Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BAJA Racing Hall of Fame Started, Desert Off-Road Racing Celebrates Announcement


 
Baja Racing News.com  Establishes

 BAJA Racing 
HALL of FAME

November 7, 2012

The Editorial Board of the ONLINE Publication Baja Racing News LIVE! Hereby Establishes The BAJA Racing HALL of FAME, today November 7, 2012.

Motorsports around the Globe recognizes the Sport of Baja Racing. The Home of Baja Racing, now recognizes the Special People who created the Sport, The Events and the Lifestyle of Baja Racing, through this Tribute and recognition.

The Hall of Fame shall recognize these Special People as soon as possible.
Time is not working with the Editorial Board to recognize these Special People. 

We therefore, call on the Fans of Baja Racing to send your suggestions for the HALL of Fame Inductions.
Send your suggestion to baja racing news at live .com

The Editorial Board thanks you, the FANS of Baja Racing, desert off-road racing in Baja, Mexico, for your assistance in this Grand Effort to pay Tribute to your Special People of Baja Racing! 

ALL HALL of FAME Developments will be reported here.

November 18, 2012

Don Francisco Named To BAJA Racing HALL of FAME! Number 1

Friday, October 19, 2012


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Friday, June 1, 2012

Baja Safari NOW! The Ultimate Guide to the Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada : Baja California Dreamin' About Tacos de Pescado Estilo Baja, The BAJA 500 Racing Food Guide

The Baja fish taco is adored in the Californias and beyond. It's required eating in Ensenada by guys on fishing trips, the three day cruise ship crowd, overnighters , Baja wine country visitors, frat boys, cholos, girl's weekend outings, and those kindred souls of mine seeking out the riches of Baja cuisine, culture, wine, and lifestyle.

It's quite a lovely proposition, a tempura batter fried filet of dogfish, angel shark, mako shark, or a variety of other firm white fish in a warm tortilla with fresh and pickled vegetables,salsa, crema agria(mayo with 2% milk), maybe some guacamole salsa?

It is a popular belief that Japanese fishermen brought tempura technique to Baja, which they acquired from the Portuguese, but make no such careless culinary revisionism, the Baja fish taco,or taco de pescado, is a 100% Mexican creation. All cuisines evolve from outside influences, and no cuisine is pure. Why isn't Italian cuisine called a fusion when it relies on tomatoes from the Americas, and pasta from Asia? Is Italian really Chinese-Mexican?No, it's Italian. Cuisine is the expression of a culture or people, not cooking devices, techniques, or ingredients.

These fish tacos are available all throughout the Baja peninsula, from Tijuana to Cabo, but Ensenada is the epicenter, and considered the birthplace of this iconic food. It's one of the first things one thinks of when planning a trip to Baja. "Fish tacos, dude!"(high fives)

Surprisingly, there hasn't been a thorough investigation of Ensenada's fish taco stands, with just a handful of places receiving any mention. We hit up Puesto El Fenix and Don Zefe in November of 2006, relying on predictable sources, El Fenix always comes up, and many would consider it the best. Don Zefe rated very poorly on my run, one of the worst,and not worth revisiting. Others have written about El Fenix, but didn't even go to the stand, which is the best of the two El Fenix fish taco establishments, just a block away from each other.

Over the course of four years with multiple visits to a total of ten stands, I have compiled a Baja fish taco guide that ranges from the tourist trap stalls next to the Black Market(fish market) to what I call the Holy Trinity of Ensenada fish tacos. This list focuses on the traditional stands, or shacks that serve fish and shrimp tacos, although two taquerias are included due to their reputations. Fish tacos are found everywhere in Ensenada, restaurants, cafes, stands, and taquerias, but they are done best in a stand using a comal de acero, a stainless steel disc shaped comal with a concave well for frying. All ten locations listed here use the comal de acero, use a similar type of corn tortilla, and have the same basic condiments.

I considered the quality of the fish, cooking technique, condiments, and overall flavor. The stands are ranked in order from least to greatest. This is not a top ten list, but an ordering of the range of fish taco options and the most well known stands to tourists and locals.




For most short stays in Ensenada, a fish taco at the various stalls next to the fish market is your first encounter with this Baja temptation. It was the same for me a decade ago. The barkers stand outside and yell for you to come to their stand, and insist that they are the best.

#10-Mariscos El Norteno
Located across from the Black Market


These places are identical, all stocking the same tarros(large beer glasses) filled with the same salsas and condiments and covered in plastic. So, I randomly selected Mariscos El Norteno.


It's certainly a turn off when everybody has the same stuff. These glasses actually depress me.


The weako de gallo looked awful, a medley of out of season fruit and vegetables devoid of color or nutrition.


The taco itself was compromised by the poor condiments, a lack of flavor that even salt couldn't revive. The cooking was good, a crunchy outside, and a token of tenderness, but a lack of seasoning on batter and fish.

Curvina was used, a type of croaker fish, which allows El Norteno to offer this taco for $10MXP, about $.86USD, but it's just not the right fish for the Baja fish taco.

The other nuisance at the stalls is the smell of fish runoff from the market and the nearby docks. One time, many years ago, a fetid odor accompanied my every bite, jamming my senses with cursed air. Well, I hadn't returned until I decided to do this report, so, don't say I never did anything for you. It's a lame fish taco with a side of ass.

Even without the smell, I wouldn't recommend any of the stalls near the fish market. Let the amateurs have at these. You're quest lies elsewhere.

#9-Tacos Corona
just north of Juarez on Espinoza
Tacos Corona, while being better than a Back Market experience, falls in the category of below average. Like most of the stands, it is a family run operation, mothers and daughters, cousins, and grandmothers. They've been around for 40 years, and the current family member that owns the stand has had this place for 17 years.

All of the stands use their oil a couple of times, which I don't mind. A seasoned oil of lard, yes, all these tacos are cooked in lard. But, it must be strained and filtered, and changed when needed.

While the condiments were acceptable here.....

the batter was very dark, not the golden brown crispy outside you crave. The flavor and texture damaging bits were visibly floating around the comal, resulting in a coarse, oily crust.
Mako shark was used, a quality fish, but the flavor was an upfront saltiness with no substance on the back end. The problem here is in the frying.

#8-Tacos Don Zefe
on the corner of Riveroll and Mutualismo

Tacos Don Zefe is a taqueria, and one of the well known destinations thanks to a story by Chris Cognac.
There's a very pleasant seating area, and a formal stand that seems more California than Baja, like a hot dog stand.

The taco was made with angelito, Angel Shark, on a fresh tortilla. It's served traditionally, a warmed tortilla with the fried fish is given to the customer to indulge his/her inner taquero. Standard condiments are available, nothing that stands out though.

The seasoning is rather dull here, and a few bites leaves you wanting less, as in why did I order this. Also, the frying technique needs to improve in order for this stand to hang with the big boys.

#7-Tacos "Nemo"
on the corner of 6th and Gastellum

Like most of the stands here, Tacos Nemo is a family run joint. They've got a cute name and mascot. Can you say copyright infringement?


There appears to be a pattern here. Second tier fish taco stands use the less expensive angelito. There's no difference in price, so I think angelito, a slighty more affordable fish perhaps allows for a greater profit margin.

Only slightly better than Don Zefe's, Tacos Nemo also suffers from the same deficits in flavor, and fry technique. Finding Nemo? Nah, I don't think so.

#6-Tacos Luluon the corner of Juarez and Floresta

Oh how I wanted to love Tacos Lulu. A family run stand, mother and daughter working alongside another family member. A family recipe, that luxurious dogfish, and just a great group of people.

This is a much more engaging fish taco than the previous ones, but just didn't inspire. They have some friendly regular customers, as I'm sure all these stands enjoy.

The balance of crispy outside, tender inside, and seasoning here are so crucial to the fish taco. This was clearly a superior taco to numbers 10 through 7, but the only achievment here is mediocrity.

#5-Tacos Castillo
On the corner of Juarez and Castillo

The big surprise of all the places I went to was Tacos Castillo, a stand I had never heard of anywhere.

This is a tasty fish taco, well seasoned, and the frying here is competent. The condiments here were solid, and a fine roasted chiles salsa added a little character.

This is the kind of stand that would be outstanding here in Los Angeles, if they could work out the sourcing issues, of course. This stand uses angelito.

#4-Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix
on the corner of Espinosa and 6th

Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix is the stand everyone talks about. It is more inviting than the original down the street because it has seating, and a taqueria style structure.


The frying here is consistent and expert. This is the benchmark fish taco in Ensenada, that solid workhorse that always brings it.


Fine condiments, and just a brilliant red and a tangy green pair of salsas allow for a pure Baja fish taco expression. Cazon, of course, is used at Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix.

But, Puesto El Fenix is better than Mi Ranchito El Fenix.

And now for the fish taco Holy Trinity. These stands are all worthy of your attention, and a crawl of these three traditional stands should be included in your Ensenada itinerary along with falling off the bar drunk and hitting your face on the floor boards of Hussong's Cantina, and getting your name engraved on a grain of rice. Who does that?

#3-Tacos La Floresta
on the corner of Floresta and Juarez

Tacos La Floresta is a no name stand located on Av. Floresta . It is truly a shacky shack. When I arrived there was a flock of hungry fish taco fiends gathered 'round.


This is excellence, perfect frying of the rare mako shark. The owner Rica, is a sweet lady, who sweetly smiles and calmy directs her crew as she facilely cranks out stellar fish tacos. The flavors are subtle, but that crust, and clean fish flavor meld into a refined cooperation of textures and savors. Crunchy, hot, cold,tender, fruity, creamy, and wet satisfaction.


All products used to finish your tacos are exceptional.


These are the kind of fish tacos that Baja dreams are made of. Fish taco worshippers concentrate about this stand eating in silence, only intermittent conversation interrupts the feeding frenzy of shark eating man!

#2-Puesto Fenix
the corner of Juarez and Espinosa
Puesto Fenix would be my last stop on this fish taco odyssey. Having found three gems, I took time out to celebrate, by ordering another fish taco, carefree, sans camera. I just kicked back and actually felt a huge burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. OK, not really.


I hung out for awhile at the end of the fish taco portion of the day. By 5pm, most fish taco stands are giving way to the night time tacos, carne asada, al pastor, or suadero.

When I asked the team at Puesto Fenix what kind of fish they used, a very serious gentleman responded," filete de cazon." I like that. Yes, give it its proper due, dogfish filet homes!

Here, the same green salsa from Mi Ranchito El Fenix, but the difference between the small chain in taste is substantial.
This taco is more boldly flavored, a noteworthy taco. If this stand is why you're praising El Fenix, then you are justified, if not, just walk one block north on Av. Espinosa and your perspective shall improve by leaps and bounds. I never saw the reason in plugging El Fenix until I stopped here.
As all of the top three stands, an expert balance of all the components of cooking, quality of ingredients,and condiments is key. While I love Tacos Floresta and could easily spend an afternoon there, Puesto Fenix has a more robust flavor in the batter.
#1-Fish Tacos Ensenada
on the corner of Juarez and Gastellum

My number one fish taco stand in Ensenada has been close to my heart for many years. It's definitely not because of the name, Fish Tacos Ensenada. I was reluctant to share this stand back in my chowhound days, always referring people to Mi Ranchito El Fenix. When I brought a large group of bloggers, chefs, restaurateurs and writers down in the summer of 2009, we went to Mi Ranchito El Fenix. I hadn't finished putting my favorite stand to the Pepsi challenge.


I only shared this place with small groups, and close friends. A recent e-mail from a reader inspired me to finish this run down, so I could without hesitation, share this special stand.


The stand is, well, of course, a family run operation. A woman from El Salvador moved to Ensenada, got married and in time opened a fish taco stand with her husband. These days, Yasmin, the cute young lady pictured here, works alongside her sisters, and their mom.


This is the only stand that has such a mob of killer salsas. Everything from standard creations to the creative little numbers crafted by the owner and her daughters. The salsas are always changing, colorful, and vibrant.


The freshly fried cazon here is a sight to behold. Fish Tacos Ensenada is oldschool, just a tortilla with a comely piece of plump fish are given to the lucky diners. As much as you want to race to condiment while the fish is at its peak, you are likely to give this baby the once over, just for a second though.


They've got everything here:fresh cabbage, pickled cabbage, six to eight salsas, toasted chile de arbol, mayo, and crema agria. Consistently, the fish sings with virtuosity. I would drive here just for a fish taco, and I have.
Like Puesto Fenix, the seasoning here in upfront, the cooking is sublime, but the difference is in the condiments, and the overall flavor of this fish taco. It's good enough to make a frat boy moon his buddies and lose himself in base hyperbole. "Oh my god, dude, this taco is like.....SO awesome."
It's the end of a day glorious day tasting wine in the Valle de Guadalupe, and I appoach Highway 1. Do I head north, or do I head into town? Perhaps, just one taco before I hit the road. I'm not really hungry, but my craving can't be denied.
Fish tacos, or tacos de pescado, as they are known in Mexico, are a universal pleasure. You're not wrong to want to hit up the best while in town. Your expectations are high, so allow me to take you to the promised land of milk and honey. Set your sights on my beloved Fish Tacos Ensenada, the famed Puesto Fenix, and the local favorite Tacos La Floresta, and experience the best fish tacos Ensenada has to offer.
Ensenada, B.C., Mexico. Baja Safari NOW!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baja Blue Restaurant in San Diego

A LIFETIME DEDICATED TO FINE DINING

Baja Blue began learning the art of Mexican cooking as an eight-year-old-boy in his mother’s seafood restaurant. “In my family, cooking is a big deal,” Sergio says. “My grandmother was also a great chef.”
Along the way, Sergio worked in the US at another of our favorite restaurants–the Paradise Grille, located on the Esplanade in Capitola, California. To this day, the Paradise Grille has what I consider the world’s best clam chowder–a Marsala-infused true “change-your-life” experience. The bottom line: Sergio’s been sharpening his restaurant chops for a long time, learning from many fine chefs.
Kim Gianotti-Keltio a newcomer to California and San Diego, arrived four months ago and fell in love with the town. In her “other” life up north she is a successful real estate broker.
“Suddenly, here it is in November and I’m opening a restaurant,” she says with a easy laugh. “I’d never even been to Mexico before.”

FAST FORWARD TO SAN DIEGO
The exterior of Baja Blue La Casita is bright Mexican sunshine yellow. The roof is natural palapa palm-frond. The interior a soothing mix of appetizing oranges, reds, blues and papaya yellow.

As you enter Baja Blue, a comfortable seating area with overstuffed furniture beckons you to have a cocktail, or settle in right there for the entire meal. The restaurant is not large–perhaps only 10 tables. The tables and and chairs are colorful works of art–simple, unpretentious, yet selected with an eye for detail.
As a diner I am a huge proponent of proper lighting–especially in restaurants– and Baja Blue does it right. They use soft incandescents (not buzzing fluorescents) filtered through natural wicker fixtures that make every diner look like a movie star. When we arrived, Baja Blue’s interior also glowed with the light of about 100 candles reflected in large mirrors on each wall.

Baja Blue prides itself on providing excellent service. The wait staff is friendly and attentive and all speak Spanish and English.

TIME TO DINE
With 21 choices on the menu, it’s challenging to know where to start.
Drinks, of course!
Penny and I have been to Baja Blue twice, and I have yet to make it beyond the sangria and onto the extensive wine list. (I promise to visit Baja Blue again in the very near future and update you further on the wine choices!)
Sergio says the sangria is his grandmother’s secret, a closely-guarded family recipe. Somehow this amazing abuela concocted a seductive tango of wine and fruit juice. The blend dances in your mouth–neither one overpowering the other. Small chunks of fresh fruit add a satisfying crunch.
We started our meal with a plate of scrumptious garlic bread crostini served with balsamic vinegar and pesto reduction sauce. The bread was fresh and just slightly crunchy, the basil aromatic, with just the right amount of nutty flavor in the olive oil.
Next, we moved on to the fresh locally caught yellowtail sashimi drizzled with soy-orange vinaigrette artfully presented in a star-shaped pattern on the plate ($115 pesos). Each triangle of fish in the display was topped with a dot of spiracha, a bold Japanese hot sauce that is more complex than its Mexican counterparts. The flavor is smoky, with a fine texture and a kick that hits the roof of your mouth.  This particular recipe comes from Sergio’s sister-in-law. It’s pictured below.

In the mood for shrimp? Try Baja Blue’s pineapple version. It’s served on a half-inch thick slab of fresh pineapple drizzled with a tamarind sauce and topped with grated coconut.
Picking a favorite dish for the evening is tough decision, but the smoked tuna Won Tons would have to be contenders. The recipe comes from mainland Mexico, where they use green mangrove wood to smoke the tuna. The tuna is shredded and used to top a wafer-thin Won Ton base. Your mouth will explode with unexpected salty/sweet/smoky flavors. The texture of the machaca (shredded)-like tuna is light and satisfying. See the photo, below.

I can also personally recommend the tequila-jalapeno sea bass in a light cream sauce. This is a large portion of light, firm-textured, white-fleshed local sea bass that was, in one word, perfect.
If you’re a meat eater, you might opt for the scrumptious-sounding  ribs in chipotle raspberry sauce.
I also noticed many orders of Brazilian steak leaving the kitchen of Baja Blue sous-chefs Luis Espinosa and Gladys Pacheco. The steak is charbroiled in coffee, cinnamon, herbs and topped with a bourbon shallot cream sauce. It’s cut into great thin strips.
For a more Mexican flair, select a caramelized red onion cactus quesadilla with garlic tomato sauce.

Baja Safari NOW!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

EXCLUSIVE! Baja Safari.com Reports from La Paz***US NAVY Visits with the Guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) for G20 security duty


Guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) hosted the Mexican commander of the second naval zone, as well as other officers and dignitaries March 15.

Mexican navy Adm. Anselmo Diaz Cid was given a tour of Benfold's new Integrated Bridge and Engineering Plant as well as the Combat Information Center.

"What a spectacular ship," Cid said.

During lunch, many topics were discussed, including the integration of women aboard Mexican navy surface ships. Benfold's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Dave Oden, was asked how it was accomplished in the U.S. Navy.

"Frankly it was an easy decision for us, some of my best officers and Sailors are women and their contribution to our readiness and mission cannot be overstated," said Oden.

"Cid and the other admirals were wonderful to talk with, and in particular I really enjoyed discussing our mutual positive experiences in the Surface Navy," said Lt. Robin Taylor, Benfold's supply officer

U.S. 3rd Fleet's international relationships strengthen the ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dr. Penny Pickett of Washington, DC has been researching Baja and El Rosario to enhance the story of her and her parents trip of discovery into Baja, back in 1949. The web site is called 'A Writing Life' and the Baja/Rosario story is one part... I think many of you will enjoy both the story and photos, as well as appreciate the research Penny did. View it best... at the bottom, click on the right arrow to go to the next page. There are 111, and include old maps and photos. Enjoy this story of a young girl and parents seeking a calmer, less 'atomic' life in Mexico. Baja Safari NOW!