If there’s one overarching truism about New Mexico residents and visitors, it’s the love of chile and colorful vistas. Fall in Santa Fe is not only characterized by the vibrant aspen foliage, but also the iconic aroma of fresh roasting chile. You can find red or green peppers on almost every street corner in town. If you’re new to this, make like a local and pull over whenever you see, or smell, a roadside chile stand. We promise it will be the best pit stop you’ll make all year.
For the finest fall ingredients, chile and otherwise, head to the Santa Fe Farmers Market. The Saturday and Tuesday morning markets are bursting with local lavender, honey, cheeses, and organic produce. You will be in good company shopping among gourmands and acclaimed local chefs. But, if you prefer to leave the kitchen work to someone else, rest assured, tantalizing dishes await at local favorites like Tia Sophia’s, located just one block from the historic Plaza.
The iconic ristra, or string of dried red chilies, is seen year-round in Santa Fe. Ancient wisdom proclaims that hanging ristras in your doorway will bring you good luck (as well as satisfy your palate); so make sure to stock up for a year’s worth of good fortune. Want to know the best places to find one? Ask a local or head to the many merchant shops around the Plaza.
Prepare your palates for the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta!
Fall also brings us the fabulous Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, a must for food adventurers, wine aficionados, or anyone who enjoys happy taste buds. Highlights of the five-day event include a tasting with John Rivera Sedlar, named “Chef of the Year 2011” by Esquire magazine and a luncheon hosted by Dakota Weiss from the W in Los Angeles and Top Chef. And, if that’s not enough to get your taste buds dancing, many of Santa Fe’s most eclectic restaurants will be dishing up special menus all week highlighting the magic of wine and chile.
The serious wine connoisseur can get excited about the 70+ vineyards pouring samples of their best vintages including New Mexican wineries like Estrella Del Norte and Vivac. A sommelier throw down will put leading culinary experts to the test while they compete to find the perfect pairing of wine and food. The best part: those in attendance get to indulge while soaking up the ambience of the nation’s oldest wine growing region, New Mexico!
Kick off autumn color at the Santa Fe Harvest Festival
The Harvest Festival, held every October at El Rancho de las Golondrinasis a full-body immersion into autumn. During the festival at this grand, living museum, villagers in period dress demonstrate traditional techniques. Participate in grape crushing, ristra stringing, tortilla making and much more.
Whether you’re experiencing Santa Fe’s fall season for the first time, or you’re a well-versed veteran, your senses are sure to be invigorated during this annual harvest festival. For more information, visit the Santa Fe website and don’t forget to take home some Santa Fe flavors for year-round culinary adventures in your own kitchen. Here’s one of our favorite green chile stew recipes to get you started. Enjoy!
Green Chile Stew
Courtesy of Santa Fe School of Cooking
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin or pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken or beef
1 pound red or white potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, to taste
3 cups roasted, peeled, chopped green chile or to taste
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, to taste
Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over high heat and brown the meat in batches. Set aside. In the same oil, sauté the onions until golden. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan along with any juices that may have accumulated. Add the broth, potatoes, salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour, until the potatoes are tender. Add the green chile and the red bell pepper, and cook 15 to 20 minutes more. Add the cilantro, stir and serve.
Side Bar: The Santa Fe Cooking School uses locally grown green chile when making the stew. It is roasted over a fire or gas flame, peeled and chopped. When the chile is not in season, roasted, peeled, chopped, frozen green chile is used. You could also use freeze-dried green chile in place of the fresh. A combination of mild and hot chiles produce a more balanced flavor.
Fall Event Highlights:
Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta September 26th – 30th