Show 279, June 30, 2018: “A Gringo in Mexico’s” W. Scott Koenig, Seven Days in The Valle: Baja California’s Wine Country Cuisine

W Scott KoenigNewly published is Seven Days in The Valle: Baja California’s Wine Country Cuisine by W. Scott Koenig. Koenig is known for his blog and alter ego, A Gringo in Mexico, where he reports on food and culture in the state of Baja California — just across the US Mexican border. In Seven Days in The Valle, he focuses his camera lens and writing on the cuisine of the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s main wine-producing region.

“Chefs in Baja California have been experimenting with recipes combining Mediterranean, Asian and Mexican influences with local ingredients for nearly two decades, creating a unique cuisine.” Koenig explains. They often grow their own vegetables and herbs, source meat from area ranches and enjoy a supply of fresh seafood from the nearby Pacific.

Koenig conceived Seven Days in The Valle while assisting the Culinary Institute of America on a seven-day trip through Baja California as they filmed a documentary. “I had hundreds of images from that experience and a backlog of past photos and interviews; I felt it was time for a book on the Valle de Guadalupe. My goal was to tell the story of this magical place through the experiences of its chefs – whose restaurants are some of my favorites anywhere.”

A Gringo in Mexico’s Scott Koenig joins us.


Show 229, June 24, 2017: Restaurateur Russ Bendel, Ironwood, Laguna Hills

Russ BendelThree words — cellar, craft, cook — capture the essence of the year-old Russ Bendel-conceived restaurant Ironwood in Laguna Hills , which uped the ante on the south Orange County dining scene with worldwide wine selections, craft beers, creative cocktails and wine country cuisine made daily with the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients by Bendel’s partner, chef Jared Cook (Vine.)

Ironwood’s offerings showcase seasonal ingredients of the highest quality that are prepared daily from scratch. Guests have the choice of selecting from more than 25 global wine selections by the glass, from a cozy indoor bar and dining area or from an outdoor patio featuring spectacular views of Saddleback Mountain. Ironwood is open for dinner only.

Bendel, a longtime fixture on the Orange County dining scene who honed his craft at such fine establishments as Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach, assumed ownership of Vine Restaurant & Bar, a Napa Valley-influenced restaurant in San Clemente in 2013. Jared Cook also heads up culinary at the critically-acclaimed, popular eatery. Another Fleming’s veteran and certified sommelier, Kevin Franke, serves as operating partner.

The name of the restaurant was inspired by the evergreen desert tree, the Ironwood, known for its hardiness and used for handles of culinary tools. Two Ironwood trees grace the entrance to the restaurant.

Proprietor Russ Bendel is our guest.