Santa Fe, NM, is definitely a town on the radar of foodies everywhere for fine dining and unique regional cuisine. But sometimes, a street snack is just what the tummy ordered. Given the significantly smaller size of the City Different, it hasn’t graduated to the status of another state capitol, Austin, TX with its impressive food cart scene, but you can definitely get a good feed on the fly.
The One and Only Roque
The grand-daddy of them all – and we know for a fact that he is indeed a well-loved abuelo – has to be Roque’s Carnitas, grilling on the Santa Fe Plaza for over twenty years. Roque Garcia and partner Mona Cavalli continue to cater to locals and visitors alike with beef and chicken carnitas packed with grilled onions, peppers and spicy secret sauce. You can get tasty tamales, pork or vegetarian green chile, and a refreshing homemade “Jamaica,” a Mexican sweet iced tea, which Roque brews himself with hibiscus flowers. A recent visit found me enjoying fresh grilled corn on the cob, one of the summery joys of street eats. Roque’s Carnitas parks on the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and East San Francisco Street, Wednesday through Monday.
Roque’s Famous Carnitas
Chicken Fajita from El Molero
Yum, Yum, Grilled Corn = Summer!
A short hop to the opposite end of the Plaza, on West Santa Francisco Street and Lincoln Avenue, you’ll find the competing grill of El Molero Fajitas, similar to the carnitas, but sluiced with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce and salsa instead of onions and peppers. Tamales are available here, too, along with fresh lemonade. While Mona and Roque head south to their Mexican home to feed the ex-pats over the winter, the El Molero grill crew reliably toughs it out on the Plaza most of the year.
Slurp Up Some Savory Soup
Buckwheat Crepe with Chicken
French food sound good? It did to me, and I could have eaten that delicious buckwheat crepe even without the juicy filling. Le Pod, another rehabilitated Airstream, is parked in the parking lot at the southwest corner of Paseo de Peralta and the Old Santa Fe Trail. A selection of hot andwiches, filled crepes, frog dogs (hot dogs with a French twist), and a daily soup selection ensure a variety of choices. And the natural Rieme sodas from France are a refreshing change of pace in a Coca-Cola society.
The Nile Cafe Cart
A Heroic Gyro
If you find yourself out of the Plaza area looking for a quick feed, head for the Nile Cafe cart @NileCafe on Rachel’s Corner at the northeast intersection of West Alameda and St. Francis Drive. I had hoped to try the waffle fries with chipotle hummus that I have heard so much about, but alas, out of waffler fries! I settled instead on a classic gyro and was duly satisfied. Juicy and thick with plenty pf sauce, this was a lunch. Gigi mentioned that she is opening up an Egyptian breakfast and lunch cafe in the spot on the Old Santa Fe Trail where the Dish and Spoon was located, and that is something worth anticipating! News is sure to follow on their Facebook page.
And if you simply want dessert and a seat on the Plaza, let your nose lead you to the sweet smell emanating from the Kernel’s Kettle Korn Kart…just be sure all your dental work is current.
HAPPY SANTA FE SNACKING!!!!
We have always appreciated our Texas visitors, with their relaxed and congenial appreciation of all that Santa Fe has to offer, so when we had the chance to go straight to the source, we jumped right in!
The Majestic State Capitol in Austin, TX
SXSW may have been a rather wild introduction to the pleasures of a fellow state capitol, but it certainly proved that Austin is a happening town. With the inspiration of the creative and organized crew from TKO, the City of Santa Fe appreciated this opportunity to remind our neighbors that we are also a great destination for fun, filming and food. Thanks to the generosity of Roy Spence, we set up shop at GSD&M Idea City, together with our friends and partners, the Santa Fe School of Cooking. In no time at all, a big pot of green chile chico stew was bubbling away, complemented by yummy blue corn muffins and a basket loaded with our state cookie, the biscochito. Did you know we have a state cookie? Only one other state, Pennsylvania, has one, the chocolate chip cookie (a nod to Hershey, PA, no doubt). Courtesy of the cooking school, here’s a recipe for our state sweet (which, thankfully, is not too sweet). We know that the lard factor may be off-putting to some, but pre-dating Crisco, it is a traditional ingredient in New Mexican cultural cuisine.
Biscochitos (Makes 4-5 dozen cookies)
- 1 lb. (2 cups) lard or vegetable shortening
- 1 ½ c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 t. toasted anise seeds
- 6 c. flour
- 3 t. baking powder
- 1 t. salt
- ½ c. brandy
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the lard, or shortening. Add sugar, eggs and anise seeds and cream again. Mix dry ingredients separately and combine with the shortening mixture. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly.
3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle the cookie shapes with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.
With Santa Fe Spirits right beside us pouring out their “whiskey-ritas,” made with locally-distilled Silver Coyote malt whiskey, our New Mexico cuisine met its match! And we even had easy access to sample Austin’s food cart scene, since Roy Spences’s Royitos Airstream was steps away handing out tasty tamales and his signature hot sauce.
Santa Fe County Commissioner, Virginia Vigil, was on hand to extol the beauty and benefits of the greater Santa Fe area, and a panoply of Santa Fe’s artistic characters was in attendance. Todd & the Fox and We Are the West provided a musical backdrop for the sunny spring day. Jon Hendry and the lovely Michelle drove all the way in the Shoot Santa Fe 18-wheeler to show our city’s continued commitment to and appreciation of the movie industry. They brought along Stephen Guerin from the Redfish Group with a terrific interactive piece that gave viewers a 3-D visualization of last year’s Las Conchas Fire and, of course, screened films, among them Smoke Signals, by Native American film-maker, Chris Eyre, new head of the Moving Arts Dept. at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. And a pair of Canyon Road artists, Natasha Isenhour and Reid Richardson, created paintings on the spot that lucky raffle winners took home.
Art in the Making!
We’re waiting for the raffle winner of our cuisine getaway to come to town, but we hope that our Texas neighbors got enough of the taste of Santa Fe to head on up to cooler climes this summer, since March in Austin found us “enjoying” 81 degrees with 83% humidity…quite a challenge for us high-desert dwellers. Only one question remains, how can Austin have a greater variety of chiles in their market than we do?!?!?!? Guess it’s the Whole Foods Market MotherShip factor!
A Mind-boggling Choice of Chiles!
Santa Fe Souper Bowl XVIII
Santa Fe Community Convention Center 201 West Marcy Street
Saturday, January 28, 2012 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
Once a year, Santa Fe addresses the issue of hunger, because we know it exists in our community just as it does in others. How to make it fun? A Souper Bowl! For the 18th year, Santa Fe welcomes sippers and slurpers to taste the concoctions of the City Different’s best chefs, all to benefit the Food Depot, New Mexico’s food bank.
Participating restaurants are invited to compete in one the following categories: Best Cream Soup, Best Savory Soup, Best Seafood Soup, and Best Vegetarian Soup, and all of the chefs ultimately compete for the overall title of Best Soup. The list of food mavens is long and includes everything from the high end to caterers and pizza joints, and even a retirement home, all intent on keeping our fellow New Mexicans from going to bed hungry.
Soup lovers will find the following Santa Fe kitchens in attendance: Anasazi Restaurant; Blue Corn Café & Brewery Southside; Bon Appetit; Café Pasqual’s; Café Café; Chef Nuevo Caliente Catering; Dinner for Two; Jambo Café; Kingston Residence of Santa Fe; La Casa Sena; La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza; Nath’s Speciality Catering; Palacio Café; The Pantry Restaurant; Pizza Etc.; Plaza Café Southside; Pueblo Deli; Real Food Nation and Supper Club; Red Sage at Hilton Santa Fe Resort & Spa at Buffalo Thunder; Rio Chama; Santa Fe Bar & Grill; Santa Fe Capitol Grill; Sup; Tune-Up Café; Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill at Buffalo Thunder; Whole Foods Market; Whole Hog Café; and the Zia Diner.
The bar is set high, since last year’s 2011 winner also won in the previous year, 2010, and is rated #1 on TripAdvisor for Santa Fe restaurants. That’s Jambo Cafe, where owner Ahmed Obo says that his winning soups, Black Bean and Sweet Potato from 2011 and Chicken Peanut from 2010, fly out of the restaurant as fast as they are prepared. So not only is this a benefit for the Food Depot, Santa Fe diners also score by discovering new culinary adventures, and restaurant chefs have the chance to create new devotees.
Attendees can taste 4 oz. of soup at as many stations as the belly can handle, and the Boy Scouts will be on hand as runners to collect the ballots from each table. A scoreboard will keep a running tally, so that the fans can keep tabs on who’s ahead. Hmmmm, wonder what are the odds that someone will have created a betting pool? There will also be a silent auction with some tasty items, soup recipes to try at home, cookbooks for sale, and even a cooking demonstration by chef Megan Tucker of Amavi.
Advanced tickets are available online at $25 for adults and $10 for children from 6-12 years of age. Tickets will also be available at the door for adults,$30, and children, $10. Sponsors santafe.com and Hutton Broadcasting will also be giving out Santa Fe Winter Fiesta passes to those who help meet the food-scarcity challenge by attending.
Does this sound tasty? All you have to do is put your money AND your mouth together at the Santa Fe Community Convention this Saturday to indulge in this great cause!
You’re invited to dinner in Santa Fe! In fact, we’re suspecting that you probably have a favorite Santa Fe Restaurant in mind, and we’d like to know what it is. Perhaps YOU will be the winner of our Facebook holiday contest!
Vegan Polenta from Galisteo Bistro
TripAdvisor recently named Santa Fe as one of its Top Ten US Food Destinations…..of course, we agree! And if you agree, we invite you to tell us so and possibly win a gift certificate to your favorite Santa Fe restaurant! Simply tell us in 30 words or less about a restaurant in the City Different that you especially enjoy, and if you post a photo of your meal, so much the better, since a picture piques the palate!
Our winner will be the person whose entry receives the most “likes” on Facebook, so be sure to make your entry descriptively delicious! The winner will receive a $200 gift certificate to their favorite Santa Fe restaurant. And be sure to vote as well, because we’re sweetening the pot by awarding a $100 gift certificate to one lucky voter, to be chosen at random by our contest administrator.
Breakfast Burrito at Tia Sophia
Please take time to read the contest rules on our Facebook page in order to avoid disqualification of your entry. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON, please, but you can vote as many times as you like. The winner will be determined by the total number of “likes” that the winning entry receives on our Facebook page. Beginning on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, you can find the contest on the left-hand column of our Facebook page. Just click on the icon called “Promos” to enter. Please remember, a tasty 30 words or less! And while restaurant professionals are most definitely welcome to enter, we respectfully request that you refrain from entering your own Santa Fe restaurant.
Sorry, but those who have won a gift certificate of any kind from the Inn in the last twelve months are not eligible to win, although we welcome their votes.
We thank you for entering and posting your entry on our Facebook page, beginning on Thanksgiving morning when our contest goes live! This culinary quest runs through the food-filled holiday season, from Thanksgiving Day, 11/24/11 through New Year’s Day, 1/1/12, but don’t delay…the sooner you post your tempting tidbit, the more time you’ll have for people to like it! Good luck, good eating and good holiday cheer!
A Collard Greens Burrito at Body Cafe
The Santa Fe School of Cooking is located at 116 West San Francisco Street , Santa Fe, NM 1-800-982-4688 or 505-983-4511 On Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SantaFeSchoolofCooking?sk=wall
When people think of Santa Fe, frequently the first thing they think of is the food. And with good reason! While both chile and beans may be ingredients in regional food around the world, our New Mexico cuisine is definitely like no other. Once you’ve tasted it, you’re hooked, and the next logical step is learning how to bring it all back home with you. And no one in Santa Fe has done more to help foodies bring the taste of Santa Fe to the home kitchen than Susan Curtis, founder of the Santa Fe School of Cooking and her daughters, Nicole Curtis Ammerman, currently managing the school, and Kristen Curtis Krell, who runs the team-building unit, Cookin’ Up Change. The Authentic Guide took some time this week to speak with Susan and Nicole about the school’s 20 years of sharing the flavor of Santa Fe.
Nicole Curtis Ammerman
How did the Santa Fe School of Cooking come into being, and what were the early years like?
Susan Curtis: The birth of the cooking school was the result of a SERIOUS midlife crisis. My last child was going off to college and what was I to do with the rest of my life? The early years were terrifying, but determination carried me through.
Since 1989, the Santa Fe School of Cooking has been whipping up a delicious experience for travelers in search of spicy tastes. Ever wanted to take a relleno and replace that gooey cheese filling with something new? You can learn! Perhaps the sustainable cooking traditions of the Native American culture intrigue you; if so, time in the kitchen with Lois Ellen Frank should be on your agenda. With classes that range from tasty home-made tortillas all the way to a lime-marinated salmon, the schedule has something to offer to both novices and experienced home chefs.
What are some of the most popular recipes the school has prepared through the years?
Nicole Ammerman: Our most popular recipes are the really authentic traditional New Mexican ones, such as our carne adovada, chiles rellenos and our red and green chile sauces. We also do a smoked pork tenderloin with an apple pinon chutney that is fantastic!
Were you surprised that both your daughters have kept the cooking flame (pun intended) burning in their lives?
Susan: No, I would have been surprised if they did not make food an important part of their lives. I grew up on a ranch where we raised and aged our meats (pork, beef, sheep), raised chickens, had a dairy farm, and planted a huge garden. I knew where food came. As a result, good food has always been important to our family both at home an in our travels.
After you “put on the apron” to lead the school, Nicole, what new ideas excited you the most?
Nicole: I have had a really fantastic time in the last 5 years implementing some fun new programs. I started running the Restaurant Walking Tours five years ago. The concept is that one of our chefs leads a tour on foot through downtown Santa Fe to visit four different restaurants where you meet the chef and taste some of the food that is made especially for our group. Our guests spend the afternoon eating, drinking and meeting some of Santa Fe’s top chefs….how can you beat that? We now have four different routes, so we are working with 16 of Santa Fe’s top restaurants!
Walking - and Eating - Your Way Through Santa Fe
As a veteran of the walking tour, I have to say that this is an excellent way to encounter some of the best Santa Fe restaurants without having to dine at each one individually, especially if your schedule only permits a short Santa Fe getaway. The tour literally gives you fodder for dining choices on your inevitable return visit to Santa Fe. For those with three nights to stay, the Inn’s Taste the City Different package combines the walking tour and a demonstration class into a culinary double-header. If a two-day hop is all you have time for, our Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience can give you a taste of what’s cooking in Santa Fe.
Can you describe an event at SFSoC that was even more perfect than you hoped? Or one that simply did not go as planned?
Susan: I really can’t think of one event. I am so deeply grateful that the school has been so popular and made so many people enjoy our local food and culture. On a funny note, one of the most memorable experiences was when somehow salt got placed in the sugar container, and our dessert was made with salt rather than sugar. The reaction by our guests was as you might expect.
A Chile Amor Class at the School
What are the hottest- (again, pun intended) selling items in the market store?
Nicole: We pride ourselves on selling the finest quality chiles and herbs. They are the same ones we use in the classes….so they are great and a lot of interesting varieties. We also really promote local New Mexican farms and products, so we sell lots of posole, blue corn meal and specialty food products. Also, the black clay cookware is so beautiful and functional, and we can’t keep those in stock!
The Santa Fe School of Cooking has always included supporting local, New Mexican businesses at the core of its mission. From the wild-crafted herbs available at the School’s Market to the sell-out Santa Fe Farmers Market classes, visitors will always find new paths to discovering New Mexico’s unique culinary traditions. The beautiful black cookware is oven to table – no surprise that it is often out of stock!
What adult beverages complement our spicy cuisine?
Susan: I like margaritas and wine that is not too dry with spicy food.
One of the school’s good friends is Dan Murray of Southern Wines and Spirits. For white wine lovers, he recommends a German Riesling such as J.J. Prum or Urban-Ohff or an Oregon Pinot Gris such as Bethel Heights. Red wine fans should simply seek out a Beaujolais. For those who have a margarita in their sights, Dan suggests Chamucos Blanco for a smoother taste or the Reposado for more tequila flavor and bite.
As a working mother, what’s your go-to menu for the kids after a work-day already spent in the kitchen, so to speak?
Nicole: I will admit that I am not very creative with my dinners at home, but my kids don’t really like their food “mixed’ with any other ingredients. So lots of roasted chicken, broccoli, rice and pasta. I do really pride myself on how healthy my family eats. My kids have never had fast food. No matter how tired I am, I always get a healthy dinner on the table for us!
If you could meet one famous chef, living or dead, who would it be why?
Susan: Julia Child, however, I did meet her at an IACP conference. I was speechless I was so intimidated.
If you could eat at one fabulous five-star restaurant, anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
Nicole: The Thomas Keller restaurant, French Laundry in Yountville, CA – wine country! I think I must be the only person I know in the food biz that hasn’t eaten there….and I have heard people I know say it was the best meal of their lives!
Private Dining at the French Laundry, Yountville, CA
The New Mexico state question: Red or green, and where?
Nicole: Christmas, of course! I like the green chile at The Guadalupe Café and the red chile at Atrisco!
Susan: I love both red and green. I ALWAYS stick with red at the Shed and green — there is a little road side take out place in Embudo called Sugars. They have the best green chile burrito that I have ever had.
Both the Shed and the Guadalupe Cafe are withing walking distance of the Inn, and our Front Desk can give easy directions to Atrisco and the village of Embudo, in northern New Mexico.
Red Chile - We Love it!
Green Chile - Hotter than It Looks!
Drooling yet? We are! Food talk always gets the juices going, so if you’re intrigued, check the Inn’s website for more information about either of our two cooking school adventures. And be sure to say “buen provecho” to our friends at the one and only Santa Fe School of Cooking!
Photos from the Santa Fe School of Cooking by Eric Swanson, all rights reserved.
Photo of the French Laundry, courtesy of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, all rights reserved.