Santa Fe Food Spotlight: Mole!

Santa Fe Food Spotlight: Mole!

Holy mole! Santa Fe is a foodie paradise—and, no visit is complete without sampling the best mole Santa Fe has to offer.

Sazon, just a few blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza, puts a spotlight on mole. Since 1991, Chef Fernando Olea, a native of Mexico City, has been preparing a variety of signature moles in his Santa Fe restaurant.

Ranging from spicy to sweet, Sazon features a selection of moles made fresh each day, including Mole Negro, Mole Poblano, Coloradito, and New Mexico Mole, which Chef Olea created in 2009, to commemorate Santa Fe’s 400-year anniversary.

A sauce of complex flavors that combines toasted and ground spices, seeds, nuts, chocolate, and chile, mole recipes can include more than 30 ingredients. Every great Mexican cook has their own unique recipe, but mole remains a Mexican cuisine mystery because its exact origins are unknown.

Sazon serves its moles with locally sourced meats and produce, and fish flown in daily. The rest of the menu is full of authentic Mexican fare and a variety of decadent desserts. There is also an extensive wine, tequila, and mezcal list, along with specialty cocktails, some named after famous Mexican artists, like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

With its inventive menu, first-class service, and rich Southwestern décor, Sazon is a destination in itself. You’ll receive a warm welcome and feel like you’re visiting a lifelong friend, as Chef Olea often greets each diner.

The ambience of the restaurant draws you in, with works by some of New Mexico’s finest artists decorating the space. The main dining room features a large mural illustrating all of the ingredients found in mole that was painted and presented to Chef Olea by Federico Leon De La Vega, a well-known artist from Mexico City.

For a taste of authentic mole in a relaxing artistic location, Sazon is a must-visit dining spot when you visit Santa Fe.

And if you don’t feel like venturing out for a meal, our own Agoyo Lounge also has a signature mole dish – our Chicken Mole Tostadas. Enjoy an evening in savoring something from our cantina menu, which offers a wide variety of international tastes and flavors, from mole dishes to our famous Cowboy Hash, Salmon Chipotle Tacos, and even Moroccan Sliders.

Staying in town? See if your favorite spot is available 

The Tequila Master and the Margarita

Santa Fe has had a long illustrious relationship with tequila. And the margarita. Since its origins as one of the key outposts along the Camino Real (the “King’s Highway” of Colonial times that stretched 1,200 miles from just north of Santa Fe all the to Mexico City), the City Different has long recognized tequila, especially Mexican tequila, as a strong part of its cultural and economic makeup.

Today, what little most people know about this centuries-old “cactus juice” comes to them in the form of the margarita. Most of which are frozen and machine-made. But this syrupy-sweet, semi-frozen concoction has little to do with a real margarita. In its purest form, the margarita remains an excellent showcase for a variety of flavors.

In its traditional form, the margarita adheres to a 3-2-1 ratio: 3 parts tequila to 2 parts triple sec (orange liqueur) and 1 part fresh lime juice. (The rim may or may not be salted.) That’s it. It’s hard to imagine how something so simple could be commercialized to the point that it can come from a machine, a bottle, or a concentrate. How could these ever compare to the fantastic explosion of tastes contained in a properly made margarita? The one with fresh lime juice, the sensuous orangey sweetness of a good orange liqueur, and the fine flavors of various tequilas.

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Many theories about the origin of the drink abound. It’s been alleged to have been invented in 1948 by a wealthy Dallas socialite, Margaret Sames, to entertain friends at her vacation home in Acapulco. Her friend Tommy Hilton enjoyed one so much he began to carry them on the bar menus of all the Hilton Hotels. Others think the drink, and its name, originated from the prohibition-era cocktail the “Daisy.” Supposedly a bartender accidentally poured tequila, not brandy, into a Daisy, and—voila!—invented the margarita (Spanish for daisy). Others contend that a Tijuana bartender invented it for Rita “Margarita” Hayworth, who as a teenager purportedly entertained audiences at the Agua Caliente Racetrack in the 1930’s. It could also be a rebranded Picador cocktail, which was clearly a prototype of the margarita. Regardless, the first recorded mention of the cocktail is in 1930 in G.F. Steele’s My New Cocktail Book. In 1953, Esquire designated it their “drink of the month” (saying, “she is lovely to look at, exciting and provocative”).

The origins of tequila itself are much clearer and are steeped in the syncretism found in contemporary North American Hispanic and Mesoamerican cultures.  For the early Mesoamerican peoples and the Aztec, the fermented product of the American agave, or maguey, was pulque. This is a simply fermented and mildly alcoholic preparation of maguey sap that was held in great sacred respect and was an integral part of many religious festivals and ceremonies. Following the invasion of the Spanish, the drink was secularized and pulque became a popular libation among the lower classes. The upper classes were oriented to European tastes, so wine and brandy prevailed as their more popular drink.

RitaHayworthDistillation of pulque led to the more concentrated and powerful spirits we know today as mescal and tequila (coming from different subspecies of agave). This was made utilizing Spanish technology and techniques to produce a hybridized drink that celebrated the “best of both worlds,” one that echoed the syncretic and hybridized culture that produced it.

Myself, I usually go for straight shots, some lime slices, and salt.  (And my tequilas of choice, in the form of a Reposado, are: Patrón, Jose Cuervo Tradicional, and El Tesoro.) But whatever your form of tequila consumption, the Agoyo Lounge at Inn on the Alameda serves them all. Our fine and diverse selection of tequilas makes for an evenly spaced evening of shots, margaritas, or even Jimmy Buffet’s (or the Eagles’) tequila sunrises. But once you get started, our warm and inviting atmosphere will induce you into spending hours in front of our fireplace (in the winter) or, in the summer, relaxing contentedly on the patio.

Add from our menu any or all of these Mexican specialties: guacamole with salsa and chips, empanadas, chicken enchilada casseroles, gordita flour tacos, calabacitas, or Bear’s famous Atomic Frito Pie!

Even better, the Inn on the Alameda and our Agoyo Lounge will be kicking off Cinco de Mayo as one of the top stops along Santa Fe’s inaugural Margarita Trail. The Trail will be offering a “culinary cocktail experience” that shows off the best Santa Fe has to offer, with drinks priced at seven to twelve dollars. We’ll have margaritas of all makes and colors, and our fine selection of top-of-the-line tequilas will have you feeling like John Wayne, who once wrote a letter to the owner of Sauza Tequila telling him that in the Duke’s home, tequila had become “as necessary in our household as air and water.”

But like everything else in life, moderation is the key to happiness. And in the case of tequila and margaritas, to a morning without hangovers or upset stomachs.

Joe’s Blog: Thanksgiving – A Day of Recognition of the Native Americans’ Invaluable Friendship

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Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Thanksgiving is a day usually filled with remembrances of smells of turkey and pumpkin pie, uncles and aunts, cousins, football and fall weather. But a review of the underlying history of Thanksgiving reveals a story that is far from the Norman Rockwell image of Dad carving a turkey at the dining room table in some imaginary New England home.

7b996853e96f19991cf882311958f365The real Thanksgiving celebration most likely only occurred once…and lasted three days. Neither turkey, nor potatoes, nor pumpkin pie were on the menu, but waterfowl and venison were – oh, and unsweetened cranberries (as no sugar was yet available in New England). This Thanksgiving was a very appropriate one. The first English pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 with hardly any survival skills suited to their new land. Most died during that first winter from starvation and exposure to the elements. 1622 proved no different; in fact, it wasn’t until 1623 that the harvests became more reliable and bountiful. If it were not for a sole Patuxet Native named Squanto, colonization would likely have been set back by decades.

To paint a more balanced picture than Norman Rockwell’s, it is rarely mentioned that in 1614, English explorers initially returned to England in ships loaded with as many as 500 Patuxet Indian slaves bound for market. This was the hapless tribe that happened to be at ground zero of these European explorers’ arrival. Later, when New England’s first settlers arrived, only one Patuxet remained alive, English-speaking Squanto, who had survived slavery in England and returned later to New England thanks to the graces of a befriended Englishman. During the first two horrible years of near starvation, the Pilgrims were taught by Squanto and the neighboring Wampanoaga people how to grow corn and to survive in this new land. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty for the Pilgrims with the nearby and very large Wampanoaga tribe. At the end of the hardships of the first year, there indeed was a 3-day Thanksgiving feast honoring Squanto and their new neighbors, the Wampanoagas, but in reality the harvest was meager and there was little to eat that winter following this thanksgiving.

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Despite the continual hardship, the word spread throughout England of this newly found “paradise” in America, so countless new settlers arrived. And as always in such situations, when a more technologically superior people enter a less advanced peoples’ land, tensions increased between races until a state of war for survival arose. And such was the case with the New England Natives and the waves of land and freedom hungry colonists. Unfortunately, soon both governors and clergy began calling for days of thanksgiving following successful victories against the natives.

In 1789, President George Washington called for “ a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favours of God Almighty”. In 1863, during the Civil War, to foster a sense of national unity, Abraham Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. FDR in 1939 set the date as the 4th Thursday of November to add additional economic energy prior to Xmas, and hence the term Black Friday was probably coined, commemorating the day when retailers went from being in the red to being in the black. Our consumer driven culture solidified over the 20th century the iconic foods, settings, and modern traditions of our national holiday.

Now with the history under our soon-to-be straining belts, how better to celebrate Thanksgiving than coming to the land of the ancient Pueblos who had already been in existence for hundreds of years prior to the English explorers’ arrival on this continent?

The Inn on the Alameda’s restaurant, the Agoyo Lounge, traditionally prepares a “reservations-recommended” Thanksgiving dinner for guests and locals alike. We cook up a unique and special menu, which you can view on our website. Please join us around the fires to enjoy a day of thanksgiving for living in one of the greatest countries in the world and certainly enjoying it in one of the greatest and most unique cities in the world.

Joe’s Blog: Open Fires & Hot Toddies

 

 

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One of New Mexico’s signature scents is the roaring open fire, burning bright with Pinon and juniper. At the Inn on the Alameda we’d like to also include the tempting scents of hot cider cocktails and Toddies.

PicMonkey Collage

Toddy Stick & Jerry Thomas

Hot drinks are an American tradition. Early Colonial era gatherings were enlivened with the tradition of “Flipping” drinks, adding a hot iron to the cocktail to make it froth and “flip” about. The earliest recipes consisted of a blend of beer, rum and sugar. Over time, eggs were added and the beer was reduced. Eventually this drink evolved into the now familiar nogs.The father of modern Bartending, the famed Jerry Thomas, included many variations of flips in his influential books on cocktails.

www.brandyrand.com

www.brandyrand.com

No discussion of hot drinks would be complete without mentioning the traditional Irish balm: the Hot Toddy. Mixing whiskey with boiling water, sugar or honey, lemon and spices provides a revivifying effect. The vitamin C and honey help explain the soothing efficacy of the drink in treating the cold effects of winter. The toddy can be fine tuned in many different ways to individualize the drink. In the Midwestern United States it can be made with the addition of ginger ale, a decidedly non-traditional preparation.

It is good naturedness that provides the final element of hot drink perfection, the quality of welcome, which you will find at the Inn on the Alameda. Cultures around the world have terms to refer to this ineffable quality. For Germans it’s called Gemütlichkeit, the quality of a situation or location that induces a sense of welcoming coziness and unhurried warmth. That’s a standard we’re proud to offer – come see us soon for a soul-warming beverage of your choice.

Summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Yes, it’s summer, and the sunsets have been glorious, as will be the summer arts scene in the City Different.

Santa Fe Sunsets are Memorable

The Santa Fe Opera season opens on June 29th with a gala performance of Puccini’s Tosca. This year’s repertoire should be an opera fan’s delight, with five, count ’em five, new productions: In addition to Tosca, you can enjoy Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger, Giacomo Rossini’s Maometto II, andArabella by Richard Strauss, founder John Crosby’s favorite composer.

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival kicks off on July 15th and runs through August 20th, with many familiar names. The Orion String Quartet will return, as will flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni will take a night off from his opera duties to sing in town. And Santa Fe welcomes Alan Gilbert, conductor of the New York Philharmoic and former Music Director of the Santa Fe Opera, to the stage for several viola performances.

The Santa Fe Bandstand brings free music to the Santa Fe Plaza Monday through Thursday nights at 6pm beginning on July 5. Mondays and Wednesdays also feature concerts at noon, with all performances running through August 16.

The big arts events are all scheduled to return, with the exception of the SOFA show, which was sadly cancelled for this year.

Matluba Bazarova, featured Folk Artist from Uzbekistan

Handmade SilK and Felt Scarves from Kyrgyzstan

The 12th annual ART Santa Fe returns to the City Different from July 12-15. TheSanta Fe International Folk Art Market takes place on Museum Hill on July 13-15, followed shortly by the 61st Annual Spanish Market on July 27-29. And it wouldn’t be August without SWAIA’s Indian Market, with the 91st iteration taking place on August 17-19.

What’s new in Santa Fe? The Santa Fe School of Cooking is moving to its new digs on July 1st, with ground level access and their own parking lot. The new location is at 125 North Guadalupe Street.

317 Aztec has taken over the space of the former Aztec Cafe, bringing a focus on raw salads, juices and vegan/vegetarian items. The sorely-missed Plaza Cafe has yet to re-open, but we are watching the progress on Lincoln Avenue. The Palace Restaurant is definitely back in the saddle, complete with red-flocked wallpaper and the talents of Joseph Wrede, formerly of Joseph’s Table in Taos, headlining the kitchen. And there’s a patio in back!

The Sun-Dappled Patio at La Casa Sena

Speaking of outdoor dining, a patio does make for a wonderful evening, and the patio at Restaurant Martin is as gorgeous as the food. SantaCafe is always a stellar outdoor choice, and La Casa Sena has renovated their menu along with their patio. The patio at The Compound is always peaceful and cool, and the Coyote Cantina (sorry, no reservations) is always a lively scene.

Since your time may be better spent enjoying a daytrip, we are always happy to discuss dining options or make dinner reservations for you; you just need to call us at 888-984-2121 for suggestions or assistance.

Take a Daytrip into Beautiful New Mexico, Photo by Eric Swanson

Let us be YOUR Santa Fe!

Santa Fe Holiday Food Fun!

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