A native of Argentina, Executive Chef Gonzalo Cerda adds his own personal touch to the traditionally inspired dishes at Cocina Del Mar, uniquely located right on the ocean. “Given our privileged location, every piece of fish and seafood is local,” insists Chef Cerda. He works with three independent fisherman who head out to sea daily to bring back the day’s catch for his kitchen. To complement the fresh fish, Cerda uses produce indigenous to the area, such as “tuna,” the fleshy part of the prickly pear cactus. Garnishes and seasonings come courtesy of his on-site organic garden, where he grows fresh herbs.
Fresh and local is his mantra, and luckily Chef Cerda can easily follow through on this with the ocean at his doorstep and through the relationships he has with local farmers. At Esperanza, food of place is not confined to a dining experience. “Our guests want everything Mexican, and so we use our beautiful local ingredients to showcase the flavors of this country.” Beginning with the welcome drink—a cilantro margarita with pineapple–Chef Cerda and his team quickly establish the epicurean spirit of Mexico that Esperanza embraces.
Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel Dinner
Cocina Del Mar often opens its kitchen to visiting chefs and wineries to create one- of-a-kind experiences for their guests. But Chef Cerda always ensures that local flavors are incorporated in all the collaborations. This five-course dinner featured wines from Far Niente paired with the chef’s locally inspired cuisine. Bruce Mooers, president of Nickel & Nickel Winery, was on hand at a special welcoming event Thursday evening to meet guests and lead them through a tasting of his wines. He was also at the gala dinners, greeting guests and talking to each table about the pairing experience.
May 15th to May 17th
Mexican Wine Festival
Eager to showcase the merits of local vintners as well, this special weekend pulled together three Baja wineries for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Hacienda La Lomita brings to the table bold, fruit- forward wines made in state-of-the-art facilities. Although they have only been making commercial wines since 2001, Roganto Winery has already won various awards for their “Roganto” (100 grapes of one kind) as well as their “Tramonte” blends. And Adobe Guadalupe, whose three wines are named after archangels, are ethereal blends that are well balanced and extremely fruity. An opening cocktail party featured all three of the vintners’ wines, followed by three nights of dinners that highlight them separately. As usual, the vintners were on hand to provide more information about their wines during the meals.
Mexican ajillo Baja Shrimp
Preparation time: 20 min
2 large tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 pieces of dried guajillo chili
20 U8-size shrimp
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup of cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon butter
Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, and cut in julienne. Cut onions into fine julienne. Finely chop garlic. Clean guajillo chili, remove seeds, and cut with scissors into thin strips. In a hot pan, cook the shrimp with olive oil and garlic, then add tomato, onion, and guajillo chili and cook for a few minutes. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add cilantro to the preparation and finish with butter.
TIP: If you don’t like cilantro, you can replace it with parsley.