baja

Oysters, German Wine and Mexican Wine

Pretty much my three favorite things right now!

I am anxiously waiting for many things to be published, which is always an exciting feeling--especially since it's back to the grindstone as soon as it goes live. No rest for the weary in freelance life.

The first this week was at Life & Thyme and was a story I wrote about Hog Island Oyster Company. It's my first story for L&T and my friend Jim Sullivan shot the gorgeous images from a trip we took up to Marshall, California last month. They have an inspiring company with killer product--basically, the ideal subject for any kind of food nerd. In theory, I understood what sustainable shellfish farming meant, but I didn't really understand the practicalities of it until I went up to Hog Island. 

Hog Island (that's me, on the right!) by  Jim Sullivan  

Hog Island (that's me, on the right!) by Jim Sullivan 

 

The second, at New Worlder, is an exhaustive guide to wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe--something that is surprisingly missing out in the glut of media focusing on the Valle these days. Everyone knows I love the Valle and think its one of the most exciting places to be right now, but I also think the wine has some way to go to reach extremely high quality. They're growing some good fruit down there, but some winemakers need to figure out how best to harness that. I think the Valle is an interesting challenge for traditional wine lovers who are stuck in their ways. There are weird blends and different tastes, including riffs on common varietals that just have a different twinge down there. In any case, this is your one stop shopping for all things wine in Baja. Many of the beautiful photos, including the one below, were shot by my friend Cintia Soto.

Vena Cava by  Cintia Soto

Vena Cava by Cintia Soto

The third piece to go live was in print in Ranch & Coast's July issue. My monthly column talks about Riesling and recaps my April 2017 journey through the Rheingau, where I discovered that I'm completely obsessed with the German varietal. We have such a wrong view of it in the United States! Most of them aren't even sweet and the Rheingau's many vineyards with small production means we miss out on much of the best. I also shot the three photos used for the piece on my new mirrorless camera--below is one from one of the cellars at Kloster Eberbach.

Kloster Eberbach's cellar by Jackie Bryant

Kloster Eberbach's cellar by Jackie Bryant

LAUNCHED: SALT & WIND TRIPS!

I'm exhausted, a little sick and physically worse for the wear but writing from a very happy place: home and AFTER our inaugural Salt & Wind trip to Baja.

It was a raging success! I feel so lucky and grateful to be bringing people who would have never ventured just south of the border to Tijuana and the Valle de Guadalupe and can't wait to do it all over again. Truthfully, we had no major snafus--none of the mood killers or organizational problems that would have killed a group trip. There were some minor things that need smoothing out, as any first run of any venture will reveal, but mostly everything worked exactly the way we wanted it to. Mostly, it was so exciting to hear people's genuine excitement about the region, as well as their surprise over how fun and special they think it is.

We were able to show our new friends all of the dynamic businesses of our Baja friends: design stores, art galleries, boutique hotels, taco stands, breweries, fine dining restaurants, wineries and more. Being in San Diego, I know people here are inundated with info about Baja. I forget that outside this area, not many people know about all of the exciting things happening there, so it's a true honor to be able to showcase that. Below are some snaps from the past four days -- here's to many more!

Salt & Wind Presents: Baja Nights!

To drum up attention and support for our upcoming trips to Baja, Aida (of Salt & Wind) and I teamed up with Feastly and Zagat 30 Under 30 chef Ted Montoya to host a series of Baja-inspired pop up dinners.

The results were great! I missed the first dinner, as I was in Germany, but was able to make it to Los Angeles for the second. The crowd was great: a mix of Salt & Wind fans, lovers of Montoya's cooking and Feastly enthusiasts, all of whom were game to try some Baja California-made wines and the inventive cooking of one of LA's most passionate up-and-coming chefs.

Mezcal brand Gem & Bolt provided the mezcal, which Montoya whipped into a cocktail called the Mezcal Daisy, which he concocted using lime agua fresca. The Gem & Bolt crew also had extra bottles on hand for straight tasting and sipping. It's a nice mezcal--the alcohol clocks in at 44% and makes a great sipper, thanks to the damiana that's added during the distilling process. I hadn't heard of them before and I'm glad that now I do.

As for the menu, Montoya made a charred caesar salad with tobiko in place of anchovies; a calle de hacho with scallops, asian pear and citrus; aguachile with cucumber-marinated shrimp done in a mix of Sinaloa and Baja style--red and green; flank steak with charred capers and white jalapenos with fresh tortillas and a mango raspado. He's a killer cook and I can't wait to see how he rises up in the ranks and takes Alta California cuisine by storm.

Also to drink were several Baja California wines: selections from Adobe Guadalupe, Finca La Carrodilla, Torres Alegre and Fluxus. The Fluxus wines were a crowd favorite--a palomino and a classic GSM.

We don't have any more dinners planned but that won't be the reality for long as we're looking to do them periodically and will plan some for San Diego, as well. Sign up for Salt & Wind's newsletters to keep abreast or contact me and follow along here.

Here are some pictures from the evening!

Germany, Tijuana, Long Island and mas Baja!

I cannot believe it's practically May--this time last year, I was almost a month out of my finance career, freaking out and hitting the pavement. That hasn't exactly abated, but life is busy and good and I can't believe I'm doing all of this just a year later.

I'm typing this from Dresden, one of my new favorite cities in the world. What a dynamic place--being here and experiencing its energy, it's easy to forget it's only 500,000 people. Prior to this, I spent time in Meissen, where I slept at a winery owned by an actual Prince and Princess; Frankfurt, where I drank a lot of Apple wine and walked the entirety of the city; and Ruedesheim, where I ate an ungodly amount of schnitzel and drank my face off with Riesling. Tomorrow, I head to Berlin and from there I'll fly back to California. This trip was incredible--I was on my own for most of it, which I love, and I enjoyed Germany every bit as much as I expected. Now comes the "fun" part, selling articles! I have two lined up with many more good ideas right behind it.

I had a lot published this past week. At Salt & Wind, I published a guide about what to eat in Baja California. My boss and colleague, Aida, who owns and runs the site, realized that nothing out there gives a comprehensive guide to Baja food. So we decided that I should write it for us. 

At AFAR, my long-awaited story about Long Island wine went live. It focuses on cabernet franc and mentions some of my most favorite wineries. Writing this made me decently homesick and sad that I don't have plans to go back any time soon. Nonetheless, I'm glad Long Island wine is finally quality and getting its time in the sun.

New Worlder published my eat list for San Diego, which has some surprising picks apart from the usual lists that pop up around town (if I do say so myself) and is LatAm heavy, as one should expect from reading the site. It's also basically my and my husband's "where should we eat tonight" go-to list. The photos are beautiful and it came out really nicely, I think.

My cheeky list of things you have to know before visiting Tijuana for the first time went up at Thrillist San Diego. This was a quick and dirty one and I got to fire off a few pot shots at pendejo gringos while mentioning some businesses and people I love supporting.

Getting a head start on monthly San Diego print articles was the lead feature I wrote for Pacific Magazine, which was my first story for them. It was--shock!!!--about Tijuana, specifically where to go, what to do and why. It was chopped up into a couple of sections, but this is the whole series, which is worth checking out.

Tomorrow is off to Berlin, home for a few precious days to actually spend time with my husband who I miss terribly, and then later in the week I'm out again to Washington County, Oregon for a quick two-day trip. Then to Baja for some final trip prep--we're in crunch time at Salt & Wind. Adios!

Mas Tijuana, Mexican Spas, and a Salt & Wind Baja Update

I had yet another busy week--decompressing from Guatemala and getting ready for a week-long run to Tucson and Cabo San Lucas.

Firstly, we are getting ready to launch our Salt & Wind trips! A lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally) has gone into this planning and we can't wait to start booking and taking people on adventures. March 8th is the date, with four trips going live in May and June. We are working with some wonderful partners, including the roving supper club Club Tengo Hambre

I had yet another piece go live about Tijuana, this time at Roads and Kingdoms. Unlike the others, this was a short narrative about an afternoon I spent with Food Not Bombs in Tijuana's Zona Norte, searching for Haitian chicken and learning about food politics.

Also published was a piece I did for AFAR about the best spa I've ever been to, no exaggeration. Cabo San Lucas' Resort at Pedregal, besides being one of the nicest resorts on the planet, has a killer spa that infuses local curanderismo principles with treatments adhering to the cycles of the moon and sea.

On the print front, I had several local pieces come out. My second installation for what's looking to be a monthly drink column for Ranch & Coast was printed in the March issue. It's about biodynamic/natural wines (you can find it by clicking on "Clips") and I got to include a nice quote from a great interview I conducted with Rajat Parr last spring. San Diego Magazine's March issue also went live, which includes a feature about why San Diego is better than Los Angeles. My contribution is, unsurprisingly, about the fact that we're a border city. You can also find my byline in Modern Luxury San Diego's March issue, with a reprinted bit about a North Park-based speaker console designer called Wrensilva. It was originally printed in the winter issue of Modern Luxury Interiors California (also in "Clips"). 

Recently eaten (and published) and an exciting announcement! 1/19/17

At the beginning of this week, I received a last minute email offering a rare interview with famed French chef Joel Robuchon. The catch was minor: I had to go to Las Vegas to do so and would also get a chance to eat at his 3 Michelin star eponymous restaurant, Joel Robuchon. Since I'm a little bit lazy, the first thing I did was check flights. $550 and none at the ideal time--I had to be in Vegas by 11:30 Tuesday morning and my best friend was visiting until late Monday night. 

So, driving was the only option and I left at 4 AM Tuesday morning for my solo trek across the Mojave desert. Which, by the way, is beautiful! Everyone told me the drive to Vegas was "super boring," but I was delighted by the elevation changes, mountain vistas and random outcroppings of Joshua Trees. Not to mention, the In-n-Out in Barstow saved my ass on the way back. 

Interviewing Mr. Robuchon was a real treat: I learned about his absolute, near-religious devotion to cooking more healthily, something that trickles down to his restaurants. He also told me about his new culinary school, in France, which offers guests and would-be chefs an all-encompassing hospitality experience by also building a on-site hotel. The dinner, of course, was excellent. We sampled some new menu items, the creation of which was overseen by Mr. Robuchon himself. It's hard to pick a favorite, but in the running was the duck with acacia honey and coriander, glazed turnips and his famous pomme puree or the John Dory filet with shisho leaf tempura on squid ink risotto. Or the rose shrimp in bonito broth with ginger and kombu seaweed. Or the avocado and Scottish salmon canneloni with osetra caviar that was paired with a sublime Chablis: Vielle Vignes Saint Clair, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard 2013. You get the idea.

My first pieces were published at Thrillist this week, as well. I helped them roll out a full-scale guide for visitors to San Diego, with my contributions being the best beaches and must-eat, most iconic foods in the city. I also helped with some of the general introductions around the guide. Also live is the video we did for the Fork Yeah series, which is about the tuna ribbon fishbowl. I art directed and also wrote the accompanying blurb. PETA will be thrilled about this one.

Also exciting, I'm partnering up with Aida Mollenkamp of the gorgeous travel & food site Salt & Wind. I'll be contributing editorial content about San Diego and Baja and will be helping her get her upcoming trips to Baja off the ground. It's a real, tangible way to turn my knowledge of the region into something fun and useful and I am honestly thrilled to be on board. Please, if you're interested at all, ask me more or sign up to be on the information list HERE. We're looking at a late spring launch with trips running throughout the rest of 2017.