Cocina Del Mar, A Diner’s Paradise by the Sea

By Beverly Zeiss

Perched upon the cliffs rising high above the Sea of Cortez sits Cocina del Mar, located within Esperanza, an Auberge Resort in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

On arrival we were greeted by the gracious and very professional staff who led us to the perfect table, set as close to the edge of the cliff as possible. I was told that sometimes when the tide is high our table gets splashed by the waves of saltwater from below. The tide must rise to really high levels, because the spot where we sat was at least 25 feet from the sand below.

We were soon presented with Cocina Del Mar’s elegant and expansive menu, and we read every selection with delight as the sun set behind us. Shortly after sunset, we discovered quite happily that the menu itself lit up in the dark. This was a big bonus for me, as I’d forgotten my glasses, and it was nice to not have to dig out a cell phone for illumination.

The many choices are designed to appeal to your senses- there is the Sense of Beginning (starters), Sense of Place (entrees) and a Sense of Balance (vegetarian choices). You can create your own three or four-course prix fixe menu. Guests ordering from this ever-changing menu will be able to experience a variety of course options that draw from elements of the sea and spotlight seasonal catches, including:

Sense of Beginning (starters): Specialties include Seafood “Tortilla” Soup with poached lobster, scallops, shrimp and littleneck clams combined with crispy corn tortillas, guajillo chili, cilantro and avocado; Chilled Avocado Soup with green apple granite and mint oil from Esperanza’s garden; and The Tower – seared ahi tuna and Baja lobster, pickled red onion, seaweed salad, avocado, sriracha remoulade and Chilean “pebre” salsa.

Sense of Place (main course): Featured main course options include Baja Lobster Risotto with lemon zest, yuzu and cherry tomato confit; Mahi Mahi grilled with epazote-cilantro risotto and criolla salsa; and for the land lovers, Three Little Pigs – slow cooked suckling pig with apricot chutney, braised Mexican pork shank “Chamorro” au jus, and roasted petit pork tenderloin stuffed with figs served with yam-potato puree.

Sense of Balance (vegetarian): Celebrated dishes include Vegetarian Tian, a medley of grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers, Portobello mushroom, goat cheese and pormarola sauce.

GEV Fashion Director Beverly Zeiss with Executive Chef Gonzalo Cerda and Director of Food and Beverages Diego Weiss

We then had the pleasure of meeting the food and beverage director Diego Weiss and executive chef Gonzalo Cerda during the course of our dinner selection. Chef Cerda, a delightfully warm and humble gentleman, began his culinary journey in some of the finest resorts in the world before coming to Esperanza in 2010. His innovative cuisine blends the flavors of Argentina and Mexico, created with the freshest seafood and organic produce from local Baja purveyors.

Prior to joining the team at Esperanza, Cerda spent several years in senior restaurant positions with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in Uruguay, Canada, Costa Rica and Chile. He has also served as the host of several cooking television shows including the Canadian series “Shopping Bags” and Costa Rica’s popular “Chino Latino.” Cerda began his professional career in his native Argentina following his formal education at the Azafran Culinary Academy in Cordoba, Argentina and subsequent training at restaurants in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Colombia.

The choices provided to us that evening looked mouthwatering and I would order everything if I had my way. I could tell I wasn’t the only one to be a bit torn, as each menu selection sounded better than the last. Alas we decided to start with the Seafood ” Tortilla” Soup, loaded with poached lobster, scallop, shrimp and little neck clam, crispy corn tortilla, guajillo chili, cilantro and avocado.

The beautifully plated Summer Market salad with organic greens, cremini & portobello mushrooms, asparagus, red radish, organic cherry tomatoes, spinach & shaved Parmesan with limonetta vinaigrette followed. My adventurous hubby was quick to decide upon the Snapper Brandade, which was finely sliced, perfectly tender octopus, with ciabatta crostini. All were delectable.

The entree was even more of a quandary, so we asked our delightful server which dish was his favorite. He lured two of us to the Seasonal Local Catch, which today was Parrot Fish, a beautifully prepared mild white fish pulled from the sea below, garnished with sous-vide & roasted endives, braised beet root, orange wedges, toasted hazelnuts & cashews with parsnip purée; the taste was unbelievable.

My girlfriend on the other hand, had the Chef’s Daily Inspiration, which was scallops and fried soft shelled crab, and was equally enticing. I was curious why my husband chose the Short Rib, seeing as how we were surrounded by so many incredible seafood items, but one taste proved he knew what he was doing. Chef Cerda’s Argentinean influences came shining through in this slow cooked masterpiece, adorned with sherry vinegar, pickled vegetables & criolla sauce. It was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The cut was as tender as the finest filet and the magnificent flavor was to die for. Our feast ended beautifully with chocolate mousse with coconut sorbet and fried plantains and apple pearls with raisins and vanilla sorbet.

What we were mostly impressed with was the presentation of each dish. The heated choices were presented on hot-to-the-touch stone platters that kept the food to the perfect temperature throughout the meal. And I believe Chef Cerda must be an accomplished artist as well as chef. His careful placement of each tidbit surrounded by brush-like strokes of yummy sauces was a sight to behold.

It was truly a memorable evening – great food, great friends and great service – all in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. Who could ask for anything more?

Get to know Chef Gonzalo Cerda

What is your current favorite Summer inspired food and wine pairing and why?

Ceviches (Tuna and Scallop Ceviche) pairing with a Catena Chardonnay, for summer is a perfect combination for sunny days, great complexity and elegance, a sweet impact that gives a fresh in your palate

How would you describe your cuisine?  

Sea flavor with creativity

What factors do you consider to be the most essential when it comes to introducing new dishes on the menu?

The Season and Market

What to you is Cabo’s best kept secret?

Chocolata Clams

What local culinary trends have you embraced?

Aguachiles

What to you is a perfect meal?

A table surrounded by your loved ones

You’ve been around and cooked for many 4-star dining venues. What sets Esperanza apart from all the other places you’ve worked for?

The true passion that people feel here to serve others

What is your idea of relaxation?

A Sunset, a beach, and of course my wife Ximena, she give me tranquility and peace

Where are you traveling this year? Why?

To Europe, (the Mediterranean) to know my roots and learn

What would be your travel tip to first time visitors to Cabo?

Bring sunscreen and try some chocolata clams with typical salsas

 

Visit Esperanza Resort!
Km 7 Carretera Transpeninsular
Manzana 10, Punta Ballena,
23410 Baja California Sur, Mexico
1.866.311.2226
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