A cult California I really liked and the best restaurant in Tijuana

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to taste Franciacorta last week in California. I’ll be posting a report on all three tastings over on the Franciacorta Real Story blog later this week. But in the meantime, a couple of notes from the trip…

williams and heim wineAbove: a new and more acidity-driven style of wine is emerging among producers of “cult” wines from Napa.

San Diego-based winemaker Duncan Williams and I first met in 2007 when I was researching Italian grape varieties grown on Californian soil. I visited him at a winery in Fallbrook in southern California where he was growing and vinifying Sangiovese at the time. Impressed with the freshness and overall drinkability of his wines, I’ve stayed in touch with him over the years and we occasionally taste together when I’m in San Diego.

On Saturday, following the Franciacorta Real Story tasting at Jaynes Gastropub, he tasted me on one of his new wines, the 2012 Williams and Heim Triple Entendre (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc).

This wine had healthy acidity and good balance. Although the wine is very young and has at least a few years ahead of it before it fully comes into focus, its wood (55% new barriques) is already well integrated and its alcohol didn’t jump out ahead of the wine.

I liked it a lot. If you’re looking for a new cult Napa wine to collect, this is the ground floor. Check it out here.

In other Californian news…

The following post comes from Lawrence Cohen, a friend and wine rep who sells wine to Sotto in Los Angeles where I author the wine list. He possesses encyclopedic knowledge of European food and southern California restaurants. A recent conversation about the “best restaurants in Tijuana” prompted him to compose the following dispatch on La Querencia, which I gladly share here. Note that there is another La Querencia on the American side of the border in Chula Vista. Although I believe the two restaurants are related, the menus are far from identical.

abalone recipeAbove: abalone at La Querencia in Tijuana. Los Angeles-based gourmet Lawrence Cohen recommends the restaurant’s abalone and chorizo sopes (image via La Querencia website).

La Querencia is the best restaurant in Tijuana. And it is excellent for a crowd, or for romantic dinner for two. The mixture of the best food and casual family ambiance where you can bring the kids or the fine wine party of serious diners, with easy going service make La Querencia the go to restaurant of Tijuana. There is no other restaurant in Tijuana we returned to as often or as happily as La Querencia.

The Specials are special so nota bene, one day the Sopa de Venado was mentioned and before I could full translate the dish into English, we ordered two servings, and found the secret house specialty, only when the owner has been hunting, and now we ask in advance if they have Venison Soup. Almost a consomme with just a bit of meat, 123 simple, a Baja Med cocina extraordinaire.

Flamed in Tequila Octopus Crackling served in the hot cast iron skillet is always a great show and we highly recommend coming to La Querencia just for this and a Margarita and a beer.

The best dish, best food, best restaurant in Tijuana goes to La Querencia for the Sopes de Chorizo de Abalone. Other people might do it, but we do not recommend those places for this dish, only at La Querencia can you get the real thing. No description needed, get thee to La Querencia and report back….

Beet carpaccio with blue cheese and mint vinaigrette is a house specialty, paper thin slivers of beets cooked on the wood burning grill. Serious Bootsy Collins funky rockstar.

There is plenty of Meat, the Rib Eye and the Del Mike at La Querencia with the 9 chile salsa melts into the meat and is one of the best tasting dishes in Tijuana.

La Querencia has tender young lechon and borrego primal tacos, or they serve it anyway you would like, plates are nice for a crowd, but the little tacos well browned with the 9 chile salsa are perhaps our most favorite bites of meat in town.

La Querencia is hunter gatherer fisherman diver farmer chef driven, check out the video of chef, and his hunting and fishing. And the website with great food photos is enough to make you get out the door right now. There are a lot of animal trophies hanging from the walls so be careful bringing the vegan squeamish types. Miguel Ángel Guerrero Yagües, Chef, owner, and to quote him, “in the future we will just call it Baja California Cuisine”

Home of Baja Med, which is really Baja Med Asian.

Beware of the hottest salsa of the five presented with the toasted bread.

Wine lovers can have some fun here, it is a great thing to see so many tables having fine wine and great food, an ambiance closer to the Mediterranean than California. La Querencia makes me feel like we are in the right restaurant, in the small coastal town in Spain, France or Italy.

The warmth of the service and knowledge of the food is unsurpassed in Tijuana and sure beats El Norte.

La Querencia is on a tiny little street no one knows, but easily found as it is next door to Villa Saverios and La Espadana two big restaurant that are well known in the Zona Gastronomica.

—Lawrence Cohen
gourmet, gourmand
Los Angeles

One thought on “A cult California I really liked and the best restaurant in Tijuana

  1. Pingback: Williams & Heim | California cult wine says food & wine historian

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