y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Baja California Trip: Mision 19

Baja California Trip: Mision 19

A couple of weekends ago I was part of a very fortunate group of food writers, editors and friends that Mexican street food ambassador Bill Esparza gathered together over the weekend to celebrate Baja-Med gastronomy and the bounty of local culinary products.

One of the highlights of the trip, and my favorite part, was on our arrival night at Chef Javier Plascencia's modern, hip Mision 19 restaurant.

We dined on a multi-course all-star Chef prepared meal sandwiched between stops at Bar20, the new Mixologia Contemporaneo bar at the same location.

This fifth and final post from this trip covers that unique experience that goes down in each of the attendees' culinary history as a meal to not forget.

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Upon walking into our elegant dining table in avirtually separate room, which our friend Robert held for us, I almost gasped.

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The place settings included modern succulent plants, multiple glasses and flatware. We requested menus, which were written in Spanish. Luckily I happened to have expert on the city and local food, Chuy Nomas, seated right next to me.

He provided even more local color throughout the extended meal and was another person I was so delighted to meet on this trip.

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When I mentioned all-star chefs earlier, in addition to Chef Javier Plascencia, we were treated to dishes by Los Angeles based Chef John Sedlar (Rivera, Playa restaurants), the father of modern Southwestern/neo-Latin cuisine.

Three other innovative Mexican Chefs rounded out the team. The menu was so cohesive, that one can barely imagine there were four or more chefs collaborating.

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Reflection of dining table on ceiling of dining room
With exceptional service along the way, we were offered bread pairings for each and every course. Many of them are shown below.

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Each dish was also expertly prepared with flowing local wines from Baja California wine country by sommeliers Stacie Hunt and Pauilina Velez.

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Chef: Angel Vasquez
Primer Tiempo: Tiradito de Hamachi. Rabanos/charales/chicharron/limon en conserva/habanero/sal negra
Vino: JC Bravo-Palomino 2010

Chef Vasquez prepared this exceptional yellowtail dish with watermelon radishes, crunchy anchovies, lemon jam, sea beans, with a touch of black salt and heat.

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Photo courtesy of Andi Bui Kanady

Chef: Javier Plascencia
Segundo Tiempo: Tuetano De Res Rostizado. Atun aleta amarrilla/tobiko/aire de serrano/sal negra


With that first dish alone I thought that dish would be hard to top, or even match. Then came my favorite guilty pleasure - roasted marrow. I probably would have squealed, but Robert warned me that he saw this dish coming up.

I never had marrow bones on a bed of salt with cubes of Yellowfin tuna, flying fish roe and sea bean garnishes. Unexpected but it totally worked.

The tiny bits of toasted bread and serrano chili foam added a light touch to a decadent course.

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Cocktail: Negrito Sandia

Renowned L.A. Mixologist Julian Cox's drink of gin, watermelon juice, lime and salt served as perfect accompaniment to the rich dish.

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Chef: Pablo Salas
Tercer Tiempo: Ensalada De Berros Con Vinagreta De Piloncillo. Wueso de rancho alegria.
Vino: Paralelo Emblema 2010


And while many tasting menus go from light to heavy, this one went back and forth which really helped with one's pacing and appetite.

This watercress and green bean salad with a springy farm cheese and brown sugar vinaigrette held up as a tasty dish on its own but also cleansed the palate of the richness of the previous dish.

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Chef: John Rivera Sedlar
Cuarto Tiempo: Sardinera. Flan de elote/quinoa negra/flor de calabaza.
Vino: Pijoan Dominica

This savory corn flan topped with chewy, black quinoa and squash blossoms almost stole the show from the also perfectly prepared fish (I think it was grouper, but it was not specified on the menu) on a bed of Indian curry sauce.


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Those at the event who tasted the flan for the first time were amazed at its texture and flavor. The contrasting texture of the quinoa along really highlights the flan. Squash blossoms are one of my favorite ingredients and also very Mexican.

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Chef: John Rivera Sedlar
Quinto Tiempo: Codorniz De Valle De Guadalupe. Chile verde/duxelle de champinones.
Vino: Pijoan Dominica


This local quail dish accompanied by a chile stuffed with mushroom duxelle and symphonic sauces once again amazed me. As beautiful to look at as to eat.

Since we were in a semi-enclosed room, my friend Andi and I picked up the quail with our hands at the same time and exchanged knowing glances, silently agreeing on how satisfying the dish was.

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It surprised me that the white, creamy looking sauce packed a punch of heat. I'm guessing the brown sauce was cooking jus. Chef Sedlar knocked it out of the park twice in a row.

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Chef: Pablo Salas
Sexto Tiempo: Cerdo Almendrado. Papa cambray/aceitunas.
Vino: Shimul-Yumano 2009

Continuing with the meats, Chef Salas' pork loin course with almond sauce, potatoes and garnished with olives and beet greens also showed perfect flavor balancing. 


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Chef: Angel Vazquez
Septimo Tiempo: Pork Belly. Platano/vainilla/naranja/relish de tomate verde con frijol de olla/reduccion de cocoa
Vino: Estacion porvenir-textura 3 2009


This intensely crispy cube of pork belly stood up to the fairly sweet notes of vanilla, orange, cocoa and green tomato relish. The garlicky black beans also stood out with great flavor. It was one of the table favorites.

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Chef: Angel Vazquez
Octavo Tiempo: Pato Anejado En Seco. Persimo fuyu/granada/col de Bruselas/mazapan.
Vino: Vinas Pijoan-Leonora 2009


Even eight courses in the meal continued to dazzle and delight me. This duck course was one of the best cooked, tender ducks I've tasted (outside of my favorite Peking Duck Chinese preparation).

The carrot, brussels sprout and fresh persimmon added a fresh touch to the meatiness of the dish.

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This photo of my friend Andi, who sat across from me, captures the many gasps and squeals throughout the meal. She appreciates food in a very expressive way and it's always fun to dine with her.

This might have been the dish where we made contact and she softly muttered, "I know. I know." Nicely said.

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Noveno Tiempo: Quesos Regionales. Miel de Abeja/mermelada artesenal.

We were a bit worried about having a heavy cheese course come out, but the appeal of this plate made me want to keep going.

The local, artisanal cheeses were arranged from stronger to lighter. Flower petals, honey, guava jam and other accompaniments heightened the flavors.

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Decimo Tiempo: Postre. Calabaza de Otono. Cacahuate salada/chocolate amargo.

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The light yet impactful dessert provided a graceful ending to the flawless meal. The main component was cylinders of a pudding of either sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash.

Accompaniments were a loose peanut bar and both milk and bittersweet chocolate with a flower garnish (which we also ate).

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After the meal Chef Plascencia spoke to the group.

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Chef Sedlar and the rest of the all stars came to the dining room to chat with the diners. It felt good to let them know how enjoyable their creations were.

I never imagined a farm to table concept could be so elegant and innovative.

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We then proceed out of the restaurant to the reception.

The Via Corparativo, Tijuana's first LEED certified building in the Zona Rio part of town, appealed to the architecture buff in me. The ecologically designed wood and concrete building also contains an art gallery, wine shop, deli, lounge and more.

During the meal some of us explored and found this modern, kaleidoscope like vertical with changing colored lights leading to a very high up skylight.

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Mision 19 from outside, at the elevator bank
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As if we didn't already feel like rock stars with the 10-course meal and great service, the evening continued with a VIP receptions at Bar20, where the mixologists served up tamarind coffee margaritas as well as tequila and local beer.

Much like the progression of the meal where with each course I never thought it could be topped or matched, it was. And that's how the rest of the weekend went, as you might have seen in the previous 4 posts.

I hope you enjoyed the Baja Culinary series. There may be a few additional posts up my sleeve from last year's trip.



4 Responses to “Baja California Trip: Mision 19”:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post Wasima! I relived every dish as I read your descriptions and salivated over every photo! A memorable night indeed!!!

  2. Wow, salivating over every photo is a great compliment! Thanks for reliving that great experience with me.

  3. man we totally missed everything that came after the dessert!!! augh! i love dining with andi, too. if you're free sat night, we're hitting olympic cheonggukjang at 8pm.i'm going to link your post to mine.

  4. slatefood, let's do it!! Need some comfort.

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