I was recently lucky enough to be invited to meet some other San Diego food bloggers and go down to Rancho La Puerto in Tecate for the day.
We were treated to a 'Saturday at the spa' where one can get a taste of the spa.
My day started with being met by Aida and Peter from the Spa at Old Town and being driven to the border. We learned about the interesting history of the spa and the various people that were attracted to it, including concientious objectors from Europe in the 2nd World War to Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis training for the movie 'Trapeze' before anyone had dreamed up personal trainers and wheat grass smoothies!
Strangely enough, eating lots of fruit and veggies, getting in the outdoors and exercising, and all that stuff is back in fashion! Maybe it will actually catch on this time. Who knows!
We crossed the border, applied for our Mexican Visas, then it was a new country. Tecate looked like a really cute little town that I hope to return to soon. It was nice to see another side of Mexico after visiting Tijuana a few years ago.
We were welcomed to Rancho La Puerta with juice, muffins and fruit. Taking a look around the ranch, it was enormous, and it extended as far as the eye could see with the majority of it a wilderness. It is apparently the first cross-border wildlife reserve.
Sadly, my pictures of the resort didnt come out very well, although I can assure you it was very picturesque! One of the highlights was coming across some hammocks hidden away in some trees and I felt like I was in a little disney film, watching the little birds at the feeders and the squirrels on the lawn!
I had a pedicure, and then a buffet lunch, followed by a quick swim, then we were whisked away to the farm where all the produce is grown for the ranch. They also have a beautiful kitchen where the cooking lessons are held.
We met Chef Michel Stroot, the former ranch chef, and he took us through the meal for the day.
People split into teams of 2 and chose a station to work on.
I've never made tortillas from scratch, so I decided to choose that station. They were pretty easy to make, if you have a tortilla press! So much tastier!
Our tortillas were a mixture of minced garlic and jalapenos, masa flour and water, very simple.
Our meal started with a delicious corn chowder. It was very rich and you'd never know its not full of cream and butter. Unfortunately it was a very involved process, so I'm not sure I'll be making it at home!
My tortillas came out for the main course, where they complemented some tilapia with tomatillo sauce, baby potatoes and green beans
The dessert was a plum apple compote with orange meringue. This was a bit of a shame, the fruit seemed so delicious, I think it might have been nicer just as is with a crispy meringue on the side, the meringue was a little soft for my taste. I thought the edible flower garnish was really pretty, I'll definitely remember that for the future.
The food was all delicious, I think some people were used to a little more salt and much more meat in their cooking, so it was a bit of an adjustment although its the way I like to eat most of the time, so I was very happy!
I really enjoyed the setup of the lesson, it was very relaxed, but it was all hands-on, so I learned a lot. I'm definitely interested in trying lessons like this again, a fun way to spend an afternoon, definitely different from my lessons at college!
Finally, it was time to get back to San Diego, Peter had one more treat in store, churros! We stopped at the churro stand at the side of the road and had a delicious decadent treat. They were so much nicer than any that I've tried before, fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon!
I highly recommend visiting Rancho La Puerta. I'm hoping that one day I'll have the time/funds to be able to make it to the ranch, but maybe I'll buy the cookbook so I can dream a little!
I hope to bump into my new foodie friends along the road sometime on my culinary adventures. I was pretty nervous meeting new people, it turned out I didnt need to be, they were all fun, and very friendly and we had something in common straight away that we could discuss. It was particularly good learning more about 'slow food', something I'd like to get more involved in, since it makes me so sad how far away from real food we've got, particularly with cakes!