Organic Gluttony Report


Farm to Table events are a worldwide trend, often related to the slow food movement, and the desire for organic, local-grown, farm-fresh and free-range ingredients. Mazatlán is blessed to have had three major Farm to Table events, with the latest one being held this past Sunday, February 12, 2017, on Chuy Lizárraga’s organic farm (Chuy’s Organics) just north of town.

What makes our Mazatlán event so unique? First, it’s held out in the middle of a pepper field, next to the green houses; we are surrounded by bird song, green crops, fresh air and sunshine. The chefs have to plan and prepare ahead, as in the middle of a farm field they have limited access to what a professional kitchen might have. They work out of tents, on a propane stove and open fires. Second, rather than having just one main chef, as is usually the case at such events, our FTT is a collaboration of some of the best chefs in Sinaloa. Greg and I have been fortunate to have attended all three Mazatlán FTT, and I have the double chin to prove it.

Let me get right to the food and drink, which is our main reason for traveling north of town about 20 minutes. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. This year’s menu included:

  1. Welcome Cocktail: Cucumber margarita with fresh mint, Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
  2. Ceviche FISH: Shrimp and pocked mahi, pineapple and red onion marinated in chipotle and garnished with avocado. VERY tasty with a nice smoky flavor complemented by the freshness of the pineapple. Gabriel Ocampo and Luis Vargas, Fresh International Seafood House
  3. Mazatlán Pilsner: Specially brewed for this event and not available at the brewery, this beer is infused with German hops, giving it an aroma of white wine, herbs and citrus. We loved it! A bit champagne-like, especially with the glass. Brewmaster Edvin Jonsson, Cervecería Tres Islas
  4. Organic Salad: Green beans, trio of tomatoes, ricotta and mussels with a red mustard and honey dressing. Chef Elmo Ruffo, Fiera
    This dish completely rocked! OMG! That ricotta sauce brought everything together and made it to die for. And, of course, I’m a sucker for mussels. Having met the charming owner of Fiera, Yamil González, and now knowing Elmo, you can bet we’ll be visiting Fiera again soon and regularly!
  5. Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled shrimp with chimichurri, octopus with heirloom tomato marmalade, roasted sweet peppers with cranberry vinaigrette, and ash-roasted sweet potatoes and greens, goat cheese, and an apple and honey dressing. Chef Daniel Soto, El Caprichito Mio
    Another dish that was unbelievably delicious! Danny Soto is two for two; his cold salad last year was such a standout that we drove all the way to Culiacán to dine in his restaurant. His hot salad this year hit it out of the park as well. He loves gorgeous fresh vegetables just like we do! First a video with Daniel, followed by pics of his dish and the preparation.

  6. Jicama Tagliatelle: The menu said turnips, but they were past their prime in the fields. The chefs then used grated jicama as the pasta, in a sauce of shrimp bisque, mustard greens and green garlic vinaigrette. Chefs Francis Regio and Karl Gregg, guests from Vancouver BC

  7. Asian Duck Confit Tamales: What a wonderful twist on a traditional Mexican dish. Star anise, a mix of spices, orange, carrot and green onions with a garnish of crispy duck, accompanied by caramelized vegetables. Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
    Alistair and his wife Tracey of course organized this whole event, though it is a collaboration, with everyone involved taking on major roles. Thank goodness they tell me we will have another FTT next year!
  8. Braised Pork Breast Ribs: In a miltomate sauce with barbecued duck and mushroom risotto. Chef Luis Osuna, Cayenna
    Another UNBELIEVABLY incredible taste combination! Two dishes in this course, and they were, indeed, heavenly. Another trip to Culiacán is definitely in order. We should be getting a Cayenna here in Mazatlán soon, thank goodness.
  9. Pumpkin Flan: with a crispy crumble topping. Hector Peniche, Hector’s Bistro
  10. Dessert Coffee: Organic expresso over vanilla ice cream, puré of coconut and spices, with a sweet expresso-coffee reduction. Marianne Biasotti and Enrique Ochoa, Rico’s Cafe
  11. Wines: All we could possibly drink of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, thanks to Javier Ramírez of Vinoteca and Oscar Gámez of Cava del Duero. There was iced hibiscus tea for those who didn’t want alcohol.
  12. Trio of fresh breads

As always, we were seated at long tables, which enabled us to make new friends as dining is family-style. There were nearly 300 people attending this year, including two reporters from Gourmet Magazine. This time we were lucky enough to sit with a gentleman who brought wine from his own cellar, just in case they didn’t serve enough. As if! His was great, though—thank you!

The chefs looked nearly as happy as we did when the day was finished. Glasses in hand, they happily accepted our accolades.

Our dear Gail Blackburn, from La Rosa de las Barras Farm, provided garlic snaps and other wholesome, flavorful goodies. As always, there was a raffle at the end, this year in benefit of Refugio San Pablo, a new home downtown for teenage boys—for which we raised $24,000 pesos! Our table was very fortunate, with several winners including Greg!

Music was provided by a strings duo, and they provided wonderful accompaniment to the birdsong and the buzzing of the fields.

The 25 wait staff were led by Andrés, as in prior years, and they did an outstanding job.

Thanks to my friend Martha Parra for a few of the photos! I will admit that sometimes I was too busy eating to get a good shot of a dish, so I appreciate her helping me. We were blessed with a most incredible day, capped off with a gorgeous sunset.

La Nueva Generación/New Generation of Mazatlán Restaurants

We love seafood. Cevichefilete al ajocamarones a la diabla, callos de hacha…. all those terrific and typical dishes we have the pleasure of eating deliciously and cheaply here in Mazatlán. We acknowledge that it’s an incredibly spoiled thought even to have quickly pass through one’s mind, but sometimes we crave something a little different. We want something a little less “standard,” a little out of the ordinary.

We were in luck last spring when a group of new restaurants, run by a younger generation of Mazatlecos in their 20s and 30s, opened. The owners have traveled; they’ve lived and studied outside Mazatlán. They love our port city, and they are excited to take the “best of” what they like in Mazatleco food and prepare it in a way that creates something a little different. First they started adding mango, pineapple and coconut to the traditional ceviches. Then they added pastor spices to the grilled fish. Then they starting searing (hooray!) ahi with Asian sauces and sesame, and pretty soon, we had complete menus of a really innovative, fusion cuisine that are keeping our family very happy.


Our favorite of these is the wonderfully named Barracruda’s (for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, the name is a play on words: barracuda, the fish, and “raw bar”). Run by a group of hipster surfer-types, the upscale beach-hut-in-suburbia is filled with young people, but the owners are friendly, outgoing and always very welcoming of our family. They serve up seared fresh tuna that is to die for, and ceviches, quesadillas, burritos and tacos unlike anything you’ve eaten. You will love it! Greg has even taken the guys there for compadre night, and those old-time Mazatlecos loved it, too. They serve wonderful tajin-rimmed micheladas, mixed with lime just the way we like them. Their service is fast and efficient and the prices are a real bargain. Sports fans will find some nice large flat screens as well.

The one downside for us is that they are usually crowded. Fortunately they are building a second location right across the street (Avenida de la Marina at Durango 335, north of Insurgentes about seven blocks), which they hope to have open in November. While we speak Spanish with them, you can be confident the owners and most of the staff speak English quite well. Many of you no doubt are already fans, but if you haven’t checked out Barracruda’s, please do.

149045_554355397938192_36127251_nThe great news is that just down the street is another of our favorites: Todos Somos Santos (“We are All Saints”). Todos Santos is much more open, so in the summer you get more natural breeze blowing through. It’s a much bigger place, so you don’t have the crowding issues (although it is also very popular, especially with families on the weekends). They have just added really gorgeous new roofing, to keep the rain and sun at bay during this time of year. The owners and staff here are extremely hospitable. The crowd here is also young, but with a whole lot of families and groups. You will love it.

The chef (Manny) speaks English perfectly, having worked a long time in Texas. He makes up a variety of fresh sauces daily that will blow your mind. Then he puts them over fresh seafood mixed with avocado, mango, coconut, pineapple… You can have tuna chicharrón or callos/scallops like you have not had them before. The tostadas are huge and filling. Waiters here will bring out funny hats to amuse you as they sing happy birthday to a nearby guest, so you get a bit of the party vibe, too. Compared to Barracruda’s, Todos Santos has more cooked food and more “entree” type items. Whichever you choose, you won’t leave hungry.  It’s on Avenida de la Marina 800, in El Toreo. You can’t miss it — it’s right on the corner behind Soriana, bright and airy.

Portions at both of these places are huge, and the prices are generally 75-100 pesos per entree.

399866_138666922986126_1737127503_nLeaving Avenida de la Marina and going down into the Golden Zone, in a place that has housed several different restaurants the past few years, is F.I.S.H. (Fresh International Seafood House). You will find it behind Rico’s coffee and Mary’s Hamburger in the spot where Mr. Ace’s stood for so long. The atmosphere here is completely different. Whereas Todos Santos and Barracruda’s are warm, friendly and colorful, F.I.S.H. is modern minimalist — clean whites and shiny aluminums. Here you’ll find wild rice, raisins mixed in the mango salsa, lobster and oyster po-boys, salmon burgers, kabobs, french fries in the burritosceviches served to you out of a mold, happy hour from 5 – 10 pm and live music a few times a week. F.I.S.H. has indoor, air-conditioned space, in addition to the terrace. It was started by one of the original founders of The Fish Market. We are happy to see the creative menu, but personally feel the execution is a work in progress and the atmosphere is still trying to find its way. Pricing in this restaurant has some real bargains and some over-priced basics. It’s a cool addition to our local restaurant scene, and hopefully the kinks will work out over time (this is the most recent of the four to have opened).

Overall, we love the trend. In most cities a radical influx like this would cause the old-line traditional restaurants to take a look at their menu, service and atmosphere and decide if they want to make a competitive tweak here and there. We have not seen this play out yet. Is this because they are waiting to see if these young guns will make a go of it, or are they happy to attract a different crowd? Only time will tell. Until then, we are happy to have some real variety available and will continue to enjoy all that Mazatlán has to offer in the way of seafood restaurants.

UPDATE 2 SEPTEMBER: Since we published this, Muelle 12 owners have confirmed that the restaurant will NOT reopen to the public. It will instead become a bar for Pacífico Beer, at least according to them. They have opened a new place in the GZ called XiBalba (behind Casa Maya/across from Hotel Las Flores). To prevent confusion, we’ve deleted the original Muelle 12 portion of this post.

Cerritos Beach, Otro Domingo Típico Mazatleco/Another Typical Mazatlecan Sunday

I know a tranquil beach where the views are spectacular,

Where rock outcroppings shelter swimmers from rough tides.

I know a beach where both the music and the food are fantastic.

The restaurants are basic, in no way luxurious…

But, they serve fish, seafood and shellfish caught just minutes earlier…

In a shady, ocean breeze-cooled environment. Along with the seafood they serve cold beers and…

Freshly squeezed, ice cold lemonade!

I know a beach where the restaurants are plenty comfortable, and you can’t beat the freshness of the food served, the spectacular views, the joy of the environment, or the price. (Greg and I had barbecued corbina, two beers, and a fresh lemonade today, and we paid 220 pesos or about US$18 for the privilege.)

I know a beach where, in addition to the music, the food, the drink, there is plenty to keep you entertained while you are relaxing, including watching families out for a Sunday afternoon picnic and swim, and fishermen putting their boats in.

If you are from Mazatlán you of course know this beach: Cerritos. Decades ago when we first started visiting Mazatlán, Cerritos was a long drive up a lonely dirt road. The beach was great, and there were a few open-air restaurants just like today.

But today the road is paved, Cerritos is right next door to the huge, world-class El Riu hotel complex, and it lies at the end of a shopping mall that caters to gringos who stay in the trailer park. It is a mere 15 minutes from the Golden Zone. And Cerritos is still, fortunately, wonderful!

If you don’t want to visit a restaurant, you can picnic on the beach. You can bring your own shade, or, even easier, bring your ceviche and shrimp paté and…

Rent some shade: 130 pesos for day use of a tent, a table and four chairs.

If you haven’t been to Cerritos in a while, you are overdue! If you’re heading down to Mazatlán, be sure to add Cerritos to your agenda!

Below I’ll add just a few random photos taken today that I thought you might enjoy.

Fishing net on the beach

Músicosready to serve

Singly or in conjuntos

Natural swimming pool

Lots of families enjoying a day in the shade

Our restaurant from the outside

Oysters for sale