Yesterday I set off to visit the legendary Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico. The Eagles made this song famous in the 70’s|(listen to it here on YouTube as performed at the 2007 Grammys.) According to the locals - Todos Santos was a town that the Vietnam draft dodgers escaped to in the late 60’s. When communicating with home they would discreetly say they were staying at ‘The Hotel California’, hence the words of the song:
“We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device……
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave……”
The drive to Todos Santos from my Hotel (on the Los Cabos Beach corridor) is approximately 1 hour, on the two lane Highway 19. I bravely rented a car for the day and set off on my adventure only to get lost before I left Cabo San Lucas. It turned to to be an interesting diversion, as I got to see the area of town where the locals live, which I might not have seen otherwise. Back on Highway 19, which is undergoing construction, the speed limit is posted at 60 km per hour or 80 km per hour. I soon found out that was only a ‘suggested’ speed limit, as I had huge semi transport trucks right on my bumper and passing me on this narrow highway on a solid yellow line. Once I sped up to the going speed of 110 – 120 kms per hour I fit in nicely.
There were two stops that my Mexican Personal Assistant told me that I had to stop at: Art & Beer for their famous drinks & decor, and Miguel’s for authentic Mexican food. Visiting the Hotel California was the anti-climax of the trip as it was very touristy, but the Pina Colada and appetizers at Art and Beer, and the Chili Reno at Miguel’s were unforgettable.
The bartender at Art and Beer making his famous Clamato drink (above.) It has 17 ingredients and could constitute a entire meal. These are the ingredients, if you want to give it a try: Tomato juice, orange juice, worchester sauce, soya sauce, lime juice, hot sauce. wasabi, dijon, horseradish, oyster sauce, small scallops, clams, cracked shrimp, celery, celery salt, Vodka, ice.
The Pina Colada was served in a pre-frozen half pineapple, with appetizers of fresh clams on the half shell, and a separate plate of baby squid and the smallest, tenderest scallops – both were topped with Mexican hot sauce. In Mexico when you order a drink you automatically get something to eat with your drink. This time I got a full meal with my Pina Colada. The seafood was fresh caught locally that morning.
My final stop of the day before heading back was at Miguel’s Restaurant in Todos Santos to try one of his acclaimed Chili Reno’s. Miguel and his wife started their restaurant 9 years ago with two tables and it has grown into a renowned establishment with recent press in the NY Times and LA Times. The food is authentic Mexican – Miguel’s two sisters and aunt were cooking in the kitchen, and I was lucky to get to see my Chili Rellenos prepared. The decor is traditional with dirt floors and typical thatched roof.
Miguel's Chili Relleno
Fry the green chilies in a fry pan to brown the skins to make them easy to remove. Discard the seeds and pulp inside. Dip the chilies into boiling water (to remove the hotness). Stuff with cheese. Beat up an egg white and dip the chili into and then coat with fine bread crumbs, fry until golden brown and the cheese inside melts. Serve with rice and brown beans.