Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

 

I arrived in Santa Fe early on May 23, 1971. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I drove in from Las Vegas, NM, where I had toured Highlands University for a NM State teacher’s credential. At the time, I knew that I wanted to reside in New Mexico. Through years of college friendships and familial bonds in western New Mexico, I had developed close ties to the state. I was 23.

 

Day 1: Santa Fe Plaza, 1971

While passing the College of Santa Fe, I stopped, went in, and discovered that they had a teacher’s credential program. I told them my educational background and they accepted me into their summer program right on the spot. Just like that. No security checks, no contacting my university. The old days.

The same day, I opened my checking account on the historic Santa Fe plaza at First National Bank. No Homeland Security, background check, or tax ID number needed – just money and a signature. Nearly 44 years later, I still have the same checking account number.

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At the time, the plaza was open to traffic on all sides. There were shoe and clothing stores, pharmacies, a barbershop, and a flower shop. I don’t recall a single gallery. Gas stations were situated catty-corner to the plaza on two sides, and the central obelisk still spoke of “savage natives.” This was before the word, “savage” was chiseled off.

There were only 3 or 4 realtors at the time, and I found a place on Cerro Gordo through the Richard Mares Agency. We put down our deposit and our last month’s rent, and moved in later that same afternoon. No credit checks on Credit Karma, no references to call. Just me, my wife, and our new home.

santa-fe-obelisk-plaque

Even with its modern changes, the history of Santa Fe remains captivating etched in stone.

Day 2: A Different Santa Fe

The next morning I was driving on St. Michael’s Drive, which was a still a two-lane street surround by mostly vacant land, when I heard my name on the radio! The since-departed Santa Fe Welcome Wagon was welcoming my wife and me to Santa Fe. They even mentioned some factoids about our lives that I had shared with the realtor.

Late that evening, my grandfather died in Dallas. Since we didn’t have cell phones, and it took a while to get a phone line, my father’s secretary began trying to locate us. The second realtor she called was Richard Mares, and he informed her of our whereabouts. As a courtesy, he also called the Santa Fe Police Department on our behalf. Soon after an officer pulled up to our house and respectfully informed me of my grandfather’s passing. He also told me where the nearest pay phone could be found, so I could call home.

When I think back on Santa Fe, it’s hard to imagine that there were more pawnshops and trading posts than galleries. I vividly remember Bob Ward’s “oldest trading post” on San Francisco, and The Pink Adobe and The Bull Ring were the only two “fancy” restaurants downtown. Can you imagine?

santa-fe-original-trading-post

Those were the times, not really that far-gone, that welcomed me here and successfully beckoned me to stay.

Let us be your Santa Fe Welcome Wagon

We hope we can captivate you the same way Santa Fe captivated me all those years ago.

Madrid Miners and the Game of Baseball

Madrid Miners and the Game of Baseball

Historic Madrid, New Mexico, and Baseball

Historic Madrid, NM, as it appears today.

If you haven’t ever visited Madrid, New Mexico, consider adding it to your tourism bucket list. Located outside of Santa Fe, near the mineral-rich Ortiz Mountains, Madrid offers you a fascinating trip into the history of art, coal mining, and even baseball!

Madrid originated as a coal mining town known as Coal Gulch. In the 1850s the town began to grow in size and importance. This trend continued through the 1880s with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The railroad created a tremendous demand for coal, which fueled the expansion of the town to 2,500 people. During the 1920s, Madrid was even known for a Christmas light display with over 150,000 lights. The display was powered by coal generators that also supplied electricity to the entire town.

Like many company towns, the residents of Madrid relied on their employers to provide stores, amusement, schools, and hospitals. Employers even sponsored entertainment and social activities in order to prevent “idle hands from becoming workshops of the devil.” In 1919, the recently hired town superintendent, Oscar Huber, created a baseball team known as the Madrid Miners. Along with the team, he also oversaw the construction of the first lighted ballpark west of the Mississippi.

Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark, Image courtesy of ‘visitmadridnm.com’.

Madrid quickly became a model for mining towns across the country. Baseball teams like the Madrid Miners popped up around country, and the sport grew into a popular pastime for laborers on their days off. The Madrid Miners were instrumental to the development of baseball in our country, and the Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark can still be seen today.

After World War II, the demand for coal diminished, and by the late 1950s, Madrid became a ghost town. Still, the houses and cabins that were built during the boom still remain. In the 1970s, the town started to repopulate again with artists, artisans and other “free spirits.” Along with the new influx came new art studios, bars, galleries, and restaurants.

Just a 45-minute drive from the Inn on the Alameda, Madrid offers a fascinating piece of New Mexico history. Shop, eat, drink and experience the architecture and community spirit that has revitalized this important historical gem.

The perfect end to the perfect day!

After you’ve finished touring historic Madrid, it’s just a short drive back to the Inn on the Alameda to relax with a nice dinner and a comfortable bed.

The Burning of Zozobra (a.k.a. Old Man Gloom)

The Burning of Zozobra (a.k.a. Old Man Gloom)

The Burning of Zozobra (a.k.a. “Old Man Gloom”)

Every year on the Friday before Labor Day, Santa Fe celebrates Fiestas, a tradition dating back to 1712. The Fiestas were originally a solemn remembrance of the reconquest of the City in 1692 by the Spanish, led by Don Diego de Vargas. In 1680, an organized all Pueblo coordinated revolt against Spanish rule over the native Americans’ life, culture, practices, religions and their enslavement culminated in the massacre of approximately 500 Santa Fe residents, a large portion of the population in Santa Fe at that time.

zozobra celebrationBurning of Zozobra. Image by Gabriela Campos, Santa Fe New Mexican via The Associated Press.

The martyred were taken to what is now known as the Cross of the Martyrs. The remaining residents fled south to El Paso where they waited 12 years for Spain to send a small contingent of soldiers, friars and tradesmen to retake the town. While branded as a peaceful reconquest, it was in reality a pay-back massacre of many Pueblo children and parents. A few years ago, protests from the native American people about the white washing of the event forced the dropping of the misleading and false title of the Peaceful Reconquest.

From 1712 until the 1920’s, Fiestas was a very solemn and sad celebration, focused on the revolt and its impact and consequences to the Spanish inhabitants at that time. By the 1920’s, Santa Fe’s art colony was well established. Will Shuster was one of the Cinco Pintores (5 painters) of Santa Fe’s early 20th century art colony. The other 4 were Fremont Ellis, Walter Mruk, Jozef Bakos and Willard Nash. They all agreed that the Fiestas was too dire and gloomy, so at a Fiestas party at his home, Will Shuster unveiled a 6-foot effigy of an old man that was ceremoniously burned in Shuster’s back yard to signify the burning of all the past year’s gloomy thoughts and disappointments. This heralded a new theme for Fiestas. Soon pets were costumed and there was a pet parade, another tradition added to Fiestas on Saturdays after the burning of Zozobra. By mid-20th century, Zozobra had morphed into a 50 foot tall puppet whose arms and head move when he is set ablaze in the evening in front of 50,000 residents and tourists. Through gigantic speakers behind Old Man Gloom, as he is set ablaze by costumed dancers, Zozobra’s moving jaws boom roars of pain and terrible moaning.

The Burning of Zozobra is part of “Fiestas”, a Santa Fe tradition dating back to 1712.

People scream “Let him burn” in excitement as the Old Man Gloom effigy is set ablaze and the scariest moans and groans only get louder and louder! The burning of Zozobra is now a high point of the Fiestas as is the Pet Parade (Desfile de los niños) around the Plaza. Young and old parade with their pets in costumes, every pet from donkeys, dogs and cats to reptiles and parrots.

Fiesta Queen in white with her court.Image by Gabriela Campos, Santa Fe New Mexican via The Associated Press.

Then the historical/hysterical parade (Desfile de la gente) was added for Sundays, a hilariously fun parade around the Plaza making fun of Santa Fe’s politicians, prominent residents, including marching bands, mariachis, floats, and show cars!

Now that these 3 more light-hearted events have been added to Fiestas; the weekend is kid, locals and tourist friendly, an eating extravaganza of local cuisine at food booths on the Plaza and just good vibes. The burning of Zozobra is a must and a fun way to experience our town during its most celebratory weekend. This is one of the many reasons we are known as “The City Different.”

Make The Evening Even Better

Remember to stop by the Inn on the Alameda before or after attending your event for wine, cocktails and dining!

The Long History of Great Food in Santa Fe

The Long History of Great Food in Santa Fe

The Long History of Great Food in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a hybrid culture, a unique blend where the parts make up a greater whole. The traditions and foodstuffs of the pre-Columbian peoples, the stylistic influence of the Hispanic culture (both recent and hundreds of years old) and the modern fusion of contemporary upscale dining, all combine to form the distinctive and delicious elements of modern Santa Fe food.

Empanadas

The Puebloan peoples that inhabited the area we now call Santa Fe were, in many ways, defined by their diet and their farming activities. Other tribes and peoples that relied on subsistence hunting and gathering were forced to engage in a constant migration as they followed the brief periods of seasonal abundance, while the peoples who engaged in agriculture were able to become settled and develop agricultural surplus. These factors led to the complex society we call today Anasazi with its later development into the myriad Pueblo peoples that make up New Mexico.

The Puebloan diet was dominated by their staple crops of corn, beans, various gourds and chiles. Seeds and nuts such as acorns and pine nuts would be gathered to supplement the Anasazi diet. Despite domestication of the turkey and the dog, neither of these species seemed to have made up a significant source of dietary protein. Meat seemed to come predominantly from small pest species like mice and rabbits, with larger prey like deer or bighorn sheep being rarer.

Food required a great deal of preparation. Corn would be processed into a more nutritious form through an alkalization process that involved repeated soakings and boilings in solutions of lime chloride requiring significant amounts of labor. Following the process, known as Nixtamalization, the kernels were ready to be ground. Daily hours were spent grinding dried corn or seeds into flours which could be cooked over hot flat rocks, forming the precursor of today’s tortilla. The usage of pottery in cooking indicates that stews, soups and porridges likely made up most of the prepared diet. During the harsh New Mexico winters the Puebloans would rely on their stored and dried food, predominantly corn.

The Spanish brought with them their own cultures and food habits. They introduced multiple species of domesticated animals which greatly increased the proportion of meat in the native diets. They introduced crops like rice and brought the technology of cheese making with them.

The dominant Hispanic culture, with its emphasis on meats and cheeses, influenced the native cuisine and was, in turn, influenced by the agricultural innovations of the native people. Hybrid cuisine developed. The New Mexico enchilada, for example, is a prime example of this fusion. Traditional indigenous chili sauces and corn tortillas were melded with European foods such as cheese and chicken or pork to create a delicious hybrid cuisine.

For nearly 300 years the New Mexico territory was a largely neglected colonial backwater of New Spain, which led to isolation and the development of local culture and cuisine. This isolation accounts for the differentiation between New Mexico cuisine and the more familiar hybrids found in California and Texas.

Chicken-Enchilada

The evolution of tastes and dining following the incorporation of New Mexico into the United States provided the final element in the hybridized cuisine of this region. Throughout the 20th century, new people brought their tastes and left their imprint on the diets of Santa Feans. In 1944, for example, Rosalea Murphy brought elements of traditional French and American cooking to Santa Fe in the form of the Pink Adobe. French Onion soups and Tournedos of Beef met Chili Rellenos and the resulting fusion cuisine continues to be popular. In 1978 Upper Crust Pizza brought the Italian-American classic to the city, incorporating local elements like Green Chili and Piñon nuts. Many chefs have brought their unique perspectives and influences to Santa Fe and have left their mark on the tastes and appetites here.

We pride ourselves in producing a well-balanced menu based on locally grown regional cuisine, presented artistically, to assure a memorable and nurturing dining experience. Regional classics like the chicken enchilada or empanadas with mole sauces meet dishes like the Alsatian Tart or the baked encrusted goat cheese. Specialties like the New Mexican Cobb salad coexist next to excellently realized classics like Caesar salads or onion puffs.

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We exemplify New Mexico's hybrid cuisine at our Agoyo Lounge restaurant

The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta:  An Incredible Story To Tell

The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta: An Incredible Story To Tell

What an incredible story this festival has to tell. In the very beginning, Al Lucero, past owner of Maria’s Restaurant, had been looking for an idea to keep Santa Fe’s hotels busy after Labor Day—when historically the market just dried up. Full hotels mean full restaurants, Al figured. So the idea of a wine and chili festival was born – a clever name echoing the chili harvests that define New Mexico and a salute to the state’s fine wineries.

The first Festival was held in 1990 at the Sanbusco mall. I remember that event very well, as David Oberstein and I decided it would be a perfect location for the festival and offered it as a contribution to this great effort. There were about 300 attendees. Unbelievably, the admission price was all of $10. For that, attendees received a booklet with eight coupons good for food and four coupons for glasses of wine. Sixteen restaurants participated in the first festival, as did a dozen or more wineries.

santa fe wine & chile fiesta

Given that $10 admission price, it was expected that the event would end up in the red that first year. Still, among its participants and hosts, there was the realization of how much potential this wine and chile deal offered. To everyone.

santa fe wine & chili fiest wine

Today, over 90 wineries and over 70 restaurants participate in the event. Activities are planned for five glorious fall days now, many are designed to help the greater community. The Live Auction for the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Festival (SFWCF) benefits and helps underwrite culinary classes, including restaurant service and wine and cooking classes. The auction helps sponsor other community events involving restaurants and chefs, for example, Santa Fe’s Cooking with Kids program and Santa Fe Restaurant Week.

This year’s six-day fest includes a film festival, wine and food seminars, a wine auction, wine tastings, and a guest chef demonstration. Features include 2019 Winery of the Year, Tablas Creek; 2019 Champagne of the Year, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte; and 2019 Artist of the Year, Ramona Sakiestewa.

The SFWCF has enriched our lives here for locals and visitors alike. It joins other groups like the International Folk Market, the Santa Fe Film Festival, and the Lensic Performing Arts Center; also relatively new “startups” that have reached national recognition.

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Attend the 2019 Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta and learn more about the story it tells!

Make Your Visit to Santa Fe Even More Memorable
Come stay at the Inn on the Alameda!
As the leaves are getting ready to don their fall attire, our patio is the perfect place to enjoy dinner, cocktails and wine.

 

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