If you haven't driven down to Tijuana lately, the next few days would be a very good time to do so. The third Baja California Culinary Festival starts this Thursday, Oct. 24, and runs through this coming Sunday, Oct. 27. What this means is four days of seriously excellent food, more than two dozen guest chefs and sommeliers, chef demos, restaurant and craft beer crawls, lots of mezcal and more excellent food celebrating one of the world's best culinary regions. (If you don't know about the food in Baja, maybe stop reading and go watch a whole bunch of Anthony Bourdain's shows on YouTube.)
Among the many chefs coming to the festival: Javier Plascencia, Juantxo Sanchez, Maria Teresa Ramirez Degollado, Jorge Vallejo, Pedro Ortega, Josefina Santacruz and José Miguel García. In addition to chefs from Tijuana, Mexico City, Ensenada, Guadalajara, even Japan and Jamaica, there will be San Diego chefs and chefs from here in Los Angeles, including Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Picca, Paiche) and David LeFevre (Fishing With Dynamite, Manhattan Beach Post).
This year's happy events will include a series of themed dinners on Friday night at Tijuana restaurants (yes, this will include Misión 19), wine tastings, cooking demos, food-themed movie screenings, “curbside” dining and beer outings and, on Sunday to conclude the festival, a culinary tour of Valle de Guadalupe.
The Baja California Culinary Festival began in October 2011, when a group of Baja chefs decided to celebrate the culinary renaissance of the region and host what has become an annual event. And if you haven't yet been to Tijuana, a reminder that it's only about 150 miles away from L.A., is less dangerous than many parts of this town, and has some astoundingly good food. If you have time, after the demos and dinners and beer crawls and movies, maybe drive south to Ensenada for a sea urchin tostada. You might not want to come home.
Many of the BCCF's events will take place at the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), including a free Culinary Expo on Friday and Saturday from 1-11 p.m. with local vendors selling food, drink and other craft products. Tickets for events range from $7 to $75. See each day's events and buy tickets online here; there's also a handy tutorial on crossing the border. To view the complete schedule and chef lineup, visit www.bcculinaryfest.com.