San Diego Part 2
Let's go Clandestino
Is the perfect name for a perfect company, this day we joined Angel the owner of a tour business specialised in the discovery and visit around Tijuana and Baja in Mexico, he is the nicest person ever and knows the most gorgeous places so if you’re ever planning on going in that area, book a tour with him, we only saw a portion of all the cool places he can take you to! That day we were also joined by the lovely Candice from San Diego Tourism Authority and her rocky copper cowboy boots, Hannah, a journalist and a friend of hers. We all made sure we had our passports and hopped into Angel’s van for a great journey into Mejico!
Going from the US to Mexico is not really hard, they just open your trunk to make sure you don't carry drugs (sniffing dogs all around), so we were through the border in a few minutes, we got to see the infamous wall (that has been sitting around since before Trump was actually in charge) Angel told us that the wall is actually going into the sea to prevent people entering this way (it’s a bit terrifying if you ask me). From the main road you can see Coronado Island (which we visited on our last day) like it's nearby, but the “entrance” to the island being in San Diego, it’s an American land.
Angel wanted to us get some breakfast snack at a taco truck in the middle of Tijuana, he told us that this guy makes the best ones and get sold out very quickly as he opens early in the morning, it was sold out when we got there so he took us to another place, called The Washmobile, it's in the name, yes, it's located next to a car wash and they serve the best Tortas in the city. Angel took our orders as my Spanish can be summed up by “holà me llamó Marion no habló español, gracias” even though I do understand quite a bit. Tortas are very simple sandwiches but oh how tasy! They’re made with some mashed avocado, tomatoes, onion (un poquito, gracias), a bit of chilly sauce and grilled shredded beef on a plancha, very simple but so full of flavours, all sandwiches were finished in a few minutes… so we got back on the road.
The landscape really changes quickly when you pass the border, the driving as well, it's wild out there (I have some videos that look like we’re on a rodeo!) We followed the sea during most of our trip to the “rota del vino” (the wine road) which is paved with many vineyards and winery. Our first stop was La Lomita where we met Geraldo for a wine tasting and a visit of the domain. Let me rewind for a bit, this is a very deserted landscape filled with rocky roads and cactus, you would never imagine such beautiful places would be around there, it's like an oasis in the middle of a desert…
Back to the wine now, which was exquisite, we got to try several, whites, rose and reds, and then Geraldo took us on a little tour of this amazing place, there's even a small lounge with desert view and a beautiful mural, then downstairs is the actual cellar and vats where the wine is made. We even tried some proper grape juice directly from the vat before all the fermentation is done (very sweet). The domain also has a restaurant with an amazing chef that we briefly met as we were going some place else for lunch and is also used as a venue. This place really is special, but Angel had other surprises for us.
The Giant Oak Tree
After saying goodbye to our hosts, we got into the van under the warm sun of Mexico off to another rocky road, leading to a surprising place. Animalón is situated between some vineyards and some rocky desert, from a distance all you can see, (is just another lemon tree) is a giant oak tree popping out of nowhere! We passed in front two other food truck/restaurants decorated very nicely, this is also something that surprised me, most buildings, restaurants, places in this area have a very cool hipster modern look that you wouldn't necessarily expect in the middle of the desert. Then we arrived at the giant tree, and what a place! Animalón is probably one of the coolest place I've ever been to, we took shelter from the sun under this oak and didn't sat for a few minutes as we were all in awe, photographing and videotaping every corner.
We chose to go with the four courses menu, even though it was already 2pm, it opened with the most beautiful and good ceviche I've eaten in my life, with melon and sesame seeds, followed by an amazing shrimp maki type of dish, except it was rolled into spaghettis, with a tomato jelly and Créma Mexican. Then came the coolest thing, one of Animalón specialty is lamb, but more precisely, the way they cook lamb… They roll it into a palm leaf that they then cover in clay, they put all that directly on the grill and serve it like this, opening it in front of you with a spoon and a small rock. The taste is like nothing else I've ever tasted so full of flavour, not dry for a bit, you eat it with blue corn tortillas and a flight of salsa, more or less spicy. At this point it was probably 4pm, none of us were hungry anymore and still needed to make our way back to Tijuana to go through the border and San Diego where we had a reservation for dinner at 8 at A.R. Valentien. You need to actually walk through the border to get back to the us, which we did, they only stopped us because Georga was carrying a veeeery dangerous item in her bagpack, an apple, which they kept and we went our way back to SD. Border experience was again the same with my French passport as the guy decided to ask a few questions, in French and wondering what I was doing so far from France.
Welcome to Twin Peaks
The travel to The Lodge at Torrey Pines wasn't the easiest, and we might have taken a road the wrong way (i.e. The British left way) a few wrong turns but we made it to the hotel, just an hour later. We were welcomed by a very nice staff, and showed to our room so we could change before actually going to the restaurant. If you've watched the TV show Twin Peaks, well, this place looks like it belongs in it, it has so much character and charm, you feel like you're in a different era, especially with the very classically dressed bellboys. It was probably about 10pm when we were finally down the restaurant, the waiter noticed we were both wearing black so he went to change our white napkins to black ones. To that day none of us really understand why, because if you can't tell where your trousers starts and the napkin ends, how will you know where to wipe your fingers?!
But anyway, with our black napkins and our blanket under the warming lamp (yes it’s chilly at 10pm even in California) we started our meal with a ceviche, followed by the Stone Fruit Salad with lettuce, blueberries, some sliced nectarines, a cheddar crisp and a Tarragon vinaigrette, so refreshing and the fruit were very juicy and good. Then came one of the best duck breast I've ever had, no just because of the perfect cooked meat, but because it was served with roasted grapes, gnocchi, anise hyssop, watercress, and pine nut purée, and oh my god, that purée was divine (note to self, I need to try making some roasted grapes because hello that’s gooood). Also with those were served mangetout peas with a butternut purée and grilled blackcurrants. The association of all those flavours worked quite well, I've always loved sweet and savoury dishes since I was a little girl, we then finished with a the double dessert, two fresh doughnuts ball with two chocolates on one side and a strong chocolate brown with meringue and nougatine on top and a scoop of peanut butter ice-cream, a nice treat to end a meal. The manager took really good care of us, even if it was very late, our meal (and our stay) were delightful, to finish our evening he brought two sugary wines, a white and a red, for us to try, amazing as always. We were quite exhausted (and full) by that time so we went straight to bed, without even trying the cheese, fruits and wine that was waiting each of us at the entrance in our bedroom. (Also, can anyone explain to me why people turn the radio on to welcome you in your bedroom? It’s just creepy, especially if it’s just someone talking!)
And we’ll go soon over my third day in California very soon, in La Jolla, the most Californian landscape I’ve seen in this trip, with sea lions!