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Category: Food and Drinks

Category: Food and Drinks

Though eating out is fantastically diverse in Los Cabos, the abundance of fresh food in Baja California should encourage travelers to spend at least one day trying its delicacies, even if it means staying at home to cook. Most expatriates agree that one of their favorite facts about food-shopping in Mexico is this: It is easier and cheaper to eat fresh & local food than to dine on imported, canned, or processed food in Mexico. This encourages the freshness of Baja fare; Dining out is reliably fresh, and home cooking generally involves a bounty of unusual fruits and familiar vegetables that might have cost triple in the United States or Canada.

The Sea Of Cortez is one of the most ecologically diverse bodies of water in the world, and the Pacific Ocean isn’t far behind with its edible inhabitants. Suffice it to say, fish-lovers worship Baja’s amazing aquatic variety. Abalone and Anchovies are both nutritious and plentiful in Baja and several varieties of clams are found in Sea of Cortez and Pacific Coasts. Conger Eel and Squid are caught and sold fresh in Baja California Sur. Albacore, Yellowfin, Blackfin, Bigeye, Pacific and Northern Bluefin Tuna can be found off Baja coasts. Cod is available fresh and from fishmongers, but most is exported to other countries. Barrilete Negro (or Black Skipjack Tuna) and Bonito are other fish similar to tuna fresh-caught in Baja California. Scallops, Shrimp and Crab are also readily available in Baja California from Los Cabos to Tijuana. Corvina, Dorado, Red Snapper and Jack Fish are delicious additions to Baja’s fresh catches.

The pastured eggs and free-range chickens many pay dearly to procure in the United States are plentiful in Baja. It is quite easy to find a small, family chicken farm in every village in Baja California Sur, and in the larger cities, an egg-lover’s choices for procuring fresh fowl are limitless. And the small farms produce pastured eggs that are not only rich in vitamins, minerals and omega 3s, but also delicious and cheap. Fresh Bacon is available at supermarkets in Los Cabos, and small, local butchers offer excellent, fresh pork and beef as well as Birria [goat], Arrachera, which is skirt steak marinated in lime with chiles, garlic, onion, is one of the ultimate treats for any carnivorous type. The secret to Arrachera is its marinade: The citrus marinade tenderizes a once-tough skirt steak with mouthwatering voracity. Known as one of the most flavorful [and cheap] cuts of beef, the Arrachera marinade will turn this generally chewy belly-cut into the melts-like-butter goodness many find fairly addicting. This excellent dish is known nationally, and is as delicious on Baja as the mainland. Delicious rotisserie chicken is available every few blocks in most towns, and the ubiquitous fish taco stands pepper the whole of Baja California Sur.

Baja California boasts a varied selection of fantastically familiar and wild, wonderful fruits and vegetables. Tomatillos are a staple of Mexican cuisine, and they resemble tart, green tomatoes with an exceptionally fresh flavor and are as excellent in a fresh salsa verde as they are cooked in stews and sauces. Tomatoes are fresh, ripe and locally grown. Spinach is readily available and freshest in the cooler winter months. A Chayote Squash has a sweet and delicate meat behind its spiny exterior. Despite its formidable appearance, this squash is excellent and has a delightful, delicate flavor. Avocados, of course, are everywhere. Many varieties of Lettuces & Greens, Herbs, Cabbages and Squash Blossoms are common in findings in Mexican markets, as are the pads and fruits of the Nopal Cactus. Excellent both raw in juices and cooked, the Nopal cactus pads are exotic and healthy treats. Chiles in just about every range of picante are available everywhere. Citrus fruits, particularly limes, grapefruit and several kinds of oranges are delicious and sweet. Dates, Coconuts, Bananas, Plantains, Mangos, Papaya, and Melons are readily available at small and large vegetable markets. These are only some of the fruits and vegetables travelers may find in many of the restaurants and groceries in Baja California Sur.

Freshly-made Crema, or sour cream is just one of the delicious dairy products that has become a remarkably unctuous staple of Mexican cuisine. Creamy, delicious milk and farm-cheeses are some of Mexico’s most delectable treats and each tastes more flavorful than many can imagine. Having never enjoyed a huge amount of dairy products North of the Border, many tourists enjoy the fresh goat-and-cow creations that are readliy found in Mexico. Supermarkets and Restaurants in Baja California also have a wide variety of fresh cheeses and creams if visitors don’t care to dairy-hunt while exploring Baja.

Now, of course it’s ludicrous to think that this particular food has the same caloric value as a bowl of celery sticks, but people should realize that some of the ingredients are actually very beneficial to people’s health.

One of the beneficial ingredients it contains is cheese. Unless someone is lactose intolerant, consuming cheese can actually be a great thing. That’s because it’s a dairy product and most dairy products contain a significant amount of calcium. Calcium helps to build strong bones. This in and of itself is a great reason to see this food item as a healthy choice.

Just think about it, as people get older they begin to experience the horrible effects of diseases such as osteoporosis. This causes their bones to weaken and become fragile. Eating a food that contains a respectable amount of cheese can help to prevent or curb the harmful effects of these types of issues.

Another great thing about pizza is the fact that it contains tomato sauce. One of the reasons that this ingredient is so helpful is because it contains vitamin C. This vitamin is good because it helps to fight against bacteria that cause things like the common cold and other viruses.

Some may not see the common cold as being a big deal. However, they aren’t taking into account how agitating and problematic something like the common cold can be. It may not be life threatening or dangerous, but it can be extremely agitating and cause major inconveniences. There are times when people have to actually take financial hits, because they are forced to miss a few days of work just to get over their cold. As for viruses, these sicknesses can be a little more harmful. Some people have actually had to stay in the hospital for days at a time until they got over their virus.

Sake that is naturally slow cooled and aged through a series of labor intensive techniques could only produce something like the sake mentioned above. When you hear terms like nama-zume, hiyaoroshi, and honjozo thrown around amongst sake aficionados, and you don’t know what they mean, then you know the sake is going to be well worth a sip. All the words for some reason sound like something good is about to be enjoyed. Although it helps to understand the labels on the battle, it is not essential. You do not have to be a sake guru to love and appreciate Japanese sake.

Honjozo is a term used to denote a premium grade of sake that has very limited amounts of alcohol added and is stored without pasteurization. Nama-zume is heated once before it is stored whereas regular sake is heated twice during the whole sake production process. More emphasis is placed on the natural development of the final product than the overly pasteurized filtration of sake. It’s not like the average drinker is going to remember all of those terms, nor care. What’s important is that you have a very general idea of what it is you are drinking. For example, is it a premium grade sake, or a regular table sake? When was it made and what kind of rice was used? What percentage of the rice is milled away? This information helps the drinker get a general understanding of the sake first before drinking it.

Words like Daiginjo, Junmai Ginjo, and Junmai, all sound like they were made with labour intensive techniques. We are not required to understand the finer details of how it was made unless we are working in the industry. How these terms translates into taste is simply wonderful because we do not know what we are going to get on the nose and the palate. Think, full body, semi-dry, floral, and clean going down you, deep into your bosom. How about warmed sake, what kind of flavor profiles can we get with that? These questions and answers all depend on the drinker, and this is one of the beautiful aspects of imbibing on sake. Rice never had it so good until it married a koji spore that gave birth to moromi, a fermented mash. Taste it, it is the liquid essence of what’s to come.

Grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on whole grain bagel

Tomatoes and mushrooms are best grilled so you avoid adding calories by soaking them in oil.

Mushrooms and tomatoes are included in the 5 A day as well as whole grain bread which includes vitamins B and E, plus fiber and minerals.

Porridge with semi-skimmed milk topped with dried fruits

Insoluble fibers are considered gut healthy fibers as they do not dissolve in water and speed up the digestion process of which the passage of food passes through the gut, providing an almost laxative effect and the oats do exactly this which may help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

Oats however are unlike other insoluble fibers like vegetables as they still take a while to break down keeping you fuller longer while they release sustained energy with additional fruit to boost vitamin count.

Low-fat spread on whole meal bread and a boiled egg

Rich in minerals, vitamins A and D, riboflavin and protein, eggs are an essential 5 A ingredient while whole meal is an insoluble fiber that contains vitamins B, E, fiber and a wide range of minerals.

Muesli, low-fat yoghurt and fresh fruit

Calcium in low fat yogurt provides a source of protein combined with a mixture of both insoluble and soluble fibers found in muesli.

Soluble fibers in this case form a gel like matter when digested causing you to stay satiated longer as it delays the emptying of the stomach which will help you control your weight.

Slower emptying of the stomach may also have a positive effect on insulin levels which in turn will help diabetics.

Soluble fibers will also interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol which can help lower LDL – bad cholesterol levels.

Semi-skimmed milk with whole grain cereal topped with fresh fruit

Whole grain insoluble fibers with semi-skimmed milk will be fortified with minerals and vitamins and with additional fruit, you help build up your anti-oxidant levels which are beneficial for destroying free radicals in the skin and body.

Cake Pops

Think of cake pops as the best of both worlds – the richness of cake covered with silky frosting and sweet coatings on a lollipop stick. Think of being a kid again but with adult-friendly portions. Think of enjoying a wide range of delicious flavors with every stick and you will get why cake pops are popular during special occasions and daily meals. Choose from flavors like chocolate, red velvet and vanilla with coatings of chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache, and colored candy melts.

Macarons

Who can resist the delicious flavors, mildly moist texture, and melt-in-the-mouth quality of macarons? Certainly not you! The sweet meringue-based treat is filled with almond, cherry and chocolate while its flavors include hazelnut, pistachio and almond. If you are adventurous, you can also choose from fillings like lemon, mint and lavender. Even vegetarians will love the fillings made from coconut, vegan chocolate, and pumpkin. And you cannot resist the vibrant colors of macarons, too.

Cheesecakes

The creamy deliciousness of cheesecakes continues to reel in lovers of the sweet treat. Basically, this is made from a mix of cream cheese, eggs and sugar on a crust made from crushed graham crackers, cookies or sponge cake. It can either be baked or chilled depending on personal preference. Your choices in flavors and crusts are aplenty Flavors include chocolate, espresso, and lemon as well as the iconic New York cheesecake. Crusts can come in gingersnap cookies, graham crackers and Oreo cookies as well as vanilla wafers and cookies.

Pie Tarts

Think of pie tarts as combining the best of pies and tarts in bite-sized oh-so-yummy treats. Your choices in flavors include apple, banana, berries, chocolate, lemon, peaches, pecans and pumpkin while the crusts come in butter, vegan and graham crackers, among others.

Types

Ideally a cheese board would have a good range of different types of cheese. The UK produces many cheeses that are not cheddars so it’s important to showcase these as well. Within each type there are differences between the cheeses so a good variety within each type is also important.

Blues

The selection of blue cheeses would incorporate strong, medium, mild and extra creamy cheeses. It would also be beneficial to provide lesser known blue cheeses for tastings as English blue cheeses can often be seem as synonymous with stilton in people’s minds. Colston Basset stilton is a good example of a really strong full impact British blue. Stichelton is another strong to medium and would be a compliment to stiltons being an unpasterised form of a similar cheese. For those preferring a more medium bodied cheese Blue Wensleydale offers a good alternative. Although medium in strength it has a nice acidity combined with the typical honey flavours of Wensleydale. For those wanting a mild blue cheese a young Cornish blue would be recommended.

Hard

Cheddars remain one of the most commonly purchased cheeses and no cheese board would be complete without one!. A good range would have those from 12 months to 2 years in maturity and this should offer a range in flavours. A 12 month old Keens would offer a good earthy cheddar. Some cheddars have a slight sweet flavour such as Davidstow Mature and these would be offered alongside more traditional ones such as Quickes (probably 18 months) which offers a tangy bite and a more beefy flavoured one like Ticklers. A really mature savoury cheese like Barbers 1833, matured for 2 years, also offers a great depth of flavour. Consideration must be made as to the time of year the cheese is being sold as the seasonal milk can have a tremendous difference on the flavours of the cheddars.

The UK also produces some high quality hard cheeses outside of the cheddars. Vintage Linconshire Poacher would be recommended as an unpasterised complex hard cheese with a hint of fruit and nut. This cheese has been described as a cross between a west country cheddar and continental hard cheese. For a parmesan style cheese from the UK Old Winchester would be suggested. This Wiltshire produced cheese offers a dryer and harder cheese than its neighbour Winchester and can be used both as a table cheese or a vegetarian replacement to parmesan. It has a distinct nutty flavour.

UK regional crumbly cheeses would also be included such as Gorwydd Caerphilly and Applebys Cheshire. Applebys has a mild flavour and would be good for people looking for a less striking hard cheese. It’s attractive pink colour can also add variety to a cheeseboard. Caerphilly is a stronger earthier cheese but offers a moister hard cheese with a firmer outside. Hawes Wensleydale would also be a useful addition. This cheese is mild and fresh when young and develops a honey flavour when mature. As with most cheeses it dries with age and becomes crumbly.

Soft and Semi-Soft

Soft cheese would include those with a very soft texture which require time to reach maturity and full flavour. Both mould ripened and brine washed cheeses would be selected. A brie and camembert from Cornish country Larder would be stocked. The camembert having a stronger flavour than the brie. St Endellion also from the same producer, would also be a nice addition to the soft range, made with double cream and offering a richer brie-like cheese than Cornish brie. Bath soft cheese is a camembert like cheese and offers a rich creamy soft cheese. A personal favourite such as Tunworth would make a great finish to this section. It has a fantastic nutty flavour with a rich creaminess which will appeal to those familiar with French Camemberts.

Although the UK does not produce as many semi-soft cheeses as France there are still some that would be selected to offer on a board. As it is such a popular cheese Stinking bishop would be stocked which is a full and distinctive cheese whilst not as strong as its odour implies! Sharpham rustic from Devon would be stocked as a fairly mild cow’s milk semi-hard cheese. A stronger alternative of Wigmore would also be stocked. This is a fuller flavoured ewes semi-hard cheese with a distinctive flavour. As it is a ewes’ cheese it would be in contrast to a lot of the other cows milk cheeses.

Colour, shape, flavour

To make the board look appetising a few colourful cheeses would be stocked such as Sparkenhoe Red Leicester. This is the only Red Leicester made in Leicestershire and is made to a traditional recipe. This hard cheese would bring contrast to the visual display. Another colourful addition would be Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue, Although not made in Shropshire this blue cheese would make a good addition to the counter given its blue and orange colour as well as creamy and medium flavour.

  • The Dogs
    Typically the Lagotto Romagnolo is the dog of choice when it comes to hunting Truffles as they are the easiest dog to train to pick up the scent of Truffles. They have an incredible nose so they can find Truffles quicker than many other breeds of dog. They are natural retrieving dog and don’t get distracted once they are on the trail of something, which is incredibly useful whilst hunting Truffles in woodland areas.
  • The Hogs
    Truffle Hogs aren’t used as much as Truffle Dogs nowadays but they are very good at finding Truffles. Unlike the Lagotto Romagnolo they don’t need to be trained to smell them out. It is a natural instinct for them to find Truffles I suppose you could say! The main issue with the Truffle Hog is that they have a tendency to eat the Truffles they find very quickly. This is one reason why they aren’t used much nowadays.
  • So which one is best?
    They both are very good at finding Truffles but the Dog must be better than the Hog. This is mainly because they are much easier to control in terms of finding the Truffle and not consuming it. They also can be used to find other things depending on how you train them. The Dog can also be kept in a house with other animals and children as they are great with other animals and people if they are kept around them for a while. The Lagotto Romagnolo is also a very loyal and obedient animal so it is perfect for the truffle hunters to keep at home.

The Hog is still useful but requires someone to be ahead of it so the Hog doesn’t devour the Truffles! The Hog doesn’t require training to find the Truffles but they are very hard to control so it is much easier to use a Truffle Dog. The Hog however has been banned in some areas such as a few regions in Italy due to the fact that they eat and destroy thousands of euros worth of Truffles! This is only in some areas but it does show that the Truffle Dogs are better to find Truffles with.

Goat meat terminology

We sometimes use different terms for goat meat depending on the age of the animal. For example, cabrito is meat from young goats aged 4 – 8 weeks, while chevreau or chevon meat comes from 6 – 9 month old animals. The term kid, or the Italian capretto, is also used generically to mean any kind of baby goat meat. Finally, you may also come across references to mutton, adult goat meat.

Cuts of meat and recipes

It’s worth trying different way of cooking with goat meat to see what works for you and your family’s palette. The tenderness of your cut will dictate what type of cooking method you should use, but get creative and see what tasty results you can produce.

  • Shoulder meat, neck cuts and steaks are great when cubed in stews or curries, as is common in the West Indies. Bring out a delicious flavour by mixing in garlic, cinnamon and other spices.
  • Breast meat works well stuffed and roasted -experiment with nuts, dried fruit and herbs.
  • Ground meat can be used in Mexican-style meals such as tacos with chilli and coriander, in burgers, and as a spread on breads and crackers.
  • Belly meat can be turned into sizzling sausages, which are especially succulent after grilling.
  • Legs can be roasted or grilled whole, with olive oil, wine, garlic and rosemary. Try marinating them in advance for a punchier taste.
  • If you are feeling up to the challenge, serve goat in the Japanese fashion, in raw, thin slices.

Goat’s meat is gaining increasing popularity with farmers, butchers and consumers all across the world, as they look for healthy, ethically raised animals that provide nourishing meals. If you’ve never eaten this type of meat before, try one of the recipes for bove and taste what everyone is talking about!

When our first tank of water in the motor home was expended, we refilled it from the RV resort where we had spent the night. Then we found we disliked the taste of the water even when used for coffee or tea! Before that moment, we had not realized there was a difference in the taste of water. We searched high and low for “good” tasting water before we refilled that RV tank and ended up buying bottled water to drink.

Thus, began our education about water and what a precious commodity it is. We are blessed to live in a country that has good water for the most part. There are questions about the use of Fluoride in public water supplies, aging utility pipes and how safe our water supplies are from terrorist attacks. But, we can take many steps to ensure that we have access to good, pure drinking and cooking water.

When we had finished our odyssey of America, we settled in a small town in Arizona. Would you believe that the water does not taste very good here? We love the area so just purchased a water filter for our new home. So, began our next education, not all water filters are the same.

Many people living in under-developed countries do not have good water nor the opportunity to obtain any. It is dirty, polluted and often shared with the animals around them. An article recently posted on the water.org website stated that more hours are spent collecting water for personal use than are spent working at Wal-Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger put together..The water thus collected may or may not be healthy and fit for consumption. For information about water supplies in other parts of the world visit water.org.

Grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on whole grain bagel

Tomatoes and mushrooms are best grilled so you avoid adding calories by soaking them in oil.

Mushrooms and tomatoes are included in the 5 A day as well as whole grain bread which includes vitamins B and E, plus fiber and minerals.

Porridge with semi-skimmed milk topped with dried fruits

Insoluble fibers are considered gut healthy fibers as they do not dissolve in water and speed up the digestion process of which the passage of food passes through the gut, providing an almost laxative effect and the oats do exactly this which may help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

Oats however are unlike other insoluble fibers like vegetables as they still take a while to break down keeping you fuller longer while they release sustained energy with additional fruit to boost vitamin count.

Low-fat spread on whole meal bread and a boiled egg

Rich in minerals, vitamins A and D, riboflavin and protein, eggs are an essential 5 A ingredient while whole meal is an insoluble fiber that contains vitamins B, E, fiber and a wide range of minerals.

Muesli, low-fat yoghurt and fresh fruit

Calcium in low fat yogurt provides a source of protein combined with a mixture of both insoluble and soluble fibers found in muesli.

Soluble fibers in this case form a gel like matter when digested causing you to stay satiated longer as it delays the emptying of the stomach which will help you control your weight.

Slower emptying of the stomach may also have a positive effect on insulin levels which in turn will help diabetics.

Soluble fibers will also interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol which can help lower LDL – bad cholesterol levels.

Semi-skimmed milk with whole grain cereal topped with fresh fruit

Whole grain insoluble fibers with semi-skimmed milk will be fortified with minerals and vitamins and with additional fruit, you help build up your anti-oxidant levels which are beneficial for destroying free radicals in the skin and body.