The Flavors of Fall at Santa Fe Farm-to-Table Restaurants

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Autumn in New Mexico brings a bounty of fresh, seasonal foods grown by local farmers that are representative of the region, from the Land of Enchantment’s famous green and red chile to the Native American’s “Three Sisters”—beans, corn and squash that, when grown together, nourish and support each other.

You can savor the flavors of fall at acclaimed farm-to-table restaurants across Santa Fe County, where the focus is on fresh, local ingredients that are delicious and full of wholesome goodness, too.  Some chefs cook with the foods grown at their on-site restaurant farms. Others shop the Santa Fe Farmers Market—one of America’s top farmers markets with more than 150 farmers and producers in northern New Mexico —as well as the Eldorado Farmers Market, Cerrillos Farmers Market and the Pueblo of Pojoaque Farmers Market and crafts markets.  Chefs then blend the freshest of ingredients with imagination and innovation to create mouth-watering fare that keeps diners coming back for more.

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Indulge In Five Santa Fe Spring Fling Events

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Every season Santa Fe is blessed with so many special sights and sounds that we never feel shortchanged at any time of year. Truth be told—being on the cusp of spring has us in a tizzy with restless anticipation!  As days grow longer, trees will soon begin to blossom to adorn the city and festive events will bloom and pop up all over town. Now is the moment to give into The City Different’s beauty and bounty. We’ve planted some seeds for your spring adventure here in Santa Fe…

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Enjoy Santa Fe Cuisine, Cocktails, Confessions and Croppers

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When it comes to dining destinations, few can top Santa Fe.  One of the best times to experience the city’s rich culinary diversity is during Santa Fe Restaurant Week which takes place February 19th through the 26th. The City Different’s participating restaurants are offering multiple-course dinners for just $15, $25, $35, or $45 per person, and several also will feature prix-fixe lunches. Some hotels will offer special rates for Restaurant Week, making this the perfect time to plan a wallet-friendly gourmet getaway.

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Five Activities to Enjoy in Santa Fe This November

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Here in Santa Fe we are grateful and joyous for our history, food and scenic wonders. With 325 days of sunshine a year, you will revel in fun times gliding down a snowy hillside or immersing yourself in our rich history and culture. It’s easy for us to go and on about the wonders of Santa Fe because magic is real in The City Different.  Now is the time to celebrate with a November visit.  Join us in giving thanks. Here’s a nod to a few of Santa Fe’s best November activities.

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Put A Santa Fe Spring In Your Step With Five April Events!

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The first crocus has popped a yellow blossom through the earth and fruit tree buds are swelling delicious potential. Santa Fe is warming up as days grow longer and the sun moves higher in the sky. The sun and big blue skies promise delightful spring adventures. The season is the ideal time to visit, offering a host of events to tempt the inquisitive traveler. Here are just a few…

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Santa Fe Winter is Full of Wonder

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, New Mexico, Winter Must Dos
Soup’s on in Santa Fe: Fill your belly and treat your tastebuds—and those of NM’s most needy, too—at this beloved charity event (Photo Credit: The Food Depot)

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Railyard, Craft Beer, Beer Fest
It’s cheers to you when you lift your glass at Santa Fe Winter Brew Fest. (Photo Credit: New Mexico Brewers’ Guild)

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Art, Cuisine
Combining fine art and festive dinners is a Santa Fe specialty.

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!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fine Dining
You should definitely “Andiamo” to Santa Fe during February Restaurant Week!

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.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Winter, Sports, Mountain
A Santa Fe mountain snowshoe hike with Outspire will inspire you! (Photo Credit: Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing)

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.

 

Getting Your Just Desserts in Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s culinary scene is renowned the world over mostly for its fiery chile. But a bevy of bakeries and chocolatiers are sweetening up Santa Fe’s dining scene. From unusual cupcakes to creative caramels, Santa Fe’s sweeter side perfectly complements our fiery cuisine—and sometimes combines with it. Chocolate chile, anyone?

Gluten-free is Full-Flavor at Revolution Bakery

Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.
Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.

Life is uncertain – eat dessert first. I honor that saying by starting healthy at Revolution Bakery. My mother raised a family of sticky bun devotees, and I follow Mom’s recipe to the letter when I bake at home. Revolution Bakery’s version of this classic breakfast goodie is made with a mix of brown rice, tapioca and sorghum flours and speckled with chopped pecans and cinnamon. Everything at the Bakery is 100-percent gluten-free and 100-percent delicious. It’s no wonder there’s always a line at this revolutionary restaurant. Mind you, I’m a good girl – I do wait to open the box of gluten-free cookies until after lunch!

Be Sweet to Your Body at BODY Café

Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.
Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.

I admit to a sweet addiction but I also want to make wholesome choices. Fortunately, these two goals are not mutually exclusive when I satisfy my yen for something yummy at the BODY Café. This vegan-friendly dessert destination is on my short list for afternoon delights. I’m happy to lunch on raw carrots but raw vegan carrot cake? Now that’s a discovery! Coated with macadamia nut frosting and healthy as can be, it proves why raw food lovers flock to desserts like this. BODY’s vegan cookies are always at the ready and as for the gluten-free chocolate ganache torte – I’m not sharing!

Find Your Chocolate Fix at Kakawa

Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa.
Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa. Photo Courtesy of: Kakawa

Chocolate is on my list of the best things in life (thank goodness research finally concluded it’s good for you). When I’m in the mood to linger over a liquid dessert, Kakawa Chocolate House satisfies the urge. Voted one of the top places in the world to drink hot chocolate, Kakawa takes your tastebuds on a trip around the globe. From Thomas Jefferson’s own sweet 1790s recipe to rich Meso-American elixirs with deep dark flavor, the only problem is choosing just one. Fortunately, Kakawa’s knowledgeable staff will pour a sippin’ sample to help fulfill your fancy. And if a sip is not enough, I suggest salted chocolate-covered caramels to go.

Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!
Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!

Truffle Hunting is Easy at C.G. Higgins

When I want my chocolate to go – or when it’s time to send a signature treat to friends and family – I’m grateful C.G. Higgins (known locally as Chuck’s) has two spots in Santa Fe to pick up a box of succulent sweets. It’s hard to argue with handmade truffles in exotic flavors. Of course, chile makes an appearance! As a fudge fan who watched longingly as Mom dropped molten chocolate into cold water to test its readiness, I can report that Chuck’s does fudge proud. Santa Fe souvenirs should include chile caramel corn or piñon nut brittle, as both honor New Mexico’s agricultural heritage. And after wandering the downtown galleries, I look forward to a pick-me-up of Taos Cow’s piñon caramel ice cream – mmmmm!

Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Bake Me a Treat

More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.
More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.

With the Farmers’ Market and an active gallery scene, I spend plenty of time in the Santa Fe Railyard area so it’s nice to have a go-to for goodies. The Swiss Bakery and Bistro is open all three meals of the day, but I’m happy to graze when it’s time for dessert. At this altitude, a successful croissant or Napoleon is a notable achievement, and the Swiss Bakery has perfected them both. I never (I mean never) say no to an éclair, and I make no apologies for ordering two of the mini versions. Fresh fruit tarts come full-size or miniature, but I have switched my dessert allegiance to the petites because that means I can sample raspberry and strawberry and apricot too.

Don’t Desert the Dessert Course

Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.
Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.

Did I make you yearn for only-in-Santa-Fe treats? I hope so, since every word is delectably true. Put dessert on your list of what to do in Santa Fe and you can discover just how sweet it is to be here.

Santa Fe is a Craft Beer Bonanza

I’m spelling this month Octobeer because autumn is the perfect time for exploring Santa Fe’s booming craft breweries. Local brew has deep roots – witness this April 29, 1889 journal entry from archeologist Adolph Bandelier (for whom Bandelier National Monument is named): “Went to Mass. In the afternoon to the brewery”. Why not take heed of Mr. Bandelier’s suggestion and come along with me on a foamy foray?

It’s All in the Name and In the Beer Too

Tucked in Santa Fe’s southside, Santa Fe Brewing Company has 26 years in the keg. Its flagship Santa Fe Pale Ale remains the rock this brewery was built on and a plethora of specialty beers pop up seasonally.  Right now, I have my eye on – you guessed it – Oktoberfest, a cheery ode to the season that I can’t resist and the 2014 bronze medal winner at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in the American Sour Ale category, the brewery’s very own Kriek.

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A refreshing afternoon is always on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company.

Two tasting rooms on opposite ends of the county (the brewery perched on the Turquoise Trail and the Eldorado taproom off I-25 north) make casual get-togethers a breeze. Cap off your experience with tours at the brewery location. Small Batch Saturdays feature five-gallon experimental beers – a great pick for the best in beer-lovin’ weekends. What’s more? The brewery’s events calendar is topped off with fun.

Hit Second Street for First-rate Brews

After a long day, a glass of craft brew is a tempting notion and, thankfully, Second Street Brewery is always just around the corner. The original brewery on – where else – Second Street is a funky mix of artists’ studios, stoneyards and fitness studios. This homey pub includes a host of beers on tap. I’m a Kolsch girl myself – I love this light ale with lager-like flavor. Pairing brew with offerings like beer-back pork shanks and lots of live music guarantees a great time.

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A beer and a bright blue sky make the perfect combo at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard.

 After a Saturday morning shopping spree next door at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market or downtown gallery hopping, I stop by Second Street’s Railyard outpost for a break with a beer boost. It features the same great craft brews and the Alien Burger, winner of the 2014 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown 

Beer and New Mexico – Matchless Bar Buddies

I was a Blue Corn Café regular before they added the brewery and the 1997 decision to start brewing made things even better! Six house beers and four rotating specialties present plenty of choice for beer aficionados. Blue Corn Brewery’s aptly named Blue Corn Café and Brewery Gold Medal Stout won—yup—the gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. This latest award complements its collection of hardware for the brewhouse’s Resurgence IPA, winner of the 2013 New Mexico IPA challenge and its classic best-seller, Road Runner IPA, is a hops-lover’s dream. Boasting the same super beer selection just off the Plaza, the downtown Café is an ideal spot for enjoying classic New Mexican cuisine.

blucornsign
Like the sign says, Blue Corn Brewery is all about the craft.

 I’ve always been a sucker for their Atomic Blonde Lager and chicken fajitas make a fine companion, especially on game days! This friendly hangout puts out the welcome sign for beer socials on once-a-month Thursdays at the Brewer’s Table. And beer to go? This month, that 32 oz. growler will be filled with Night Train, a seasonal German schwarzbier (a smooth black lager) that I’m dying to try with take-out tamales.

No Need to Duel;There’s Plenty to Share

Imperial pour is a great concept and its full golden glory arrives in proper glassware at Duel Brewery. Off the beaten path and utterly craft-driven, this Belgian brewery has a creative side to complement the complex flavors of their brews. Duel’s Fiction IPA is precisely named; although they didn’t set out to make beer that would have hopheads cheering, the balance in this brew is more than enough to qualify its best-seller status.

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Duel Brewery makes it an OctoberFest-ive night out!

Given the time of year (and my German ancestors), Duel’s Octoberfest captured my full attention as accompaniment for their sausage plate. White bratwurst paired with spicy hot sausage rest on a pile of sauerkraut with Duel’s killer marble rye bread. Let’s just say I fell in love with October all over again! The beatnik atmosphere and industrial setting is my kind of pub scene. With life drawing sessions ($25 gets you a beer, a signature waffle and two hours with a live model), movie screenings and a healthy roster of live music, Duel is the place for expressing your artistic side as you explore their palette of beers.

Sample the Golden Colors of Autumn in a Glass

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A hunt for the Southwest’s best beers leads to Santa Fe.

With fall colors painting the mountains and fresh-roasted green chile appearing in restaurants all over town, what could be a better partner for the season than a frosty local beer? I definitely recommend a 2015 Santa Fe Bike and Brew getaway but don’t wait until then. I guarantee it won’t take an archaeological hunt worthy of Mr. Bandelier to craft your own beer saga this year in Santa Fe!

 

Santa Fe: We Like It Hot!

Food is full of trinities: Hot dogs, beers and ballparks. PB&J. Wine, cheese and crackers.  But here in Santa Fe we like to think we’ve got the best three-flavor combo of them all: Green chile, plus cheese, plus burger equals pure deliciousness. We’re the Green Chile Cheeseburger Capital of the World and we’ve got the Smackdown to prove it. More than 10,000 green chile fanatics voted in the top six contenders to compete for supremacy in the juried Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown on Sept. 12. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you your finalists!

Look closely: Chef Marc Quiñones adds a little jalapeño challenge on the plate with his green chile cheeseburger.
Look closely: Chef Marc Quiñones adds a little jalapeño challenge on the plate with his green chile cheeseburger.

Luminaria Lights Up Your Palate

Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto has a secret weapon in the balsamic grilled onions that Chef Marc Quiñones slathers on his picture-perfect entrant. Cheddar cheese is a classic topper that always scores with voters, and the fresh-roasted New Mexico green chile ensures a delicious heat index. The home-made potato chips were a big hit; in our group, serious sleight of hand was required to get a taste before they were gone. With Bibb lettuce and heirloom tomatoes stacked on the juicy grass-fed patty, it’s no surprise that this beefy baby ended up in the final go-round.

 

 

The burger is a thing of beauty at Terra, and so are those crunchy onion rings.
The burger is a thing of beauty at Terra, and so are those crunchy onion rings.

 

The Taste is Terra-ific

A short drive north into the scenic countryside should be part of any Santa Fe experience and the reward for the trip—besides the breathtaking scenery—is the Terra burger at the Four Seasons Resort and Spa (a breathtaking sight itself). Using Northern New Mexico-grown chile, Chef Andrew Cooper demonstrates his ardent farm-to-table support of the Farmers’ Market Institute (the beneficiary of Smackdown ticket sales). Cooper’s innovative style enhances the bread factor, with tidbits of green chile and pepper jack cheese dotting the tender brioche bun. While it is about the burger, that perfect bun ups the yum-factor to superb. Extra kudos to the chef for a spicy bed of chipotle BBQ sauce under the juicy, cooked-just-right local beef. And did I mention the red chile onion rings?

Every good cowgirl needs a good mother, I mean, burger.
Every good cowgirl needs a good mother, I mean, burger.

How I Ate Your Mother(burger)

Chef Patrick Lambert of the Cowgirl BBQ knows how to please Mom, but she needs a hearty appetite to get through his Mother Burger. Cowgirl was the proud recipient of the 2013 Smackdown People’s Choice Award, and no wonder – this mother of a meal boasts a mix of ground buffalo and beef topped with bacon and melted brie. A healthy helping of green chile is layered on top and the chile-cheddar bun adds extra kick to the whole megillah. Every mouthful offers a different hit — one minute beef, one minute brie — and each bite was killer-delicious. Think I ignored the truffle fries and huge selection of on-tap beers? Wrong!

Cheers for the choice of chimichurri on the Anasazi Burger.
Cheers for the choice of chimichurri on the Anasazi Burger.

 

There’s Nothing Ancient History About This Burger

“Wagyu gonna say” about 100% Wagyu beef? I say “bring it on” and Chef Juan Bochenski of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi does just that. Cooked a la parilla (on a grate), the result is an enviable crust encasing a perfect center. Green chile mixed with chimichurri sauce (piquant chopped garlic, cilantro and parsley) reflects the chef’s Argentinian background and melds beautifully with the slice of avocado on top. Another entrant upping the ante with a fresh-baked brioche bun, this burger features provolone cheese as a creamy palate cooler. The house-made BBQ chips disappear in a flash!

Oh My Amaya!
Oh My Amaya!

It’s Never Too Late to Get In to Win

In Sunday School you may have heard the last shall be first. It could sure happen for Amaya at the Hotel Santa Fe, the Hacienda and Spa, a last-minute entry that shot up in a hurry. The all-natural, half-pound (be hungry, be very hungry) bison burger created by Chef Walter Dominguez boosts the flavor meter to high with a hefty dose of fire-roasted green chile and extra-sharp cheddar cheese. The tempura onion rings are a more-than-worthy accompaniment. And I love the beautiful covered patio and adjacent grassy lawn on which lucky folks like me can see a Pueblo dance.

Even Zozobra (read more about him here) wanted a glimpse of the alien!
Even Zozobra (read more about him here) wanted a glimpse of the alien!

 

Area 51 Comes to Santa Fe

The alien has landed at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard. Chef Shawn Perry had a close encounter of the third kind when this idea landed in his mind: an all-beef patty topped with a crispy blue-corn-dusted chile relleno. Add richly-flavored stout queso, fried red onions and bacon, and it becomes even more other-worldly. And there’s nothing like a swash of guacamole to balance the heat of chipotle mayo and chopped green chile. Chef had best be careful not to get beamed up to serve the aliens on their home planet!

Don’t Miss the Lip-Smacking Smackdown Coming Up

By now, I expect you’re ready to buy tickets. Doing it soon is my advice, because this is one event that will definitely sell out. And guess what? You’ll be enjoying a bonus addition: The six finalists will be joined by a Lucky No. 7 chosen by local radio host Carlos Duran, turning this burger-iffic night out (with beer included) into seventh heaven!