Welcome, bienvenidos to Cook and the Fly
In this blog you'll find Mexiterranean food pictures and recipes, fishing stories, random thoughts and snippets of my new life in Southern Baja.


Love this old boy

Finally got to get to work on the big old parrilla .

When we moved in this old guy was in a pathetic state: a bunch of burnt old adobe bricks and, surprise, a truly vintage ice box...don't ask  ; )

The old ice box and the first two rows of bricks...

Basically I stripped it all, well almost... down , placed the parts on the ground in reverse order, and built it back up; not that diferent from stripping and cleaning a reel.

Here's a little mod I did:

Left side to build ambers

Right side to cook on

I originally wanted to build in a grill made of re-bar, but this way it's easier to clean....

Anyway, a couple of days to dry it out and then we'll fire it up!

I think that for the Time for a shower and a couple Tylenols; Lord, I feel old, sometimes......


Roasted bone marrow, prawn and parsley salad

These frigid days, by Los Cabos standards, made me think of something with a little "fat punch", as a defense against the elements...  lame excuse, I know  ; )

A cute , little salad that packs a lot of flavour and different textures; here it goes:

Start by heating the oven to the max and peeling and devein the prawns ( baby lobster tails, shrimp, langostinos.... they all would work)

Place the bones, cut side down, in a hot ovenproof skillet and sear them nicely, top and bottom first and then all around. When they're nice and browned place them in the oven for around 5 more minutes.

In the while pick a whole bunch of Italian parsley leaves and place them in a mixing bowl with a touch of freshly smashed garlic, cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt.

Mince some shallot and reserve.

Now, carefully, take the bones out of the oven and, quickly, push/scape the marrow out of them and into the bowl.

Add a splash of best olive oil to the fat in the skillet, briefly sautee the shallot in it and add and cook the prawns.

Take the prawns out and place them in the bowl as well .

Reheat the fat and, once it's HOT, deglaze the skillet with a healthy splash of good vinegar ( not balsamic, though...), let it bubble a few seconds  and pour it into the bowl and onto the salad .

Toss well and serve immediately with toasted bread and e few more grains of salt and pepper.

Enjoy it with a good mid bodied, softer red wine, like a Barbera or a Bonarda.



Beach Boys. Fly fishing for roosterfish from the beach , by G. Graham

Hy guys,
the following is a very good article on beach fly fishing for roosterfish that I just found on Bloody Decks.com and it's by the great Gary Graham.
I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Good reading,


Long before I first visited Baja, I was dazzled by Ray Cannon. His stories of a sparkling blue sea teeming with fish convinced me that I had to go there someday. And when I finally made it, I discovered a desert surrounded by salt water and the most remarkable beaches.
By the early 1980s, my fascination with fishing Baja beaches had become an obsession. Settling in East Cape, the heart of the best beaches Baja has to offer, I gary grahambrought one of the first ATVs to the area, equipping it with rod holders, and storage cartons so I could go farther and faster, exploring the 30-plus miles of beach.
Fishing for roosterfish from the beach was and is my personal favorite, without a boat, captain or guide to rely on — just angler and rooster — toe-to-comb. Roosterfish are often so intent on feeding that they literally chase their quarry onto the damp sand and then, after catching the fleeing baitfish, flop back into the safety of the water.
The East Cape beach alternates from sand to rock under a searing sun. It has more mood swings than any mother-to-be and demands to be taken seriously, alternating from flat calm to windy conditions, coarse to powdery sand, steep berm to no berm to slippery rocks. Physical fitness is a must and so is protection from the intense sun.
gary grahamDuring the next decade, our fleet of ATVs grew. Many, many fish later, we decided to offer guided beach trips through our company, Baja on the Fly (bajaonthefly.com). The trips became an instant hit.
In 2007, East Cape beaches experienced a "River Runs Through It" moment when Frank Smethurst released his award-winning film "Running Down the Man." The film featured determined anglers clothed in technical duds with faces hidden by buffs and sunglasses as they sped down a dusty desert road in a dune buggy with fly rods strapped firmly in place. Droves of fly-rodders swarmed East Cape beaches in search of the enormous roosterfish featured in the film. Once deserted beaches became more crowded than the rivers, streams and lakes the freshwater anglers left behind.baja mexico
Last July, longtime guide Lance Peterson and I hosted a group of four experienced anglers at Buena Vista Beach Resort. After viewing Smethurst's film, the anglers had set their sights on roosterfish from an East Cape beach to add to their bucket list.
The first night, the group gathered on the resort's terrace overlooking the shimmering Sea of Cortez. We opened bags and checked and rigged tackle as we discussed the plans and strategy for the upcoming days.
We used 9-foot, 10-weight fly rods with direct-drive reels loaded with 30-pound braid for backing. A Scientific Angler's intermediate tarpon taper was the fly line of choice, except on the windiest days when we needed a shooting head to cut through the blow.
While roosters don't have teeth, their abrasive mouths can wear through a leader quickly. A minimum of a 6-foot, 20-pound test leader is a must and a bite tippet for larger fish is a good idea. I prefer a 9-foot tapered 20-pound tippet reversed with the loop at the tippet end instead of the butt section to create a knotless leader. Monofilament leaders are okay but fluorocarbon, which is less visible and more abrasion resistant will improve the odds.band
It's not uncommon to fish with a steep berm and coarse sand behind the caster, making it difficult to avoid on the back cast, and this constant contact weakens the leader. Takes don't come easy, and breaking off a fish because of leader failure is devastating. Loop knots fail frequently on the beach so we use a palomar or San Diego knot.
Since none of the group had ever caught a roosterfish, the primary goal was for every person in the group to land their first rooster on the fly — regardless of size.
Over a dinner of fresh-caught fish that evening, the guys could barely contain their excitement as we discussed techniques. Each morning for the next three days the panga would depart before sunup with two anglers, load up with sardina for chum and fish for a few hours before catching up with the rest of the group on the beach.


Strip It

Fishing for roosters with a fly from shore requires an understanding of how to adapt your presentations to the fish's behavior. Roosterfish can be difficult to turn with a fly, let alone be coerced into a take. Remember, 25 gary grahamyears ago many thought the only way you could catch a roosterfish was to slow-troll bait. Guys considered any fish caught on an artificial lure a fluke.
For a shot at a rooster from shore, you'll need to locate a promising stretch of beach where the bait has congregated and wait. Eventually the fish will come and when they do, the angler has ample time to set up for a good presentation. While the run-and-gun style of racing up and down the beach to crashing fish can be productive and great fun, it's exhausting and frustrating. It's more important to be in position when the opportunity occurs. Sure, there will be a few opportunities where sloppy presentations are acceptable, but the patient angler who waits to make the presentation is usually rewarded with the highest percentage of takes.
Blind casting is a low-percentage play — hit or miss at best. Big roosters don't stack up along the beach like salmon in a stream. They move all the time.
Catching big roosters — Bubba-class fish over 25 pounds — is all about reacting to each fish as an individual experience. Some fish come in hot and fast, others slow and deliberate, and still others change their energy level mid-retrieve. Begin with a basic retrieve, quick and aggressive but be ready to react to each event, changing or slowing the retrieve to keep a fish hot and glued to the fly.
big roosterfish
Anglers must understand that stripping mechanics make the fly work its magic. This is where many anglers come up short. The best anglers at this game strip and retrieve with intensity. Their eyes glued to the fly, they make constant adjustments based on the fish's behavior. An angler with a strong background in tarpon or permit, for example, often steps into the rooster fishery with a big advantage.
Similar to flats fishing, sight casting along East Cape beaches for Bubba-sized roosters is one of the most challenging and rewarding techniques. From mid-morning until mid-afternoon, the bright Baja sun lights up the shallows making it easy to spot fish within casting range.
Sometimes the fish appear beyond casting range. Instead of taking a shot, follow the fish as it moves down the beach. Many times it will come in closer. This is where things can get physical. You might be walking or running as you follow the fish before it comes into casting range. Having a partner with a teasing rod can sometimes entice the fish in closer. It's a team endeavor and it takes coordination between teaser and fly-caster. But when it comes together, it's a blast!

Fly of Choice

One of the most productive roosterfish flies is the Mona Lisa (lisa means mullet in Spanish), a pattern that Lance Peterson evolved over a number of years. Lance had early successes with larger roosterfish from shore fly fishingusing big silicone-head flies, between 5 and 10 inches long, originally conceived by Bob Popovics for offshore fishing. These offerings in subdued colors like beige and olive, matching the size and natural colors of the mullet prompted consistent, positive responses from bigger roosterfish.
Lance and Josh Dickinson, a fellow Baja on the Fly guide, tied a variety of big brown flies that not only triggered aggressive responses but occasionally hooked a large rooster. It didn't take them long to realize that fishing big, fully dressed flies also came with draw backs. Casting a "wet mop" just doesn't lend itself to quick, accurate casts that the East Cape beach fishery demands.
The fly that evolved is simple — a full-headed fly that pushed some water, coupled with a tail made from just enough material to create the illusion of size. A spun deer hair head combined with an appropriate tail resulted in a fly large enough to draw attention but it's easy to cast and tracks straight when retrieved at any speed. The "Mona Lisa" was born.

Back to East Cape

Early the following morning, we spotted the hotel panga less than a football field away from the dock — both anglers with bent rods silhouetted in the mango-colored sunrise.
During the following three days the routine remained the same. Panga in the morning, hit the beach about 10 a.m. and fish until the light diminished in the afternoon.
buenavista hotel
The action was great for the smaller roosters, but the larger fish were fewer and more difficult. Though we hooked several big roosterfish on the beach, they all got off, which is to be expected because of the steep learning curve involved in catching big ones. Every angler, however, landed a roosterfish on fly and got to check it off their bucket list.
One final note, please practice CPR — Catch, Photograph and Release. Don't let the captain or crew con you into keeping the fish! These fish are NOT good eating and even if it takes awhile to revive a roosterfish, it will have a better chance in the water than lying on the deck of a boat.
For hotel and fishing options on the East Cape, contact Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort at 800-752-3555 or visit www.hotelbuenavista.com.


Swordfish "braciole" with fried tomato sauce

I would like to start saying that I do not support the sale and commercial fishing of ANY kind of bill fish but, hey! couldn't pass this perfect piece of swordfish I saw at the market ...

This recipe is a  take on a traditional meat entree from Southern Italy and it truly works out really, really well.

Ooops! Crappy picture..   ; )

Start with the sauce, because the rest of the dish comes together pretty fast.

Basic, easy and simple tomato sauce...saute in olive oil some onion and a few chili flakes, salt it and, when soft and starting to get colour add slivered garlic and diced tomatoes and the herb of your choice ( I go with basil...).

Cover wit a lid and let cook  slowly till tomatoes gets undone; at this point hit it briefly with a blender and reserve. Note: sauce should be quite watery, still.

For the braciole: mix 2 parts of bread crumbs and 1 part of ground aged, sharp sheep's cheese.

To this add finely chopped garlic to taste, plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley ( the curly one is just...grass..),  s&p, a bit of nutmeg, raisin, toasted pinenuts and diced capicollo or salame - good aged Spanish chorizo works great too....

Slice the swordfish loin in half inch thick slices, butterfly them and, with the help of some plastic wrap,lightly pound them.

Sprinkle a generous amount of the bread/cheese mixture on the fish and gently roll it up: keep it shut with a couple toothpick and dredge in flour.

Saute in olive oil until golden, splash with dry white wine, let evaporate, add tomato sauce and simmer uncovered until done - around 5 more minutes.

While serving it atop pasta would be a natural, I personally prefer sauteed greens with this...and a good glass of Greco di Tufo, Lacrima Christi, Trebbiano or Orvieto.



Yellowtail and pumpkinseed with balsamic and honey vinaigrette

Yellowtail or, if you want to sound fancy, hamachi, is one of the ingredients that throughout the winter months you can be sure to find fresh every day at the market, here in Southern Baja.

Once in a while I get to enjoy a panga fishing outing, almost every time as a guest of one of my clients.
Today it was no exception...what we do for our business, right?

Here's a quick and slightly different way to prepare a piece of raw, top grade yellowtail.

Fresh from the Sea of Cortez

Start by making sure every utensil you're going to use for this preparation is well cleaned and sanitized, with special attention to the cutting board and your hands.

Slice the "loin" in finger size strips and arrange them on a platter.

In a dry skillet, over medium heat, toast a handful of pumpkin seeds, pepitas in Spanish; you'll know they're ready because they'll start popping and jumping right out of the pan and onto your hands... ouch!

While the pepitas cool down, mince some shallot and  a tiny bit of garlic and mix  with 3 measures of extra virgin olive oil, 1 measure of lemon or lime juice, 1 measure of GOOD balsamic vinegar, s&p and a bit of  honey to balance the dressing.

Chop the pumpkin seeds and add them to the dressing; mix well and pour over the fish slices.

Simple as that...you can add some hot peppers and some cilantro, if you like, and serve it with a cold beer and grilled country bread.



Guess who's coming for dinner?

Last night we had an unexpected guest for dinner.
She showed up announced only by a loud thud on the French window of the palapa.
After seeing something jumping convulsively under a Palo de Arco tree I walked outside to see what was going on and I eventually found this wounded dove.

Brought it inside for a brief examination and noticed with pleasure that beside a small cut on the head and a visible state of shock it was ok.
I placed it in a bowl, covered it with a bandanna and kept Pita, the cat, at bay.

Hungry eyes...

The second I got distracted by the almost burning dinner, the beast was on it already.
Feathers flying all over the kitchen, the bird managed to fly up onto the ceiling fan where it stayed well out of reach of Pita and Tony, who by now was looking forward to an unscheduled snack of raw, organic, wild protein.

As Lupita arrived we decided that the bird had recovered from the crash and, yes, it could fly.
She gently placed it in a tree, outside of the kitchen window and out of reach of the two possessed animals that stayed locked inside for the night.
As we left this morning we checked the tree and noticed with a note of optimism that the dove left the tree and flew away.

I know this is a little different story from the what I usually post... rest assured that if the dove would have been of a larger variety we would have a recipe and food shots instead of a "bleeding heart" post  ;   )
I spent half of mine hunting for them, cooking them and eating them and now .....
Such is life, isn't it?


Chayote squash soup

Here's a good a chilled soup for the warm summer evenings to come that uses traditional Mexican ingredients and classic European techniques that will come handy for a bunch of other recipes.

Start with sauteing 1 measure of diced onion, 1 measure of diced potato and a bit of seeded and deveined jalapeño pepper ( to taste ) in olive oil, making sure the onion doesn't get any colour.

Once the onion is soft, add 2 measures of diced chayote squash and keep cooking and stirring until translucent. If you're using the thornless variety, you can leave the skin on, it will help the colour.

If you can find it, in your local atin market, add a good sprig of epazote... if epazote is not available, after tasting the  base , use the herb of your liking or a bit of cilantro.

Transfer the vegetables to a food mill, a robot or a blender and puree.

Season with s&p, add water in a 1 to 3 ratio, put the soup back on the stove and simmer uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Let chill and serve with a splash of olive oil and your choice of topping....croutons, baked spiced tortilla strips, yogurt, queso fresco..you name it.

If you rather enjoy it warm, try and top it with bacon bits and/or crumbled chicharrones ( crispy pork rind).

Buen provecho!


The Liebster Blog Award

Logged on yesterday morning and found this nice surprise...
Thank you Colette   http://cakesbakesandotherbits.blogspot.com/  for the nomination!
Nice way to start the week.

Liebster Award

I was chosen by Colette from Cakes, Bakes and Other Bits as one of her 5 Liebster Blog Award winners. Colette is a blogger from Ireland . Colette's blog is a mostly about baking and Ireland travel.
Allow me to quote Colette in explaining how this works:

"This Award is about promoting smaller blogs with less than 200 followers, which you think deserves special recognition.

There are a few simple rules to follow. In order to accept the award, the recipient will:-

Thank the person who gave you the Award, and link back to that person's Blog

Copy and Paste the Award to your Blog

Choose 5 more blogs to award, and let the writers know by leaving a comment."
 Here are the 5 blogs the I selected.
http://www.nuevacocinapopularmexicana.com/  Manuel is a Mexican chef living and working in Spain, promoting what he calls "New Mexican Popular Cuisine". The main focus is on preserving the heritage and identity of Mexican cuisine.
http://amonosrecio-collective.blogspot.com/   Located in the Valle de Guadalupe, the Mexican equivalent of Napa or Chianti regions, these guys are working hard to promote the use of local and sustainable ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Here too a lot of work is done to protect Mexican identity even though innovation is often welcomed. Truly recommended.

http://crostiniandchianti.blogspot.com/  I did not know about this blog until I read about it in Colette's.
Great Italian inspired recipes and good writing as well.

http://thesundaybottles.wordpress.com/ This one came as a surprise. I knew Craig from Los Cabos, where we worked together.
I knew he is a skilled comedian, but I had no idea he's also a good cook and an even better wine aficionado. He currently lives in  the Mayan Riviera, a part of Mexico I came to love. Must check it out.

http://www.marchedimanche.com/ In a few words as possible... great food, great pictures, great reading...
So, here you have them, my 5 favourites.
Hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.
Emilio   ; )


Parmigiano and lemon crusted lamb

Really easy, quick and tasty.

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Begin with seasoning some flour with salt & pepper;beat a couple eggs with a splash of milk
and a pinch each of S&P; mix equal parts of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano and
ground bread, to which you'll add a bit of grated lemon zest, salt & pepper.

In order to keep things clean and easy start with setting up your breading station; you'll
need one bowl for the flour; one bowl for the beaten eggs; one bowl for the Parmigiano mix.

Butterfly each lamb chop and bread them by coating them in flour first, then dipping them
in the beaten egg and eventually pushing them in the cheese and bread mix with the palm of
your hand; this will smash and flatten the chop nicely and will make for a good, firm

Now you're ready to fry. I personally like to fry this in 3 parts of butter and 1 part of
corn oil, on medium high heat.

When the fat is hot enough you'll slide the chops into the pan, carefully, and fry them
till nicely golden; be careful because the Parmigiano crust will turn from golden crispy
to burnt in a matter of seconds.

Briefly drain the chops on kitchen paper, sprinkle with some sea salt and serve alongside a
fresh, crisp salad...as in the picture if you'd like.

Buon Appetito and...pass the wine, please.


Little piece of countryside in downtown SanJose del Cabo

Frankly, I will admit I liked that little old flat. Very "Melrose Place" I would describe it. The neighbors, with a few exceptions, were mostly young couple, most of them had pets, the pool was always alive with improv parties and it was just minutes away from downtown cafes and restaurants, the beach and the big box stores on the highway.

Everything was cool until the landlady, most likely in order to please her "cock du jour" I might add... posted a flier in which she warned the tenants she was going to place poison baits with the aim to get rid of a little street dog that used to sneak in and soil the patio.

I just could not risk that either Pita or Tony would take a bite of that and so we started a frantic search for a new place to live in.

In less than 24 hours we eventually found a few very desirable options, but the one that truly struck us in the heart was this cute tiny cottage, way in the back of a large downtown property

 blessed by a dozen of so mango and citrus trees ( grapefruit, orange and limes), an unbelievable Tuscan or Provence countryside feeling and a huge potential to grow into a little gem. 

It has been lovely restored, but the garden needs some love and care. The owners are older and, by their admission, can't grow a thing.

First day we moved in I manged to clean up all the storm gutters and channels and rake all the dead leaves off the grounds; trust me when I say there was A LOT.

"Pussy handed" chef...

With Lupita's help, I'll start raising beds for a kitchen garden and will restore the ancient parrilla, Spanish for bbq grill. The latter is going to be an interesting project, since I'll have to take apart what's left of the old brick structure and reassemble it mixing in some really cool and really old adobe bricks we found during the cleaning of the garden.

Love these triangles...

Real bricks (1)

Real bricks (2)

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                                                                                      ............ to be continued >>>


Beef tenderloin, tomato concassee and herb potatoes

Let's go back to basics for a bit..hehe
This is a light and foolproof way to fix a nice and tender piece of beef tenderloin.

Start with the potatoes, which you'll slice, unpeeled, as thin as you can and arrange in a circle on a well buttered baking sheet. Sprinkle them with chopped rosemary, garlic, cracked pepper and coarse sea salt, drizzle with olive oil and place in a medium hot oven until golden on the edges.

Blanch the tomatoes and peeled them; dice them and reserve.

Tie the piece of tenderloin at both ends in order to maintain its shape during cooking.

Rub the meat with plenty coarse sea salt and cracked pepper and sear it on all the side in a hot skillet till a nice brown crust forms.
Once you achieve this, cook it 3,5 to 4 minutes on each end for medium .

Place the the meat on a cooling rack and tent it with a piece of foil.

While the tenderloin rests, briefly saute the tomato with butter, garlic and fresh thyme.
Season with S&P and reserve.

To plate it, remove carefully the potato base from the baking sheet, get rid of the twine , cut open the meat to show the term and pour the sauteed tomato and the the butter on the plate, as in the picture, if you like.

Sprinkle with more sea salt and fresh herbs, drizzle with best olive oil and you're ready.

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All lined up like brave little soldiers...


PS: to push this simple preparation to another level altogether, top it with a medallion of marrw butter.
Very simply, broil the bone ubtill the marrow turns brown and tosty, scoop it out and mix it with butter, sea salt, chopped garli, parsley and cracked pepper. Shape and chill... when ready, just slice a medallion and place it on top of the filet just before serving. In a word : WICKED!