Known as the Napa Valley of Mexico, the beautiful Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California is home to chef Jair Télles' remarkable destination restaurant, which pays homage to the surrounding countryside. Laja's home is a stone barn-like building, which was constructed from scratch by Télles and a team of craftsmen (many of whom went on to work in the restaurant itself). It is surrounded by its own orchard, fields and vineyard, whose harvests are supplemented by local organic farmers and fishermen.
Télles trained at The French Culinary Institute and worked at Daniel Boulud’s eponymous flagship in New York before opening Laja in 2001, where he fuses classical French technique with American and Mexican influences. The restaurant serves a set menu of four to eight courses, which changes weekly depending on what is harvested from the kitchen garden. Expect starters such as mussel velouté, followed by stuffed quail with butternut squash cream and Swiss chard or roasted lamb with house-cured bacon risotto.
Vintner and co-owner Andres Blanco makes Laja's excellent house wine and often patrols the restaurant floor, guiding diners through the well-chosen wine list, which features a wide selection from the Baja region. Lovely views of the Guadalupe Valley, plus a beautiful outdoor space with communal tables under an old oak tree, help explain why Laja has become such a landmark restaurant in Mexico.
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