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Mision 19 - Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Sometimes, I'm impulsive. But, I also know I have an impulsive BFF who'd be down for anything. When Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA) posts a trip to Tijuana, I know we are getting on that bus. This isn't any regular road trip, it's a foodie road trip to attend the first ever Baja California Culinary Fest. The bus was full of food bloggers, food writers, and food lovers. 

After scrambling to get to Union Station on time (that's another story all together), we get on the private chartered bus to go south of the border. 
Bill appoints Gourmet Pigs as the official carrier of the tequila Volcan,
 and it gets passed around for the official start of #borrachageddon.

After a few naps, a few swigs of tequila, one rest stop, catching up with some food bloggers, and tweeting out our last messages before we start roaming, we are finally in Tijuana! Bill surprises us and tells us that we've been upgraded to the Grand Hotel in Tijuana, the twin tower hotel.

The lobby at the Grand Hotel, Tijuana
Our View from our room
There is a golf course in the back of the hotel!
The Tijuana horizon.

At night, we head to Mision 19, our first stop in Tijuana. For many of us, this is the first or second meal of the day. My companion last ate 12 hours ago for breakfast. 
Some of us choose to hang out outside in the balcony while others choose to hang out inside near the bar. 
Our special bracelet gives us unlimited Tijuana Moreno beer and Agavia tequila.
We finally get seated in groups of four.
Bill presents an award to Javier Plascencia, one of the hottest chefs in Baja and owner of Mision 19 and one of the organizers for the Baja Culinary Food Festival.
The menu consists of ten courses with wine and cocktail pairings featuring chefs from the region and from north of the border. Julian Cox is the mixologist and the Someliers are Stacie Hunt and Pauilina Velez. The chefs include Angel Vázquez, Pablo Salas (Toluca), John Sedlar (Los Angeles), Javier Plascencia (Tijuana), and Adria Marina Montaño.

The Tiradito de Hamachi
Rabanos/charales/chicharron/limon en conserva/habanero/sal negra
Chef: Angel Vazquez
with JC Bravo - Palomino 2010 wine pairing

The first course is amazing. The anchovies are crisp in contrast to the soft and sexy feel of the hamachi on my tongue. I end up rolling a bunch of anchovies with radish and hamachi for a perfect bite.
Tuetano de Res Rostizado
Atun aleta amarilla/tobiko/aire de serrano
Chef: Javier Plascencia
Cocktail: Cocktail Negrito Sandia (Julian Cox)

The bone marrow is absolutely delicious. It rests on top of coarse salt, though it does look like rice from afar (some people make the mistake of eating it). The bone marrow is topped off with tuna, thinly sliced and toasted bread, and some micro greens. I spread some marrow on the bread and I'm in heaven. More bread for spreading would be nice though. Julian Cox's watermelon cocktail is out of this world. It reminds me of a watermelon and lime aqua fresca but with alcohol. Can I get a refill?!

Ensalada de berros con vinagreta de piloncillo
Queso de Rancho Alegria
Chef: Pablo Salas (Toluca)
w/ Paralelo Emblema 2010 wine pairing

The greens are a welcoming break from all the meat. The watercress is dressed in an amazing vinaigrette and the fresh farmers cheese is a nice textural contrast. This is a salad I'll be remembering the next few days.
Bread courses in between, fried tortilla, zucchini bread, 
cheese/tomato/jalapeno puff

Flan de elote/ quinoa negra/ flor de calabaza
Chef: John Rivera Sedlar
paired with Pijoan Dominica 2009

A corn custard dressed with black quinoa and squash blossom sauce. This Steamed egg and corn custard is to die for. Visually, the quinoa looks like caviar from afar, and the contrasting colors as well as the soft, buttery texture makes this the sexiest dish of the night. I've never been to Rivera in Los Angeles, where John Sedlar makes this dish every day. Now I have a reason to visit!
Codorniz de Valle de Guadalupe
Chile verde/duxelle de champinones
Chef: John Rivera Sedlar
paired with Pijoan Dominica

This is probably the most flattering picture I can find of this dish. This particular plate displays the cornish game hen in an interesting position. The green chile stuffed with mushroom is full of spice and flavors and contrasts well with the cornish game hen, which veers on the sweeter side. 
I suck on these bones like I have no morals, almost tempted to use it as a toothpick.
Cerdo Almendrado
Papa cambray/aceitunas
Chef: Pablo Salas (Toluca)
paired with vino-yumano 2009

The almond sauce reminds me of the red pipian mole sauce because of the nutty flavor. Trade pumpkins for almonds and you get an amazingly nutty, full flavor. The potatoes and olives round out the pork dish but this one's all about the sauce.
Pork Belly
Platano/vainilla/naranja/relish de tomate verde con frijol de olla/reduccion de cocoa
Chef: Angel Vazquez
paired with Estacion porvenir-textura 3 2009

One of my favorite dishes of the night, the pork belly is crispy on the outside reminiscent of a chicharron texture while soft and tender on the inside, pliable with a fork. The sweetness from the chocolate, vanilla, and plantains brightens up the meat and the beans and chile verde reminds you where you are. 
Pato Añejado en Seco
Persimo fuyu/granada/col de Bruselas/mazapan
Chef: Javier Plascencia
paired with Viñas Pijoan-Leonora 2009

The sweet duck is tender, juicy, and nutty. Slightly too sweet for me but by this point, I'm so full and wasted (hey, we started drinking on an empty stomach!) it's hard to tell how accurate my judgement and notes are. 
Quesos Regionales
Miel de abeja/mermelada artesanal

From soft and fresh to Rustic to ones with rosemary, honey, and jam. My favorite of course is the oldest and stinkiest one. We skip out on dessert, which is in paste form and apparently amazing according to The Glutster (you can read his rave review on Mision 19 here). My friend is feeling sick and I'm not doing any better with so much alcohol in my system so off we go to our hotel room to rest it off for another full day tomorrow. Thanks Bill and Javier, for giving us a powerful first taste of Tijuana.

Mision de San Javier 10643
Segundo Piso, VIA corporativo
Zona Urbana Rio
Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Tel: 011-52-664-634-2493

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