Cooking Up Santa Fe Flavor

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

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

Susan Curtis

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!

MMMMM...Chicken Enchiladas!

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.

Diet-Wise Dining in Santa Fe

This week, the Authentic Guide welcomes guest blogger, Billie Frank, of The Santa Fe Traveler, a Santa Fe concierge and travel-planning company. Billie is here with a Santa Fe visitors guide to finding the best places to eat when special diets are in effect. Thanks, Billie!


Eating away from home can be challenging and never more so than when you have dietary restrictions. There are all sorts of special diets; heart-healthy, vegetarian or vegan, gluten and dairy intolerances, food allergies, weight loss plans, religious dietary restrictions; the list goes on and on. Here are some tips to make travel to Santa Fe, or anywhere, easier for the food-challenged.

  1. Plan ahead: When you have any sort of dietary issues, planning is essential. You can’t just walk into a restaurant and expect them to be able to accommodate special needs unless those needs are really simple (i.e. you need a grilled meat and steamed vegetable). Although more restaurants say they are catering to gluten-free diets on their regular menus, it’s always good to check in advance.  If you’re a vegetarian, and there’s one meat-free dish on the menu and it’s not to your liking, you may be able to get something you’ll enjoy if you talk to the restaurant in advance. Vegans should definitely make plans in advance unless the restaurant is known to be vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Any place can steam a vegetable and put it on pasta or rice, but you can do much better if the place is prepared for your needs.
  2. Research: Speak to someone at the Inn, consult with a travel planner knowledgeable about Santa Fe dining spots for appropriate restaurant recommendations for you or research on the Internet. Once you have recommendations, check the menus and reviews at websites like Open Table and Yelp. Read between the lines. Reviews can be tricky; good ones can be written by the restaurateur or their friends, bad ones by competitors. Open Table, at least, verifies the person writing the review has dined at the establishment they are writing about.
  3. Contact the restaurant(s) in advance: Once you choose the restaurants that interest you, contact them at least a few days ahead to make sure they can accommodate your special diet; not all can or will.
  4. Email or fax them your diet: Once you know that the restaurant can meet your needs, send them your dietary dos and don’ts so that there is no confusion in the kitchen. When you make your reservation, make sure it notes that you have special dietary needs and remind them when you arrive at the restaurant. Getting them your food needs in advance gives the chef time to review them and make sure he has the ingredients he needs and perhaps be more creative.
  5. Breakfast and lunch are easier than dinner: This may not always be the case, depending on your special needs, but if fruit and salads work for you, they are a good fallback. You may want something more elaborate for dinner.
  6. Pick a more upscale place: You can’t expect any kitchen to cope with really complicated special needs. You want a place that has a chef rather than a cook. The better the chef, the better your dinner
  7. Bring your own food: If you have highly specialized dietary needs, sometimes it’s easier to avoid restaurants for breakfast and lunch. If you don’t want to travel with your food, Santa Fe has a number of natural grocery stores and a Trader Joe’s which can make eating on your trip a lot simpler unless you really want the restaurant experiences. The Inn on the Alameda provides an ample breakfast. Let them know in advance what your dietary needs are, and they’ll try their best to provide appropriate foods.

You probably know that if you’re on a special diet, depending on how restrictive it is and what the chef has to work with based on your foods, your experience will differ from that of a person eating the menu choices. The truth is that some ingredients simply make food taste better.

Here’s a list of some Santa Fe restaurants that will accommodate special diets and do so gracefully. Unless noted, contact the restaurant in advance and make arrangements.

315 Restaurant and Wine Bar: Owner Louis Moskow says the restaurant is almost totally gluten-free and is willing to work with other special dietary needs. Chef Ryan Mann will rise to the occasion.

Savory Scallops at 315: Photo by Steve Collins

Coyote Café: Sara Chapman, one of the four owners of the restaurant Mark Miller made famous, says that Executive Chef (and her husband and co-owner) Eric DiStefano can accommodate most diets with advance notice.

Galisteo Bistro: Executive Chef and co-owner Rob Chickering and his wife, co-owner and pastry chef, Marge, are very welcoming to people with special dietary needs. Call Rob and let him know what you need; they’ll graciously accommodate you.

Epazote: Chef/Owner Fernando Olea is one of the most accommodating people in Santa Fe and he loves to feed people. He uses the foods of the New World to create a unique Mexican cuisine, but of course, your dietary restrictions will define the meal.

Las Fuentes: This restaurant has an almost gluten-free menu (just skip the crab cakes). Executive Chef, Chris McLean, will work with other special diets with advance notice. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Raaga: This new entry to the Santa Fe Dining scene offers Indian food and does a great job of it. The personable owner, Pramod “Paddy” Rawal, will gladly accommodate your dietary needs, and there are vegetarian entrees galore and vegan options, too.

Mouth-watering Mussels in Coconut Curry at Raaga: Photo by Steve Collins

Restaurant Martin: Owner Jennifer Rios, who runs the front of the house here (her husband and restaurant co-owner Martin is the Executive Chef), says no advance notice is necessary for special diets; just bring your food list. She says they are seeing more and more people who cannot eat off the menu. If you have a very unusual diet, contact them in advance to make sure they have the foods you need.

Terra: Executive Chef Charles Dale is the man who allowed me to think it’s possible to dine out on a very restricted diet. He said any chef should be able to deal with special dietary needs with advance notice. He loves the challenge and he delivers. Terra is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Compound: General Manager, Matias Guillen says that wheat-free, dairy-free and vegetarian diets can be accommodated without notice. If the vegetarian option on the current menu doesn’t speak to you, contact the restaurant, the Beard Award-winning Chef, Mark Kiffen, will create a dish using foods that are more appealing to you. Other diets can be accommodated with advance notice.

Vanessie: This restaurant, popular for its piano bar can accommodate special dietary needs with advanced notice.

If you have special dietary needs, you can travel to Santa Fe with the comfort of knowing that there are restaurants that care and will do their best to create a meal that meets your needs.

As a side note from the Inn’s vegan General Manager, you can also find vegan and gluten-free menus at Annapurna, the Treehouse Cafe and Bakery and Body Cafe of Santa Fe (which has a vegan chocolate ganache that will make you simply swoon with delight!).

It’s a Collard Green Burrito at Body Cafe of Santa Fe!

Billie Frank has over twenty-five years experience in sales, marketing and customer service. In 2004, she began a career in the hospitality industry at a small inn outside of Santa Fe, NM. After leaving that position, she worked as a concierge at two Four-Diamond hotels in Santa Fe for over four years. Billie is co-owner of The Santa Fe Traveler, a travel concierge and trip-planning service. She writes a travel blog, Santa Fe Travelers. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Authors note: As a long-time concierge in Santa Fe, the writer may have dined as a guest of some of the restaurants mentioned. Their generous hospitality has not influenced this post in any way.

Santa Fe Wine and Chile and What Else to Do!

Yet another busy summer is behind us, and the best time of the year for Santa Fe is here! Yes, “best” is quite a qualifier, but after 30+ years in New Mexico, I have come to believe that the months of September and October make for truly sublime travel to Santa Fe. The weather is perfection, the town is not as crowded, and there are still many things to do and see. One of the big events takes place this week as wine aficianados from around the world pour in to town (pun intended!) for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta.

Photo by Azampella

Wine and Chile is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and continues to be a huge draw for those who love to have their palate tickled with the zest of New Mexico’s chile-speckled cuisine and imbibe fine wines in the process. As always, all of the tickets for the Grand Tasting event at the Santa Fe Opera grounds went as fast as a celebratory bottle of Dom Perignon, but for the real wine-lovers, there are still many more events designed for tasting pleasure.


Wine Hour at the Inn: Photo by Eric Swanson

To many, the Reserve Tasting, at the Eldorado Hotel on Friday, 9/24 from 4:00-6:30 p.m., should be considered the big event. Boasting the best wines of the week, all participating wineries will be sharing their finest bottles. A silent auction of 50 rare wine lots will take place during the tasting to benefit the Wine and Chile Foundation’s education programs. This is an ideal event to attend before one of the winery dinners. Although at first blush (can’t help these puns), wine dinners may appear pricey, the prix fixe meals include the wines, paired in thoughtful flights with dinner, so these may actually be a bargain. If you’re staying at the Inn, you can skip the reserve tasting and save dollars for dinner by starting the night at the Inn’s wine hour.

If the appetizing thought of a winemaker dinner is on your radar, however, here are a few spots to consider, all within walking distance of the Inn. Obviously, if you take a look at the complete list of participating restaurants, you’ll see that this is just the tip of the wine carafe:

315, Beautifully Renovated

315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, at 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, is basing their Wednesday 9/22 dinner, referred to as Ten Years After, on wines from Bordeaux, vintage 2000. On Friday, 9/24, 315’s winemaker dinner will feature the Louis Jadot Burgundies. Chef/Owner Louis Moskow will be on hand both nights to ensure that all four courses of each dinner reflect a pairing that will enhance the wines; two seatings, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Trust the Italians to go all out! Stepping up to the plate with three full winery dinners is Osteria d’Assisi, 58 Federal Place, a perennial Santa Fe favorite for Italian comfort food. Wednesday 9/22 will feature Robert Mondavi wines. Thursday the 23rd will be a Premier Vino Italiano Di Kobrand spread, and on Friday, 9/24, Lino Pertussini and the crew will be plating, pouring and pairing Antinori Wines with Italian specialties.

If you are willing to go just a bit further away for your Italian fix, Pranzo, at 540 Montezuma Street, will let you practice your Italian lessons with recordings, while you fix your face in the powder room. All kidding aside (though you really can hear Italian lessons in the ladies), this friendly Italian grill will be welcoming Beringer Vineyards on Friday the 24th at 6:00 p.m., with a menu to match. Mangia!

Executive chef Megan Tucker is going all out these days at Amavi, 221 Shelby Street, and the restaurant is truly one of the most romantic spots to dine in downtown Santa Fe. Amavi will be welcoming Vin Iberian wines, bringing diners the best in Spanish wines, sure to complement the farm to table dining experience. Although the wine dinner menu is not listed on their website, it is sure to reflect some of these flavors from the classics, and winery dinners take place on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:00 p.m., one seating only.

And on the subject of Spanish influences, another Santa Fe favorite at 808 Canyon Road, El Farol, will be featuring wines of Chile at their winery dinner on Friday, 9/24. With an opening reception at 6:30 p.m., diners move from queso to flan, accompanied by interesting Chilean pairings.

If you are a fan of chef Martin Rios, Thursday night the 23rd is the time to head for Restaurant Martin, 526 Galisteo Street, at see what he can cook up to go with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Family-owned and operated means commitment, and Martin is definitely one of Santa Fe’s committed chefs. Canapes begin at 6:30 and seating is limited, don’t be late!

Cheese Maven Laura Werlin

Of course, with Santa Fe being such a hands-on sort of town, sit-down dinners are not the only thing that Wine and Chile has in its toque! Each year, the the Fiesta brings a series of intriguing learning experiences to entice the City Different’s food and wine aficionados. Both local food celebrities and national names will be in attendance at this year’s events, which include Chef’s Demos, Blind Tastings, Wine Seminars, Food Seminars, and even Chef”s Luncheons for those who want to make the midday meal their main event. There is truly something for every taste!

Beautiful Northern New Mexico: Photo Eric Swanson

If you are feeling forlorn about missing the Grand Tasting at the Opera, don’t despair; you can still get some New Mexico bragging rights of a different sort and acquire some nice art in the process, if you drive out of Santa Fe for the 13th Annual High Road to Taos Art Tour. Taking place every year over the last two weekends in September (9/18-19/10 and 9/25-26/10 this year), this is an event to which locals bring their friends to enjoy one of New Mexico’s loveliest drives in what many consider the best season of the year. The High Road Art Tour, occurring from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, is a chance to connect directly with local artists and see their studios as you visit the tiny, historic Land Grant villages tucked deep into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. If you feel like staying in Taos on Sunday night the 26th, you can catch a reading by renowned playwright, Sam Shepard, appearing in a benefit for the Society of the Muse of the Southwest, better known as SOMOS.

If that seem like too much driving, consider the Pecos Studio Tour, yet another artistic excursion into the surroundings environs of Santa Fe. 23 of the village’s artists will welcome visitors on Saturday and Sunday, 9/25-26, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. If you make either studio tour the closing to your wine experience, make sure you have had enough water to flush your bloodstream before driving on the backroads of New Mexico.

And last but not least, if you want some thertrical drama with your wine drama, head for the Santa Fe Fashion Outlets to catch the last performances of OM: Ten Tiny Epics in an Outlet Mall, Theatre Grottesco‘s autumn set of short plays (see my August posting below to read more). OM will be playing Thursday, 9/23 through Sunday 9/26 at 7pm, and yes, it is at the Outlet Mall, a quirky but successful venue for this adventurous and gifted troupe.

Salud, Buen Provecho, and above all, Disfrutele con Cuidado!


Vegetarian Santa Fe

True confessions: I am not so mindful as to have given up animal protein, but I do enjoy my healthful veggies along with those who are working their admirable way towards a higher consciousness. This kind way of eating is right in sync with the Santa Fe aesthetic, so it’s a pleasure to report that our little town has some big options for those who forego the way of the flesh.

Looking out at the Greenery at Body

Definitely on the list for its ability to satisfy vegetarians and vegans alike, Body is located at 333 West Cordova Road.  Not just a cafe, but also a spa and purveyor of soft and clingy clothing, Body boasts a completely organic menu that both tastes good and is good for you. And if you are a raw food purist, this is the place, with seven raw entrees on the menu! Everything we’ve tried so far at the Cafe has been appetizing in appearance, preparation and portion, and meat eaters can add chicken or fish to pump up a dish to their taste. You wouldn’t imagine that a collard green burrito would be on your list of things that are must-try, but for vegans, it’s a great choice, the collards tender and not bitter and the nut cheese creamy and dotted with cashews. The ambiance is soothing, with warm earth-tones and large picture windows that frame the outdoor greenery. Service is friendly but relaxed, with no pressure to hustle you on out when your plate has been collected. And once your plate has been collected, make sure you don’t ease out the door without dessert. This is chocolate that should be consumed without guilt, rich, dark, creamy and, in the case of the chocolate ganache with raspberry sauce, vegan! If you share a piece of this deeply delicious dessert, you can feel more virtuous when you admire the clothing on your way out, since the fit is one that makes sure you’ve been paying attention to your sweet calories!

A Collard Greens Burrito at Body Cafe

Another new gem that still seems to be largely undiscovered so far is Louie’s Corner Cafe, perched right on the NE corner of West Alameda and Galisteo Streets, a location that was just waiting for the perfect food fit. Named for a beloved pooch, this spot is unlikely to see a doggie bag, as everybody seems to clean their plates with gusto. The vegetarians in my family love the “fakin bacon” in the BLT, and the non-vegetarian was well contented with a juicy grilled Reuben sandwich with a refreshing cucumber salad on the side.  For those who like breakfast at dinner, try the migas (cheesy eggs scrambled with tortilla strips), which are divine; there was no question of what to order when I saw the look on the friendly server’s face after asking whether it should be the omelet or the migas! Speaking of omelets, however, there are a number of choices, including both Johnny-Be-Good and Johnny-Be-Bad versions, a nod and a wink to the clever entree titles scattered throughout the menu. Although a bit more for vegetarian palates than those of vegans, there is a vegan breakfast burrito, as well as several salads and sandwiches, along with a build-your-own sandwich option. Their strawberry tea is a refreshing treat to enjoy out on the patio while you’re watching the world stroll by, and a beer and wine license is now in place.

Louie’s on the Corner

Shohko’s Sushi

If you are hankering for fresh Oriental flavors, you can’t do better than Shohko at 321 Johnson Street! Continuously in business in Santa Fe for 34 years, this place does it right. Vegetable tempura is light and crisp and includes a chunk of green chile, and the bento box lunch gets veg-friendly when you order tofu instead of chicken or salmon. Vegans and vegetarians both do fine with the seaweed spinach salad and a few selections from the vegetarian sushi menu, and you can even order a sake flight if you know what you’re doing. Add in the serene atmosphere and Shohko’s presence in the kitchen, satisfaction guaranteed!

Veggie Chalupas at Atrisco

Of course, you ARE in Santa Fe so you have to try some sizzling green chile at some point, whether it’s coating a burrito or pooling on a plate of cheesy enchiladas. As much as we love several well-known downtown spots for local cuisine, crowds at the doorway can be a deterrent, so find your way over the the innocuous DeVargas Mall (Paseo de Peralta at Guadalupe Street) to settle in at Atrisco. The location makes getting a table easier, and including many locally grown foods is part of their mission. Vegetarians who love cheese are naturals for New Mexican cuisine, and vegans will enjoy the Veggie Especial, which has three incarnations, an enchilada plate, burrito or stuffed sopaipilla, with veggie chalupas on the menu for lighter appetites.

Real Food Nation

Finally, if you want to get out of the city and take a short drive to delicious, head for Real Food Nation, on the Old Las Vegas Highway at the junction with I-25 North (exit 292). Mostly organic, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices like roasted beet salad or creamy tomato soup, and gluten-free pizza by the slice, this spot is popular with the locals who live tucked in against the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos. You can check out the Meal of the Day postings on their website, then eat in or take it to go for a picnic in the mountains. You have to give kudos to a restaurant that has its lettuce garden in full glory outside the front door, along with five acres of on-site produce – now that’s farm to table!

Between these options and the Inn’s breakfast, with organic cereals, dairy and coffee, you can put your vegetarian palate at ease. You’ll eat as well as the others do, no sacrifices needed!

Santa Fe Serves Up Restaurant Week

Great dining destinations deserve great deals once in a while…and New Mexico delivers with its first annual restaurant week! For two exciting weeks, Santa Fe and Albuquerque restaurants will be upping the ante in the kitchen while they’re dropping the price in the dining room to create deals that satisfy the palate and the wallet. If there was ever a time to visit New Mexico with our regional cuisine in mind, this is it! The brainchild of Michele Ostrove and Lucien Bonnafoux of Wings Media Network, this first annual culinary event kicks off on February 28 after only a few months of whirlwind planning.

Wine then dine!

Wine & Dine!

Santa Fe serves up this dining extravaganza first, for the seven days from 2/28 through 3/6, with prices ranging from two for $25, up to $40 per person.Years ago, the Inn on the Alameda decided on its opening to forego a hotel restaurant, so our well-fed staff is prepared to offer honest advice about any participating establishment, and guests of the Inn can tap into a prix fixe meal at the following restaurants after enjoying the Inn’s complimentary 4:00-5:00 pm wine hour.

Smart diners will recognize the $40 deal represented by the following fine dining options: The Inn of the Anasazi, Geronimo, Terra at Encantado, The Compound and Trattoria Nostrani.

A $25 per person charge applies for the broad swath of excellent choices at these restaurants: A La Mesa!, Amavi, Amaya at Hotel Santa Fe, Andiamo, Café Paris, Cowgirl BBQ, Dinner for Two, El Meson, Epazote, Fuego at La Posada, Galisteo Bistro, Joe’s, La Boca, La Casa Sena, La Plazuela at La Fonda, La Stazione in the Railyard, Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, Milagro 139, The O’Keeffe Café, Osteria d’Assisi, Rio Chama, Ristra, San Francisco Street Bar and Grill, The Old House, Vanessie, and Vinaigrette.

And two can eat for only $25 per couple at these convivial spots: Blue Corn Café (both locations), Flying Star Café, Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, Pranzo, Rooftop Pizzeria Sleeping Dog Tavern and the Zia Diner.

In addition to the plethora of affordable dining experiences, there will be a series of Santa Fe culinary events that allow food mavens to expand their knowledge and hone their skills. Classes range from perfecting the classic Caesar Salad to discovering the panoply of foods of the Americas to finding inspiration in the humble taco, all under the tutelage of Santa Fe’s kitchen masters.

On Sunday, 2/28/10 at 4:00pm, Petro Pertusini of Osteria d’Assisi offers the Art of Making a Caesar Salad. On Monday, 3/1/10, at 10:00am, Rocky Durham demonstrates Traditional New Mexico Cooking at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Featured on Tuesday, 3/2/10, at 11:30am at Epazote, are Fernando Olea, Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater, who share an informative talk and three-course tasting of tacos and their origin. Ms. Frank and Mr. Whitewater return on Wednesday 3/3/10 at 10:00am at the Santa Fe School of Cooking to demonstrate Native American Cooking. The Wines of Italy are the focus of a talk that night by Lisa Anderson of National Distributing at 6:00pm at Osteria d’Assisi.

Wines return on Thursday, 3/4/10 at 5:00pm, when Walter Gallegos leads a tasting at Fuego! At La Posada. For beer lovers, also on Thursday the 4th , the Blue Corn Café and Brewery Southside hosts a brewery tour and tasting at 5:00pm. Friday events include an 11:30am Foods of the Americas tasting presented by Fernando Olea, Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater at Epazote, as well as an Old World vs. New World Wine tasting at La Casa Sena at 5:00pm, hosted by James Cook and Michael Gelb. This delicious week is capped on Saturday, 3/6/10 at 5:00 pm, with The Art of Making Cocktails, by Calvin Lathrop, the talented bartender at Osteria d’Assisi.

On March 7, the dining action shifts to Albuquerque until March 13, whetting the appetite with $25 per person and $25 couple options. The state’s largest city continues to expand its dining options and out-of-towners and New Mexicans alike can certainly find an excuse to head for the Duke City and discover who is in the kitchen!

$25 per person offerings can be found at these Albuquerque dining destinations: Artichoke Café, Brasserie La Provence, Casa Vieja, Chama River Brewing Company, Corn Maiden at Hyatt Tamaya, El Pinto, Pueblo Harvest Café, Lucia, McGrath’s Restaurant and Lounge, Pars Cuisine, Prairie Star, Savoy Bar & Grill, Scalo, Seasons Rotisserie and Grill, Slate Street Café, St. Clair Winery & Bistro, Trombino’s Bistro Italiano, ZEA Rotisserie and Grill, and Zinc Wine Bar. Two for $25 specials are available at these two spots: Flying Star Café Downtown and Sandiago’s Mexican Grill.

Albuquerque culinary events appear on three alternating days with a Tequila and Chile Presentation by Jim Garcia at El Pinto on Tuesday, 3/9/10 at 6:30pm, repeated on Thursday, 3/1//10 at the same hour. A Toast New Mexico Restaurant Week wine tasting takes place on Saturday, 3/14/10 at 4:00pm at St. Clair Winery & Bistro, presented by Kevin Jakel, the winery’s general manager.

Bring a big appetite and a small wallet and come celebrate this first for New Mexico! Bienvenidos!

Muy Sabrosa!

Muy Sabrosa!