Fall…in Love with Santa Fe

I love the way one season slips seamlessly into another here in Santa Fe. The added crisp in the air makes the blues of the sky more brilliant, the sunsets deeper shades of red and purple, and the aspen-covered mountaintops rich shades of gold. And if magnificent landscapes haven’t convinced you to hop a plane/car/boat/train/space shuttle/horse, September is chock-full of activities and events for every interest and palate. Here’s a quick peek:

Flex into Fall at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival

Santa Fe’s clean air, abundant outdoor recreation and farm-fresh food all over town attracts a healthy coterie of yoga-loving souls. With studios tucked all over the City Different, like-minded individuals can find a yoga class any day of the week. It all comes together at the first-ever Santa Fe Yoga Festival on Labor Day weekend Aug. 28-31. Taking place in the serene setting of Bishop’s Lodge Resort and Spa (rooms still available), the festival opens with a drum ceremony and blessing, followed with music by Native Spirits to accompany the setting sun. Native drums not your thing? The variety of yoga classes offered is as awesome as the list of instructors. In combination with special dharma talks, musical offerings and even a Zozobra excursion and after-party, this is one mind-blowing, body-centered, soul-fulfilling three-day weekend.

Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)

Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)

Fusing Food and Fun is a Santa Fe Specialty

Once I’ve fused myself into fall mode via yoga, I’m heading for FUZE.SW, a deliciously enticing Sept. 12-14 celebration of food and folklore. A potent mix of James Beard Award-winning chefs blends with a tasty, coast-to-coast recipe of authors and food historians offering demonstrations and leading discussions. And of course, there’s food —Friday night at the Green Chile Smackdown (tickets sold separately) pairs with Fuze DineAround specials at local restaurants and Saturday offers food-truck lunching and a Five & Dime Frito Pie finish.

Chefs like James Campbell Caruso of La Boca stir up discussions, insights and more at FUZE.SW

The Thunder Hits Santa Fe in September

After pairing food fantasies with facts at FUZE.SW, running it off is in the offing thanks to the Santa Fe Thunder Run. For me the Sept. 14 half-marathon is wishful thinking, but I’m up to speed for the 5K. And a one-mile walk gives couch potatoes an excuse to get out into the countryside. The half-marathon starts in the heart of Santa Fe on a scenic course, dropping 1,000 feet downhill through Tesuque Village, passing the Santa Fe Opera, Tesuque Pueblo and Camel Rock before reaching the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino finish line. The feel-good extra? The non-profit Global Running Culture uses race proceeds as the primary income source for local and global programs empowering youth through fun and fulfilling sports activities.

Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Game of Thrones Fans Get Medieval in Autumn Since “Winter is Coming”  

Speaking of fun, with September comes one of Santa Fe’s most fanciful events, the Sept. 20-21 Renaissance Faire at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.  If you’ve never visited El Rancho, you owe it to yourself to wander the grounds of this living history museum as locals in medieval garb pursue creative capers.

Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

You’ll be awed by Clan Tynker’s feats of magic and musical mayhem and an assortment of sword-fighting swashbucklers will thrill Game of Thrones fans. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out to see if local resident/author George R.R. Martin makes an appearance! It’s a certainty that their majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella will be there to hold court over this benefit for the Interfaith Community Shelter. Sixteen food vendors and a host of arts and crafts stands help make this a memorable weekend of bedlam and buffoonery.

 

Wind Your Way into Autumn with Wine and Chile

There’s a different kind of bedlam when the big tent goes up at the Santa Fe Opera for Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. Fine wines and fiery foods take center-stage Sept. 24-28 with a long list of tastings, seminars, demonstrations and wine dinners at Santa Fe’s best restaurants. Take the inaugural Gran Fondo Bike Ride to burn off extra calories as you stop at food stations for caloric indulgence before finishing with a champagne brunch. The Gruet Golf Classic pairs six signature wines with food from 10 terrific restaurants at Buffalo Thunder’s Towa Golf Course. And the Grand Tasting? I guarantee that once you partake in this truly grand experience, you’ll come back annually for the taste of Santa Fe!

There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Fall Under Santa Fe’s Autumn Spell

The flow into fall is packed with delicious adventures for those lucky enough to live here or smart enough to get here for the magic. Whether it’s flexing your body into cobra pose or testing your palate at the west’s best wine festival, Santa Fe has it made. I’m up to this tempting task — how about you?

 

 

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Eat Local: Head South

Know how it feels to unearth a hidden gem? Lately, hunger for the new has led me to the places locals love and visitors love discovering. Santa Fe dining gets plenty of good press, but maybe southside Santa Fe is a new concept to you. Thanks to a lively downtown that managed to fill in all the empty spaces over the last 400-plus years, the City Different has been expanding towards the south. Where there are residents, there will be restaurants. And where there is food, you’re going to find fun. Let’s take a trip down south, shall we?

Santa Fe finds great food and Southside festivities at San Isidro Plaza. (Photo Credit: Michael Dellheim, courtesy of San Isidro Plaza)

Santa Fe finds great food and Southside festivities at San Isidro Plaza. (Photo Credit: Michael Dellheim, courtesy of San Isidro Plaza)

Music, the Southside Appetizer

I have been raving about (and delighting in) the weeknight Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand Music Series. I can never get enough of the sounds of summer and my favorite bands and dear old friends have all made an appearance. But no one I know is singing “Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody” because we head south to the other Plaza for Saturday night performances. From 7-10 p.m. through Aug. 30, every local music hound is rocking to the beat on the San Isidro Plaza. And when you combine a night of free music and dancing with dinner at any of my secret haunts, your Saturday night will be extra-special!

Miraculous Meals are at El Milagro

Author Wayne Dyer says, “I am realistic — I expect miracles.” He should head for El Milagro (translation: The Miracle) to prove that thesis on a plate! Tucked inside San Isidro Plaza, this is the spot to bite into a tortilla burger. Smothered in red, green or both, it’s El Milagro’s New Mexico twist on an American standard. I dare you to try passing on the jalapeno poppers.

The sopapilla sundae at El Milagro is a towering treat. (Photo Credit: El Milagro)

The sopapilla sundae at El Milagro is a towering treat. (Photo Credit: El Milagro)

A full roster of New Mexican specialties includes the famed Indian taco (frybread base instead of tortilla) so you don’t have to wait for Indian Market to indulge. And leave room for something sweet, because Food Network Magazine ranks El Milagro’s Sopaipilla Sundae as the No. 1 frozen dessert in New Mexico.

There’s More than One Plaza Café to Please Your Palate

When you wander onto the Santa Fe Plaza, you’ll see the Native vendors lined up under the portal on the north side and hungry eaters lined up west outside the Plaza Café. Fortunately for those in the know, there’s an expansive outpost of this renowned restaurant named (easy guess) the Plaza Café Southside.

There’s a table waiting for you at the Plaza Café Southside. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)

There’s a table waiting for you at the Plaza Café Southside. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)

Locals and in-the-know visitors head south to San Isidro Plaza to munch on old favorites and their dedication has made the southside diner a favorite for the hungry hoards. Diner-style means a huge selection and breakfast all day and the house-made green chile cheddar bread is the perfect foil for fried eggs. And like many diners across the country, the Plaza Café has Greek roots, so the savory Greek Cheese Fries (house-cut fries with olive oil, lemon-caper sauce, oregano, feta & myzithra cheese) are a regular on my radar.

Cap Off a Trip to New Mexico’s Capitol at The Capitol Grill

San Isidro Plaza keeps the food choices coming. And me, I keep coming back to the Santa Fe Capitol Grill for fish and chips. As much as I love our New Mexico cuisine, I am a fish-on-Friday girl and it’s even better if I can find it any night of the week. Appetizers are supremely appetizing — just thinking about the duck nachos makes me hungry. I love the seating here too.

Capitol Grill’s fish and chips are an all-year treat.

Capitol Grill’s fish and chips are an all-year treat.

Quiet booths in the back allow for a cozy dinner with your cookie and the convivial bar area is inviting for a meet-up. Two happy hour opportunities make me and my gal pals perfectly happy to meet for an after-work or an after-dinner cocktail. And those Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Sundays are a very comforting promise on Saturday nights.

Home, Home on the Ranch

Santa Fe’s arts culture is noteworthy, but ranch culture is also a big part of our history. And anywhere there’s a ranch, there’s a ranch house. When I travel south to scan the racks for vintage at Look What the Cat Dragged In, I cross the street for a treat at The Ranch House. If I time my shopping right, I can score a seat during the 4-6 p.m. happy hour for a Pineapple Margarita or a signature Burro cocktail with Taos-made Lightning Bourbon.

Eat in or take-out:, Either way the Ranch House BBQ is smokin’ good. (Photo Credit: The Ranch House)

Eat in or take-out:, Either way the Ranch House BBQ is smokin’ good. (Photo Credit: The Ranch House)

Only two steak brands – New Mexico all-natural or Gold Canyon natural reserve angus – but all four cuts come topped by roasted shallot bourbon butter and crispy onions with calabacitas (New Mexico’s classic squash and chile mix) and baked potato sides. And not only do I love to eat the BBQ in, it’s a to-go lifesaver after work.

Think Outside the Square

Just when you think you’ve eaten at all the best spots, someone you know ups the ante by asking “Did you try that little place south of town?” If you’ve been reading here before eating here, I know you’ve been licking your chops to add some global cuisine or patio dining to your next Santa Fe visit. Now you can also take my Southside Santa Fe secrets for a trip, secure in the knowledge that you have all the answers.

 

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Say ¡Que Viva Santa Fe!

I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but summer’s end is my favorite time of year. The gorgeous weather, a bounty of produce and Santa Fe’s liveliest local festivities offer the ultimate in hometown fun. The Que Viva feeling is alive, and I intend to get in the spirit.

Santa Fe Burns with Devotion to Old Man Gloom

Though I love my old man (okay, he’s not that old), I also love the Old Man, Zozobra, 90-year-old boss of this town. Picture a lovingly-crafted marionette scaled to more than 50 feet tall then set alight in a blaze of glory on a dark summer night.

Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.

Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.

Created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster and gifted in 1964 to the Santa Fe Kiwanis, Zozobra (aka Old Man Gloom) is Santa Fe’s annual cure for disappointment. Stuffed with the community’s glooms—pounds of shredded paper, including report cards, divorce papers and tax returns–he goes up in flames amid fantastic fireworks.

Zozobra’s Aug. 29 burning inaugurates the Decades Project, taking the event creatively back through time with designs mirroring past decades. Tongues are already wagging about his appearance, always one of our city’s most closely guarded secrets. In 2013, the Kiwanis added Zozofest, a family-friendly event (the actual burning can be scary) and this pre-burn fun comes to Sanbusco Market Center Aug. 23, 3-10 p.m. An all-Zozo art exhibition will be on display through Sunday afternoon and a portion of all sales benefits Zozobra events.

With a live entertainment backdrop, Mr. Z’s enormous head will be set up inside for photo ops. Gotta get something off your chest? Zozofest lets you add your gloom in person! And for those who can only be here in spirit, Virtual Zozobra gets your woes inside before The Old Man goes up in smoke! Can’t be there in person? The event will be streamed live here.

Fiestas de Santa Fe is a Centuries-old Party

Santa Fe’s 400-plus-year-old annual Fiestas de Santa Fe takes center stage to mark the 1692 re-conquest of the city following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Presided over by a re-enactment of Conquistador Don Diego and his Cuadrilla (think entourage) and escorted by a Queen (La Reina) and her court, Fiesta is utterly local and totally fun. Preparatory activities happen throughout the year and pre-Fiesta entertainment starts on the Plaza Aug. 23, 3-7 p.m. A Labor Day Weekend Arts and Crafts Fair, taking place Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, sets the tone for the upcoming festivities.

A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.

A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.

The Lensic hosts two Sept. 3 Mariachi Extravaganza performances; nothing like a few gritos to get you in the mood! Weekend food booths (yum!) set up Sept. 5 with an assortment of free entertainment on the Plaza Bandstand throughout. And two parades! Desfile de los Ninos (better known as the Pet Parade) provides “awwws” and paws Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. and Desfile de la Gente (the Hysterical-Historical Parade) amuses on Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. I’m the one yelling ¡Que Viva la Fiesta!— just answer “¡Que Viva!”

Be Green Burger-Wise

Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?

Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?

Food fits anyone’s agenda and personally I’m savoring the return of the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. Santa Fe takes mixing chile and burgers seriously and everyone’s invited to sample and vote. Contenders are vying to reach the finals and group burger-crawls are being spotted all over town. Voting closes Aug. 15 when six talented finalists pause until the Sept. 12 chow-down cook-off in the Santa Fe Railyard. Burger-lovers be warned: The 500 tickets for this taste test (beer included) will sell out!

If a burger and a beer don’t ring your bell, save your palate for the Sept. 24-28 return of the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival. Glad I can attend both (hint: so can you)! Ninety wineries and 75 restaurant partners put their heads together to create a stunning set of pairings, with signature events happening over five days. The blend of seminars, wine dinners, tastings and demonstrations will keep you sipping. And it all culminates with a Grand Tasting on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera.

Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Taste the Best of Summer in Santa Fe

Dying for a taste of Santa Fe? No apologies — that was my intention! I’m Santa Fe’s biggest summer cheerleader, and every one of these events is a winner in my book. Meet Old Man Gloom, shake paws with a pup dressed as Pikachu and grab a zesty bite of green chile — there’s plenty to go around and everyone’s invited to this summer party.

 

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Santa Fe: Native Treasures and Artistic Pleasures

Even with its long days, summer is a season that simply seems to fly by. But here in Santa Fe, our numerous arts events prove summer has yet to reach its peak. I’ll be taking my vacation off-season and enjoying the great weather at home, because August is an amazingly artful month of can’t-miss experiences.

Indian Market

SWAIA Indian Market is the largest Native Arts festival in the country.

Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of Native art and culture. Baskets and beads, paintings and pottery, jewelry and clothing — all are part of an artistic legacy that grew from usage. And over time, these items grew more beautiful and desirable to collectors. SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market has history, too, and Santa Fe is primed for its 93rd appearance Aug. 18-24.

The whole town dresses up for this party. And even after years of attending, I can’t wait to show up in my finery. Seeing the crowd decked out in its silvery best sends any style-hound hunting for a Concho belt or dangly turquoise earrings.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

The Market hosts artists from coast to coast so you’ll find both Penobscot baskets and Pueblo pottery. Haida carvings find a home near Hopi katsinas, and Navajo rugs and colorful paintings are also part of the mix. Bring your collector’s eye and you won’t be disappointed.

Meet a Native Art Star on the Page and in Person

One of the West’s most celebrated painters makes a special trip to Santa Fe during Indian Market. Kevin Red Star, a Crow native from Lodge Grass, Mont., delves deep into family experience and heritage to create contemporary works prized by collectors. One of the first students of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Red Star also received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute.

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available. “Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available.
“Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

The experience provided exposure to political and social concerns that affect Native life and continue to inform his work. Red Star notes “I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”

Meet Red Star Aug. 20 at Collected Works Books where he will sign copies of the gorgeous new book Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken; all proceeds that day benefit SWAIA. An opening reception for Red Star’s new exhibit and another book signing are at Windsor Betts Gallery Aug. 22.

Get Familiar with IFAM

IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, sets down roots in the Santa Fe Railyard Aug. 21-23. This new festival runs concurrently with Indian Market, giving visitors double the reason to be in Santa Fe. IFAM’s mission is to provide exposure for artists whose work may not fit SWAIA categories or regulations. There are over 565 registered Native American nations and IFAM’s palette of participants includes a host of Canadian First Nations and indigenous Hawaiian artists. It’s no surprise that the artist list has grown quickly!

Kevin-Red-Star-by-Daniel-Gibson-Book-Cover

Between the historic pictures and the fascinating story, this is a book to cherish. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

And IFAM hosts a special event Aug. 21 called Red Star, Rising Star with — you guessed it — Kevin Red Star. Red Star is mentoring George Alexander, a young Muscogee artist, and together they’ll do a live paint accompanied by music from Brian Frejo. The resulting artwork will be raffled off and a book signing at the event both benefit IFAM. The Market runs both days 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with entertainment on the Railyard stage noon-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams Are a Perfect Pair

Speaking of indigenous Hawaii, I heartily recommend the O’Keeffe Museum’s killer exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe & Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures Exhibit. Both artists had a special connection to New Mexico, so pairing them makes sense, especially as they also shared a natural ability to let native flora create an authentic sense of place.

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

It’s amazing to think of O’Keeffe as a hired art-hand for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create ad illustrations in 1939. O’Keeffe’s compositional ability is always remarkable, and her tropical blossoms and landscapes offer a lushness that contrasts with her Southwestern works. Adams was also in Hawaii on commission; his 1948 government assignment was followed by a 1957 bank commission. Adams’ love of the outdoors and deep connection to the land are always at the forefront of his images and this stunning compendium is no exception. See this one before it closes Sept. 17.

Wrap Up Your Summer With Only-in-Santa-Fe Experiences

Summer’s beauty is far from over. And Santa Fe can prove it, with a bounty of treasures ripe for the picking. There’s no place like here to tuck an artistic rendering of colorful memories into your bag. When the arts of August arrive, just get here and let Santa Fe do the rest.

 

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Artful Adventuring Awaits in Santa Fe

Summer is in full bloom–flowers blossoming and bees buzzing on long days ripe for enjoyment. I’m buzzing too, with excitement about the artistic riches in our hive. Santa Fe is always top 10 for creative cities, so we don’t need to go looking. Art and artists abound here!

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is blooming outside and in.

See Beyond the Flower to a Colorful Career in Santa Fe

After her 30 years in residence, it’s apt that the new Judy Chicago exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art is titled Local Color: Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984–2014. As the artist notes, New Mexico attracted her for the same reasons it draws so many:

“What I wanted was the freedom to work. And that’s what New Mexico has given me, far away from the centers of the art world where the international art market presses down on artists and makes it difficult to pursue a personal vision like my own.”

 

Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)

Judy Chicago: Return of the Butterfly, 2008 Lithograph from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art (Photo Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art)

 

 

The exhibit focuses on works made in New Mexico, where Chicago shares studio space with her husband in an old hotel they renovated. A gamut of media is represented – cast bronze and needlework, stained and painted glass, works on paper and painted porcelain in themes both intimate and universal.

 

Far East Art Styles in a Southwest Setting

Our serene Santa Fe Botanical Garden provides seasonal color and form for plant-loving people. But those who love get an extra twist on the outdoors with Origami in the Garden. This large-scale installation of folded metal forms by artist Kevin Box is up until October. Each time I visit, I choose a different time of day, so the magic of light and weather always lets me experience these unique works anew.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Cranes come to life in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

The artist considers origami a “simple metaphor for life. We all begin with a blank page, what we choose to do with it is what matters and the possibilities are endless.” Though fascinated by this intricate Japanese art form, Box was struck by the natural impermanence of the paper traditionally used to create origami. His re-envisioning led to 15 evocative cast and fabricated sculptures thoughtfully situated throughout in the garden’s graceful setting. The garden has been a great addition to the City Different and installations like this prove it!

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

Kevin Box’ Origami in the Garden started in one dimension and ended in three. (Photo Credit: Kevin Box)

The Artistic Landscape is Unlimited at SITE Santa Fe

A visit to the cutting-edge SITE Santa Fe is de rigueur. From the day it opened, the quality has remained sharp, with thought-provoking exhibitions that validate Santa Fe’s credentials as an arts capital. The project, SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas, is a six-year series of linked exhibitions showcasing contemporary art of the Americas, and the museum-scale SITE space kicks off the project with Unsettled Landscapes, opening on July 17.

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

SITELines uncovers the past with Pablo Helguera’s performance of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano. (Photo Credit: SITE Santa Fe)

Organized by a curatorial team from throughout the Western Hemisphere, Unsettled Landscapes is the first of three biennial exhibitions taking place. Sewing together the themes of landscape, territory, and trade, the exhibit is laced with political and historical narratives. With artists from Nunavut in the northernmost reaches of Canada to Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, the artistic spectrum covers a lot of territory. I’m ready to embark on this journey July 18 with Pablo Helguera’s Nuevo Romancero Nuevomexicano, a multi-disciplinary performance based on the forbidden card games of New Mexico’s Mexican era.

 

Bring On the Blues

Anyone who knows me knows that Turquoise, Water, Sky: the Stone and Its Meaning at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has me enthralled. My turquoise fandom has me ooh-in and ahh-ing at this remarkable compendium of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. Not simply a semi-precious gem, turquoise has been honored as a sky and water stone, bringing blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life.

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cerrillos turquoise is stunning, even “in the rough.” (Photo Credit: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture)

Cherished for its beauty and extensive range of hues, this “fallen sky stone” hidden in Mother Earth was a Southwestern adornment long before Columbus landed. Each individual stone’s color depends on the minerals in the area where it was mined. More copper means a bluer stone, more iron a greener one. Ancient mines dotted the Southwest, and the resulting variety of color and design is mesmerizing. And the history of turquoise in the Southwest is just as spellbinding. The museum has done a yeoman’s job of scouring the archives for examples, and an afternoon here means you’ll probably be shopping later to add to your own collection.

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

The sky stone comes to earth at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken, courtesy of MIAC)

Santa Fe Creates an Especially Artistic Summer Experience

Having this rich mix of the traditional and the new means there is a pleasurable palette of experience for all. That’s why my adobe abode is summer visitors’ central! Creativity has been at the forefront of Santa Fe for centuries, so make your artistic pit stop here and you won’t go wrong.

 

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Take a Table Outdoors in Santa Fe

Al fresco! The words evoke the taste of what they promise. Dining outside is a welcome summer enjoyment, and we’re blessed with a bounty of options in Santa Fe. The temperate air beckons, so I’ve made it my business to see what’s cooking. Won’t you take a trip outside with me for patio pleasures?

Their Casa Is Your Casa

Old-World style courtyard construction styles brought beautiful open-air designs to the New World. Nowhere is this more evident than Sena Plaza, whose flower-laden courtyard hosts La Casa Sena. Tucked under 100-plus-year-old trees (look at the trunk size), Sena Plaza is one of the oldest surviving Santa Fe haciendas.

La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.

La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.

The building speaks volumes about Santa Fe history, and dining here is laden with taste and tradition. The menu hews to rich traditional New Mexico flavors (hello, chile and chimichurri) while crisp white tablecloths and seamless service lend a lovely air of elegance. Patio popularity means reservations suggested, but the 3–5 p.m. dinner gets you to the Plaza for 6 p.m. free music.

A Café Courtyard That’s Unforgettable

Love of historic buildings and fabulous food inevitably lead to SantaCafe. The kitchen never stumbles in the historic Padre Gallegos home north of the Plaza. The Padre himself had some mid-1800’s stumbles, having been defrocked for allegiance to the Bishop of Durango rather than New Mexico’s Bishop Lamy.

Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …

Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …

Gallegos’ gracious adobe home served as a boarding house, government offices and briefly, an Episcopal church. You can still look down into the home’s stone-lined well. I’m particularly fond of spending happy hour in the cool courtyard, noshing on vegetarian spring rolls that thankfully never leave the menu. I always hope the green-chile lobster roll is available for a gal-pal lunch, and supping on succulent lamb-chops is a divine beginning to nights ending at our outdoor Opera.

 … and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.

… and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.

 

Meet for a Meal by a Master

Fabulous things happen when a great chef finds a home of his own. And Restaurant Martín is the perfect illustration. The husband-and-wife Rios team has a recipe for success that shows on the plate, especially outdoors. The airy patio is a delight and the recent expansion upped the ante. Sunday Brunch was my Mother’s Day treat and was I glad! I’m a sucker for the smoked salmon eggs Benedict, a dish that never disappoints. James Beard-award winner Chef Martín’s focus on freshness is pointedly assured with this bill-of-fare note: “Menu is subject to change due to Chef’s creativity and the seasonality of ingredients.” Be sure to leave room for dessert, because nothing says summer like house-made sorbet.

Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.

Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.

A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)

A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Art Hotel for Artful Outdoor Dining

I’m lucky — I live here. But you’re lucky too when your hotel stay includes an ample patio and a terrific restaurant. You’ll find both at La Posada de Santa Fe, and I’m always ready to meet for a meal by the Fuego fire-pit. LaPo (its local moniker) may be best known for Julia Staab, the ghost who visits her former mansion, but for me, it’s the six acres surrounding this art-filled hotel that make mealtime memories.

Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.

Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.

Fresh handmade tamales appear on Fridays and Saturdays; other days, the grapefruit and jicama salad insistently begs to be ordered. The menu is a thoughtfully balanced mix of traditional, New Mexican dishes and classics like Filet mignon. And on live-music nights, the historic Staab House bar creates a lively backdrop that’s signature Santa Fe.

Go To Burger Heaven Under the Blue Skies of Santa Fe

Are you surprised I haven’t mentioned our world-famous green chile cheeseburger yet? There’s a multitude of choices, but my go-to patio patty is the Santa Fe Bite. It was hard to score a seat at petite Bobcat Bite, its former incarnation, but its move into the heart of town easily accommodates new fans. Take time to work your way through this big burger, since no one makes you feel rushed as you watch the world stroll by.

The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.

The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.

 

The Bite grinds their own meat so honor that homemade ethic with their crunchy and delicious homemade chips. Veggie burgers are a hit, and New Mexico specialties round out the menu. Fish’n’chips appear on Fridays, and the beer and wine list is pleasingly well-rounded.

 

 

 

Include Dining Outside When You Dine Out in Santa Fe

There’s simply no better way to enjoy our superb climate than to dine in it. I’ve probably made you hungry so I’ll be kind and stop here, but Santa Fe’s outdoor dining scene deserves in-depth discovery on your part. Azure skies yielding to glorious sunsets, cool evening descending, a good wine and dear friends together for a great meal — this memorable mixture guarantees all the smiles of a summer night.

Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.

Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.

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Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Fe

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

The view from Santa Fe’s back porch beckons you to explore.

In addition to Santa Fe’s countless indoor wonders (transcendent performing arts theaters, sumptuous spas and jaw-dropping restaurants, just to name a few), the City Different’s pristine natural surroundings make it Mother Nature’s most beautiful theme park. Summer provides the ideal time to explore Santa Fe’s dozens of hiking paths for any level of experience and fitness level, river rafting and some of the best mountain biking trails in North America. Ski Santa Fe transforms into a mountain playground during summer, and the city center is a walkable, bikeable adventure, complete with live music on the Santa Fe Bandstand, al fresco dining and patio happy hour-ing. No visit to Santa Fe is complete without experiencing the natural beauty that’s everywhere you turn here. All you have to do is step outside.

The Travel Bug Will Have You Itching for Outdoor Exploration

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

The Travel Bug has all the resources to plan your outdoor escape.

Getting out and about is a breeze in Santa Fe. But sometimes, we adventurers need a little guidance. The Travel Bug is my go-to gear shop, with shelves brimming with travel guides and maps to make any Santa Fe excursion a success. And when you’re ready to go full Indiana Jones, they’ve got all the right apparel and cool travel accessories. Let’s be honest, we all feel a little more adventurous in a stylish safari hat. Seriously though, you won’t regret taking in the Travel Bug before happily taking in Santa Fe’s many outdoor treasures.

Fuel Your Appetite for Fresh Air at The Beestro

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Grab a delectable picnic from Beestro and hit the trail running.

Before hiking or biking through the natural splendor of Santa Fe, make sure your journey includes a hearty picnic lunch from one of my favorite eateries, The Beestro. This quaint café is one of downtown Santa Fe’s hidden gems and makes it easy to grab some gourmet sustenance for your hike or ride. Their stacked homestyle sandwiches and hot-off-the-grill Panini (lamb and feta, anyone?) will conquer any appetite. And for the veggie inclined, Beestro’s farmers’ market salads burst with unexpected flavors ranging from quinoa tabouleh to red chile honey salmon. Best of all, you can pop in, gather up the goodness and head for foothills.

Anyone Can Be a Mountaineer in Santa Fe

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

Santa Fe makes it easy to get up close and personal with nature.

In Santa Fe, you can get back to nature then get back to the middle of town in minutes. The Dale Ball Trails offer an idyllic starting point. This trail system winds through some of the area’s most beautiful natural landscapes in the area, and with several trail entrances around town, embarking on your hike is a breeze. With more than 22 miles of trails through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, hiking Dale Ball is always a new experience. Even if you’re like me and low on the rugged adrenaline-junkie scale, one trek through Dale Ball will bring out your explorer. And don’t worry about high-end gear. The widely varied trail surfaces enable you to hike in anything from sneakers to sandals to hiking boots. So while you’re in Santa Fe, grab a hat, pack plenty of water and sunblock and head for out-of-this-world hikes that are just-down-the-street convenient.

Take Refuge With the Wild at Audubon Center

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

The serenity of Audubon’s gardens offers a soulful retreat.

Even during an action-packed vacation, sometimes you have to stop and smell the lavender. The Randall Davey Audubon Center offers 135 acres of peaceful habitat for all manner of plants, animals and visitors. Located just ten minutes from the center of The Plaza, this sanctuary is home to Ponderosa Pine forests, picture-perfect meadows and bird walks led by local experts. (Be sure to bring your binoculars or rent a pair at the on-site shop.) Once you’ve found your bliss and want to step up the exercise a bit, do yourself a favor and hit the Spring Canyon loop. This easy-to-navigate trail makes for a relatively simple trek, but its small ascent doubles as a workout with views no gym can match.

For Instant Adventure, Just Add Water

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Get your vacation off the ground with the rush of river rafting.

Nothing says summer fun like riding the waves with the whole family. And when you’re in Santa Fe, all it takes is a half- or full-day excursion with Santa Fe Rafting Company. Just park at the boatyard right in the center of Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road and it’s a quick jaunt to the Rio Grande. I know whitewater rafting can seem an intimidating venture for the uninitiated, but Santa Fe Rafting’s trained and certified guides can show even a landlubber how to tame the river. Just choose your desired level of “OMG,” from slow flows to full-on whitewater rapids, and you’re in for an epic day on the legendary Rio Grande.

Canyon Road Makes the Morning Jog an Art Form

 

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Exploring Santa Fe’s galleries on foot invigorates body and soul.

Canyon Road is famously known as Santa Fe’s premier art destination. But any Santa Fean will tell you that a brisk morning jog up Canyon Road offers visual delights of another order. Ascending the hill to this legendary artistic haven in the crisp morning air, then strolling the vibrant sidewalks and soaking in the creative energy, well, it makes for a morning that will make your whole week. Then you can head toward the city center via Alameda for a totally different vibe on your return. Art and exercise along Canyon Road offer just the prescription for an inspiring morning.

Leave No Stone Unturned on Your Trip to Santa Fe

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

A simple stroll downtown offers a breathtaking outdoor experience.

There’s a world of art in Santa Fe that isn’t confined to gallery walls. You’ll find masterpieces everywhere you look among Santa Fe’s piñon forests, sweeping mountain vistas and winding canyons. The fact is, there are so many ways to explore the natural wonders of Santa Fe, you’ll want to develop a separate itinerary just for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re gazing at the skyline from the city’s numerous parks or hiking your way to a spectacular mountaintop overlook, a visit to Santa Fe is guaranteed to expand your horizons. And I guarantee the view is amazing.

 

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Turn Santa Fe into Santa Free

A 1920s musical shared the time-honored notion that the best things in life are free. That rings especially true in the City Different. And though I love the stellar entertainment Santa Fe offers year-round, I’m extra-jazzed when the fun is free. So if you’re looking for the scoop on Santa Fe’s best summer freebies, I’m happy to share my two cents.

Give My Compliments to the Plaza

The heart of our historic town was, is and always shall be the Santa Fe Plaza. I love waving at brides whose limo is honking happily as they circle the Plaza post-ceremony. I appreciate wandering to window shop when family comes to town. And I’ve often stopped mid-stroll to whistle admiringly at a line of low-riders out for a car club cruise. After all, walking – the cardiologist’s wisest travel advice – doesn’t cost a cent.

abq low rider

Santa Fe scenery includes classics of the four-wheeled variety. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque Journal)

We’re free to be you and me when the Santa Fe Bandstand invites us to the Plaza to rock the night away. From June 23 to August 28, lucky locals and visiting friends will hear two full months of music completely gratis. The folding chairs are ready for loading and my pals are ready for the party. And it’s no problem if the munchies hit. We can snack on pizza and look down on the action from the Draft Station, or fuel up right on the Plaza on nights when the food trucks pull in!

bandstandcrowds

Follow the crowd to the historic Plaza for nightly entertainment.

 

And there’s still time to take in some Music on the Hill! St. John’s College makes the midweek blues disappear on Wednesdays through July 23 when you park your carcass there (not your car – parking is limited, so head for Museum Hill and the free shuttle, which runs every 15 minutes from 5-9pm). Spread your picnic blanket on the grassy lawn and let Walter Burke Catering handle food duties while you enjoy hot jazz in the cool mountain air.

A Trip to the Railyard is On the House

I love living in such a walkable town. The Plaza will always be my love but the Santa Fe Railyard has become a fabulous friend. With oodles of goodies now in season, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is open both Tuesday and Saturday mornings. Flowers decorate the stalls, live music floats on the air and as summer progresses, beautiful fresh produce will be joined by the scent of roasting chile. Even when the fridge is full, a walk to the Railyard is a morning-must. You just never know what you’ll find!

santa fe farmers market

The Santa Fe Farmers Market is so much more than food.

Axle Art parks the mobile art van at the Railyard most weekends, and this petite gallery on wheels is always a gas. The Santa Fe Artists Market is stretched alongside SITE Santa Fe on Saturdays and the Railyard Artisans Market pulls into the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Sundays.

The Axle Gallery is art on four wheels.

The Axle Gallery is art on four wheels.

 

 

 

 

Last Friday Artwalks, free movies on the lawn, youth jam nights at Warehouse 21, slide lectures at Santa Fe Clay – these are only a few of the Railyard’s blessings. Not to mention just walking the dog (or your BFF) through 10-plus acres of sustainable landscaping. Everything blooms in thoughtfully planned succession, with a well-tended community garden, a working acequia in the trestle garden and bocce players out on the pitch. Railyard, I love you!

Claim Freedom for Artistic Adventure

Art to hang on your walls may cost, but looking before buying is no-charge amusement. Santa Fe deserves its reputation as the Southwest’s art capital. And with over 200 galleries, an afternoon of admiration is easy to create. A jaunt up Canyon Road or through the West Palace or Gala Arts Districts makes any day artful and free Friday evenings at the museum are great meet-and-greets.

shidoni-foundry

A “moo!” in metal at Shidoni. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)

A short drive leads to the Shidoni Sculpture Garden in Tesuque, open daily until the gates close at 5pm. Shidoni is a super spot for artistic selfies — just pose next to your favorite piece and click ‘til you have a masterpiece.The Foundry has been turning artists’ visions into bronze realities since 1971, and works created onsite are showcased in the gallery. Watching a Saturday bronze pouring isn’t free but it’s sure worth the $5.

Jonathan-Keeton-STUDIO-SHOT2-500x500

Meet Jonathan Keeton at Studio #7 on the Santa Fe Studio Tour. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Keeton)

The only cost involved in the Santa Fe Studio Tour is fuel for the car. I enjoy meeting Santa Fe’s up-and-coming art stars in situ, spying on their studios and picking their brains about their crafts. As I wander from one studio to the next, I find myself inspired, not just to put brush to canvas but to renovate my space for a fresh new look.

Dancing Through the Past

Keep the car fueled up because the countryside is calling. Since New Mexico didn’t become a state until 1912, the relative isolation served to keep our Pueblo culture beautifully intact. It’s no wonder that every August Santa Fe plays host to North America’s largest Native American arts festival, SWAIA Indian Market. I attend that talent-fest annually but I also never miss the chance to see a pueblo dance.

pueblo dances

Color and culture all come together in one place at a Pueblo Feast Day dance. (Photo Credit: newmexico.org)

Celebrating the patron saints assigned by Spanish friars, Pueblo Feast Day Dances are truly one-of-a-kind experiences. Summer means Corn Dances, honoring the vital importance of this Old World crop to the Pueblo people. On June 24, Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo) and Taos celebrate their patron St. John, and Cochiti Pueblo honors St. Bonaventure on July 14. Santo Domingo feasts St. Dominic on August 4. On August 9, Picuris Pueblo pays tribute to St. Lawrence and Santa Clara Pueblo (honoring St. Clare) dances on August 12.

Cancellations can and do happen; it’s a good idea to call the individual pueblo a day or so before (no one answers on feast days). Pueblo dances are akin to church ceremonies, so it’s critical to observe Pueblo etiquette: No cameras, sketchbooks or notebooks. Stay off the dance plaza. Turn off cell phones. Do not applaud, ask questions or talk to dancers and never enter a home without being invited. If you’re lucky enough to score an invitation, eat modestly, thank the hosts and depart in timely fashion so others can dine.

 The Best Things in Life are Found in Santa Fe

Any vacation that has free entertainment in the mix is bound to be memorable and Santa Fe always has a surprise or two for those in the know. Charge up the enjoyment factor with these insider tips and you’ll get a full dose of fun at no extra charge. Santa Fe is rich in culture, history, tradition and adventure but believe me, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy it!

santa fe plaza

Seeing yourself here is complementary!

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Santa Fe and Photography Just Click

I firmly believe that no city in the world offers more wonder and inspiration for photography lovers than Santa Fe. Maybe it’s the way the rounded corners and angular lines of the adobe building bend the light. Or the way the Sangre de Cristo’s mountaintops invite themselves into every frame.

Cropping Not Needed: With Santa Fe’s distinctive light and iconic landscapes, there will be little you want to cut from the frame.

Cropping Not Needed: With Santa Fe’s distinctive light and iconic landscapes, there will be little you want to cut from the frame.

But whatever it is that gives Santa Fe its unique shadow and light—combine it with the totems of Santa Fe’s people, culture, and heritage—and photographic mastery is just a click away.

Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Fuel Creative Energies

Another Santa Fe Photographic Workshops student strikes photographic gold (and sepia) (Photo courtesy of Tina Miller.)

Another Santa Fe Photographic Workshops student strikes photographic gold (and sepia)
(Photo courtesy of Tina Miller.)

For the photographically inclined of any skill level, Santa Fe offers a smorgasbord of workshops ranging from the technical to the philosophical. One of my personal favorites is Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Offering classes year round, photographers engage their imaginations, rekindle their passion, and hone their craft, all while maintaining their personal style. Be sure to check out their expansive calendar of events. Upcoming workshops include  “A Natural Eye: The Summer Landscape,” and “Crafting Dramatic Light With Small Strobes.”

Developing Skills with Santa Fe Digital Darkroom Classes

Contrasting Images: Learn how to improve yours at Santa Fe’s Digital Darkroom (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Digital Darkroom)

Contrasting Images: Learn how to improve yours at Santa Fe’s Digital Darkroom
(Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Digital Darkroom)

If you’re like me, you feel confident in your ability to capture stirring images through the lens, but are often left asking, “Now what?”. Personalized, intensive workshops and mentoring programs offered at the Santa Fe Digital Darkroom guide you step-by-step through Adobe Photoshop®, Lightroom®, and digital photography techniques. Photographers with decades of experience and those new to the form can raise their game with the experienced, nurturing instruction here.

In addition to hands-on instruction, Santa Fe Digital Darkroom also hosts photographic tours through the city’s most breathtaking, picture-taking locales.  For starters, there’s The City Different Tour that brings legendary and off-the-beaten-path Santa Fe landmarks into your viewfinder. You can also opt for the natural beauty of Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu and the Chama River Valley as part of the Landscape Tour. And if you’re ready for something otherworldly, the Tent Rocks Tour offers a photographer’s paradise of surreal landscapes with ancient rock spires, twisting canyons and unforgettable views that comprise Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. All told, Santa Fe Digital Darkroom offers more than a dozen photographic tours, any one of which is sure to move you.

Every Picture Tells a Story in Santa Fe

Farolitos make Santa Fe architecture even more picturesque. (Photo courtesy of Thad Roan.)

Farolitos make Santa Fe architecture even more picturesque.
(Photo courtesy of Thad Roan.)

A word of advice for any seasoned or wannabe photo buff planning a Santa Fe excursion: You better not blink, because you’ll find sources of visual inspiration at every turn.

St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.

St. Francis Cathedral is full of heavenly imagery.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, you can’t go wrong with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, located right on The Plaza. You’ll wish you had faster shutter speed when visiting this gem that dates back to 1869. You also can’t miss (literally) the iconic Cross of the Martyrs. Located at the crest of the hill on Paseo de la Loma, this 25-foot-tall cross overlooking all of Santa Feoffers the ideal vantage point for breathtaking shots of the city.

The Loretto Chapel staircase doesn’t have a bad side

The Loretto Chapel staircase doesn’t have a bad side (Photo courtesy of Matt Payne)

 

 

The hand-carved wooden spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel is a photographer’s dream, too. This marvel of craftsmanship was created with no structural means of support, and its double 360-degree spirals of velvety wood grain bathed in cathedral light make for an indelible photographic image. And when the day is done in Santa Fe, photographic ecstasy is just beginning. The applause-worthy sunsets here elicit awe from even the most seasoned shutterbug.

Santa Fe offers photographic magic as far as the eye can see

Santa Fe offers photographic magic as far as the eye can see

Make Your Santa Fe Adventure Picture Perfect

We photography enthusiasts are a restless bunch. We’re not content with standard-issue “vacation photos.” We thrive on the story within the story that great photographs convey. That’s what makes Santa Fe such a wonderland for anyone who’s been bitten by the (shutter) bug: Everywhere you turn, there’s a story, a personal narrative and the poetry of light and shadow. The best part is, you don’t need any experience or gear to capture truly awe-inspiring images. Whether you use a camera phone or a Canon, in Santa Fe there’s no way to not get the picture.

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International Dining Santa Fe Style

I could eat my way around the world. Seriously. Fortunately for me and my tummy, there’s no place like home for a culinary adventure that lets me savor a bounty of global dining traditions. In New Mexico, we offer more than just chile.

Spice of a Different Flavor

Confession: I eat a lot of fiery Santa Fe cuisine. But some days I’d like more than just a capsaicin kick from New Mexico chile. When I crave a kick of a different sort, I picture India, where peppers meet the intricate blend of southern hemisphere spices. Seated under cool leafy trees at Raaga, I can get my fix with an Indian-style mix.

Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.

Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.

Paddy Rawal’s menu is simply enormous. His palate-pleasing path led from India to stints in Egypt, London and Dubai before creating his cozy Santa Fe café in an Agua Fria courtyard setting. The variety and complexity of choices means that vegetarians and vegans will be as delighted as those who crave an authentic chicken vindaloo.

The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.

The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.

An amazing number of delicacies can decorate a plate of rice, but discovering all the subtleties on the plate requires multiple returns. And of course there’s the naan — almost a dozen iterations in yummy bread choices. When ordering, it’s up to you to choose your heat index. Offered mild to medium to hell (yes, that’s what the menu says), my chicken palak was just perfect, thanks to waiter Dennis’ suggestion of medium-plus!

Andiamo! Immediatamente!

After years of dining out with Italian in-laws who know their pasta inside and out, I know that finding the right neighborhood trattoria means finding all the comfort foods of home.

Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”

Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”

A historic 1880s building gives Andiamo! its neighborly feel. The Mission-style bungalow on Garfield Street offers old-school ambiance and an up-to-the-minute kitchen. And proximity to the Santa Fe Farmers Market means local NM ingredients meld molto bene with authentic Italian imports.

Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!

Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!

Since I’m always on the hunt for hot, linguine arrabiatta is frequently in my sights but digging into the risotto with truffle oil is a tempting thought. Weekday lunch is a great deal due to its rotating cast of specials and with the Railyard Park across the street, al fresco take-out is a tasty option.

Antony, Take Me to Cleopatra

Okay, his name isn’t Antony, but my hero takes me to Cleopatra Café whenever I ask. With two locations, this Middle Eastern mecca makes a pita pit-stop an easy proposition. The original is in the downtown Design Center and you can’t beat the Zafarano outpost for scoring a quick table.

Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.

Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.

Service at both spots is fast and friendly, and affordable. Even with a beer, you’ll leave full and your wallet won’t suffer. The menu is a Middle-Eastern mash-up and boasts two different falafels: Lebanese-style with garbanzos or Egyptian with fava beans. Hummus is a staple for any homey feast and though a gyro works lunch-wise, the extra hungry should opt for the Nile Plate, laden with luscious lamb and a generous Greek salad. The Design Center is a fun backdrop for a visit since I can browse the shops after browsing the menu.

The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)

The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)

 

 

At the Zafarano location, I love the Middle Eastern soap operas murmuring from two corner screens and the Saltanah Belly Dancers add their sensuous gyrations at Thursday night performances. And at both spots there’s a mound of soft fresh pita bread.

The Far East is Nearer to The Plaza Than You Think

The multicultural mix of Santa Fe teaches its landlocked youngsters to look out to the world and my little one’s lessons generally lead to dinner decisions that revolve around sushi. I’m grateful her palate picks Shohko Cafe. The dining room’s window-side tables and sushi bar offer a serene oasis for delving into the culinary spectrum of Japan. The family owners of Shoko are always happy to provide a hijiki-to-handroll education.

Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)

Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)

 

Pursuing their interest in George Ohsawa’s macrobiotic philosophy, Shohko and Hiro Fukuda began a 40-year legacy with their original Oriental Natural Foods store. Over the years, three beautiful daughters and a detour into the restaurant kitchen resulted in this much-loved and frequently-visited Santa Fe spot.

Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)

Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)

We always start with seaweed salad and frankly, it’s so good I could eat it daily.. Enoki mushrooms sautéed in sake and butter on the Izakaya Menu (read “Japanese tapas”) are like no mushroom dish you’ve ever eaten. Green chile makes a welcome appearance in the tempura selection, and I love the bento box lunches. The sushi menu? Superb, and by the way, so is the sake menu!

Give the French Their Due

A classic like steak and fries sounds and tastes so much more chic when one orders Steak Frites, don’t you think? And nothing is as quite as classy as the dishes at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar.

315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.

315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.

Since 1995, 315 has been serving classic French culinary experiences to savvy diners at its Old Santa Fe Trail location. The flavors bring a French twist to fresh local ingredients and the wine list is one of the area’s largest and most thoughtfully-chosen. Combine those elements with a bar menu crafted for casual nights on the patio and you won’t be disappointed.

Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)

Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)

The menu is based on the best available in-season, along with some standards that loyal locals have refused to relinquish. It’s hard for me to resist fresh pea shoots and mais oui, no one makes confit like a French-trained chef.

Santa Fe: Serving the World on a Platter

We have it all here! Great weather, beautiful sunsets, world-class art and an array of cuisine in almost every accent. Even our world-famous green chile cheeseburger goes global on occasion. I’ve merely opened the menu, so take it from here and dig in.

 

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