Baja Blog

Baja Blog

PASSAGES: BAJA BLOG COLUMNIST SUSAN MAHALICK

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

February 8, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – It is with great sadness that we report the death of East County Magazine’s “Baja Blog” columnist Susan Mahalick, 60.  She passed away at the University of California San Diego Medical Center last week following an illness.

BAJA BLOG: VINTANGO AND QUINTO ELEMENTO IN GUADALUPE VALLEY

 

By Susan A Mahalick

Photos of Vintango provided by Jo Ann Martino

November 13, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--It was a fine fall day to visit one of my favorite winemakers, Jo Ann Knox Martino who owns Vintango. She has been making wine for six years now and this year she only put up Nebbiolo. In years previous she has done Zinfandel and a blend of  Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. She harvested 16 tons of grapes and put up 15 barrels of this wine. She still has 10 cases left of my favorite, the 2011 Zinfandel, which she poured for my friend, Rocky, and I. She is also experimenting with pomegranate wine since there are trees on the ranch. We were able to sample some of this as well and give feedback she appreciated.

BAJA BLOG: SIRENA, THE MERMAID HOUSE IN PUERTO NUEVO, BAJA

By Susan A Mahalick

Photos by Zoë Jussel or Armando Muñoz

November 1, 2015 (Baja, Mexico) - “About an hour from the border, just south of Rosarito, Mexico, one can find a rare creature: a mermaid. Never mind that she’s made out of concrete and rebar. She doesn’t emerge from the ocean, but she provides a home and business for her maker. KPBS culture reporter Angela Carone visits the world’s only naked mermaid house,” KPBS reported.

BAJA BLOG: A BAJA WEDDING, KASHUDI AND BRISELDA TIE THE KNOT

 

Article and photos by Susan A Mahalick

October 1, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--Kashudi is a talented drummer who lives down here who I have been fortunate to hear on more than one occasion. I heard him 4th of July at Angel’s Camp for their annual pig roast, and again right before his ceremony when he played to entertain his own guests on his rooftop of his home in La Misión at 3 pm on September 19th, a Saturday. It was another wonderful Baja day, not too hot, not too windy or humid. The bride and groom picked a fine day for their nuptials and about thirty people showed up, family from here for her as she is Mexican, family from the states for him, his son and daughter, and neighbors all attended to wish the couple well.

BAJA BLOG: GALERIA LA MISION, MY SUNDAY PLACE TO HANG OUT

 

Story and photos by Susan A Mahalick

August 19, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--My life is not all events and parties; there are my contracts, which I am most fortunate to do from home, my two cats, Zoë and Chloë and my friends, some of whom own businesses. It is possible to work in Baja, but most Americans I know open their dream businesses, such as wineries, gift shops, and galleries.

CHILI COOKOFF FUND RAISER AT LA SALINA 2015

 

Article and photos by Susan A Mahalick

August 7, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--Another beautiful summer day for this now locally famous annual event dawned just like most this time of year, with a light marine layer and cool temperatures. The event would not start until 11 a.m., when people have to start cooking their entries on site to be ready for judging and tasting at 2:30 p.m. Booths were mostly set up the night before, with one couple who always has the best spot in the first place where most people start their tasting. Frank and Darlene, who live here, have entered since the first cook-off seven years ago. Two hundred and eighty to three hundred and twenty people were estimated to have attended the event.

BAJA BLOG: 5TH ANNUAL DAVE CLARK SAND GOLF TOURNAMENT AT LA SALINA

 

By Susan A Mahalick

Article and photos by the author

August 4, 2015 (Baja California, Mexico)--The day dawned as it usually does this time of year, with a marine layer clinging to the hills to the west of the beach. It is supposed to be 80 degrees later in the day, but for the game which is supposed to start at 11 a.m. this is perfect, especially in the shade. Thirty two people signed up for the fun event and played in teams of two or up to five. This is a usual amount I am told by Jesse, the cantina manager who has been here for many years.

BAJA BLOG: FOURTH OF JULY BAJA STYLE AT ANGEL'S CAMP AND THE CANTINA

 

Story and photos by Susan A Mahalick

July 7, 2015 (Baja, Mexico)--The day dawned cloudy and cool as it often does this time of year; sometimes the marine layer stays all day, or for a month at a time along the Pacific coastline. At about three in the afternoon the layer was thin enough that the sun came out for a brief time. Time to go to Angel’s Camp for the annual 4th of July pig roast.

BAJA BLOG: MY BIRTHDAY IN THE WINE VALLEY WITH SITARA MONICA PEREZ

 

by Susan A Mahalick. Photos and article by the author

June 23, 2015 (Baja, Mexico) - I met Sitara when she first got here from Costa Rica with not much more than the clothes on her back and a dog named Lily. We became fast friends, fast. She got enrolled in the wine school which has tough requirements, one of which is knowing Spanish well enough to understand the classes and become proficient in business afterwards. I was her very first investor and it is indeed the best investment I have ever made. In a few short years she is now sending her wines to Mexico City which is the ultimate market here and poised to export to the United States. It takes at least a year to become legal, getting a tax stamp for your bottles, becoming a legal resident and the like. Since her grandmother was Mexican this allows her to become a dual citizen with the US. Originally from Alaska, she is an adventurer like so many of us expats in Mexico. She prefers to create blends so I just got a case of her Dolcetto at the rock bottom price of five dollars a bottle. I am going to use some of these along with her new house wine, Ruffian, for a wine tasting BBQ tomorrow on my patio with two friends.

BAJA BLOG: BLACK CROSS WINERY 1ST ANNIVERSARY PARTY

 

Story and photos by Susan A Mahalick

June 3, 2015 (Cantamar, Mexico)--Robin MacKenzie, proprietor of Black Cross winery in Cantamar up in the hills helps to support Pretty Horse Rescue owned by Krystal Redmon. Robin had her first anniversary party on a fine May afternoon overlooking the hills surrounding the property where both businesses coexist.

BAJA BLOG: THE NEW SPLASH OCEANFRONT RESTAURANT AND BAR

 

Photos and story by Susan A Mahalick

May 17, 2015 (Baja, Mexico)--Established June 13th, 2009 and owned by the Santos family, this is the place to hang out, be seen and meet new people all wrapped up with excellent food, service and views of the volcanic rocks being shaped by the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

BAJA BLOG: LA SALINA CANTINA IN LA MISION, A REAL MEXICAN CANTINA

 

Story and photos by Susan A Mahalick

April 20, 2015 (Baja, Mexico)--Located as an exit off the toll road, or Cuota, is La Salina at Km 73. Two exits after crossing the bridge with the estuary to the left as you travel south from Rosarito is a public beach with palapas to the right. It is Easter weekend which traditionally starts the official camping on the beaches, no matter the weather, as Mexicali, Tijuana and Tecate empty out for all the free camping in this part of Baja. Here the fee is $500 pesos, around $4 at the current exchange rate, per vehicle which accounts for this beach not being overcrowded.

BAJA BLOG: LA MISION EQUESTRIANS - MORE ABOUT HORSES IN BAJA

 

By Susan A Mahalick

October 21, 2014 (Baja, Mexico)--In my previous article about Black Cross Winery and the Pretty Horses Ranch, I touched on how important both wine and horses are in this part of Baja. Now I want to expand on a group founded by Carla Jesme to help pay for the upkeep of her horse. She arrived here and fell in love with horses and the way of life in La Misión, with all the unpaved roads and trails up in the hills, along with beach rides.

BAJA BLOG: BLACK CROSS WINERY IN ROSARITO AND PRETTY HORSES RESCUE

 

By Susan A. Mahalick

September 6, 2014 (Baja, Mexico)--Nestled up in the golden hills is a winery that is the vision of another one of our women winemakers here in Baja. The location of this venue was determined by the location of the Pretty Horses Rescue ranch. This part of Baja and horses go together with wine tasting as a natural outcome of blending two favorite activities of residents down here. There is a hitching post at the tasting room and plans are to build a horse trail around the ranch property.

BAJA BLOG: SPLASH, BEST OCEANFRONT RESTAURANT AND SPORTS BAR

 

By Susan A. Mahalick

August 5, 2014 (Baja, Mexico) - Want to be outside, see waves splash up onto volcanic rocks, watch dolphins swim by and sea birds perch everywhere? Add to this some of the finest hospitality, drinks and food and this is a sure winner.

BAJA BLOG: POPOTLA FISHING VILLAGE - OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

 

By Susan A. Mahalick

July 10, 2014 (Baja) - Many have heard of Puerto Nuevo as a lobster village, an adventure in eating experiences. Few have the same pleasure of knowing of Popotla, Km 33, just south of Baja Studios, there is an arch and a dirt road leading into a tiny village full of tiny eateries and curio shops. Unlike Puerto Nuevo, much more than lobster is served up, caught only minutes or hours before it is served to you. The entire village can be walked in a mere twenty minutes. One can bring in their own beverages most places. It is also possible to purchase fish to take home for that party or intimate dinner.

BAJA CALIFORNIA: A GUIDE FOR SURVIVAL IN A LAND OF BEAUTY

 

My Gold Coast: Baja A Practical Guide 2nd Edition, by Susan A. Mahalick

Book Review by Dennis Moore

Susan A. Mahalick, having grown up in Middlesex, New Jersey, has written an indispensable primer and guide for those considering visiting or an extended stay in Mexico; My Gold Coast: Baja A Practical Guide 2nd Edition. The author states: “A sampler of information and interesting things to do in this part of Baja. This book represents 11 years of living and thriving in a wonderful climate with a culture that is both delightful and welcoming to people from other countries It is not just about the low cost of living, it is about an experience of community with fellow expatriates and locals alike. This is what makes this place so special.”

BAJA BLOG: CAVA VINTANGO IN THE GUADALUPE VALLEY

        

 

By Susan A. Mahalick

June 11, 2014 (Baja California, Mexico)--Designed by Jo Ann Knox Martino, and situated in the eastern portion of the valley in the same area as Baron Balché in Porvenir, is the elegant cava built for storage, wine making and tastings of her famous Tango wines. The name, Vintango, comes from Jo Ann’s love of tango.

BAJA BLOG: WHY MOVE TO BAJA?

 

By Susan Mahalick

May 20, 2014 (Baja)--I am not retired, like so many people are down here, but I consider Baja to be my home, and have for eleven years now. I used to come down for long weekends when I lived up in San Diego, staying with a friend in Baja del Mar. I started crying going back over the border on Sunday evenings, so I decided I could fix that problem by moving here. My friend helped me a find my first tiny casita to rent in Colonia Reforma which is close to the power plant in Rosarito.

BAJA BLOG: 5TH ANNUAL ROSARITO ART FEST 2014 MAY 24 - 25

 

By Susan Mahalick

May 9, 2014 (Baja California)--Art Fest started due to the vision of one man who wanted to promote the abundance of fine art in the northern Baja area. Organizer Benito del Aguila Malvaez, owner of Los Naguales, a Mexican folk art gallery, has been putting on this event since it started in 2009 with 5000 attendees.

BAJA BLOG: VALLEY GIRL TOURS COME TO GUADALUPE VALLEY IN BAJA

 

By Susan A Mahalick

Photos by Sitara Monica Perez and the author

April 12, 2014 (Baja, Mexico)--Sitara Monica Perez, the woman with the lyrical name, arrived here almost two years ago to accomplish her dream of making wine. She is not only doing that, but also becoming an expert on the winemakers and wineries in the process. Originally from Alaska, she has lived in Costa Rica and Argentina before coming to Baja to learn winemaking.

BAJA BLOG: MULE 61, AREA'S NEWEST CONCEPT RESTAURANT

 

New column! 

(If you would like to sponsor the Baja Blog, or any column on ECM, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org)

By Susan A Mahalick

Photos by Sitara Monica Perez

March 19, 2014 (Baja)--You walk into a long space broken up by curves of white walls, stained glass windows and a large bar with lights behind the stained glass at the base at night. Both bistro type seating and regular dining tables are available in the main dining room. There is a second room for events or private parties. A very large window at the rear overlooking the Pacific opens to the fresh salt air. Ceiling fans circulate in key locations. The ceiling is made from plastic, clear tiles which provide plenty of natural light.