y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Baja Summer Trip - Popotla Fishermen's Village

Baja Summer Trip - Popotla Fishermen's Village

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Club Tengo Hambre postcard
Let me revive my previous
set of Baja posts with the latest weekend adventure. In July a group of friends and I embarked on a short but packed trip to Baja California with San Diego based Club Tengo Hambre. The focus of this trip, besides the omnipresent food, was Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada wine country.

While I don't consider myself much of a "tour" type, and really enjoy exploring on my own, the advantages of this setup jumped out immediately. 

Baja Ensenada Jul13_van tequila

We met with extraordinary guide Kristin at the San Ysidro McDonald's and walked across the border. A couple of blocks away we embarked on the bus where equally fabulous guide Antonio (they are husband and wife) greeted us with a tequila toast, loaded our luggage to take to the hotel and we road in the van to lunch. 

I am an experienced and street smart traveler, but the sheer luxury of not having to worry about logistics, language barriers or finding access to the best sights and spots really elevates the experience. Not only that but our guides blended seamlessly with the group. It felt like a very cool friends were showing us around their town.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla fish mural

As far as finding the best spots, we stopped for lunch, within the hour of crossing the border, at Popotla Fisherman’s Village near Rosarito. I'd seen this ocean town on on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show and could not wait to eat oceanside. In fact he referred to Valle de Guadalupe as the Tuscanny of Mexico so we were eager to check it out ourselves.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla path to beach

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla musician
Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla sand shell
Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla father and daughter tiara

 We were so lucky to have cooler than expected, overcast weather. We parked on a dirt road and walked along a dirt road to the beach. Several boats displayed their daily catches.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla fish a

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla fish b

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla spider crab fishermen

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla fisherman

Everybody looked so happy and smiling, it lifted my mood a lot.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla seagulls b
Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla seagulls a

The beach houses a lot of seagulls, who make their own green contribution. In fact, the fisherman pass their "waste" after cleaning the fish over to the birds and they "clean" it up.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla sand fish head

Makes for a lot less gargbage for sure. You just have to get used to watching them pick at it, and you might come across the occasional head on the sand.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla car grill

Before we sat down to lunch, my very enthusiastic friend ordered sea urchin, right out of the shell, to eat on the spot.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla sleeping dogs

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla El Mirador restaurant a

We chose our seafood right off the boat and headed over to El Mirador restaurant where they cleaned and cooked it right in the open air setting. It doesn't get fresher than that.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla Rock fish a raw

Not surprisingly the fish had the clearest eyes I've ever seen, indicating their freshness.

We feasted on spider crabs first.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla spider crab a

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla spider crab b

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla spider crab c

As you can see, our plates were wooden boards and our tool were rocks. We got to eat them old school by pounding on the very thick and hard shells.

At first I was wary of the labor and splashing, but enjoyed it as a stress reliever soon enough. And after one taste, it was all good.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla spider crab d

The whole table happily ate it old school style.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla El Mirador group lunch

Next came the blood clams, indigenous to this region. According to Bill Esparza, the pata de mula, or blood clams, are also known as concha negra, or black clams.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla chocolata clams a

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla chocolata clams b

That's a lot of shucking. And he was fast.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla chocolata clams d

I did a post including my first taste of the chocolata clams, as a ceviche. The blood clams are a bit more intense, slightly bitter. They tasted great straight out of the shell with a squeeze of lime.

We also had some fresh shrimp, in a spicy sauce with salad, rice with corn, warm tortillas and beans. The beans were as big a hit as the seafood.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla a shrim salad tortillas

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla Sally b shrimp taco

Sally makes a pretty taco. Even the salsas were in symmetrical lines.

Our final course was the fried rock fish. Crunchy with a firm white meat. Simple and perfect. The table devoured pretty much everything, including the head.

Baja Ensenada Jul13_Popotla rock fish fried

That's a huge lunch, and frankly, the only thing that stopped it was the fact that we had dinner in 3-4 hours!

With seafood this fresh, you just want it to last.

2 Responses to “Baja Summer Trip - Popotla Fishermen's Village”:

  1. Antonio says:

    It was a great weekend!

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