The Test Kitchen has scored a coup in persuading Javier Plascencia, Tijuana's charismatic chef and promoter of Baja cuisine, to cook there for three nights, October 13th through 15th.
Plascencia has seven restaurants in Tijuana, another in San Diego and, we hear, more in the works. It's worth crossing the border to sample his Baja Mediterranean food at Villa Saverios, where Tijuana's well-heeled hang out. Or to eat ceviche at Erizo Cebichería, a casual seafood place that opened this year. Or to taste the original Caesar salad at Caesar's Restaurante Bar, the newly refurbished restaurant on Avenida Revolución where the salad was created.
Still more are Tannino's wine bar and restaurant; La Tía, which has regional Mexican food; Giuseppi's, a family Italian place, and Casa Plasencia, where the cuisine is Mexiterranean. Plascencia maintains a home in San Diego, although Tijuana is his hometown, and has a Baja Mediterranean restaurant there, Romesco.
If you're too nervous to drive into Tijuana, no problem. Plascencia will bring all the goodies here, among them abalone; live spiny red lobsters, which will be at the peak of their season; Baja clams such as chocolata, geoduck and pismo; young lamb from Rancho Cortez in the Guadalupe Valley; cheeses from Rancho La Campana in Ojos Negros; and Rancho Cortez and Baja wine, some of it from the latest boutique wineries.
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He will also bring loads of enthusiasm. "I always wanted to cook in Los Angeles," Plascencia says. "I love the city and its restaurants. The whole food vibe is great. It's very different from San Diego. People are more interested in trying new things."
Plascencia says he'll cook authentic Mexican regional dishes at the Test Kitchen, along with signature dishes from his restaurants, such as Villa Saverios' beef short ribs wrapped in fig leaves with Oaxacan mole negro (black mole), toasted cacao and mission figs. "Expect lots of big flavors, lots of wood fire cooking, fresh sea flavors with modern twists and techniques," he says.
You'll also get to taste his tamarind martini and what will be the signature drink of his stint here, mezcal with cactus juice, pineapple foam, chapulines (tiny grasshoppers) and salt. And to make you really happy, there'll be no annoying wait at the border on your way home.
The details for the Plascencia dinners are still being worked out. Keep track of them through the Test Kitchen's website.