Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world and the third most popular drink (behind water and tea). There is no exception in Santa Fe. Here you’ll find hand crafted micro beers are as good or better than anywhere else! Let me walk through making the most of your beer experience when you visit Santa Fe.
Whether you travel to Santa Fe for a week, a weekend, or a season, you’ll have no problem wetting your whistle with new and different award-winning brews during your visit.
Santa Fe is recognized as one of America’s Best Beer Towns by Travel + Leisure and stands proud in the top of the ranks. Santa Fe is also home to New Mexico’s oldest microbrewery and the first Belgian brewery.
There’s no shortage of things to see, do and eat in Santa Fe. You could spend days here just visiting museums and soaking up the scenery. If you’ve spent some time exploring the city and are ready to see more of Northern New Mexico, consider a day trip to nearby Chimayó. Situated in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the village of Chimayó, New Mexico is just 40 minutes from Santa Fe along The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway. This special place has known for its historic church also features several weaving shops and delectable food. (more…)
Summer in Santa Fe is a time for celebration! July 24th marks National Tequila Day, and Santa Fe is offering its best to both locals and visitors alike!
Tequila was North America’s first distilled drink as well as its first commercially produced alcohol. From the moment it was bottled and sold, it has become one of the world’s most sought after spirits.
Legend has it that tequila is good for your health. In fact, during the Spanish Flu of 1918, doctors prescribed tequila shots as remedy due to a shortage of medicine. They advised that it should taken with lime and salt to make the taste more palatable. These days, we still take it with a grain of salt and lime, but it’s more than just doctor’s orders. Tequila has become an experience. (more…)
There’s no hiding from the fact that Old Man Winter has the northern hemisphere firmly in his frosty grip. Santa Fe’s 320-plus days of sunshine help mitigate winter’s icy hold and even the season’s short days still seem long – especially now that I’ve read all the books I got for Christmas. There’s only one cure: get up and go! Care to leave the cabin and come along?
Mountain Medicine is a Cure-all
Ninety five percent of Ski Santa Fe’s 77 trails are open, groomed and ready to tackle on skis or boards. Schussing down the hillside beneath a cloudless blue sky or catching some air on a mogul makes you feel totally alive. An easy 16-mile drive leads to the 10,350-foot base and 660 pristine acres. Unless you’re wedded to your gear, forget schlepping and rent what you need (or forgot) at the Ski Shop. After that, it’s up to you!
The runs (20 percent easy, 40 percent intermediate and 40 percent expert) and colorfully named trails (Burro Alley, Desperado, Muerte) are unmistakably New Mexico. The winter event schedule mixes weekend races with Beats on the Basin monthly afternoon concerts. And that cute guy serving Irish coffee at Totemoff’s Bar midway up the mountain? Call that an added bonus!
If slow immersion into snow-white alpine surroundings is your thing, choose snowshoes. Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing’s tours are an irresistible temptation to bundle up and venture out into the forest. If you’re a novice like me, Outspire’s great guides really help you get the rhythm right. The plop of snow dropping from a Ponderosa pine, the screech of a hawk circling overhead, a gust of wind dropping the last dead leaves from an aspen grove – Santa Fe’s unique winter beauties quietly await your audience.
Santa Fe Loves Stars on Ice
Those 320-plus days of sunshine I mentioned mean no outdoor ice skating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t skate to your heart’s content. The Genoveva Chavez Center, home to basketball and racquetball courts, an indoor running track, full-on fitness facilities, lap pool and warm-water therapy pool, also boasts Santa Fe’s open-daily ice rink. And with a climate-controlled environment, instead of layering up into immobility, you can glide with comfort and ease.
The variety of available activities makes the Chavez Center a family-friendly destination. Skates are an easy rental, and there’s ample seating for spectators to take a picture of your precise pirouetting or watch a battle on hockey skates.
Warm Up Your New Mexico Visit the Meso-American Way
A cup of hot cocoa is the classic winter companion. But Santa Fe’s hot chocolate has City Different style. If you’ve never tasted the nectar that ancient Meso-Americans created from cacao, you’re in for a surprise. Kakawa Chocolate House takes tastebuds on a chocolate adventure you won’t soon forget.
Kakawa’s chocolate elixirs are a revelation that changed the way I think about the cup of comfort Mom served after the mittens came off. Deep, rich, not overly sweet or bitter, these beverages deserve to be sipped and savored slowly. Spiked with native herbs or flowers (and of course, there’s a chile iteration), these concoctions are lovingly hand-crafted into an alternative universe of chocolate flavor. The Pre-Columbian era receives its due, as do 16th and 17th century Europe. American versions run the gamut from Jeffersonian to contemporary, along with original recipes like Modern Mexican and Chai. No wonder the New York Times called Kakawa a 36-Hours must! And with artisanal 80 percent dark chocolate creations made in-house, I guarantee you’ll be back!
You’ve Earned a Cuddle-Up by the Fireplace
Once you’ve gotten your ya-ya’s out, cabin fever is history. That’s when it’s time to toast your toes and challenge your nose over a wine glass. When day is done, grab a seat at El Cañon Cafe & Bar inside the Hilton Santa Fe and you’ve got it made.
Part of El Cañon’s coziness comes from the 300-year-old hacienda it calls home. The location is ideal for friendly coffee meet-ups but nighttime is the right time to warm up by the kiva fireplace and compare vintages from the extensive wine list. Light dinner fare lets you create your own pairings in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that just says “ahhh, Santa Fe.” Be sure to check out the Hilton’s Winter Getaway Package, which thoughtfully includes two adult beverages nightly!
Escape for the Cure
Don’t let winter keep you home on the range and stuck in the house. A Santa Fe getaway is the perfect prescription for curing winter weariness. Plus, there’s no better time to catch the year’s best specials. And what could be more special than fresh snow, azure skies, and a memorable spot for sharing a glass of wine by a warm piñonfire?
It’s that time of year. Monday morning quarterbacks are calling buddies, stocking the fridge with beer and filling the pantry with calorie-laden snacks. If your Monday nights mean anything but football and you’re really excited about the Super Bowl, but only because it means the season will be over, then I suggest you make your own play and head to Santa Fe as if you’ve got the ball and 11 burly NFL defensive players chasing you.
You Can Be the Star Player in Santa Fe
I like sports as much as the next gal, but I like to be the one doing, not the one watching. The urge to move is irresistible when everyone on the screen is running around, so I’m leaving him in charge of the remote and strapping on the gear for an outdoor adventure. Now that winter is holding court, Santa Fe’s frosty mountains extend a standing invitation to head for the hills.
Although Christmas is over, sleigh bells still jing-a-ling when you take a sleigh ride through the gorgeous Valles Caldera National Preserve. The 89,000-acre landscape is unforgettable any time of year, but it’s especially memorable when the dark green pines command attention in the snowy white bowl of the caldera created by a one-million-year-old volcanic explosion. And yes, there is a sleigh ride scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday!
Go All Out for Art
Combining art with the outdoors is something at which Santa Fe excels. I love strolling through Shidoni sculpture when winter’s low sun pairs the artworks with wild shadow patterns. If you hit the foundry on the right Saturday, you’ll catch a bronze pour to expand your understanding of the sculptural process. I might add that this is the place to make creative artwork of your selfies!
Touch Down Inside Santa Fe for a Bounty of Beauty
Santa Fe boasts several world-class museums all less than long-pass away from each other at Musuem Hill. The hill features four museums—perfect for dividing your afternoon into quarters of a different sort. No worries about lunch – Museum Hill Café referees that call.
I can’t mention the Five & Dime without mentioning their Frito Pie, a legendary (yes, I’m using that word) concoction of Fritos bathed in red chile, beans and cheese. There is something so special about carrying that warm bag across the street to enjoy your spicy treat on a sunny Plaza bench.
A trip to Santa Fe offers plenty of reasons to cheer! While they’re rooting for the team, we’ll root for bargains, eat roasted root vegetables, and root our hearts in age-old traditions. Sounds like an enchanting plan, no? With so much to see and do in Santa Fe, you’ll never be on the sidelines.
An old Spanish proverb says this: “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Since the holiday time-crunch is past, it’s high time to tinker with the chassis so I’m sharpening my utensils to carve a healthy approach to 2015. And I’ve sketched a blueprint for reaping the benefits of a delicious and nutritious new year in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Has a Revolution in G(F)oodness
Gluten-free eating makes all sorts of people feel a whole lot better. Even those of us who don’t experience true intolerance see gluten-free results (witness my sister’s enviable weight loss). I’m a die-hard toast-lover but I never feel like I’m sacrificing or skimping at Revolution Bakery. Their tagline –100% gluten-free paradise – is apt considering the amazing selection. I appreciate the sample baskets for turning tastebuds into appetite. And that gluten-free brioche? Vive la revolution!
Lunch time is also munch time at Rev Bakery. Pair any of four varieties of 8-inch pizzas (plus one daily special) with a crisp salad to achieve yummy gluten-free liberation. Veggie activists receive their due; of four sandwiches, two are vegetarian and one is vegan. The price point is incredibly reasonable given the unique culinary niche. And that niche is ably filled thanks to owner Dionne Christian and her skillful, early-rising bakers!
Do Right by Your BODY
Holiday indulgences are behind us, but that mirror is not my friend yet! Thankfully, BODY of Santa Fe is on my tune-up menu. Chef Juan Carlos works wonders with a Café menu committed to organic ingredients, locally-procured whenever possible.
Founder Lorin Parrish made clean eating the Café’s goal from the get-go. Everything on the menu (plus a dedicated kids menu)is clearly identified as vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free and select meat and fish offerings are cleanly sourced. Seasonal availability takes precedence so what’s on the plate is always centered on the best body fuel for the season. I never tire of the ginger stir-fry but winter enchiladas – a spot-on combo of spaghetti squash and green chile – satisfy that chile craving. And a bit of sweet goodness from an incredible warm apple crisp is a welcome finish.
Capture the Full Flavor of Health at Rasa
Ayurveda is intriguing; Deepak Chopra’s reach proves this 500-year-old tradition is thriving. A tip from a savvy 14-year-old vegan sent me to Rasa Juice Bar to get the skinny on this science of life (Ayu means life, Veda means knowledge or science) focused on optimum health via diet. It took Santa Fe little time to catch on; Edible Santa Fe has already featured Rasa twice, most recently with a vegan dessert in the seasonal cookbook issue.
Raw, vegan, organic – the words tell all. Confused? The lovelies who oversee this enterprise – Wendy, Pamela, Mariela and Andrea – explain everything (silky smoothies and cold-pressed juices, raw and dehydrated savories and sweets) in appetizing detail. The food is testimony that healthy equals flavor (rasa) in the hands of those inspired by wholesome eating. Thai Green Chili noodles hit my spicy spot perfectly and that raw oatmeal cookie? I’m glad to be in the know now!
Juice Me Up, Scotty
Locals warmly welcomed brand-new Verde Juice, brainchild of Kelly Egolf whose calling grew from her own needs after surgery led to a two-month liquid diet. Canned nutritional supplements may have the right vitamin-mineral mix, but the flavor leaves much to be desired. Egolf’s creativity yielded tasty recipes with complementary nutritional value. When family and friends sampled the results, the home juicer was pressed into service in a bright, inviting space that instantly says “fresh.”
Ingredients are raw, unpasteurized and additive-free and the cold-press method means not made-to-order. Instead, juice blends are bottled for three days only, ensuring freshness and quality. I admit the three-day juice cleanse (comprised of six different juices) requires willpower given Santa Fe’s fabulous dining options, but it’s on my birthday wish list. And the good news? Lizz Redman, formerly in the kitchen at BODY, will be adding prepared foods!
Try Feeding on Santa Fe’s Finest
Hippocrates said that “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” I say take the opportunity to grab a full dose of the best medicine going – delectable food – when you taste the pleasures of a Santa Fe getaway. There’s a bounty of beneficial blessings on a City Different plate so dig in and dig the healthy feeling of Santa Fe!
The jingle bells have stopped ringing but winter is definitely on. And I am psyched to make snow angels and welcome the New Year to Santa Fe. The great thing about being a local is having an earmuff to the snowy ground in plenty of time to plan for a wonderland of fun. So put on your mittens and come along with me for the best in winter adventures Santa Fe style!
Santa Fe is All Souped Up This Winter
It’s impossible to resist SuperBowl XLVIII fever, but for those who can’t wait for kickoff, Santa Fe’s January 17 SouperBowl XXI makes cups runneth over. This delicious soup competition is firmly established as a January taste sensation and proceeds benefit the Food Depot. Get inspired by the intriguing mix of ingredients that Santa Fe chefs put in the pot and your soup repertoire will improve by the bowlful. Last year’s Best Soup winner, the Winter Squash and Chorizo Soup served up by Terra at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, was a hearty hit and I can’t wait to see what Chef Andrew stirs up this year. With four other categories (best cream, best savory, best seafood and best vegetarian), there’s sure to be plenty of slurping going on!
Brewing Up the Best of Santa Fe
Santa Fe is a chic pick for craft beers (most recently recognized by Thrilist.com as one of the nation’s best brew cities) and there’s no better time to see—and taste–why than at WinterBrew. On January 23,16 breweries and a selection of food stands converge at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Pavilion for a cheery, beery evening. Last year’s slate has been expanded with two new Albuquerque brewers, Red Door Brewing and Ponderosa Brewing. Local favorites like Duel Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing Company (whose 2014 Great American Beer Festival entry won best American-style Sour Ale) will be on tap with seasonal styles. And beer-lovers line up for regulars like Bosque Brewing (Beer Festival winner for Fresh Hop Ale) and Marble Brewery (who scored for Imperial Red Ale). Tickets go fast, so don’t wait to get your taste!
Feasting on Art is a Santa Fe Tradition
I suspect I sound a bit tummy-centric, so let me paint a picture of Santa Fe ArtFeast for you. This year’s artistic events have seen the Edible ArtTour move to June but February still has a yummy blend of beauty on the The Art of Living palette They’ve stolen my personal credo – It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – but I don’t mind because I can share in the February 20 fun and festivities (which do include food) that benefit art in the schools. And I’ll take that February 21 invitation to Step Up to the Plate too, thank you very much! The Art of Home tour is the most picturesque way to see Santa Fe design and style in its full glory but be warned – you may well end up wanting your own adobe casita by the time you’re done!
It’s Time to Eat and Time to Save in Santa Fe
Returning to my food-centricity (can’t help it, Santa Fe equals great cuisine), I look forward to cashing in on Santa Fe Restaurant Week deals. Other cities may have similar events, but they lack the one-of-a-kind regional ingredients that bring foodlovers back to Santa Fe year after year. Fifty-seven restaurants are already on the roster and that list will grow as we get closer to February 22. Smart hoteliers have cooked up getaway deals so I suggest you grab your BFF (best foodie friend) and make reservations for a seat at Santa Fe’s finest tables. Prizes and giveaways are in store along with terrific deals, making everyone a winner at lunch or dinner.
Get Away to Santa Fe’s Winter Wonderland
Of course, a gal has to work off her enjoyment with some outdoor activities and that’s where Ski Santa Fe comes to the rescue. It wouldn’t be winter without a return to the mountains for a dose of snowy magic! Don’t schlep your skis or board, just rent them right on the mountain. Then pick some happening dates and do your downhill in the morning, so you can chill at Beats on the Basin from noon to 3:00 p.m. And if you’d prefer to see the Sangre de Cristo Mountain scenery at a slower pace, plan a snowshoe hike with Outspire to capture Santa Fe’s sparkle and serenity in equal measure.
Get Your New Year On in Santa Fe
Have I convinced you? I’ve been convinced for years – and my 2015 calendar is already marked with monthly must-do’s. There’s nothing like bright blue skies and a blanket of crystalline white snowflakes to start a new year right – and Santa Fe is ready to show you how.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Absolutely not, Mr. Burns, that can’t happen in a town that’s more than 400 years old – too many auld acquaintances to play with! Every one of my auldies but goodies has a favorite spot for ringing in the New Year, so I’ve made a list and checked it twice to see where we’ll have fun being naughty and nice!
Firm believers in top-drawer food with party beverages head to the Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel to pair green chile Kobe sliders with their margaritas or martinis. The handsome fireplace casts cozy warmth throughout the room at this locals’ favorite, where a Happy Hour meet-and-greet easily flows into the wee hours. And if you’re planning on going the distance, the Eldorado’s New Year’s Eve Package has everything you need to welcome 2015 in true Santa Fe style.
Given that Santa Fe has a Palace of the Governors, it’s no surprise that there’s a party palace too, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Once the bailiwick of the notorious Doña Tules (yes, there’s a story), the Palace has Happy Hour covered, but things really get going once the music starts. The calendar is always fully-loaded, and New Year’s Eve promises a speakeasy with The Shiners Club Jazz Band to swing 2015 into gear.
“Buon Anno” will roll off the tongue when you lubricate your vocal cords with an Italian twist and a glass of Prosecco for a toast at Il Piatto. Not one, but two happy hours on tap here, molto bene! The early one has half-off appetizers and choice wines by the glass. And late diners score at the 9:30 version with those half-off apps, selected wines and a three-course Prix Fixe dinner!
If you’re feeling casual, the Del Charro Saloon can’t be beat; inexpensive chow and a friendly howdy are guaranteed. Margaritas come with their own shakers, so you can say good-bye to the old year as you pour a good-bye to your last drop. No need to get gussied up – just sit back and relax, nibble an order of Nachos Royale, and watch the ball drop on the screen over the bar.
Casual comfort has a storied past at the Pink Adobe’s Dragon Room, a haunt that locals have been coming to forever (well at least for the last 70 years). Smack-dab in the center of the historic Barrio de Analco, the Dragon Room possesses all the rustic and authentic charm Santa Fe is known for. Tuck yourself into an corner with a margarita close at hand and you might well find yourself making friends with a local sharing tales of bygone days when Rosalea Murphy, the Pink’s legendary founder, reigned nightly for the artists and writers who courted her favor.
Party people skedaddle to Skylight, a hot hit from the moment it opened in summer 2014. Food, yes; drinks, yes; music – sí, sí,sí! Santa Feans like to get their party on and this is the place. Laugh in the New Year with a performance by the Bonkerz comedy team (6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) then keep the amusement alive at the late-night dance party (10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) You can even beat the New Year’s rush and meet at Skylight on December 30 for Tuesday 50-cent wings and $2 Tecates!
There’s a new kid on the nightlife block and the Blue Rooster is sure to keep it rocking well into morning on New Year’s Eve. In the former home of the Rouge Cat (and sticking with the colorful naming), the Rooster has Santa Fe’s gay scene firmly in its sights, but there’s no pecking order on who’s invited to play. Diversity rules this hen house and all are welcome to party their way into 2015. And if your New Year’s Eve dance card is full, come back on Saturday night to hear Santa Fe’s resident disco diva, DJ Oona, pull out all the stops.
Head for The Den, located underneath the Coyote Café, and you’ll feel right at home. This intimate hideaway is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails then comes to life for late-night endings with music spun by knock-out Santa Fe DJs. The signature cocktails are truly inventive and some lucky wordsmith had a great time coming up with awesome appellations for the Den’s apertifs and after-dinner specialties – cheers to them!
Every town has that one local bar that you absolutely must see to say you’ve been there. In Santa Fe, that’s Evangelo’s! There’s an upstairs and an Underground and you want to visit both. The face of bar-founder Evangelo Klonis became familiar world-wide thanks to a famed World War II picture by W. Eugene Smith, and the family atmosphere is palpable. Regulars will regale you with stories (both believable and far-fetched) of musicians they’ve heard here, including bands tailor-made for the movies (witness Jeff Bridges strumming in Crazy Heart).
For ending the night in true dive fashion, I suggest the intriguing set of stairs on the corner of Don Gaspar and West San Francisco Street leading down to The Matador. This hole-in-the-wall with rockabilly flair is the perfect place for a rendezvous with your best buddies. It’s dark, it’s funky, but it’s all Santa Fe – and all of Santa Fe has made a pilgrimage to close a night, a week or the year with a nightcap at the Matador. Close your night by linking arms for a stroll under the twinkling lights of Santa Fe Plaza.
Ten, nine, eight, seven,….well, you know how it goes. Gather the gang to say good-bye to 2014 City Different style and use my skinny on these ten spots to light up your getaway before the year is gone. Santa Fe has 400-plus years of experience at getting the year off to a festive start – say Prospero Año Nuevo the Santa Fe way and your 2015 is guaranteed to be a truly Happy New Year!
Surrounded by the radiance of light-strung cacti and piñontrees at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow, I couldn’t help but get that warm, fuzzy feeling of true holiday cheer. It reminded me once again that what we remember most about the holidays isn’t what we get or even what we give, but mostly what we do, the experiences we create. In Santa Fe, there’s a sleigh full of one-of-kind memories just waiting to be made. So what are you waiting for? Be here now!
Cooking Up Holiday Surprises
When I send out gift certificates from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, I know that my recipients and I will both enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of the encounter. I’m living proof that your average Santa Fean’s cooking skills go from satisfactory to sublime with a Chile Workshop. Your visitors will reap the same results!
And the Cooking School has more than just hands-on and demonstration cooking classes. Gifting someone with the School’s Shop Walk might mean you receive something unique in return. Signature sea salts or Spanish olive oil sound pretty tasty! There’s even a three-day Southwest Culinary BootCamp for intrepid home chefs ready to delve deeply into our regional cuisine working side-by-side with some of Santa Fe’s best chefs.
Any conversation about Santa Fe’s best chefs has to include Rocky Durham. After Durham honed his skills in Europe and hosted his own cooking show, this talented maestro came home (as do native Santa Feans who miss the signature foods they cut their teeth on) to create some local culinary buzz. And he’s cooked it up right at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy! The academy’s mission to provide a classic and holistic education for future food industry professionals includes delicious community classes that cater to foodies hungry for authentic experiences. And the series of Pop-Up Dinners that appear on the calendar are pure palate pleasure.
The Pros Provide the Guide to Santa Fe’s Dining Delights
Seeing the town on foot can be foodie heaven, too, and Santa Fe has double the fun on offer. Both the Santa Fe School of Cooking Restaurant Walking Tours and Food Tour New Mexico provide the perfect way to discover Santa Fe’s restaurant scene. Strolling to Santa Fe’s best restaurants, meeting the chefs, and sampling the flavors is entertainment and dinner in one fell swoop. You could even set up a friendly family rivalry by sending one team to each tour to report back on restaurant revelations!
Clever Christmas Presents Include Creativity
Rest assured that there’s more than dough and spices to get anyone’s hands into. How about an afternoon at Santa Fe Clay? Located in the happening Santa Fe Railyard, this professional pottery studio is home to 20 resident artists and ideas burn as hot as the kiln in the 10,000-square-foot space. The gallery is full with treasures and family-friendly classes and weekend workshops let everyone spend fun-filled hours turning a ball of clay into an artistic masterpiece. And the most fervent craftsman in your family would be thrilled to attend a 2015 summer workshop – Santa Fe’s summer art season is inspiration that never quits.
Creativity runs rampant in the City Different and Santa Fe Creative Tourism’s year-round classes come in every do-it-yourself medium imaginable! Budding photo buffs can graduate from selfies to stunning landscape shots and the camera faithful can up the ante with digital film-making classes. Put pencil to paper or brush to canvas for capturing the beauty of Santa Fe’s inspiring scenery. Traditional arts like yarn-spinning and tinsmithing teach the history of New Mexico along with technique. And those who just can’t hold the excitement inside can shake it with belly-dancing or capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) classes.
Christmas + Santa Fe = An Experience Memories are Made Of
Have I lit a fire in your mind? You don’t have to let the gift-giving frenzy get you into a tizzy! As you plan a Santa Fe Plus getaway for that special person on your holiday gift list, make sure you include yourself in the experience – when you combine “be here now” with “do it in Santa Fe,” you’ll want to be along for the fun.
As visions of sugarplums dance in some heads, a City Different scene appears in my mind. I dream instead of the deliciously scented cloud that drifts up as I lift the lid off a pan of freshly-steamed tamales. No Santa Fe Christmas scene would be complete without a pile of pillowy treats on the table, and all over town families are setting the stage for their tamalero (tamale-making party).
The tamale is an ancient dish and the multi-step preparation works best when family and friends put many hands and much laughter to work. An assembly line forms to mix up soft masaharina (finely-milled ground cornmeal) dough for encasing familiar fillings or star actors cast by the abuela (grandmother) who shares her secrets judiciously (personally, I’m grateful to the auteur of the Tamale Dressing for Turkey in the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s cookbook). Mama spreads the masa on a pre-soaked cornhusk before passing it to a skillful tia (auntie) who fills and dexterously folds before tying it with a thin strip of cornhusk. The post-production staff packs up a portion of the treasure for the freezer then steams a batch for the hungry horde hovering nearby.
This year, my family crew is spread east and west for the holidays, so rather than a solo production, I’m letting the professionals fulfill my Tamalewood dreams. Care to come along for the ride?
Posa’s is a Featured Player at the Holidays
Peruse the prepared food section in Santa Fe grocery stores and you’re sure to spot a six-pack of Posa’s tamales. It’s a lifesaver for the time-challenged, as all it takes is a few minutes in boiling water to get these beauties on the table. But if time allows, a visit to Posa’s southside Café is a must-do. With options like red chile pork, green chile with cheese or chicken and a green chile vegan version featuring zucchini, black beans and corn, everyone is sure to be accommodated.
El Parasol is a Location Scout’s Dream
When it’s a grab-n-go day, there’s no better pick-me-up than the hefty take-out tamales that come from El Parasol’s cocinita (little kitchen). Larger than average, these tender treats are stuffed edge to edge with potent flavor. Order red pork and the generous portion of fiery shredded meat tints the tender masa with a scarlet glow. Spicy flavors linger on the tongue long after the tamale is gone. Green chile is no slouch either – whether you order the green chicken version or the green with cheese, you know you’re in New Mexico now, Dorothy!
Tamale-Time for a Close-up, Mr. de Mille
In the hands of an expert like Chef Patrick Gharrity, tamales dressed for an elegant appearance and a white-tablecloth dinner at La Casa Sena are cult classics. His mixed mushroom tamale is tucked into poblano-scented masa laced with fried sage butter, topped with shallot rings and served on a bed of avocado-tomatillo sauce. Perfection for fervent fungi fans! Pair it with an autumnal beverage like Crispin hard cider and a side of calabacitas (sautéed summer squash) and you’re in food heaven. My, oh my, is this tamale superstar ever ready for the red carpet!
Be the Star in Your Own Tamalewood Production
Once you take a tamale tour through Santa Fe, I guarantee you’ll want to know how to direct your crew to make these signature flavors at home. If you can’t borrow a friend’s abuela for training purposes, let the expert chefs at the Santa Fe School of Cooking do the honors. Its ever-popular (read: sell-out) tamale-making classes provide hands-on instruction through the assembly process and run the gamut from the red chile pork standard to a south-of-the-border chicken tamale wrapped in a banana leaf. All classes end with a feasting on the fruits of the labor and the school’s brand-new 25thanniversary cookbook has an invaluable storyboard for home tamaleros!
Make Tamales Your Classic Santa Fe Holiday Storyline
The holidays are a delicious time of year for Santa Fe locals and visitors. The town sparkles with excitement and our signature regional foods play their roles with gusto. Just be sure to make your holiday getaway Christmas-style – let red and green chile play starring roles and a standing ovation is guaranteed