Yes, the Chef and the Wine Guy do like fish but we prefer to let others do the hard work We will wait on shore, knife, fork and glass of wine at the ready. We recently went fishing in Tijuana and Ensenada and Chef Ann wants to share our catch with you.
We were based at the Plaza Azteca Hotel in Tijuana. A super-comfortable hotel near downtown in the Davila Zone. But one of the highlights of our trip was about an hour down Highway Mex 1 to Ensenada and the fish market.
We left behind the hazy, gritty excitement of Tijuana, where the unexpected was the norm, for the serenity of the rolling coastal bills overlooking the Pacific. The hills were green from the winter rains. The wind from the west was driving the ocean waves far up the beaches and the coves. We felt we were playing lead rolls in a docu-advert for the beauties of Baja. (Watch this blog space for our adventures in the fishing village of Popotla.)
Ensenada was founded in 1542 and is an important commercial and tourist port. But we were there for the fish. There are over 90 species of fish found in the ocean near Ensenada, including a thriving tuna farming industry. The tuna, raised in large open pens, are not given any hormones and are fed only live sardines. Most of the farmed tuna is sold in Japan, where blue fin tuna is an expensive treat.
The market itself is amazing. There is row after row of stalls selling the freshest of fish. There is smoked marlin– so delicious to fill empanadas with. Yellowtail tuna, octopus, giant clams and shrimp, albacore, lobster and a huge variety of other fish.
Just outside the main market is a row of fish stalls or tiny cafes with goblets of sauces lined up down the middle of communal tables. Straddle a bench, order a beer or soft drink and eat fabulous fish. Of course fish tacos are very popular.
After walking up and down the aisles for almost an hour, we decided it was time to stop looking and start eating. We found a table open at our favorite Ensenada fishing hole, La Cocedora de Langosta. It is half a block from the market looking right as you face the harbor The owner is half-Japanese and the flavors of Japan blend well with those of Mexico. The building definitely has a Japanese esthetic. A word frame building with well proportioned windows and devoid of the lively colors of the market food stands.
Lunch included a rockfish ceviche, tuna and octopus all straight from the market. A highlight was tuna sashimi with just a drizzle of soy sauce. The Chef said it is one of the best things she had tasted in a while. So fresh! Such pure flavor!
We had a bottle of Madera 5 from Cava Aragon, a lively and satisfying blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from one of the many new Baja wineries.
The sun was near setting when we left the restaurant and headed back to Tijuana with very happy tummies. At the Plaza Azteca we played cards and had a very good bottle of Nebbiolo from Misiones de California, a tiny new winery tucked away in the Valley of Guadalupe just inland from Ensenada. More on Baja wines in an upcoming blog.
(La Cocedora de Langosta is in the Zona Centro of Ensenada at Avenue La Marina 1. Email contact is email@example.com. Plaza Azteca Hotel is at Boulevard Cuauhtemoc sur Oriente 213 ,Tijuana. Tel: 664-681-8100. www.hotelpalacioazteca.com)