Baja California

Rancho La Puerta and The Kitchen that sings in Tecate

Rancho La Puerta and La Cocina que Canta: Can sustainable and healthy actually translate into Chocolate Coconut Flan? Ask Kristin Díaz de Sandi

The dining hall at the ranch has established times for your three meals a-day. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, while dinner has table service. The menu offered is vegetarian, with the exception of fish occasionally being offered. All of the organic produce is grown on their six-acre farm named Rancho Tres Estrellas. Salvador Tinajero is the head gardener that maintains the farm as it flourishes, and provides all of the guests with its bounty. There are hikes and tours offered daily letting you discover the absolute beauty of this farm for yourself. La Cocina que Canta is the cooking school that is set right in the heart of Rancho Tres Estrellas. Before it actually became a school in 2007, there was just a small farm kitchen in its place. Now, the 4,500 square food hacienda-style center offers weekly culinary classes to their guests. Guest teaching chefs are brought in from all around the world to teach at this school. The interiors are just stunning. This is the kind of kitchen that I dream about. An expansive chopping block, colorful details and traditional cook-ware pieces fill the space. There is a set of carved spoons on the wall that I could not help but just stare at.

We met with Executive Chef Denise Roa, who gave us a personal tour of the farm, and prepared a delicious lunch for us. She has lived in Tecate for the past year and a half, and could not stop boasting about how happy she is. I mean, you could see it for yourself, she was glowing!

She gives a lot of the credit to Mount Cuchuma, which you can see from all directions. It's true, there is something about that mountain that is so special, I felt as if I was taking fresh full breaths of air all day long. As we walked the farm, we tasted strawberries, and she pointed out all of the gorgeous produce surrounding us. She stressed about how much her life has changed eating incredibly fresh produce, and wholesome foods. You don't have to tell me twice, I am right there with you. We even got to visit their on site chicken coop, which houses 89 chickens at the moment. They each lay one egg a day, for the school's use. You can't get any fresher than that. After all the talk about food, and taunting us with a couple of strawberries, it was time to sit down at the large wooden dining table and enjoy lunch.

We were presented with a vegetarian Paella, that she actually made from faro instead of rice, corn tamales with mole, a garden salad, and black beans. Oh, and how could I forget the chocolate coconut flan with fresh persimmons. The tamal with mole and the flan tied as my favorites for the day. It was hard to decide between the two, both rich and loaded with flavor.

If you are in the need of some serious relaxation, or just a change from your normal routine, Rancho La Puerta is awaiting your arrival. The scenery is so serene, and truly breathtaking.

Kristin and Antonio blog at Life & Food and you can follow them on Twitter at @lifefoodblog and Facebook.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for Baja, California, supported by a full-service travel agency staffed with local "Travel Savants".Baja.com offers Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. To contact Baja.com, call 855-BAJA-411 or email info@baja.com.

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