It was the most amazing thing — I got to experience the beauty of Spring TWICE this year. It came early in Oklahoma City, so I was amazed and delighted when a late April trip to New Mexico gave me a second chance to soak in the beauty of flowering trees, tulips and the biggest lilac bushes I had ever seen!
There was no time to cook on this quick visit, but who can resist the lure of the colorful ristras? We had driven out, so they were very tempting, but I ended up barely having room to sit in our vehicle by the time the trip was over!
Pretty Food’s Webmaster Extraordinaire Patricia and I hopped into a rickshaw for a quick trip around the plaza and back over to the Luminaria restaurant for dinner. Luminaria is part of the hotel where we were staying, Inn and Spa at Loretto, pictured above. It was a lovely hotel, steeped in New Mexico tradition, nestled right next door to the historic Loretto Chapel.
With the temperature hovering around the low 70s, eating outdoors was a divine experience. The elegant outdoor rooms provided the perfect blend of comfort and ambience, while allowing the outdoor scenery to still be enjoyed.
The chef sent out a delectable amuse-bouche (for those of you who don’t know, it’s a complimentary little bite of something that’s not on the menu that leaves you wanting more). This one consisted of finely chopped carne asada with red chile sauce and cilantro microgreens served in a beautifully curved spoon.
Beef tenderloin was the entree I chose. It was plopped onto a bed of roasted red pepper ranchero sauce and joined by grilled Spanish onions and poblano chile. A sprinkle of microgreens on top completed the presentation. The taste was divine!
My mixed green salad had something called Beamer cheese. Don’t know what it was, but it was similar to an aged Italian cheese. Roasted tomato quarters and roasted pine nuts added uniquely Santa Fe flavors.
Although he avoids rice, due to the carbs, Michael finds it hard to resist paella. When it’s served Santa Fe style, it comes with a kick. See the jalapeño? There’s your sign!
Patricia went for the blackened salmon. It sat atop green onion risotto and was topped with a lemon buerre blanc sauce, typically, but Patricia asked for her sauce to be on the side. See those thin little shards of green? Those are crispy flash fried leeks. Also on the plate were the ever-present micro-greens. Note to self: get the micro-greens farm planted again. I haven’t grown any in a while . . . The salmon was so good that meories of it kept Patricia awake late into the night.
This shows the blackened salmon with the lemon buerre blanc sauce. That’s a lotta butter sauce!
I find the architecture in New Mexico to be so dramatic. This pic of the hotel, taken a night, shows how magical it can be.
Day two, we were off to Taos. Tell someone who’s been before that you’re headed there, and I can almost guarantee they will say “Oh, you HAVE to go to Michael’s Kitchen & Bakery.” So we did. It’s a Taos landmark. I loved this omelette that Michael ordered because they served several of the vegetables on the side, instead of just whipping it all up together. The mushrooms rode sidecar, along with the avocado. I’m not a big omelette fan, but I was tempted to grab his plate when he wasn’t watching.
This is what’s known as the Belly Buster. It features two beef patties topped with cheese, an entire avocado, enough salad greens and tomato to make a side salad, and multiple slices of bacon. Confidentiality restrictions preclude me from revealing who ordered such a thing. Use your imagination.
Back to Santa Fe for a drive down Canyon Road to see the wondrous art in the long stretch of galleries found there. We had the good fortune to stumble into an interesting-looking restaurant that turned out to be a famous tapas bar. Dining at El Farol made for the perfect end of an enchanting day. Michael and I had the tapas (small plates). For two, you order six. This was the first, angus beef skewers with chimi-churri sauce. We didn’t eat the fingerling potatoes, but I’m sure they were quite tasty, too.
Pork tenderloin with figs, port, and idiazabal cheese. Honestly, I’m sure we could have found a way to make it look prettier on the plate, but I was simply lucky to be able to snap a picture fast enough to capture it before it disappeared. We can forgive its less than stella plating when it tastes that wonderful.
This photo was taken right before I looked around the room to ensure no one would see me when I drank this Moroccan carrot sauce from the plate. (Okay, not really, but I wanted to!) The roasted duck breast it was served with was good, but that carrot sauce is the stuff dreams are made from. I will find a way to devise a recipe for it someday. We found it made a gratifying dip for virtually everything else we ate.
You’re probably thinking “What the heck is that?” I understand. Imagine this. You take the tender inner hearts from artichokes and you encrust them in reggiano cheese. Then you cook them (bake? fry? I’m not sure) and place them on a plate to be topped with a fresh tomato salad, a little parsley, and a drizzle of lemon caper butter. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be.
Last, but not least, our fried avocado. It was crispy from having just been fried. It was coated with crumbs of some sort and served with salsa cruda and lime crema. Innovative, flavorful, attractive, delightful!
It was a fabulous trip. Short, but packed from morning until night with the most beautiful sounds, scenery, and sumptuous food, as well as great company. Can’t wait to go back! Santa Fe is a town for foodies, as well as for those who enjoy to have their senses stimulated visually. Here are a few more of the visual delights I captured on camera.