Saturday, February 27, 2010

Report from the Field: The Santa Fe Trail

Thank goodness I have friends who get out of town once in awhile and inspire me to dream about road trips to faraway places. My pal Laurie recently ventured solo to Santa Fe and not only brought back tales of a charming city filled with wonderful food, but some photos and samples to make it a much fuller experience!

The Santa Fe visitor experience is well documented, and for good reason. They’ve got it going on. World class art, extraordinary light and interesting food. And unlike much of the art, the food is very affordable.

Here are few gastronomic highlights from my recent mid-winter jaunt to the Land of Enchantment:

Café Pasqual's: A popular spot known for it’s tasty Mexican/New Mexican cuisine and funky, relaxed, atmosphere. I opted for the chicken mole enchiladas (left). According to my server, the sweet-yet-savory Oaxacan-style mole contained over 100 ingredients. (And yes, it was just as good as the moles I had in Oaxaca.) There was also a flavorful lime and cilantro rice, which was delightful in its own right. Café Pasqual's, 121 Don Gaspar. Phone 505-983-9340.

The Plaza Café: Another local favorite, located … you guessed it …right in the main plaza. I had the chile relleno omelet (right). I’m no food writer, but I’ll take my best shot at describing this as an episode of The Dating Game: Mr. Fluffy Frenchie Omelet chooses local hottie, Miss Perfectly Roasted Green Chile. Sparks fly, they bond and together they ride off into the northern New Mexico sunset. The Plaza Café, 54 Lincoln Ave. Phone 505-982-1664.

Tomasita's: My friend from Albuquerque insisted I try the sopapillas (think the beignet of New Mexico) with red chile sauce and honey. (Sounds weird, but it’s delicious.) And the margaritas…yikes! Pony up for the “Silver Coin”—fancy tequila plus Cointreau that's well worth the $11. But imbibers beware! Tequila is even more dangerous at 7,000 feet. Tomasita's, 500 S Guadalupe St. Phone 505-983-5721.

And, last but not least, the quirky yet charming Kakawa Chocolate House where one can find incredible exotic drinking chocolate based on historic recipes from Pre-Columbian Meso America, 17th century Europe and Colonial Mexico.

I took home some of their 1775 Marie Antoinette Chocolate Elixir, which I prepared with both with regular milk and the recommended almond milk. I vote for the almond milk—it really brings out the chocolate’s complex flavors. The cute chocolate ingots (right) make great gifts, too, and are available online. [Laurie brought some back for me and they are indeed as incredible as she describes. And unusual, to boot! - KAB] Kakawa Chocolate House, 1050 E Paseo de Peralta. Phone 505-982-0388.

That’s all I have to report from the field. However, I have one parting suggestion: if you’re going to go in hard for the chiles, I recommend bringing some Pepto Bismol tablets—just to be on the safe side.


Burt said...

Nice description of the omelet at the Plaza Cafe! Some other great breakfast places if you like breakfast burritos are Tecolote and the Zia diner. Both are great with smoothered green chile. Glad you had a good visit to Santa Fe.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Burt!