It's amazing how fast time flies! Last October, 4 friends and my husband, Peter went on a weekend road trip from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe to attend the Valle de Guadalupe Food & Wine Festival. We had a blast! 3 delicious days of food and wine tasting bliss! I feel fortunate to have a group of travel friends that want to eat, drink, explore and enjoy...with no drama.
It's March and I feel like the festival is already around the corner and it's time to start planning this year's trip. Plus housing gets booked quickly. Last year, we rented a house on Airbnb.
Our 2018 itinerary...
Oct 5-7, 2018
Day 1: Oct 5, Friday ...12:00 pm ...We met at a friend's house in Mission Hills and took an Uber to the border then walked across to meet the driver that was booked with Yaha Tours. I've been on several hired car service tours to the Valle and their Mercedes van was comfortable, clean and definitely the nicest.
Our first stop was Soriana supermarket where we bought supplies for the weekend. It was important to stock up since we didn't know where the nearest supermarket was by the house.
1:30 pm... Lunch at La Estrella in the fishing village of Puerto Popotla ...Popotla has a gritty shabby, yet festive beachside vibe. Vendors line the beach selling fresh seafood. It was surprisingly empty that day but the last time I went was on a Saturday and it was very busy.
La Estrella is a restaurant where the seafood is brought fresh to your table to be inspected before it is cooked. We ordered the Pescado Zarandeado, grilled with garlic, lime and chile which was excellent.
The spider crab legs that were available that day were not huge, but it was fun banging them with a rock and the meat was delicious and sweet. I never realized how hard the shells were but it's a memorable 1st meal of an epic weekend food trip when you get your hands dirty and smash your food.
The only thing missing and what I really wanted to find was the siniguelas (Spanish plum) vendor by the parking lot. I bought some (and ate them all before going back to San Diego) when I was there last but he wasn't there. One of my favorite fruits that I used to only find in the Philippines until I saw them in Puerto Popotla and in Mexico City.
2:30 pm...Off to Valle de Guadalupe which is about 1.5 hours away.
My carefree joyride in Mexico moment. For 1.5 hours, all adult responsibilities and pressures are put on hold and I enjoyed watching the ocean views and drinking Cerveza Sol with friends.
4:00 pm...We arrive at the house which was booked via Airbnb. The 4BR, 4 Bath house is along a dirt road and is clean, comfortable and is near the wineries.
6:00PM..Dinner at Fauna Restaurant at Bruma. I like the open kitchen and watching the chefs meticulously prepare creative dishes made with local ingredients. I love that despite the place being packed, we were not rushed and enjoyed a leisurely dinner. Plus the service was excellent.
Dining in the elegant airy space with breathtaking views made our dinner truly magical. (Plus the shot of mezcal helped too.)
Chef David Castro Hussong graciously gave us a tour of the kitchen and it was cool seeing the grill that they built.
8:15-8:30 pm..Dinner ends and we are brought back to the house.
The driver needed to drop us of by 9pm or be charged for extra time.
Day 2: October 6, Saturday
10 am...Breakfast ...Ky cooked a delicious breakfast at home...Eggs & tortillas
11:30am...We went to Cava Maciel for a "light" snack and wine tasting. Their fresh Argentinian empanadas with chimichurri were outstanding so we ended up ordering more plus their steak and bone marrow. Excellent!
4pm-12 pm....Valle Food and Wine Festival at Finca Altozano.…. Simply fun & amazing! It was my first visit to the event and I envisioned a rustic festival chic affair but it was better than I expected because although there were many people, it still felt intimate. I felt like I was in a private party or the understated outdoor wedding of an influential person who could afford to hire top chefs, especially when the band started to play. My husband and my first taste was the steak and bacon by Martin San Roman. Eating steak with a Vena Cava red surrounded by vineyards as the sun set made me happy to be there and set the mood for the entire evening. We spent the rest of the night eating, drinking and having a blast. When I think of the grilled pork, beef, quail dishes...perfectly cooked, tender and the fresh seafood ...I want to rush off to the Valle.
I liked that there was the right number of stalls, not too many that I couldn't try everything and not too few that I felt I wasn't getting my money's worth. There were many people but the food and wine lines went quickly. A very good live band played and we danced under the stars which added to the magic of the evening.
This is important when staying in an event for over 8 hours...there were no bathroom lines and the port of potties (which I usually hate and make my hair stand) were clean.
Tip: Go to the festival early to avoid long check in lines, there is great lighting for photos and you can get a seat.
Note to self: Next time, bring my poncho
12 pm....The Airbnb owners picked us up, drove us to the festival, then picked us up again at the end for an extra fee. I was grateful because looking for a ride after the festival would have been a nightmare.
9:30 am ...Yaha Tour van picked us up.
10:00am Brunch at La Cocina de Doña Esthela (Ranchos San Marcos, El Porvenir, Ejido San Marcos, B.C., Mexico)The lines were long (it seemed like everyone from the festival was having breakfast there), and they gave free coffee while you wait. Luckily one of the ladies we were with got us a table after a less than 30 min wait. The borrego tatemado, shredded roasted lamb served with broth and fresh corn tortillas, gorditas and corn pancakes were phenomenal and very reasonable priced. I can see why the place is packed.
12:30PM ..Wine tasting at Clos de Tres Cantos
3:00PM Late Lunch at Deckman’s..A trip to Valle de Guadalupe would not be complete without a meal at Deckman's. I love this place! Creative dishes using premium fresh local ingredients and perfectly grilled meats in a unique rustic restaurant (I've never seen a restaurant like this) made of hay.
The weekend has been so much fun and I don't want it to end!
5:00 PM ...Drive back to San Diego ...if the driver didn't have to be at the border by a certain time we probably would have stopped by a few taco places.
7:00 PM ... Otay Mesa Border...thankfully there was no wait.
I'm exhausted, happy and inspired. Everything you want to feel after a trip.
Thank you Candice, Donna and Ky for planning!