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Corazón de Tierra

One of the most amazing places I've eaten this year was in Baja California, in the Valle De Guadalupe, in an intimate garden restaurant called Corazón de Tierra, a restaurant that frequent Baja Bound foodie, Chuy Tovar, recommended. We had just done wine tasting at Vena Cava, the winery on the premises of the restaurant and the hotel Villa del Valle. The winery was an interesting space, with three different reclaimed fishing boats used as roofs.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

The architecture of Vena Cava was interesting to say the least. It's built underneath a hilltop, creating its own man-made cave. Eileen & Phil Gregory, ex-Hollywood producer and artist/musician from Los Angeles/Europe are the owners of the adjacent Villa del Valle hotel, Vena Cava winery, and the restaurant Corazón de Tierra (with chef Diego Hernández).

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Underneath a reclaimed fishing boat roof.

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

All the wood here are recycled, reclaimed wood. So eco-friendly. So hipster. One step ahead. Never saw a winery that looked like this!

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

This is the entrance to Vena Cava and the bathroom is behind the people standing.
We had our very own private tour!

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

So lucky to get the whole winery to ourselves for our tour. Everyone who worked here spoke so highly of Phil and his vision for the winery. All the choices seem deliberate and thoughtful. 

After our wine tour, we bought a bottle of wine and headed over to the restaurant, Corazón de Tierra.

We weren't sure if we wanted to eat here or at Javier Plascencia's Finca Altozano but hunger took over and when we asked what the menu was, a server told us simply, "the garden" and we were immediately taken over by how fresh and beautiful and organic and awesome the garden was.

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

The flowers and vegetables were in full bloom and bountiful. I was seriously jealous of this garden. I'm no horticulturist but I didn't know half the things thriving here.
 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Looking at the restaurant from the garden. I loved how the restaurant and garden were seamlessly woven together in this landscape. How perfect.
 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)
 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)
 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

From inside the restaurant now, looking out into the garden. We wanted to sit where those kids were, having front row seats to the garden but obviously it's not cool to kick out people who are already sitting there, especially children. So, we got our red faced bums over to the side so we could keep ourselves from creating a scene.

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Some pictures of the decor inside the restaurant.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Plus the chairs here were awesome. They were made with hand-woven textile from Chiapas. I wanted to take all of these chairs home with me.

I really wanted to take all this furniture home with me. I had to remind myself that I was not to act like an entitled foreigner, asking the price for everything as if it's even for sale.

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Annabelle, containing her glee for what is about to happen.

 (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Dawn and I, right before we lost ourselves for a few hours in the gastronomic delight that was presented to us.

On to the food. The best part of this experience actually. The Pre-fixed meal was $65-68 USD and they use a higher exchange rate so it ended up being more like $68 USD (something to ask about before you commit, if that matters to you).

The amuse bouche was a smoked tuna with avo on a tostada. It was bite sized and the tuna tasted almost like a smoked jerky. The green powder reminded me of furikake but not sure. I want to know more about their preparation!

Cheese plate: Dicot and green beet flowers; fresh greens, and almonds decorate the Valle cheese (tasted like a medium hard farmer's cheese), and Asian mustard. This plate completely woke up our palate. There are so many herbs that I've never tasted before all on this plate. Like, what is green beet flowers or dicot? WTF.

Oyster flowers with Geoduck, avo, red seaweed, alfalfa, and a taquito. The taquito was okay. but the geoduck was refreshing and it went wonderfully with all these herbs. The oyster flowers tasted like oysters but we were sort of tipsy by then so we would have believed anything.
(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

If I could eat like this all the time, it would be a no brainer going low-carb! Minus the taquito, which I could live without.

  (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

The soup course was really interesting. It was Asian flavors all the way...well, almost.

   (photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

They poured a dashi soup over the other soup ingredients which included shiitake mushrooms, wakame seaweed, and CHICHARRON, beans, cilantro, mint, and coriander flower. Yes, chicharron with all these Asian flavors = AMAZING.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

The Seabass, the catch of the day, was decorated with celeriac puree, winter purslane, green beans, and rapini flowers.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Yup, I had to look up a few ingredients. So cool that there are things I've never eaten before right there in their garden!

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Next up we had the braised oxtail dish with swiss chard and beet plant. It reminded me of a really hearty meat stew shaped like a meatloaf. I can't say I was a fan of the texture but the flavors were powerful and deep. Like poetry.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

By this time we were just being wild and erratic. We didn't finish our 2nd bottle but dinner was drawing to a close.

The palate cleanser (mint gelée, lemon and water) came at an opportune time to rinse out the fat from the oxtail dish so we could coat our mouths with even more creaminess.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

Chocolate sorbet, pink beet cake and sauce with orange cream, flowers, apples, and some nuts. By this time we were a bit sloshed so not really taking too many notes.

(photo courtesy of Dawn Kim)

But it was obviously good. The entire meal was amazing. Even the oxtail that wasn't what I expected, was still actually really tasty. Chef Diego Hernandez is a genius and locavore's dream. He seems to rotate dishes frequently, based on the fact that I couldn't find the dishes we ate online anywhere (yet).

Next time I have to try a bit harder to pay attention or film all the dishes, not just some. Thanks to Annabelle Oh for taking extensive notes on the food and sharing it with me and Thanks to Dawn Kim for taking good photos as I ran out of batteries on my camera and my camera phone worked only when I was sober enough to take pictures. As I'm writing about this restaurant, I am just dreaming about the next time I can go back.

If you wanna go check out Baja California (esp Tijuana and Valle de Guadalupe), and you don't want to drive there like we did, Bill Esparza from Street Gourmet LA is hosting some tours with Club Tengo Hambre in conjunction with Jason Thomas Fritz (Tijuanalandia), and Antonio and Kristin Díaz de Sandi (Life and Food).

Another great resource is Dave Lieberman from the OC Weekly.

Corazon de Tierra 

Valle de Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

646 1568030


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