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On The Sausage Trail: Cabo San Lucas

Dateline: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – – March, 2012

Cabo San Lucas is at the tip of the second longest peninsula in the world, the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. Despite what you may have heard, Sam Hagar didn’t discover Cabo.

Cabo has many magnets. The whale watching is superb. The seafood and dining choices are first rate. The contrast between the blue of the ocean and the desert is stunning. And, the local residents make you feel welcomed.

On this trip our main focus was whale watching and relaxation. But, since Sausagefest never sleeps, we wanted to pass on some new finds while we were in Cabo.

Our home base was the Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula. Fabrice Guisset is the Executive Chef there and a great ambassador for the hotel and the local cuisine. A trained French chef in a seaside resort is a dangerous combination – but in a very good way.

He graciously shared with us one of his recipes that marry local seafood with sausage – Dark Beer Steamed Mussels with Chistorra (see our recipe page for this).

But what is Chistorra?

Chistorra is a pork-based sausage of Basque origin. Small in diameter its length can be one to three feet in length. The Chistorra we had in Cabo was the Mexican version. Which meant that the paprika of the Basque version was absent. Instead of the paprika there was chili pepper added. This New World version is worth seeking out and trying. When you think Chiorra think of it like a better breakfast sausage alternative. Except, Chistorra can also be found as a tapas bar treat – its more than a breakfast staple.

On a Tuesday morning at the Ocean Grill Fabrice treated me to a Chistorra tasting with French and Mayan touches. Accompanying the Chistorra was Fougasse. Being French, Fabrice took this bread from Provence, added some olive oil, and cooked it in the adobe oven with the sausage.

Sausage and bread is a traditional combination in many cultures. What brought this combination to new heights was Xni-pec salsa. Xni-pec (a Mayan word for a dog’s nose) is a simple Mayan salsa with dramatic impact. Fabrice’s interpretation of this dish followed this recipe:

Ingredients:
• One half habanero pepper (no seeds) diced
• One cup of red onion finely diced
• Juice of half a lime
• A pinch of sea salt

Let this mixture set in a bowl for at least an hour; stir occasionally. For those more adventurous you might want to use a whole habanero pepper, but also double the onion and lime ingredients.

What does the “dog’s nose” have to do with the salsa? Common conjecture is that your nose will run like that of a dog. A graphic and sobering image – enough said.

As always, take care with working with the Habanero pepper. Gloves for your hands and eye shield are worth investing in.

That cautionary note aside, this is a simple but amazingly good salsa. Teamed with the Fougasse and Chistorra this is a breakfast meal that will quickly wake up your taste buds.

The Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort is part of the Rosewood group of fine hotels and resorts. Its one of those high quality, high personal service hotels. It also has a tequila – sushi bar on the premises that also requires a visit.

Click here for more information about Las Ventanas al Paraiso.