Bacon Jam while they discuss the cultural exchange of the two cities, Tijuana and San Diego. White notes Baja food is different from American Mexican food and the food found in mainland Mexico. He feels Baja food has a more Mediterranean feel. 

Continuing his good will tour and his sampling of local dishes, Sam cooks with Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero, chef and owner of Chef La Querencia. Sam and Miguel are cooking from the rooftop of Via Corporativo and the view is stunning. With the city of Tijuana at their feet and San Diego’s Point Loma in the distance they discuss the closeness of the cities, wanting to change to perception of Tijuana and of course the love of food. 

Miguel prepares Grilled Beets with Vinaigrette. He begins by peeling the beets and slicing them thin on a mandolin. He tosses the beets in olive oil and spices, arranges in a grill basket and grills. The beets are served with vinaigrette. 

While the beets were grilling Sam and Miguel put together a seafood appetizer in a glass layering a variety of ingredients: cucumber, scallops, octopus, raw shrimp, Baja oysters, soy sauce, oyster sauce, lemon juice, vodka, and beer and mixed it. Then they topped with pickled onion, Sriracha, avocado and caviar. They ate it with a spoon and Sam wanted to know how to say Mama Mia in Spanish – Mama Mia! 

Chef Miguel Guerrero is a wonderful ambassador for the region. He shares the love of the food and represents the people. Sam encourages visiting the region, getting to know the sights, sounds and flavors of Baja and Tijuana – But most importantly, the people. 

Sam looks forward to continuing his experience in Baja and to enjoying great cities, great people and more great food.