San Diego native Marcela Valladolid, the chef and host of the Food Network show Mexican Made Easy, recently hosted an event at her brother’s home in Chula Vista to celebrate the impending release of her second cookbook -- Mexican Made Easy -- and share some of her favorite recipes inspired by the cuisine of Baja.
Marcela cooked up a spread that included crepes filled with huitlacoche and braised veal tacos, but my favorites were the sweet and creamy local sea urchin, served raw with a fresh cucumber salsa, and small roasted peppers stuffed with salmon tartare and topped with panko-crusted fried shallots.
Local wine guru Eddie Osterland, the first of approximately 100 Master Sommeliers in the entire United States, paired each dish with wine from in and around Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, a first-rate wine region that’s just a couple hours drive from San Diego. The wines, which Osterland procured with the help of the Wine Vault & Bistro, who organizes annual wine tasting tours to the valley, included the big, silky Ojos Negros Syrah from San Rafael Cellars and Vineyards and a crisp, well-priced Chenin Blanch from Cavas Valmar.
Chef Valladolid, who was rushing to fly out to New York to tape an episode of a Food Network cooking competition show, also shared with us her family’s yet-unreleased tequila, called Hacienda de la Flor.
If these tasty food shots have inspired a craving for Mexican food, check out Marcela's recipe blog and for more on this region, keep a lookout for our November issue featuring the Best of Baja!