La Cocina de Doña Esthela, Valle de Guadalupe

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 0 No tags 0

Why it’s taken me nine years of living in Los Angeles to drive a few hours and cross the border into Mexico is a mystery to me. Well, not so mysterious I guess. Maybe I was nervous, things weren’t always so peaceful and safe down there, and the thought of waiting hours in line in my car to cross back into the States wasn’t appealing either. But the food/wine/beer scene in Tijuana, Ensenada, and Valle de Guadalupe was calling my name. So I answered the phone and was like, “Hello. I’M COMING.”


I went down with my boyfriend for a quick but relaxing four-day getaway. We stayed in Playa La Mision near La Fonda closer to the beach, but right off the main route that takes you straight into Valle de Guadalupe wine country. We ate and drank a lot of great things while we were there, but one of my favorite meals was our lunch at La Cocina de Doña Esthela. The food was homemade, fresh, flavorful, simple, and humble. You know you’re at a legit place when even the free snacks that come to your table upon arrival are top notch. Cool and creamy quesco fresco, spicy tangy salsa roja, and just-fried chips.


But the real star of the show – in our enchiladas, or a gordita stuffed with cheese and chorizo, or wrapped around slow-roasted beef and dipped into cilantro + onion-flecked jus – were the handmade tortillas. Made by that lovely goddess right next to our table in the picture above. Praise.


I highly recommend a visit here for lunch when you’re out tasting wine in the valley. I also had great experiences at: Finca AltozanoCorazon de TierraLoncheria La Mision (get the chilaquiles), Magañas (tasty cheap as hell margaritas), and Erizo (tostadas and local craft beer) in Tijuana. I’ll be back up again soon to check out more of the wine (and food) scene, but I really enjoyed my visits to Lechuza and Vena Cava. If you want to dig a little deeper, Life & Food is an amazing resource for all things Baja. And if you want to see more pictures of my trip, make sure to check out and follow my Instagram (@ubriaca) for this and more adventures.

Empties of the Week

Monday, November 2, 2015 2 No tags 1

I haven’t been posting as much lately around these parts but I’m still here! The Whitney A Channel and some freelance projects are just keeping me busy. But I’m not too busy to still drink all the things (duh), and this past week has been filled with many glasses of great wine. Proof…


While I was taking this picture I was thinking, “The thing I love the most next to the thing I hate the most. What a cruel world we live in where one cannot exist without the other.” Deep Thoughts with Whitney. But seriously, washing and polishing stemware is the bane of my existence. The only thing I hate more is putting the duvet cover on my dang duvet. Can I get an amen?

Wines: 2014 Occhipinti SP68 Rosso, 2014 Luyt Legno Duro, 2014 Foucher La Lunotte La Bulotte, 2014 Folk Machine Valdiguie. Available at Domaine LA

Useful Truths

Thursday, October 1, 2015 11 No tags 0


I was reading an interview with Ruth Reichl yesterday and something she said rang like a bright bell straight through my ears. She said, “Your truth can be useful to people.”


So, I sat there on my couch and thought about how my truth could be useful. But really, I’d been looking for permission to share my dirty little secret, which has nothing to do with wine or travel or cool restaurants, for some time. There’s healing in sharing and not hiding, and with that comes the ability to move forward, boldly and freely. I wanted to do that, finally.

Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine (+ Giveaway!)

Saturday, September 26, 2015 59 No tags 5

I’ve long been a fan of Madeline Puckette and her site Wine Folly. It’s a wine information hub with great infographics, wine 101 basics, colorful maps, and more. It’s an awesome resource for anyone that loves wine and wants to learn more. Madeline is all about simplifying wine and that is something that I most definitely support. Well, guess what she’s gone and done? She done wrote a book!


Along with the co-founder of the site, Justin Hammack, she’s created a perfect little primer on wine – Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. There are food and wine pairing guides, detailed maps of the major wine regions of the world, tips on serving and opening wine, and detailed descriptions of the most popular grape varieties organized by style and body. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s just plain pretty to look at. The graphics and illustrations are great.


Bravo Madeline and Justin! Job well done.

* I’m giving away a supah fresh copy to one lucky reader. Leave a one word comment below telling me, word association style, what you think of when I say “marsala.” I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday, September 29th! Limited to U.S. residents only.