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The Rancho Gordo Blog — On the Road

Gordo-Con: The Heirloom Bean Encuentro at Alta Baja

On the Road steve sando

Gordo-Con: The Heirloom Bean Encuentro at Alta Baja

Delilah Snell, the genius behind Alta Baja Market, had the idea to celebrate our heirloom beans and throw a real party. Years earlier, we had a nice dinner but this time we wanted to make some noise. COVID is still with us but it's arguably under better control and it's just been too long for some of us. Well, me, in particular. I wanted to have a party!  Delilah had thought of everything so early October, I flew in, checked in and then was whisked off to Carlos Salgado's Taco Maria in Costa Mesa. I've known Carlos casually since the last...

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The Sorana Bean. From Tuscany, With Love

Ingredient Spotlight Misc On the Road

The Sorana Bean. From Tuscany, With Love

Last autumn I was in Italy for the first time in way too long. This was the funny time when we all thought this covid thing was waning and we were heading back to normal. Weren't we cute? Regular followers of Rancho Gordo know of our love and admiration for the amazing Judy Witts Francini. She is a powerhouse of knowledge about the Italian kitchen and nothing makes her happier than sharing her secrets. She has many. Judy arranged for me to meet with some members of the cooperative that is keeping the Sorana bean production going. Unable to meet...

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Happy Harvest: Frijolon Gris

gardening heirloom beans In the garden Ingredient Spotlight Mexico Misc oaxaca On the Road

Happy Harvest: Frijolon Gris

It has been a long time since I played in the garden. I have not been a good steward of my land and as we got busier and busier over the holiday season, I left my precious Oaxacan runner beans to fend for themselves. We experienced a very wet season, followed by several nights with freezing temperatures and the mornings have been foggy. You would have thought my forgotten bean crop would be a goner, but you'd be wrong. Mid-February and this is my harvest. I looked and I saw a few funky pods. When I opened them, the beans...

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The Best 10 Rules to Live by When You Are Young and Ready to Travel.

Misc On the Road Rants

My friend Canice saw this photo of me from the early 1980s in Sestri Levante. It's a beach town in Liguria, Italy and I spent many summers there in my early 20s. She wrote: I wanna use this photo to persuade young people to live a little, while they have the chance. Sestri Levante, early 1980s I know exactly what she means. I wouldn't go back to my youth for anything but your twenties are a time to really let things rip. Yes, you can go to Europe at any age but you find as you get older you can't...

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Rancho Gordo Goes to Alta Baja with More Stars than in the Heavens!

Misc On the Road

Rancho Gordo Supper in Orange County to Highlight Heirloom Mexican Beans, Support High School Art Program On Sunday, July 8, Rancho Gordo, renowned purveyor of heirloom beans, will hold its first-ever supper in Southern California at Alta Baja Market in Santa Ana. The special event will feature three courses prepared by some of Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando's favorite SoCal restauranteurs: Delilah Snell and Richard Lu (Alta Baja Market, Electric City Butcher), Evan Kleiman (Angeli Caffe, KCRW's Good Food) and Carlos Salgado (Taco Maria). Each course will highlight different Mexican heirloom beans offered by Rancho Gordo, recently featured in the...

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Release the Pods: The Rancho Gordo Chili Manifesto

In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight On the Road

Imagine a damp, cold, rainy day in Milano, Italy in 1988. One young, bored expat trying to figure out his role in Italy (and the world, really) is presented with a copy of a book called A Bowl of Red and a bag of chile powder. I was compelled to make the stew and the aromas and flavors made me so homesick, I was near tears. Chiles and cumin weren’t standard fare for me in Milano. I was pretentious and fancy, as only the young can be, but this wallop of nostalgia hit me hard. These flavors sent me back...

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Guisado de Lupe: A Delicious Tomato Surprise That Will Make You Flip

canela Clay pot cooking guisado hidlago In the kitchen Mexico On the Road Travel in Mexico true cinnamon Vegetarian

In Hidalgo, a meal with my pal Lupe is essential. She is a great cook. I would almost describe her cooking as colonial. She prefers good olive oil to manteca (lard) and while she's fiercely patriotic and loves all aspects of her Mexican culture, there's a European sensibility to a lot of her dishes. When we were filming the article that featured the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project for Sunset Magazine last year, Lupe made this dish and it's forever haunted me. She told me it was from Michoacan and called Minquiche. I've done some research and there are similar elements but...

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Road Trip: Convento de los Los Santos Reyes

On the Road Travel in Mexico

For me, there's little better than a road trip in Mexico. My friend Gabriel estimated that over nine years we've traveled approximately 50,00 kilometers (about 32,000 miles) together. I'm glad he likes to drive! I'm also thankful we all like the same music and have the same hunger for Mexican food. On the way to the Huasteca of Hidalgo, we stopped at Convento de los Los Santos Reyes in a pueblo called Metztitlan in the sierra. This is exactly the kind of thing I love to do, especially when the site is deserted and we are free to run and...

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Post Vacation Breakfast: Things Could Be Worse

Breakfast at Rancho Gordo On the Road Travel in Mexico Vegetarian>Vegan

My favorite sentence is, I just got back from Mexico. I would like to write it more often! The down side is coming home to an empty refrigerator. This morning, after pots of French Roast coffee (the Mexicans do many things well but good coffee is mostly hidden), I made brown rice, garbanzo beans and a salsa from the new chiles I bought on my trip. They're oak-roasted heirloom chipotles from the Huasteca of Hidalgo. They are incredible and we were going try and import them but the FDA requirements are so tough that we had to pass. It's a...

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It's Fun to Be Some Guy in Swim Trunks on the Beach

felicidad hot sauce hawaii In the kitchen On the Road shrimp the fatted calf TMI

There have been too many times I've felt I was "too busy" to take a vacation and ended up so much better for the time off. I'm sure I know best, and relaxing and taking a break from the daily routine is not so important, or so I tell myself. Here's a little secret: I don't know everything. I don't even know what's best for me sometimes. I've just come back from a beyond wonderful week last week in Kauai with pals. I loved it so much I'm in discomfort thinking about it. Coffee, beach, eat, beach, eat, rinse, repeat....

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One More Photo Album of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project

On the Road Travel in Mexico

Random Photos from over the last several years with the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project. I am one lucky fellow!

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On the Road: Veracruz and Why It's Possibly My Favorite Spot on Earth

On the Road Travel in Mexico

Delicious, beautiful, exotic. Did I say delicious? I meant to. I don't have favorites but if you were to invite me to Veracruz I would only hesitate for a few seconds. I think it might be Mexico's most beautiful state. It runs along the coast and it feels Mexican but it's like nowhere else in the country. Papantla smells of vanilla and heat. It's a little off putting at first but the best thing to do is just roll with it. For me, breakfast with salsa macha means the rest of the day will be mild in comparison. It's a...

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