BC Culinary Fest 2012: Gastronomic Desmadre, All Over Baja

This week's Tijuana Sí! is a call to action: get down to Baja California next weekend.

October 11-14 is Baja California Culinary Fest 2012, where all the unbelievably great food we write about here is showcased for the world to come see. Seafood, meat, beer, wine, vegetables, cheese... it's 20,000 calories under the border next weekend.

See also:
- Baja Culinary Fest [2011] to Take Place Oct. 5-9
- Five Products You Didn't Know Came From Baja
- Anthony Bourdain Told Me to Go to Baja. So I'd Be OK There. Right? [
LA Weekly]

What's there to do? Tastings; guided visits of Tijuana, Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe that concentrate on food; a wine tour; special dinners with wine pairings; presentations in two languages.

On Sunday, October 14, the festival will close with an exposition of restaurants, wine and beer makers, and artisans. I discovered two or three cheesemakers whom I still visit when I head south, plus the burgeoning Baja craft beer scene, not to mention nearly every restaurant in the gastronomic district of Tijuana. I bought olive oil and high-end coffee and danger dogs made with artisanal sausage, and ate until I was stuffed senseless. This year, Baja California is being joined by representatives from Mexico's seafood capital, the state of Sinaloa.

If you want to stay--and understand that this is not an endorsement, nor is the omission of a hotel a vote of no-confidence--I usually stay at the Pueblo Amigo, the Ticuán, the Grand Hotel Tijuana, or the Palacio Azteca. The Pueblo Amigo is walking distance from the border; the Ticuán is stumbling distance from the bars and clubs on Sixth Street; the Grand Hotel is walking distance from the Gastronomic District, and the Palacio Azteca is away from it all and quiet.

To make reservations at a restaurant, just call the restaurant; to make reservations for the tours and programs, if they're not sold out, use the information on the program on the website.

To cab over just for the day on Sunday, any taxi driver will know where Galerías Hipódromo is; to get back to the border, just ask to be taken to la línea (this means the San Ysidro crossing--if you want Otay Mesa, ask for la garita de Otay). Admission to the event is 50 pesos (about $4) and includes some credit toward food and merchandise.

You need a passport to cross back northbound; if you're an immigrant, bring your visa or green card as well as your passport.

As usual, a word to the doubters about safety: I have been down to Baja so many times my passport is frayed around the edges. I'm still here, my car is still here, and my life is far richer for having gone. I beat the drum about this a lot, though, so read this missive from my colleague Ali Trachta at LA Weekly instead. Yes, it's safe; yes, it's different; yes, it's worth it.

For all the nitty-gritty details, see bcculinaryfest.com/english.

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