February, 2014

Visit Baja, California… Rosarito Beach.
RBH news, Februari 1, 2014. By RBH news.

Before you schedule a trip to Baja California (Mexico) you need to know passports are required for all U.S. citizens traveling to or from the United States to Mexico. Travel to the border regions from the U.S. does not require a passport, but you cannot re-enter the USA without one. It’s fairly easy to get into Mexico but you need a passport to return home. Not a birth certificate but a passport. With one you eliminate a possible hassle getting back into the US. Also, many American cell phones will work in Mexico, depending on your location. Contact your phone company for instructions and rates. Rates for U.S. carriers in Mexico tend to be very expensive. If your phone won't work where you're going or you would prefer cellular rates that are comparable to (sometimes better than) calling card rates, there are companies in the USA that will rent you a phone for Mexico. In general, despite what you’ve heard or read, travel in Baja California is considered to be safe and visitors should feel welcome in the area.
A number of annual food and wine events make an unflappable point that Ensenada has become the food and wine capital of Mexico. The 70 mile stretch of highway leading to Ensenada from U.S. border is in excellent condition and can be traveled safely in just over an hour. Toll amounts (yes there are three short toll roads) to about $ 7.50 on the coastal route (recommended) or you can get there by old Hwy 1 or Hwy 3 from Tecate. Lined by mountains, and fronting beautiful bays and the Pacific Ocean, there's never a dull moment in Ensenada, it's the true Mexican Baja. Driving along the coastline is picturesque and relaxing. Roads are clean and safe. Although it is recommended that you travel during daylight hours. It’s just common sense.

The world-renowned Baja 1000 off-road race is held in Ensenada every year in late November, while the Baja 500 race is held in early June. Off-road enthusiasts use Ensenada year-round as a starting point to explore the Baja peninsula of Mexico. There have been several chili and salsa competitions over the years and foodies from everywhere participate or just attend. Some of the finest deep-sea fishing in the world is found in the waters off Ensenada. There’s surfing, kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling, not to mention a long and inviting coastline. The entire coastline is teeming with grey whales during the calving season from late November to late March. This “Cinderella of the Pacific”, with its Mediterranean climate, rich history, and abundant recreational opportunities has long been a favorite of weekenders from Americas southwest.  There is a tremendous sense of community all over Baja California. This is a region of Mexico that remains pretty safe and separate from main Mexico.

Ensenada’s close proximity to the wine country, an abundant amount of fresh seafood, artisan gourmet cheese production, premium olive oils from a number of area farmers, superior baked goods, and organic fruits and vegetables produced just north of Ensenada and all blended and prepared by passionate culinary guru’s (from a number ethnic backgrounds) are fueling the emerging food and wine culture. Local restaurants run the gamut from the traditional Sonoran Mexican plates to high end steak and seafood dishes. Most of the restaurants in town are pretty casual places with a laid-back atmosphere and are more than willing to accommodate any special requests.

Ensenada and the wine country of Baja California are shining brightly this year, with a newly expanded La Ruta del Vino highway, and with the addition of new wineries and culinary establishments all along the way. There are about 70 wineries located in and around the Guadalupe Valley. The climate, warm summers and mild winters, sunny days and cool nights makes it the perfect setting to produce wine. This means the terrior here is close to perfect for wine grapes barring a possible shortage of water and some extra salt minerals in the soil. The water solution is being strongly considered and there is a possibility of routing water into the valley from an outside area. Let’s hope this actually happens. Many call this valley the Napa of Mexico where about 95% of all Mexican wines are produced.

Spending a day in the Guadalupe Valley wine country can be a very pleasant way to see the wine side of Baja that most people don't even know exists. To me, Ensenada is a celebration of proud families, trusting friends and fantastic food. I recommend visiting there and enjoying great hospitality, brilliant blue skies, bright Baja sunshine blended with cool Pacific breezes.
If you opt to rent a car for travel throughout Baja California you are reminded that special insurance is required for such travel. In addition if you are driving you should be aware that the road signs are only in Spanish. When you decide to visit Baja and if you choose to drive be sure to get Mexican insurance for your vehicle as your American insurance will likely not be in effect when crossing the border. Purchase and print out your Mexico insurance policy from an easy to use a safe website www.bajabound.com. There are a number of insurance companies available at the border, but we’ve found this one to be safe and trustworthy. You should have your policy with you at all times in your vehicle.
It doesn’t take an awful lot of planning before traveling to Baja and to enjoy the beautiful sites, people, food and drink. But you should exercise caution to have the required papers and subtle awareness with you at all times. Safety first is always the order of the day.  Experience Baja and its great weather most anytime of the year. It’s a great place to visit…..try it!

About Les Kincaid: Chef, Wineau and professional bon vivant Les Kincaid is one of today's most imaginative food and wine personalities. Whether he is lecturing a visiting convention in Las Vegas, or concocting new recipes in his own kitchen, Kincaid transforms common ingredients into wow-inspiring dishes. His artful approach to cooking, wine appreciation and confidence-inspiring instructions, and contagious enthusiasm have endeared him to a loyal following.

One of today's most imaginative food personalities, Kincaid is the author of numerous cookbooks including, Never Trust A Skinny Chef II. His UNLV Outreach popular wine and cooking classes for very many years or his inspired recipes for adventurous cooks. His popular nationally syndicated shows – Wines Du Jour broadcast from Las Vegas and on Viasian TV in the southwest and throughout Asia. Wines Du Jour is a refreshing break from the tough talk and controversial news that fills the media today. Follow him at www.winesdujour.com, www.leskincaid.com or on
Facebook www.facebook.com/leskincaid or Twitter http://www.twitter.com/leskincaid