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A revelatory trip to Ensenada last November brought me closest to some of my favorite food experiences in recent memory. Filled with fish tacos, tostadas and ceviche (of too many varieties), that were not only bountiful, but incredibly fresh (oh yeah, and wildly affordable!). In addition to sight-seeing at La Bufadora and doing as much touristy stuff we could pack into three days, our Baja visit was too short. Vowing to return soon, it isn’t always feasible to drive down three and a half hours, despite the perk of tracing the beautiful California coastline, so when I have an urge for some new-found favorites there are a few go-to’s in Los Angeles that can put me into that delighted state—one being Jesse’s Camarone’s—my eatery of the month.

In an eighty-five-seat restaurant off West Adams Blvd, nearest USC, with red vinyl booths and a couple TVs piping in telenovelas and deportes (depending on the time and day), there lies an unassuming seafood joint that turns out delicious fish tacos and the best damn aguachile I’ve had yet.

While better fish tacos might be had elsewhere (arguable, but that isn’t where I will hang my hat), I’ve searched for far and wide for aguachile—a shrimp and serrano pepper ceviche in simple terms—everywhere and Jesse’s has perfected it. Served in parfait glass, agchile_jesse_img_3162overflowing with a deep green of cilantro, raw red onions and shrimp that is accompanied by a basket of tostadas, soda crackers and halved limes.

I will not make the claim for authenticity, a tricky subject that is better left to a food historian’s thesis, but I will say that there few things, for my money (around five dollars), as perfect as this. I have had many other takes including refined and dressed up versions, where shrimp is forgone for bay scallops, or the sauce is concentrated, but those constantly seem to underwhelm. There is something to that dripping broth and intense spice of undiluted proportions that leaves me wanting more. A lot more! The best part is that it is fresh and light, so while your taste buds will be nearly spiced-out, there is still room for more… like their fish tacos or something even more substantial.

Jesse’s doesn’t skimp on flavor; the prices and portions are generous and the wait staff is always friendly. This is a neighborhood gem and I am happy to have found it. It’s with their consistency and quality that I write that they are worth a stop if you are itching for a spicy starter or just in town to catch a show at the Shrine. Not the same as a trip to Baja, California, but indelible all the same.

 

tongueEvolution of taste shouldn’t be surprising; it’s a fact that when I started this blog my penchant for hamburgers and a glass of wine was insatiable rather than just a passing trend. Time passed. Burgers have been supplanted by aguachile, and my wines, which were once mostly red, have been more and more exchanged for white wines and bubbles. My musical tastes have taken a dramatic swing too, widening genres so that I am often sifting through country and classical music crates at flea markets, trying to satisfy my analog cravings, as opposed to having my tastes rooted in the Pacific Northwest for all its indie rock iterations. These changes are positives… with more exposure comes the ability to home in on new favorites, travel to new places (figuratively and literally), and enrich my foundation. These changes will also help me reengage with writing and shift my focus on this space—not limiting my scope to only hamburgers and wine, but to open it up to new wine and new music—amidst all the changes in my life these two different activities have had me enthused and enthralled consistently, and I will try to weave them organically together in this column going forward.

Before I go head first into Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in e or Little Jimmy Dickens’ ‘Country Boy’ and try to find a wine, subjectively, that complements both,—though, I will try to keep this less restrictive and make it a whole lot more playful… I also encourage you, the reader, to get involved and issue recommendations to broaden my palate like a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi over grilled chicken tails (couldn’t resist!).

In terms of output, I don’t want to put heavy expectations on my writing like Kliff Kingsbury, in resurrecting my site. However, I do have more free time and this can prod me, along with piano practice, to stimulate myself in those idle moments, that just scrolling through Netflix and falling asleep on my couch cannot possibly do. I know this smacks of a New Year’s resolution, but unlike most of those made with wide-eyed inspiration at the turn of the calendar year, this is easier to maintain on my current schedule.

No rebranding is necessary with the rebirth of this site—although there is nothing overly maverick about me—I will still adhere to keeping this blog approachable for those who are beginners in wine, music and food as I am by no means an expert. It’s true that my love for Zinfandel has waned—save finickiness for the right producer—and hamburgers are no longer required weekly fare, I hope to preserve the same carefree attitude since… little Jimmy and I can both agree that “[we] hate those folks who think that they’re so doggone high falutin .”

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Wine of the Month

Roumier Morey St. Denis 'Clos de la Bussiere' 2008

Eatery of the Month

aguachile

Jesse's Camarones Restaurant

Musical Accompaniment

Glenn Kotche’s ‘Ping Pong Fumble Thaw’  by The Brooklyn Rider Almanac