Monday, August 31, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
by Lynn Prince
Music of the 1960s was characteristic of the revolution that was going on during the decade. It was a time of rebellion and counter-culture in which the younger people were questioning everything, including authority, government, every aspect of life and the status quo. It was a fun, unique experience . . . just talk to any baby-boomers who were adolescents during that era and they will tell you how fun and fortunate they were to grow up in the '60s.
With that in mind Sonora Is Safe, in their efforts to promote tourism and the Sonoran economy, has created a Blast From the Past with a two-day concert in San Carlos with one of the best Rock and Roll bands in the Tucson area . . . The Retro Rockets.
Their music is centered on great oldies, and their high-energy classic rock with outrageous vocal harmonies wows audiences young and old alike! Their music is pretty intergenerational . . . so bring the kids to this one!
This four-member Tucson band sings three-part harmony so sweetly that you’ll think you’re listening to the original recording. You will enjoy songs from The Beatles, The Monkees, The Turtles, The Beach Boys and many others.
The Retro Rockets will be at La Palapa Restaurant on September 18 and 19, and November 27 and 28 for a 5–8 p.m. concert on the beach. Don your '60's clothes and come prepared to dance your golden slippers off doing The Twist, the Mashed Potato, the Monster Mash, the Monkey and the Dog, the Frug and the Hully Gully, and all those very cool dances the 60’s music generated . . . because this group's music is fireworks for the dance floor crowd!
The Little Engine that Could
by Patricia Cochin
Before retiring to San Felipe, the only groups I joined were ones involving my children or my career. So, when I was approached by various local clubs, I politely declined.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
by Benjamin Eugene
Those who picture Baja California as an unrelieved desert would be surprised to discover the highest part of the backbone of the peninsula is covered by conifer forests, with winter snows and flowered meadows in the summer.
This is the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, a mountain chain that runs north-south along the middle part of the northwestern Mexican state of Baja California, with its name Spanish for "mountains of Saint Peter the Martyr." The highest point is Cerro de la Encantada, 3,096 meters (10,158 feet). Also known as Picacho del Diablo (Devil’s Peak), this is the highest point in the state of Baja California, as well as the entire Baja California Peninsula, and a popular expert rock climbing and rappelling destination.
The Sierra San Pedro Mártir is a sky island of rugged forested ridges and broad meadows, standing high above the coastal slopes to the west and dropping sharply to the San Felipe desert on the east.
The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a good example of a "sky island" because the species that inhabit this mountain range have been separated from related creatures that live in adjacent high-elevation areas by their inability to cross the hotter, drier low-elevation deserts. This physical isolation has permitted genetic drifts among several local plant and animal populations, producing variations found only in the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir.
Probably the best example is the Nelson's rainbow trout, a species tolerant of warm water and native to a few permanent pools and west flowing streams. Others animals include 20 subspecies of birds, and 5 species and 8 subspecies of mammals. Beyond these are the more familiar animals such as bighorn sheep, mule deer, cougars and many smaller species.
The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir became a national park in 1947, and work is now underway for it to be designated as part of the International Biosphere Preserve, a most worthy distinction for this unique place.
Its geological history is closely related to the events that were responsible for the formation of the other peninsular range complexes to the north, including the Sierra Juárez of Baja California, the Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains of San Diego County, and the San Jacinto mountains of Riverside County.
The climate is similar to that of mountains of southern California, with the main precipitation coming from winter storms, and occasional summer monsoon storms.
This natural area, which is also home to the National Astronomy Observatory of the Autonomus University of Mexico (Longitude: 115° 27´49; West Latitude: 31° 02´39 North), built in 1971 on a neighboring peak from Picacho del Diablo, and is home to Mexico's largest optical telescope, with a diameter of 2.12 meters, and a weight of 40 tons in total.
The National Observatory is located on a 9,000-foot ridge overlooking the San Felipe Desert thousands of feet below. The facility consists of a world-class 82-inch reflecting telescope, along with several smaller units. Astronomers from around the world come here to take advantage of the excellent conditions where light and atmospheric pollution is minimal.
At the top of the range are ranches and beautiful isolated campsites surrounded by giant old growth, Jeffrey and lodgepole pines, and extensive groves of quaking aspens with hiking trails leading to Blue Bottle, a 2,900-meter (9,500-foot) rise, and Picacho del Diablo.
Activities: Expeditions, walking, mountaineering, mountain biking, horse riding, camping, flora and fauna watching, as well as sky watching.
A unique experience is walking to the viewpoint at El Altar, at over 8,000 feet, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez at the same time, or visiting the Misión de San Pedro Mártir de Verona (1794-1824) by horse ride for two and a half days with the help of a guide.
Classification: National Park since 1947; priority area.
Location: Located in Sierra de San Pedro Mártir mountains in the center of Baja California.
Surface: 65,000 hectares/160,550 acres
Weather: Extreme mediterranean climate, with dry and hot summers, and rainy winters, snowing during cold periods of winter.
Vegetation: Pine, fir, cypress and poplar forests.
Wildlife: Ram, cougar, black tail deer, mountain lion, royal eagle, owl, raccoon, coyotes, among others.
Access: Departing from Ensenada by the transpeninsular road Highway 1 at Km 243 (Km 140 section Ensenada-San Quintín) in San Telmo de Abajo, take the small road to the east (there is a signal), keep going 47 miles and you'll arrive at the National Park entry.
Further information: Request a Baja California National Parks guide in the tourism office of your locality.
Resources: San Diego Natural History Museum, Wikipedia, Discover Baja California, Baja State Secretary of Tourism.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Today is slow to warm and the high is projected to be only in the mid 90s. This won't last forever in fact this coming week looks like the air will be holding considerable moisture which will drive our heat index up and threaten us with clouds and maybe even a small summer shower or two...we'll just have to see how it pans out.
|Updated: 11:00 PM PDT on August 07, 2009|
SaturdayClear. High: 35 °C . Wind NW 10 km/h .
Saturday NightClear. Low: 25 °C . Wind WSW 10 km/h . Heat Index: 28 °C .
SundayClear. High: 35 °C . Wind ESE 14 km/h . Heat Index: 33 °C .
Sunday NightClear. Low: 26 °C . Wind SSE 10 km/h . Heat Index: 29 °C .
MondayClear. High: 37 °C . Wind ESE 14 km/h . Heat Index: 35 °C .
Monday NightChance of Rain. Scattered Clouds. Low: 28 °C . Wind WSW 10 km/h . Chance of precipitation 20% (trace amounts). Heat Index: 31 °C .
TuesdayClear. High: 38 °C . Wind East 14 km/h . Heat Index: 37 °C .
Tuesday NightPartly Cloudy. Low: 30 °C . Wind West 10 km/h . Heat Index: 32 °C .
WednesdayScattered Clouds. High: 39 °C . Wind ESE 14 km/h . Heat Index: 38 °C .
Wednesday NightChance of Rain. Overcast. Low: 30 °C . Wind WSW 10 km/h . Chance of precipitation 20% (trace amounts). Heat Index: 32 °C .
ThursdayChance of Rain. Scattered Clouds. High: 38 °C . Wind ESE 18 km/h . Chance of precipitation 20% (trace amounts). Heat Index: 38 °C .
Thursday NightClear. Low: 28 °C . Wind NNW 10 km/h . Heat Index: 32 °C .
Monday, August 3, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Explore the Culinary Delights
by Stockton Hill and Lucy E. Jackson
Uncovering hidden restaurants and truly superior food is one of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling in Pacific Baja and along the coast of the Sea of Cortez. When it comes to dining, the opportunities are as rich and varied as the towns and villages themselves—each with a unique flavor and specialty.
When the conquistadores arrived in Mexico in 1492, they found that the diet of the people consisted largely of corn-based dishes with chiles and herbs, occasionally complemented with beans and tomatoes; and many such staples are still enjoyed today, like tamales and tortillas.
The conquistadores, like many of you culinary explorers, wanted more and eventually integrated their European ingredients of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine and garlic with the native indigenous foods of the time, including chocolate, maize, huitlacoche, tomatoes, chile peppers, beans, squash, etc., to shape the gastronomic delights of Mexico.
Today, Mexico is one of the world’s top food destinations, known for its blend of local ingredients and experimental flavors, and Baja and Sonora may be the best example, with a strong influence from the southwestern United States, and a cross section of the entire country—from corn-fed beef and flour tortillas of the north, seafood of the Gulf Coast to the rich molés, spices and stuffed chiles rellenos of the Pueblo region.
Everything is available, from fine dining to street vendors selling tacos or the Americana especial—the hotdog. Our featured restaurants serve mouthwatering national and International specialties, from traditional Mexican, and the world’s best seafood, to cuisine such as American, French, Italian, and sumptuous steaks, or whatever is needed to curb your cravings.
This month we’re going to whet your appetite and give you a “taste” of what’s available in this region of the world. The craft, elegance and sheer diversity of the dining options will please anyone on any occasion.
You can unwind with your favorite drink on the deck overlooking the Sea of Cortez or indulge in a culinary adventure and a feast for your senses—where the local flavor and environment come together in perfect harmony. From elegant dining to a casual beachfront bistro, you can enjoy each savory bite of elegant fare in a relaxing atmosphere.
Enjoy a memorable evening under the stars, or allow them to cater to you in genuine Mexican style; savor the sunset while indulging in a true gourmet’s delight; and discover culinary masterpieces in a magnificent setting with distinctive service and ambiance.
When it comes to dining in Mexico, restaurants are everywhere. Dining out is often a true highlight of the day and it is possible to sample many of the country’s finest dishes, with many of the best dining venues being surprisingly inexpensive.
Along the way, you are likely to sample offerings that range from acceptable to outstanding (but very rarely anything less). In general, restaurants are quite good and very reasonably priced.
Join us, and a couple of our friends, and savor the fresh flavor as we explore the culinary delights of Pacific Baja and the Sea of Cortez.
Although this is not a restaurant, you're likely to find this product throughout San Felipe and in northern Baja on the table of many of your favorite restaurants—all-natural Sea of Cortez Salt.
The salt is harvested directly from the warm waters in the protected areas of the Sea of Cortez and the Colorado River Delta. Sea of Cortez Salt delivers gourmet sea salt in its simplest form, pure and natural. It's for this reason that the flavor is a "must have" for any kitchen.
In 1974 portions of the upper Sea of Cortez became an environmentally protected area. In 1993 UNESCO designated over 3 million acres of the upper Sea of Cortez and the Colorado River Delta as a Biosphere Reserve. This area has since been extended southerly to include San Felipe Bay and is under the protection of the Mexican Federal Government.
Evaporation ponds within this protected region produce an exquisite salt, pure and clean with a special sunny flavor. No chemicals, drying or anti-caking agents are used; just naturally produced solar sea salt. In fact, Sea of Cortez Sea Salt is 83 percent sodium chloride (compared to regular table salt at 99 percent), which means the salt is 17 percent rich in essential trace minerals.
Packaged in elegant Mexican ceramic "pinch" dishes and handmade glass azure-blue bottles with hand-painted labels and adjustable grinders on top, Sea of Cortez Salt's are beautifully presented—a perfect gift or a special treat for yourself.
Add the amazing fresh flavors of Mexican roasted garlic, chipotle chile and cacao, black peppercorns, or the “HOT” new flavor, chiltepîn . . . you’ll be hooked.
Whether for a margarita rimmed in their All-Natural Margarita Sea Salt or you need just the right seasoning for the catch of the day, you're going to love this salt.
Now that we've pointed the salt out, you'll begin seeing it everywhere. But, if you can't wait, you can contact Sea of Cortez Salt at (686) 209-0074, or visit them at the Plazita on Mar de Cortez in downtown San Felipe.
The Pavilion Restaurant is the choice for fine dining in San Felipe. They offer exceptional service, great food and a large open dining room with amazing views of the golf course, sea and mountains from every window.
Located in the Pavilion of the Las Caras de Mexico Golf Course at La Ventana del Mar, the Pavilion currently serves a number of purposes including offering golf course services. But, if you're after a great meal at a good price, the Pavilion Restaurant will provide a level of cuisine not found elsewhere in the area. Manager Cesar Quirarte says, "At the Pavilion, everyone is family."
They have great dishes, like Filet Mignon, or Churrasco (Argentinian Beef), but the Half Rack of Lamb with Fig and Apricot Glaze is their house specialty. Of course, they offer a wide selection of seafood, like fish or shrimp, and all the traditional Mexican dishes like Fajitas, Enchiladas and Chile Rellenos, Carne Asada Tampiquena, and the favorite Mexican Combo—Enchilada, Chile Relleno, Beef Taco.
In recent months, the Pavilion has changed management and menu, so if you haven't been there in a while, you haven't been there.
Loreto Islas is aptly named; a seaside restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that face east onto the Malecón, the Sea of Cortez and Isla del Carmen.
From outside, Islas shines as bright as the lighthouse that can be seen just down the street. Inside, the same bright bold orange and red colors continue throughout, with the exception of the windows and the deep blues of the sea fading upward towards the soft blue sky—all of which make for a beautiful and inviting dining room.
Chef Francisco Drew Murillo is the master of the menu and, like the art on the walls, he too creates masterpieces, from his amazing sauces to his signature dish—Pescado Menier, which is similar to a paella with a healthy portion of scallops, fish, clams, broccoli and cauliflower mixed in with rice and his menier sauce.
Chef Francisco is considered by many to be the the best in Loreto. He has been producing fine dining for 27 years in many of the best restaurants and hotels in Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and La Paz.
Loreto Islas' menu is simple, made with the freshest produce and ranch-fresh eggs and chicken. Islas also serves the freshest seafood available, caught and prepared the same day.
You can start your day with their signature Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, have fresh seafood tacos or special burgers for lunch, and finish the day with dinner from a wide variety of the daily catch to a tender steak, along with a cold cervesa, cocktail or bottle from an impressive selection of wines from Mexico, Argentina and California. Finish it off with a daily choice of Chef Francisco's fresh flan or freshly baked cheesecake.
Loreto Islas is a must for anyone who wants an elegant dining experience. And, the best part is their prices don't reflect their quality or location; an average entree is only $8–$10.
See you at Islas!
An island paradise unto itself, La Picazon in Loreto, Baja California Sur, is unlike any other restaurant. It's not just the incredible food that makes it special, the amazing hospitality, the beautiful decor, the best view anywhere, or the fact that the Sea of Cortez is only feet from the stunning open-air dining room under a giant palapa, because La Picazon is all of this and more.
La Picazon is six miles north of Loreto, along a winding, graded dirt and gravel road with incredible vistas of the sea, across washes and creek beds, that become raging rivers during hurricane season, isolating La Picazon from town and making it only accessible by boat.
A four-year project of the warm and friendly Igartua family, La Picazon to them is more than a restaurant, it's their home and their own paradise that they graciously share with their customers. Gourmet seafood and Mexican cuisine at a reasonable price and an unforgettable experience.
No visit to Loreto is complete without visiting the Igartua family and La Picazon. You can contact them at (613) 109-9029.
Americano Cheese Steak - Serving Up Some of Your Favorite "Guilty Pleasures"
Two things you'll discover when living in Mexico: Mexican food here is generally better than Mexican food elsewhere, and the reverse is also generally true. However, Americano’s Cheesesteak Grill defies this with real American-style sandwiches, appetizers and desserts. In a land where hot dogs are plentiful, yet chili dogs are unknown, it’s a refreshing break from tortilla-based food.
The grilled cheesesteaks are the closest thing to a true Philly cheesesteak this side of the Appalachians, while the spicy chili dogs take you back to the State Fair. Enjoy some sinful chili cheese fries or picante chicken wings, then cool off with a root beer float or ice cream pie. And, the real star, “Mom’s Apple Pie,” with a crispy crumb topping, is as good as it gets.
Visit the owners, John and Carmina Ashman, as they serve up these guilty pleasures, Tuesday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m., at 150 Nicolas Bravo in La Paz.
International Rosita Restaurant is a family-owned waterfront Restaurant located in downtown San Felipe at the north end of the Malecón, directly across from the beach. The great location is also why Rosita's is a favorite hangout during spring break and Semana Santa (Easter week). However, anytime of the year is a good time at Rosita's and people can enjoy a great meal, whether on the covered sidewalk tables or in the cool air-conditioned dining room.
If you're wanting something more than just a tasty meal, Rosita Restaurant features a large banquet facility and affordable on and off premises catering for receptions, rehearsal dinners, family reunions, class reunions, company parties or any other seasonal events. For their Net-savvy clientele, they've added Wi-Fi service and a computer terminal.
You'll find a fun and friendly atmosphere all year round, and always the freshest seafood and authentic Mexican dishes, with handmade tortillas. Their fish is so fresh that it was in the sea, earlier the same day.
And if you're into shrimp like Bubba or Forest, you'll love Rosita's shrimp selection. You can have shrimp with garlic, breaded shrimp, barbeque shrimp, shrimp in mole, shrimp tamales, coconut shrimp, cilantro shrimp, shrimp cocktail, shrimp ceviche, veracruz shrimp, plus shrimp tacos, burritos, fajitas, soups and, I'm willing to bet, they'll sell it to you on ice to take home.
If you're planning a party, a nice dinner or just want to have a great place to eat, hangout and enjoy the sights and sounds of San Felipe, there's no better place than Rosita's Restaurant. They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and anytime of the day, they offer great food, fair prices and a welcoming smile.
Stop by or call them today at 577-1903.
Whether its fish, shrimp, squid, clams or a fresh salad, you'll find a tasty selection of "right out of the sea” offerings. The owners Ana and Chema have done an amazing job with La Vaquita Restaurant, since they opened in 2006. They've done a remarkable job of transforming their restaurant into an inviting, comfortable and delicious dining establishment.
Fully remodeled and expanded, with new covered patio seating, and a new menu. La Vaquita offers some of the best seafood in San Felipe, voted Best of 2007 in the Mexico Living readers poll. La Vaquita offers either open-air patio seating or you may dine inside.
The menu offers a wide variety, from starters like fresh steamed clams, or shrimp cocktail, to one of the favorites, such as a shrimp platter with the shrimp swimming in a secret-recipe cherry sauce; or for the adventurous palate, Caldo de Siete Mares (soup of the seven seas) combines fish, shrimp, octopus, squid, clams, crab and scallops into a delightful broth. For a main course, try the house specialty, Halibut covered with a light cheese and stuffed with shrimp and squid.
La Vaquita offers an expansive dining area, with a full bar and a great selection of wine, and on the weekends they have live music from various local musicians. If your palate craves a different taste sensation than seafood, their chicken Caesar salad is exquisite. This is a fine seafood restaurant with fantastic food. Their prices may be a little more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but the food is delicious and worth every peso.
You can find La Vaquita Restaurant just off the Malecón on the corner of Mar de Cortez and Puerto Penasco, next to Licores San Felipe.
For the last five years, Restaurant Los Arcos and the Happy Jackass Lounge have been a family-oriented dining establishment specializing in American and Italian cuisine. Owners Cliff and Sue White have been in this location on the south side of the arches entering San Felipe for three years. Both Cliff and Sue are longtime residents of San Felipe, Sue for more than 25 years, and have extensive experience in the restaurant business.
Over the last year, they've been making some big changes; they've changed their menu, decor, prices, staff and much more. What hasn't changed is the full-service bar and the coldest beer in town.
The menu features great burgers, chicken and dumplings, chicken-fried steak, homemade fries, and, if you're a steak lover, Angus beef from the U.S. Local fish and shrimp dishes are featured as specials. The Italian cuisine includes an All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti dinner, plus calzones, fettuccini alfredo and a new concoction called Italian puffs, and, of course, their fresh pizzas round out the menu.
The Happy Jackass, the bar attached to the restaurant, keeps things lively by offering Karaoke and various live music other nights of the week; it also hosts the semimonthly San Felipe Lions Club meetings. “Having activities for the patrons helps both the bar and the restaurant during slow times,” says Cliff.
The lounge has satellite TV on four big screens and features all the sports you could want, including four different NFL games every Sunday. NASCAR is always on one of the screens. The staff is pleasant, the atmosphere is relaxing, the prices are moderate and the portions are very generous. All in all, you will enjoy your dining experience at Los Arcos Restaurant and Lounge.
Stop by Los Arcos Restaurant and The Happy Jackass and say hello to Cliff and Sue. You can’t miss them, they’re on the right as you enter San Felipe. Tell them you saw them in Mexico Living!
When I first saw Rabbit Pizza, I thought, "now that's interesting, a pizza made with rabbit." As it turns out there was no rabbit on the menu, but rather many of the usual favorites, like combinations, pepperoni, vegetarian, etc. They also offer six specialty pizzas and just about every topping you'd need to create a masterpiece of your own.
Rabbit Pizza is not only known for their great tasting pizza, but also the variety of sizes, including the grande, which will feed an army. It is about three feet in diameter and available with any toppings you desire. The other unique thing about their pizza, that I find delicious, is the sesame seeds they sprinkle around the crust and bake in to perfection.
Rabbit Pizza is located on Chetumal, below the traffic circle on the left as you're heading toward the Malecon. They have a few tables outside, although I don't think the tables are large enough for the "grande." No worries, if you'd rather stay home, they delivery to most of San Felipe, and they do it quickly—sorry no "30 minutes or less, or it's free." However, they don't need it. In no time at all your pizza will arrive hot and delicious. I'm guessing "Rabbit" refers to how quickly you get it.
When ordering by phone, I suggest you have the order ready and know a little Spanish. Of course, you can do as I do and drop in say "hola" and point to your favorite on the menu.
If you like pizza, you've got to have a Rabbit!
by Steve Dryden
Jean-Loup Bitterlin is a dynamic community leader and owner of El Rey Sol, one of the best restaurants in Mexico. This renowned family operation began on May 23, 1947, when Jean-Loup’s mother, Virginia Geffroy was invited to open a 10-table cafe at a relative’s motel in downtown Ensenada. After her passing in 1989, Jean-Loup continued the operation, expanding the seating for 240 persons, with a focus on unsurpassed table service. His call for excellence has resulted in Five Star Diamond Awards from the American Academy of Hospitality for seven years in a row, 2003 through 2009.
The quality of the cuisine at El Rey Sol is consistent and speaks for itself. Try exploring some of these popular meals and discover a wine list with over 120 selections of Baja California wines. My favorite dinner is their boneless chicken breast prepared in a sauce of brandy, port wine, prunes and cream. Or, when with a “special friend," you can’t beat the Chateaubriand, beef tenderloin (for two) sliced table side, served with roasted tomato and topped with melted cheese. Another popular meal is a shellfish delight from Pepita’s original recipe called Medallion Doña Pepita, fresh shrimp with bacon belts, topped with sauce of capers and white wine.
Chef Juan Jose Lozano prepares soups daily, as well as creating three weekly specials to add diversity to the regular menu. Sommelier and dinning room manager, Gregario Rochin can help you match some of Mexico’s best wine with these culinary delights from El Rey Sol. Each evening Gregario guides his “wine tasting cart” between the tables, offering lucky guests free samples of local premium wine. Open all year from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., with the breakfast menu from 7:30 a. m. until noon, followed by a lunch to closing menu. Visit them at Av. Lopez Mateos 1000. Phone: (646) 178-1733.
Published August 2009 - Mexico Living Guide