Monday, September 2, 2013

Discovering A Quartet of Winners

Discovering A Quartet of Winners 
Gil Sperry San Diego Mexican Culture Examiner
August 31, 2013

 Disparate elements often come together in very unique ways to produce serendipitous results. The ultra creative Bo Bendana and her husband Dennis Sein were celebrating the impending end of summer at their home with an 'All White' attire dinner party when they came up with the idea for 'Sabor de Baja.' Just three weeks later (on Wednesday evening, August 28th) they were able to produce an amazing soiree (featuring the vocal stylings of Maryam Malak backed by DJ Medi Bendana)) held at theRosarito Beach Hotel's rooftop Salon de Cielo where over 250 invited guests were able to sample some of the best foods and wines of the region. Their panel of experts...Chef Martin San Roman, food columnist Bill Esparza, and Food/Beverage Consultant Chuy Tovar... chose worthy winners in both categories. All in attendance were introduced to yet another incredible annual event which is setting Playas de Rosarito, la Entrada al Valle de Guadalupe (Rosarito Beach, the Gateway to the Guadalupe Valley) apart...and above...from the rest. By the way, please save the date for next year's happening: August 27th, 2014 at the same ethereal location.

Here's your riddle for the day. What does a root canal, a group of golfers, and an award winning bottle of wine have in common? You'll have to read on to find the answer but we promise you a journey with a happy, albeit, surprising conclusion..

Doctor Miguel Angel Ortiz is a well respected DDS from Ensenada. His clinic specializes in complex oral surgery procedures including dental implants. To relieve some of the pressures of his demanding career he enjoys playing a round of golf now and then with four of his buddies. It was on one of those rounds that thecompadres decided that they would like to produce quality wines in the world famous Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Norte's answer to California's fabled Napa Valley. It was also quite propitious that one of the golfing quintet was Victor Segura, who is with Las Nubes Winery. When it came time to choose the name for their new venture, a very clever play on words became immediately self evident. Five golfers; one of their favorite clubs was the five wood; and their first wines, reds, were aged in wooden barrels! Thus the appellationMadera 5 was born.

Their first bottling in 2007 was 300 cases of a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It turned out to be a Gold Medal winning product that sold out at the fabled wine trade show in Queretaro where it was introduced. Since then, they have introduced award winning wines in 2008 (a Cabernet /Sangiovese blend), 2010 (a Cabernet/Tempranillo blend AND a 100% Nebbiolo) and now, in 2013, their first white wine (a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend).

So now you have the answer to your riddle.

As far as the food gold medal was concerned, the decision of the 'Sabor de Baja' judges was no surprise. Way back in 1927, a restaurant inside a hotel located in Tijuana concocted what became a culinary legend (to please late arriving visiting royalty) from what remained in their ice box and pantry after the dinner service had been concluded. The legend of the Hotel Caesar's 'accidental' creation of what would become arguably the most famous salad in the world is time honored but the hostelry and its dining room had fallen on hard times when the fabled Plascencia family of restaurateurs came to the rescue. In addition to the refurbished and revitalized eponymous home of the ensalada, they also own and operate Casa Plascencia, Villa Saverios, Giuseppi's, Mision 19, and, in San Diego, Romesco. Juan Jose Plascencia Huerta is the executive chef at Caesar's, which captured the first place award. Felicidades to those who received this well deserved honor.

Although Kobu did not win one of the two awards bestowed, they definitely deserve a very honorable mention for what their inspired duo...Juan and Ana Gonzalez...have accomplished in a relatively short span of time. Their two restaurants (in Mexicali's finest, the Hotel Araiza and in the Plaza Domino in Tijuana) are both small enough that they can provide the exquisite service that their innovative culinary fusion , created from a wide-ranging palette of the world's freshest of ingredients, deserves. As they told me "...Kobu is a bold straightforward restaurant concept that combines all the tastes, colors and aromas of the exotic Japanese ingredients with our very ingrained Mexican flavors AND a touch of the emerging Peruvian gastronomy, theaji. This incredible amalgam gives our restaurants a distinctive and unique identity that we are very proud to share with anyone willing to try the best combination of Latin and Japanese cuisine yet."

This tour of culinary excellence brings us back to where we started, the amazing team of Bo and Dennis. For any readers who have been part of their Mi Casa Supper Club experience, you already know of the superior quality and attention to detail that they bring to their in-home dining experiences. Bo's design projects in the Rosarito area include the Casa Blanca Restaurant and the Adobe Bar in the Rosarito Beach Hotel and the renovation of the Rosarito Shores Club House into the temporary Club de Ninos y Ninas Seccion Rosarito, now serving 100 at-risk children. The couple have been very generous with their fund-raising for the Club, as well, hosting very successful silent auctions ,donating Bo's birthday gifts, and now a portion of the proceeds from 'Sabor de Baja,' which promises to be a yearly sold-out activity for decades to come.

A quartet of winners, indeed! The cross-border region salutes Madera 5Caesar's RestauranteKobu, and the twin forces behind 'Sabor de Baja,' Bo Bendana and Dennis Sein.

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