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You Can Dine But You Can Never Leave…the Hotel California

Hotel California, 1950We just returned from a wonderful culinary trip to unheralded Todos Santos in Baja California Sur, home of one of several Hotel Californias in Mexico and California. This one, however, with a mere 14 rooms, dates from the 1950s but was reopened in the 1980s. Now this town is not your typical tourist town, as most tourists are bussed in from cruise ships docking at Cabo San Lucas and they only stay a couple of hours. There are lots of Americans, but for the most part they are Spanish-speaking retirees who live there most of the year. We were fortunate to meet Chef Dany Lamote, executive chef at the Hotel California, and the first thing he served us was his version of Tortilla Soup, which is great. We ate there quite a bit because the food was spicy, fresh, and tipico of the area. I will continue this coverage in a future post.

By the way, at another restaurant, the Latitude 22 Road House in Cabo San Lucas, with hilarious signage, just a word of warning about dining in Baja: “Drinking May Cause Memory Loss. Or Even Worse, Memory Loss.”

Hotel California Tortilla Soup

Chef Dany says it’s a “true Mexican staple,” but adds: “At the Hotel California, we give it our own twist.”

2 chicken breasts, cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 bell peppers, red and yellow, finely chopped

1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, finely chopped

1 jalapeño chile, seeds removed, finely chopped

2 fresh Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely cubed

1 medium carrot, finely cubed

1 small white onion, finely chopped

6 cups homemade chicken stock

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes:

2 ounces tequila, Hotel California brand preferred

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or sliced

1/2 cup sour cream

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

8 small corn tortillas, slivered, fried in oil, drained

Fry the chicken pieces in olive oil in a large skillet. Add the vegetables and garlic and stir-fry until just soft. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the cilantro, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pour the soup into 4 bowls and top with small amounts of the garnishes to taste.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.

AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at www.fiery-foods.com. His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

3 Comments

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