Monday, December 16, 2013

La gran aventura mexicana (y II)

La gran aventura mexicana (y II)

A great article written up in Jerez, where my grandfather was from. They short story of how and with whom his dreams came true.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Valle de Guadalupe 2013

Living across the border in San Diego you constantly here about the wine region of Mexico, Valle de Guadalupe. Over the years it has grown with many new vintners, hotels, restaurants and has become quite the thing to do on weekends. For me it was more of the opposite. I had grown up spending much of my time down there as my family use to own one of the big wineries of the region. After it was sold, we no longer felt the desire to go and see the slow downfall of my grandfathers dream. 
Los Vinos de mi Abuelo

Corcholatas y Tecate :)
The day had come, with family friends visiting from Spain that we had to face what was down there. At least for me. We started with our first stop wanting to try the famous mariscos of La Guerrerense. Stomach growling and enthusiasm depleted when we realized she is closed on Tuesdays! Just our luck. We were thinking of getting back in to the car but then Sofia remembered that down the street there was another "cart" that she had tried and liked. El Guero, there since 1981, so it must be good. We look around and all the restaurants were empty. Not this one, he had a crowd surrounding him. If they like it, then we must like it too.
Tostada de Ceviche with their Special blend which was every shell animal you can think of. Clams the size of my hands being cut open and cleaned right in front of you. Over 10 people working the cart like a culinary symphony. Oh yeah, these were good. 

Happy and full we go to Valle de Guadalupe. Beautiful day with a beautiful drive, coasting the Pacific Ocean. Passing the shrimp and tuna fishing boats. So crazy to see how one border changes the whole dynamic of the coast. 

We arrive to Domecq, which was my childhood stomping ground. The guard at the door tells us they are closed to the public as they are remodeling and wont be open for another year. He gives us a list of suggestions for other wineries and my hopes were shattered. I don't do they name dropping but this time I had to. I ask for my grandfathers old secretary and ask him to call her up and tell them it was me. Open Sesame :):)

Walking though the hallways, the nostalgia set in of me playing through the vineyards, stomping on the grapes during the vendimias, hiding in the kitchens...the list goes on. I see Esperanza's face and nothing had changed. Big hug of memories and in the end I don't know who came out happier. The offices were empty, the old busy days of phones and people working like little ant farms was no longer. As we are about to leave she asks us if we would like a tour as the enologist could take us. Yes please. Honestly I had the knot in my throat to think I was going to see a new reality that I didn't like.

Bottling my Non Label "09 Gem
We walk in and Alberto spoke like any tour I have ever been on did. As we walk through and try their Chardonnay, which I was impressed with, we slowly start telling him the stories of what was. The stories of the family that made this company so great and made it the home of many. A lot of the new technologies were present. The new juice extractors, the vats, the cooling systems. Very 2013.

Then we make it to the actual cellar where we all agreed, till this day this is the prettiest cellar of all of Valle de Guadalupe. The "cave" with my grandfathers table, all the vintage wine presses from the 1700s, wine carts for the barrels. These things have no price and to us, they will never be Just Things.
Vintage Wine Press

Memory Lane
Our Enologist is now intrigued with more of our stories and starts giving us His "babies" to try. First the Magnum Reserva. Great wine and very indicative of Mexican Terroir. Then he brings out the big guns. A wine that isn't even on the market, that he has been formulating the past 14 years he has been there. We line up to the vat, he opens the spout and out comes the ruby gold. Yum Yum. The nose was so complex I almost didn't want to drink it.
 "The type of wine that invites the second glass." So lets have a second one. Then he gave us a gift with no price. 2 bottles, unlabeled, straight from the vat. Perfect present for my others upcoming birthday. ( coolest part is that I got to fill them :)
Our 30 minute peak into the past turned into 2 hours and filled with moments I will cherish forever. 
Big hugs and time to leave. WE were filled with so much emotion, the thought of visiting another winery we though would stump our previous good fortune.

Adobe Guadalupe, a boutique winery started my Mr  and Mrs Miller who we had met a couple of years back. They had a dream with out a destination. Giovanni told the story after some sad moments in life, they started their life here in Valle de Guadalupe. His passion was wine, her passion was horses and here they worked together to make their passions come to life. As Giovanni explained the horses, I again here my grandfathers name." Mrs Miller breeds the Aztec horse that was started by don Antonio Ariza..."gulp again. I had to tell him proudly that I was his granddaughter and like old friends, the stories came out pouring like the wine. He had not been there long but he knew much about my family as his whole family had once worked for my Opa. In different parts of the productions and as he says," When you drink a glass of wine, you don't realize all the hands that it took to make it come together." So for him as for us, Wine was made by his family too. The Millers were another great family and unfortunate with the late passing of Mr Ron Miller we hope that Tru has the strength, which we know she does, to continue the legacy of her husband and of her own. Vinos and Aztecas.

They sky is turning pink and our 3 pm lunch reservations at one of the best restaurants of all Mexico, had turned to almost 6 pm. We keep calling to push back the time and the chef patiently tells us not to worry. They only harvest the food once we arrive. Um wow. Totally deserving of their Best Hotel Restaurant award from Travel and Leisure.
Oysters and Agua Mala
As they bring us warm rosemary bread, they offer us the 2 hour tasting menu and we trustfully say Claro que si. After all the wine tasting we needed to freshen our palette with a cold one so we tried the local new IPA brew from Agua Mala ( must try). AS the courses came in one by one we felt obnoxious for taking pictures of each and everyone but it couldn't be helped. I mean, I actually ate the oysters! And they were delish! Tomato Salad over goat cheese puree, delicate fish with baby carrot green leaves, crispy pheasant with baby beets. Culinary Masterpiece by Diego Hernandez

What a day. So many new things founded on so much history makes me excited for what is to come...and this is only the beginning.

Walking the Culinary Garden


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

BERLIN is Fresh

A city with a past, a present and bright future...

Oddly I came to this city 3 times this year during various months although it felt like the same season, winter. There is cold winter( heavy coats, gloves, snow boots), fresh winter ( wool coats, shearling boots and sunglasses to pretend its spring ) and then what feels like San Diego winter, 50F. They consider it Fresh, I consider it Damn Freezing.
Keeping with the theme of past, present and future, the hotels are the same way.

  From the past, steeped in History and grandeur is the Adlon. Built in the early 1900s here is where all the statesmen came to rub shoulders, make pacts, and hold elegant Nazi parties. Now it's still where world dignitaries and Russians stay.

Then you have Hotel de Rome, which is what I would consider the present day Berlin. Still steeped in recent history with bullet shell casings still in the walls of their bedrooms and super fortress like bank vaults now used as the spa.

 Their restaurant focusing on haute germanic gastronomy and a roof top bar to enjoy the architecture of past, present and future.

 The new Das Stu hotel would be the future of Berlin hotel, making top of Forbes list this year. Finished earlier this year and located in the hip and young part of the city, Tiergarten.
 Here is where the music producers, start up gurus and model type women hang at the bar and try to be seen and be in the scene. Super sleek but very welcoming rooms with views of embassies and Berlin Zoo. Super chefs of Spain  and the best of the spa world. 
Nearby you have the uber chic Café Am Neuen See garden where the fashion of I just rolled out of bed wearing a 10K€ Rolex, a pinch of fur and ripped jeans drinking Gewurtzaminer .  Lets not forget the Soho House where getting in to Sunday Brunch is worth praying for. Bourgeois Berliners pay high membership fees to hang out with George Clooney and Britney Spears here. Besides that, eh.
Now lets talk about the city. We can never forget what happened as our past shapes us. Berlin has done an amazing job in turning what was the horrific wall into a modern day art gallery. You have the dictators walls to remind us that there is still work to be done, the East side gallery showing the past into present day interpretations and then very cool steel structures that's its hard think it was a wall. Architecturally you have old Rococo buildings, half bombed churches atop modern buildings. . Potsdamer Platz with big Sony headquarters, glass rail stations and a bar named Catwalk (think Milan). Apartment buildings are also quite interesting having a very Cold War plain looking building next to a fancy terrace that looks like it belongs in Trocadero. This city really is full of old and new side by side and it must be seen to really see how seamless it looks.
The future of Berlin is strong. With all this old and new archicture the are also cranes next to it all. Real Estate is booming, fashion and business growing showing a very promising future.  I know this will not be my last time in Berlin...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Travel Center of La Jolla Thank you Notes :)

As my summer rush comes to an end, nothing makes me happier then receiving the endless thank  you emails from my clients.
Here are few that I received these past  weeks that I  like to keep re reading to remind myself ( not that I need it) why I do what I do, and Love it!

Familia Cortina:
Estimada Sophia; No queremos dejar pasar más tiempo para comentarte
Y agradecerte lo Maravilloso que salió todo...
El Barco, el Tour de Turquía,(nos animamos al yate por el Bósforo)
El Tour de Ephesus, el Hotel de Venecia y Florencia...
Etc etc etc...
Bravo Bravo Bravo
Somos tus fans y por supuesto volveremos a viajar contigo...
Y créeme te recomendaremos.

Mil Gracias quedamos felices con tu Profesionalismo y con todo
Tu interés en nuestro viaje.
De verdad fuiste cómplice en el "Mejor viaje de Nuestras Vidas"
Con mucho Cariño
 Familia Cidon:
Sofia, ya nos vamos al aeropuerto! Solo queria que supieras que nos lo hemos pasado genial! Todos hemos disfrutado muchisimo de este viaje! Millones de gracias, nos has preparado un viaje estupendo y esperemos repetirlo pronto! De todos modos para cualquier otro viaje ya sabemos a quien pedir lo mejor! Otra vez gracias por todo. Un abrazo super fuerte con un beso y dale otro de nuestra parte a tu mami por favor!!!
Para lo que necesites estamos en espana!!
Hasta pronto!!

Familia Barrenechea y Guarner:
Queridas Marianela y Sofi:
Ya estamos de regreso, quiero agradecerles el maravilloso viaje que nos hicieron favor de programarnos. Mil gracias todo estuvo perfecto, espero seguir contando con ustedes en el futuro. Un beso.

Familia Bernardi:

Sophia solo para decirte que regresamos hoy en la madrugada y todo perfecto, la pasamos increible! mil gracias por todo!!

el barco de lujo y la atencion ni se diga y los hoteles en bora bora y sobre todo el sofitel de moorea increibles y por cierto el SLS en LA tambien esta de lujo!

luego te mando fotos para que tengas para futuros clientes a la polinesia....

Gracias y seguimos en contacto!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Lanesborough - London 2013

As I contemplate my write up for the the Lanesborough I sit in the beautiful library bar. Piano is playing, service is impeccable and for a woman traveling on her own I feel more then comfortable sitting here ( bad experiences in the past). So I shall start with my arrival to this luxury hotel of london located on Hyde Park Corner. As expected, met and greeted each way through, Bella the "receptionist" ( receptionist seems ok for a Holiday Inn) guided me through check in with her Swiss finishing school bravado and walked me to my room where we finished formalities. She departs, 30 seconds later my luggage arrives and as he leaves my personal Butler arrives to explain the high tech side of this traditional old school Brit hotel. High Speed free wifi throughout, flat screen plasma's coming out of hidden walls, paintings or 16th century furniture. Digital light and air control panel hidden in more of the 16th century furniture and my all time favorite drawer with ALL the international plugs you need. 

I was pressed for time so turned down the tea offered to be sent to my room, but with the bottle of Taittanger winking at me...who needs tea! But in the end never had time to drink it although if I had taken up on my butlers offer to unpack and press my clothes...just maybe.
Quick shower with hot water that comes out instantly (simple pleasures of life) and off to dinner and a party I went. Coming home my room was warm, had enough bottles of water to hydrated me through the night and didn't here a peep from the street with the triple pained windows ( did I mention Hyde Park Corner is a busy corner!).

My tough morning came easy when breakfast of health tonic (celery mint something) and poached eggs arrived with much needed coffee. 

Met the older and younger Michael so they could give me the hotel rundown from Apsley Suites to "regular" rooms and newly done Jr Suites. Loved them all, each with amazing views, some brighter, some bigger but in the end all beautiful. My other favorite part of the hotel are the common areas. Bar, library, super awesome cigar lounge that doesn't smell like cigar and their famed restaurant, Apsley.
Later I went off to Portobello Market to meet my friends and ah the joy to know that the bus stop is literally at the door of the hotel. You can be anywhere in 15-25 min, straight line to Notting hill and for a whopping 2£.  Everything else its already at your doorstep so no bus needed. Now Im ready for bed and sad to think this is my last night. :( There is a reason why I book this hotel for my clients the most!
Buenas Noches