Day of the Dead is a holiday that has been celebrated on November 1–2 in central and southern Mexico for many years. More recently it has been embraced by Santa Fean’s and visitors alike. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.
Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas; honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed; and by visiting graves with these gifts.
Whether you have long celebrated the holiday, or are just learning about it, here are few businesses and events that honor this cultural tradition.
November always brings an opportunity to take a deep breath and appreciate the wonders of the season. Here in Santa Fe, we are grateful for the beauty of the mountains and the many diverse experiences that are available. From celebrating sustainability to the kick off of the holiday season, Santa Fe is filled with fun. So join me in discovering a few of Santa Fe’s best November events.
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. Read More
Holiday madness is not just a catch phrase, it’s a reality. No matter how early I get the shopping and cooking done, by the time I’ve worked my way through the festivities with friends and family, I am so ready for my share of serenity. In the spirit of the season, here’s my holiday offering to those of you who need the true escape and soul refreshment that Santa Fe has offered for centuries.
Santa Fe is a Prescription for Peace
Sitting mindfully is a spiritual prescription known to East and West alike. And Santa Fe has both varieties for meditative moments. Sunday mornings at the Quaker Meeting House require nothing but a way to get there to sit and soak up the goodness. First Day (Sunday) Meetings are held in the historic Olive Rush house on Canyon Road and visitors are welcome to worship with the Friends.
In a town with historic Catholic roots, it’s no surprise to find a Carmelite Monastery. Santa Fe’s Carmelites are guided by St. Teresa of Avila’s commitment to leading life in silence and contemplation. You can be soothed by tranquility at the daily morning Mass or simply wander the grounds in private reflection.
Finding a beautiful place to be inspired doesn’t require any particular affiliation. The Santa Fe Audubon Center lets birdsong do the work of lifting spirits. Located at the top of Canyon Road in the former home of animal-loving artist Randall Davey, the Audubon also has easy access to the Dale Ball Trails.
Activate Your Center with Movement
Walking meditation is my personal go-to at times when sitting won’t do; sometimes one just has to move to feel centered. Climbing to the top of the Cross of the Martyrs always energizes my body and settles my spirit. Gazing up at the Cross and then out over the city reminds me of all the blessings that life in our special city imparts daily.
Speaking of yoga, there’s simply no way not to feel more balanced than after a yoga session and Santa Fe abounds in teachers and classes. The aforementioned Community Yoga Center is one of many studios that bring light and life back to body and soul; at BODY of Santa Fe, a yoga class followed by a spa treatment will keep you in the flow.
Read and Reflect to Find Spiritual Refreshment
There’s so much to know about this city that’s more than 400 years old that I sometimes find it a challenge to put it all together. My secret salvation is the Southwest Reading Room at the downtown Santa Fe Library. Classic library etiquette means stillness and silence and an hour spent perusing Santa Fe history enriches any experience. Just about anything you ever wanted to know about New Mexico is waiting on the shelves.
After you read up on the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asissi, your admiration for the magnificent edifice is enhanced by knowing its story. And when you sit with your thoughts in a pew, you may even be lucky enough to hear an organist practice or the choir rehearsing a new hymn. Just be sure to exit by the southside door by the Chapel so you can amble through the Bishop’s peaceful Prayer Garden south of the rectory.
Santa Fe is Truly Soul-Stirring
Turn down the holiday buzz and tune up your soul with a Santa Fe getaway and you’ll see how quickly everything becomes lighter and brighter inside. The City Different enjoys world-class status as a UNESCO Creative City and when you create soul-soothing adventures of your own, you’ll bring joy to your holiday world.
“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.
Can you feel the holidays humming in the air? Snow has graced the mountaintops, seasonal foods are simmering, and celebrations are in store. Don’t let the thought of holiday shopping scare you because Santa Fe is a gift-giver’s paradise! I hope your list is made and you’ve checked it twice. This is the perfect time and place to score future smiles from one-of-a-kind holiday surprises.
Festive Finery Makes Gorgeous Gifts
Tucked inside La Fonda, the venerable hotel beloved by locals and visitors alike, Things Finer turns someone else’s unique treasure into a treasured gift. Glittering jewels mesmerize and antique curiosities beckon you to take a closer look. This is a place where you truly never know what you’ll find – that’s what makes it an exciting adventure.
Discover Priceless Treasures by Museum Shopping
If you dig unique discoveries, the Museum of New Mexico’s shops need to be on your list. From folk art to handcrafted jewelry to books galore, the staff has searched far and wide to come up with a collection of distinctive global and local items that reflect each museum’s individual mission. Every historic exhibition yields special artistic gems, and they’ve made it easy to shop online for gifts that spread holiday cheer back to the hands that made them.
And don’t forget to go where the artists are. With 250 galleries in Santa Fe, you can’t miss! It’s always exciting to catch an artist on the cusp of a brilliant career, and The Shop at CCA is ideal for scoping out local talent on its way up. The goods on display have the same quirky sensibility as the Cinematheque schedule, with tons of originality.
To Market, To Market, To Find a Fine Treat
When you wander over to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, make a beeline for Bon Marché, across from the Railyard Water Tower. Even on wintry days, the colorful collection instantly whisks you to sunny destinations.
Multi-hued Catalan fabrics are woven on turn-of-the-century machinery then shipped to New Mexico where local artisans turn them into must-have beauties. Bright espadrilles evoke summer’s return, and beach bags add flair for lucky friends taking a winter cruise. And if you leave without those cheery napkins you loved, no problem – you’ll find them online.
Think of Fido’s mournful face if there’s no treat under the tree – you know you need something fun for four-legged BFFs. Pooch Pantry has the best for barkers, and you can even place orders for fresh-baked goodies. Doesn’t Coco deserve to eat her Christmas meal out of festive dinnerware? And if your hound stepped in a puddle on your holiday shopping trip, take heed of the self-service dogwash!
Simply Log In for Hands-free Shopping
For sweet stocking stuffers, I believe a spot of chocolate is required. The wise choice from afar? A jaunt to The Chocolatesmith! Nothing says Santa Fe like a rich dark chocolate pâté infused with chile. The only challenge with signature Santa Fe treats is not to eat them before they get tucked into that holiday stocking! Not to worry, munch away because these delicious delights are available online.
Online is the ticket for making a memorable Santa Fe statement with a gorgeous O’Keeffe poster from Posters of Santa Fe. The brick-and-mortar shop is no more, but theirs is a huge art archive of reproductions on paper. Once you’ve trolled through the online collections to make your choice, it’s a snap to have a poster shipped in time to tuck under the tree.
Light Up Your Holiday the Santa Fe Way
All this shopping and no schlepping required! Just visit PakMail or UPS and your hands are free to snap selfies at the November 28 Christmas tree lighting on the Santa Fe Plaza. If the holiday lights remind you of your own tree, head for The Shop: A Christmas Store or Susan’s Christmas Shop for ornaments with authentic New Mexico flavor. And remember the November 29-30 SWAIA Winter Indian Market for handmade Native American treasures you won’t find anywhere but Santa Fe.
A Santa Fe getaway definitely gives you the luxury of shopping in person, but you can be sure those distinctive presents you chose online will arrive for placement under the tree in plenty of time. Either way, shopping Santa Fe means yours will be the gifts that family and friends cherish for years.
Every year, we have a designated opportunity to give thanks for life’s many benefits. But for us Santa Feans, reasons to be thankful jump out daily – from the awe-inspiring mix of scarlet and gold in a sunset that stops us in our tracks to the comforting warmth of a fresh tortilla on a crisp autumn morning. I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just list five reasons why you should make yours a City Different Thanksgiving. You can thank me later.
I’m thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Weather.
An average of 320 days of sunshine a year ensures delightful times as you hike up or glide down a snowy hillside with brilliant blue skies. And all without the bone-chilling humidity. The mountains encircling Santa Fe are gorgeous any time of year, but fresh powder for a Thanksgiving opening? It’s entirely possible and Ski Santa Fe has set its sights on a November 27 opening – fingers crossed!
I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Chile
Whenever I mull the idea of living elsewhere, the thought of a chile-less life stops me cold. I cannot imagine autumn without the scent of roasting chiles, let alone giving up my breakfast burritos to go on a snowy morning. As for Thanksgiving, turkey is the centerpiece but the distinctive flavors of our regional New Mexico cuisine find their way onto holiday dining tables all over town. Speaking of which, classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking have been tuning up my family recipes for years, and a Native Harvest Feast class (November 6) taught by Native American Chef Lois Ellen Frank offers wonderful alternatives for your holiday table. I cherish this family-run temple of taste, marking their 25th anniversary with a new cookbook out in December.
I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Cultural Combinations
Santa Fe was diverse long before diversity became a buzzword. Frontier life meant neighbors of every persuasion pitched in to create a community. You’re as likely to meet a Valdez with blue eyes and blond hair as one with thick black braids trailing down his back. Having a thriving Native culture adds unique character to the Land of Enchantment, and I honor that gift annually by attending Pueblo feasts. Tesuque Pueblo is less than ten miles from Santa Fe, and its San Diego Feast on November 11 is a memorable event celebrated with beautifully costumed dancers and a drum group on the pueblo’s central Plaza.
I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Vibrant Arts Scene.
Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to live where the artful spirit is so alive. From lovingly handcrafted mission altarpieces to cutting-edge art exhibitions; from solo Native flute to a full orchestra; from age-old legends told around a campfire to pop-culture poetry readings; Santa Fe has it all. Every season is graced with inspiration, and Thanksgiving is no exception. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Winter Indian Market (Nov. 28-29) showcases the rich artistic culture of the First Peoples. A Saturday afternoon bronze pouring at Shidoni Gallery demonstrates the traditional execution of sculptural expression. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus’ annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah fills the Lensic on Sunday, November 23 and four rousing performances of Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous are on the Lensic’s roster November 28 to 30.
It‘s easy for me to ramble on about the wonders of Santa Fe because the magic is real in the Land of Enchantment. And best of all? The welcoming spirit of the people, who share the same questing spirit and love of life that brings you here! Why not celebrate your Thanksgiving with a stay in Santa Fe where gracias is lived all year-round?
Romance. It’s dee-lightful, it’s dee-lovely, and it’s dee-signed for two. The good qualities my honey possesses deserve the reward of some romantic moments spent together in the place we both love so much. Considering that Santa Fe is a leading contender for USA Today’s 10 best list of most romantic getaways (hint: we’re allowed to vote daily until the January 27th close date), there simply couldn’t be a better time to dive into a dee-licious detour from daily demands by designing tempting treats for two. And I’m ready to fill in a few empty spaces on my calendar by celebrating the best of what we share — life and love — in the City Different.
Let’s Fall in Love Again – with Chocolate
Even with an inviting itinerary, it’s indulgent to start the day slowly, just lolling in bed awhile or catching the tail end of an old black-and-white movie on TV. When we give ourselves the gift of a Santa Fe hotel overnight, in-room coffee takes care of any need to rush. Instead the rush comes just after 10 am when the award-winning Kakawa Chocolate House opens, and we can start a day of delightful dalliances with a different dark and heady brew: chocolate!
Created via thoughtful research into chocolate’s historical past, Kakawa’s sipping beverages are hot chocolate like you’ve never had it. And sipping is key, because these elixirs are deep, rich, and meant to be enjoyed slowly. I’m happy that the menu is deep, too, so with two of us, sharing means twice the taste.
I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting to a weakness (okay, that’s putting it mildly) for chocolate. But I am grateful chocolate is a food substance that has undergone a massive craft conversion toward the artisanal. USA Today just gave the nod to Santa Fe’s chocolate excellence, so I say don’t stop with just one stop. It seems to me that you can never have too much of a good thing, and I’m grateful that C.G. Higgins agreed with that sentiment by conveniently providing two locations for luscious sampling. And it’s simply divine when my sweetie comes up with a killer idea on planning ahead: “Let’s get a box of fudge for later.”
Oh Ho, Honey, Let’s Head for Ojo
Me and mine are big on road trips. Many of our memorable moments have come about in the front seat of a car heading out onto a back road where surprises become gifts. Maybe we see a mule deer pausing to stare back at us while her mate bounds ahead. Or it might be one of those fantastic cloud formations in which New Mexico specializes. And those sudden gifts of nature often occur when we’re on our way to treat ourselves to the healthful luxuries of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa.
Although it translates literally to “eye,” “ojo” is the word used here to indicate a spring; hence, Ojo Caliente means warm spring. These natural hot springs were known for their historic healing properties long before people like me put pen to paper in praise of their efficacy. I’m a devoted fan of the public pools, with their varying mineral components, but a special day with a special someone definitely rates a private pool. Soaking tensions away under the blue New Mexico sky is so worth a scenic drive up north.
And once we’re thoroughly soaked and muscles are melting, we head for some skilled hands-on healing … ahhh … now what to choose … maybe a Hot Stone Massage for you — with basalt stones from the nearby Rio Grande — and a Sacred Journey Aroma Wrap for me? Just thinking about all the possibilities, I feel more relaxed. So relaxed, in fact, that I think spoiling ourselves with a full spa package might be the best idea of all!
While we’re on the subject of full spa packages, doesn’t a bath for two surrounded by drifting rose petals sound like a scent-ual immersion experience? Add in a massage, a facial, and a manicure, and I am over the moon, especially when I don’t even have to put it all together by myself. The Inn and Spa at Loretto already did that when they created Corazones en Fuego – Hearts on Fire. No surprise, since the Spa has won a Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice award four years running; it is definitely time to feed some rosy romantic fantasies close to home!
Let’s Nibble Our Way Around Santa Fe
I know one thing for sure: many a magic memory in my life has been enriched by a food component. Frankly, everything about living in Santa Fe makes me feel hungry — for the enjoyment of innovative art, the solace of great music, the warmth of the sun on my face (remember, minimum SPF 30 at 7,000 feet), and the taste of food prepared by talented chefs that all together form the basis of a terrific lifestyle.
Taking an inquiring mind (and taste buds) to spend a few pleasant afternoon hours on a restaurant walking tour with the Santa Fe School of Cooking means a meal in four separate stops on a relaxing stroll around downtown. The School has planned several winning combinations for comparing and contrasting the flavors that pop up on the dining tables of the City Different. My appetite is definitely aroused by hearing the thoughts and inspirations of each individual chef, and samples at these private tastings are paired with wines from the restaurant wine list.
And if you’re looking for a way to expand the experience, add a cooking class and take those savory Santa Fe skills home — I do it, and I live here! In fact, there couldn’t be a better time for a class than right now, since the Cooking School is offering a series of super-affordable Bonus Classes through March, as they refine their annual repertoire. Don’t you just love being the first one to show up with new recipes?
Evenings Divine with Baby Mine
Any perfect day needs a capstone, and all this talk of culinary tours and cooking classes puts me in the mood to plan a dreamy dinner, especially with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Champagne, sunset, plus Santa Fe means it’s decided: Terra at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado. Any excuse to drive a bit off the beaten path into the serene setting of northern New Mexico works wonders for me, especially if a great meal in an authentic setting awaits.
Surrounded by 57 pristine acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I always feel like I’ve gone back in time when I see the sun in all its glory setting over this unspoiled landscape. Spare and beautiful, dotted with pinon and juniper trees, the vast blue heavens arcing overhead, being here speaks to everything I love about living in the Land of Enchantment.
Dinner at Terra is an exercise in creative contrasts: a luminous backdrop of ancient mountains and sky and a tasteful contemporary use of native materials, stone, wrought-iron, and warm wood. The only challenge to settling in for a leisurely meal from Chef Andrew Cooper’s kitchen is homing in on that entrée … again, thank heavens that loving means sharing.
I may have to insist, however, that my other half weigh in when it’s time to plan where to lay our heads on a set of luxuriously soft white sheets. With so many great hotels in Santa Fe, picking out one place among the many is a two-person job. No complaints from me, though. We’re going to be the lucky ones, since I’m planning to suggest over dinner that we make this year’s anniversary present to ourselves a regular getaway right here at home. Then all we’ll have to do is snuggle up by the fire and design our next special getaway for two.
Make Memories Together in Santa Fe
I cherish the knowledge that the person I’m sharing my life with shares the same love for all things Santa Fe. Even though I occasionally hope my sweetie will surprise me with a slate of loving adventures, I’m content to make magic for both of us. And maybe that’s true for you too. But what do you think? Should we leave the computer open to this page and see what happens?
Not being one to shy away from the complexity of a fine wine, I am always enthralled when Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta returns each autumn, but sometimes I just want a nice cold pint of … beer. Since ours is a town that prides itself on signature food traditions, the bevy of craft beers is a bonus I am happy to explore, especially when the chile is hot and the nights are cool. Santa Fe and New Mexico brewers did themselves proud at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival this past October with a total of 8 medals garnered, so I took on the task (!) of a tankard tour around town to convince you hop-loving honeys that attending Santa Fe WinterBrew 2014 must be on your beer-loving agenda.
I’m Calling It My Party … But You Are Invited
I’ve decided to pretend that my January birthday is on the 24th, so I can celebrate with friends at WinterBrew this year. Making its third appearance in the Santa Fe Railyard at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion, this big beer-lovers bash organized by the New Mexico Brewers’ Guild brings together a macro-batch of craft micro-breweries from all around New Mexico to celebrate my birthday — okay, not really, but humor me, I’m still pretending. With a bounty of exceptional beers and beer-worthy foods (I like their homey billing of “comfort foods”), this is a party to which everyone is invited!
A raft of craft brewers from around the state is on tap for the event, so expect to see beverages from Second Street Brewery, Chama River, Santa Fe Brewing Company (Santa Fe’s oldest brewing company), Duel Brewery (the City Different’s newest brewer), La Cumbre, Taos Mesa, Marble, Blue Heron, Little Toad Creek, Blue Corn Brewery, and even Monk’s Ale from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. And I hear tell that there are still four slots on the beer slate to be filled. I am anticipating some delectably unforgettable treats, since those afore-mentioned comfort foods include brats and carnitas, as well as veggie options such as mac & cheese and portobello tacos. With accommodating kitchen crews coming from the Blue Corn Brewery, Second Street Brewery, Duel Brewing, Rio Chama, and the Bambini Philly Cheese Steak mobile food truck, I’m sure that no one will leave the Railyard hungry for more.
Advance tickets for the five-hour festivities are already on sale, and the 650-person limit means this is a gotta-do-it winter event for anyone who likes to tickle their taste-buds with brawny beverages. Tickets include a $5 credit for beer or food and a commemorative sampling glass. That’s my “Hoppy Birthday” present to me!
You Won’t Be Blue When You Drink Their Brew
Pouring beer and feeding crowds at WinterBrew, the Blue Corn empire (okay, maybe that’s a bit grand for two restaurants and one brewery, but I bow to a good beer purveyor) originated in a downtown eatery before bumping up to brew status. At the Great American Beer Festival, Blue Corn earned two silver medals, one each for End of the Trail Brown Ale and the Gold Medal Stout. Personally I gravitate to the Atomic Blonde Lager, since its crisp flavor pairs perfectly with an order of the doughnut-sized onion rings. My, are those ever a guilty pleasure!
Housing a host of house beers and rotating specialties, the shining copper fermenters quietly work their magic as diners dig into everything from fajitas to those killer onion rings (c’mon, you know you want ‘em) in the Rodeo Road outpost and the beers are on location at the Blue Corn Cafe downtown. The 15-barrel fermenter is solely dedicated to Blue Corn’s most popular offering, Road Runner IPA. And yes, you might find me running down the road to shed my workaday blues at Blue Corn.
A Local Beer Works Wonders When It’s Near a Wood Oven
While Il Vicino brews its beverages in the Duke City (a.k.a. Albuquerque), its beers bubble nightly in the pint glasses of Santa Fe beer buffs. A historic 1700’s building hosts this favored pizza palace (plenty of other Italian specialties are on the menu, but sorry, people, thin-crust wood-oven pizza margherita for me). The casual, friendly atmosphere makes it a relaxing spot for sampling in the company of inquisitive beer buddies. I generally go pilsner — and their Pigtail is my pick — but attenzione, amici, the discovery that Il Vicino took home gold for their Panama Joe Stout in the coffee beer category at the Great American Beer Festival gives me an excuse to go back soon.
What’s in a Name? Legacy!
Santa Fe Brewing Company is the undisputed grand-daddy of Santa Fe breweries. And with close to 20 different varieties in their stable, this venerable companion of Santa Fe beer aficionados is on tap and in grocery stores around the state. Their Santa Fe Pale Ale has graced many a party at my place, and I love seeing their Oktoberfest appear just in time for my once-a-year spaetzle adventure (for the uninitiated, that’s German pasta, and a special kitchen tool is recommended — thanks for that, Mom).
The Santa Fe Brewing Company has two tasting rooms, the flagship brew house on the Turquoise Trail and the other in the Eldorado subdivision, gracing that bedroom community with a welcome gathering spot. Both are designed for beer-tasting, meaning no food is served, but in a nice reversal of the BYOB rule, tasters are free to bring their own snacks. And you have to love a tasting room that offers a “stitch, bitch and beer” on their events calendar!
Second Street Brewery Doubles the Pleasure with Two Places
Ladies like me love to linger with a pint, and I am happy to report that the Second Street Brewery has gold-medal experience at making killer brews — the proof is in their October Great American Beer Award for Rod’s Steam Bitter. Right now, I’m fascinated by the Festivus, singled out as an ale “for the rest of us” by the brew staff. The name alone put me in a holiday mood, so I gave myself the gift of green chile cheese fries to partner with my pint.
The brewery/pub, located on (surprise!) Second Street, has been a cheery hangout for locals since it opened, and the smart creation of the Railyard location (a second Second Street you might say) harvested a legion of loyal beer-lovers. These brewers may be second-streeters, but having a broad selection of beers that I can pair with the honkin’ platter of nachos on the menu (face it, pub food rocks!) gives them first-place status in my beer journal.
No Need to Fight, There’s Something for Every Taste at Duel Brewery
I love a duel. I know it’s probably just a lingering teenage fantasy, in which two studly dudes vie for my hand, but every time the Santa Fe Opera brings Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin back to the stage, I always choke up in the duel scene knowing that only one character survives the face-off. That can’t be said for Duel Brewery, however, since their slate includes many leading players. Specializing in Belgian-style beers, meaning hoppy ales like the Fiction IPA, less hoppy versions like the Non-Fiction (I just love that naming distinction), and a classic pale and punchy Sour Witbier, this new spot — the first craft brewery to open here in Santa Fe in 15 years — brings a welcome cast of coldies to Santa Fe. Any place that offers bread and butter (warm marbled rye with salt and butter) as an appetizer scores high marks in my book. And I send a resounding “Ja” (yes!) back to my mother’s German roots when I order the German plate, a mix of white bratwurst and spicy hot link sausages with German potato salad and sauerkraut — Ja, Ja, Ja!
Effervescently Yours from Santa Fe
Baby, it’s cold outside … so let’s fight fire with fire by heading inside to have a cold one. T’is the season for get-togethers and friendly fun, and there’s nothing like finely-crafted local beer to make the meet-up more festive. Santa Fe is continually enriched with entrepreneurial spirit and drive, and we are the fortunate recipients of the tasty results. An afternoon at WinterBrew 2014 or a cerveza cruise through the City Different with like-minded adventurers, it’s your call. Either way, you’ll discover the bubbling up of a wonderful wellspring of beer right here in Santa Fe, so “Cheers” to you.