'Pati's Mexican Table' explores Baja favorites

Beautiful, energetic and full of adventurous spirit, Pati Jinich has a magnetic screen personality which makes you long to be her friend and travel buddy. Now in her seventh season of Pati’s Mexican Table, the culinary star explores areas of Mexico known and adored by San Diegans: Tijuana, Ensenada, Baja and Valle de Guadalupe.

In Episode 1, which debuted on Oct. 6, Jinich dives into the diverse and bustling scene in Tijuana. From close up images of street food to high end gastronomy, she meets with vendors and chefs alike and bites into some of the most delicious cuisine the city has to offer. The inaugural episode of the new season has her exploring food trucks at Telefónica Gastro Park, meeting with Miguel Angel Guerrero, founder of Baja Med cuisine, and eating with Ruffo Ibara, chef at Oryx Capital.

Back in her kitchen (a staple part of each episode), she teaches viewers to cook up tacos gobernador, a Tijuana version of shrimp tacos, and a chorizo-stuffed pork loin with three-chiles adobo sauce. Drooling yet?

PACIFIC caught up with the busy star of Pati’s Mexican Table, which airs locally at 3 p.m. Saturdays on KPBS, to find out her favorites from the region, the Mexican breakfast food all Americans need to try, and what makes a perfect fish taco.

PACIFIC: On your culinary adventures, you've taken viewers to Mérida, Cancún, Isla Mujeres, and Campeche, just to name a few. What makes Tijuana stand out and special in Mexico?

PATI JINICH: Oh, Tijuana is just brimming with character, substance, and some of the most spectacular food I have ever eaten. One of the things that I love about Tijuana is that there is absolutely nothing plain about it, and there is a rich and fascinating history at every turn.

Name your favorite thing you tasted or experienced in...

Tijuana?

Tortas Wash was my very first bite in Tijuana and it couldn't have been a better one! The most overflowing torta — ever — with perfectly seasoned and juicy meat, pickled onions, ripe tomatoes, mashed guac and fresh soft bread. A thing of beauty.

Ensenada?

I have to go with the Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense (A food cart in Ensenada that was anointed by the late Anthony Bourdain as one of the best in the world on No Reservations in 2012.). The freshness, the bountiful feel, the flavor, the generosity, I could go back for one every weekend if I lived nearby!

Wine country?

The wine (laughing), accompanied by David Castro Hussong’s (Fauna in Valle de Guadelupe) grilled Tomahawk. But a must-stop at some point at (La Cocina de) Doña Esthela to fuel up before heading to the valley with a ridiculously soulful breakfast.

If someone can only go to Tijuana for one day, what's a must-do?

Oh boy. Dinner at Oryx. Wake up and go for a Tortas Wash. Build up an appetite for a Torta Ahogada at El Tío Pepe and finish at La Querencia. For me, Tijuana is best experienced from meal to meal.

What makes the perfect fish taco?

Flaky, fresh fish, fluffy, puffy batter, good tortillas are a must, crunchy slaw and a spicy salsa. It is more perfect if you eat it in Ensenada. 

Favorite Mexican breakfast food Americans need to try?

The corn pancakes from Doña Esthela. They are the best pancakes I have ever had.

Favorite wine varietal and food pairing?

I have to tell you, even though I was so delighted tasting the amazing wines from the Guadalupe Valley, what I was really surprised by, was the fabulous array and quality of the up-and-coming artisanal beer industry. Baja wines and beers are just as accommodating as us Mexicans. They go with everything.

Upcoming episodes

Oct. 6 | Ep. 1: Exploring Baja California's culinary movement in Tijuana

Oct. 13 | Ep. 2: Tijuana: Stories from the Border

Oct. 20 | Ep 3: Ensenada’s Epic Seafood

Oct. 27 | Ep. 4: Baja Breakfast

Nov. 3 | Ep. 5: Mexican Wine Country

Dec. 29 | Ep. 13: Mex’d Up American Regional Favorites including the Puerto Nuevo lobsters

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