Category Archives: New Mexico

Santo Brings New Mexican Fare to Boulder

Top Chef alum and restaurateur Hosea Rosenberg’s latest hit.

There is still a temporary sign above the door.

On powder days, I’ve stood at the top of ski run, waiting for the patrol to drop the rope so I could score some turns in fresh snow. For the first time, I felt that familiar anticipation as I waited for a new restaurant’s door to be unlocked. The restaurant is Santo, the newest venture for chef Hosea Rosenberg, who grew up in Taos, became a genuine celeb chef after winning Top Chef, Season 5 and operates the popular East Boulder Blackbelly Market, restaurant and butchery. He has tapped into his northern New Mexico roots for decorative statements but mostly for the food.

The line was building for an anticipated 4 p.m. opening of the new occupant of the space next to Ideal Market. A paper sign on the door indicated that due to “technical difficulties,”  Santo would open at 4:30. When it did, we first customers felt like celebs, greeted by cameras and cell phones. What a hoot!

Eager diners in line at dusk for chef Hosea Rosenberg’s Santo, which brings the distinctive cuisine of northern New Mexico to Colorado’s Front Range.

The Santo space  is both familiar and new. Once Radda Trattoria, then Ella’s from the Zoe Mama team then Scott’s on Alpine — I’ve eaten at them all. The look, the cuisine and the vibe may have changed with each transition, but I’ve always known where to find the restroom without asking.

Santo’s  commodious square bar remains on the west part of the large dining room. A wonderful wooden zia symbol  chandelier floating above the bar was made by a New Mexican carver, as were the santos along the walls. I intended to take a picture, but I was so eager to get seated and order that I didn’t — and by the time we left, the bar area was mobbed — and loud. Framed B&B photographs decorate the dining area, but in truth, the focus is on the food, as  it certainly should be. Here’s what my husband and I ate on Day One (plus wine for me, a beer for him):

Wood Oven Queso is a blend of local cheese melted in the wood oven in a small cast-iron pan. It is topped with red pepper jelly and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The portion looks small but the taste is big. And what’s the New Mexican word for ‘umami”? White and blue corn tortilla chips come on the side.
A trio of wild boar empanadas with cilantro crema, salsa with a kick and a bit of crunchy salad.
The smoky aroma of this thick soup rises from the table as soon as the bowl is set down. Smoked corn, huitlacoche (corn smut (an unappealing name for a specialty) and thin flavor ribbons of Christmas salsas (red and green).
Generous portion of Kale and Quinoa Salad, with slices of apple, jicama, grilled cactus queso fresco, piñon nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Apple and green chile pie backed in a cheddar crust with a generous scoop or vanilla ice cream on top.

Price check: At dinner appetizers, $6-$12; soups and sides $6-$12; entrées $16-$32; chile, side add-ons $2-$5; desserts, $5-$7.

Santo is at 1265 Alpine Avenue, Boulder; 303-442-6100.

Blue Corn Pancakes

Light and toothsome breakfast entrée.

I have always liked blue corn chips, and I first tasted blue corn pancakes at the historic and funky El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM, on a long-ago road trip. I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for them on menus ever since.  Fast-forward to this past week, when my husband bought two pounds of Gold Mine Organic blue masa harina. It would take more years than I have left to use it all in tamales, so I decided to adapt a pancake recipe. I used as a base a Food.com recipe for Masa Harina Pancakes, conveniently portioned for two. Here’s what resulted,

Blue Corn Pancakes

12 cup masa harina
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
12 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and mix until smooth (masa harina will not be lumpy as wheat flour would be).
  3. Heat griddle on medium with a little oil . When it is hot, ladle on about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until nicely browned and firm, about two minutes each side.

Serves 2.

These pancakes are very light and have a little crunch to them. I served them with a little  fruit on the plate and bacon and maple syrup on the side, I still have a lot of blue corn masa left, so I imagine I’ll be making them again.

A New Spin on New Mexican Ingredients

Hotel Andaluz chef cooks out of the culinary box.

As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.

Some of the dishes:

Pineapple, watermelon and grape salad with Marcona almond crumble and pimenton. oil.
“Peas & Carrots,” a whimsical name for toasted corn and white Balsamic/sambal chile dressing.
New York strip steak (two levels of doneness) with jalapeno butter. Thick slices of toasted sourdough were in a separate dish. Since it is New Mexico-raised cattle, perhaps it should be called New Mexico strip steak.
Hatch Green Chile Hummus on Broken Lavash with cilantro oil and red pepper gel.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onion ragout and Cascabel chile Romesco sauce.
For sheer creativity, my ad hoc award goes to the Pinon Brittle, a clear sugary rectangles topped with oreango gremolata and lemongrass yogurt.

I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction  and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.

Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe,  which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.

Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.

It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks  (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.

Arroyo Seco Ice Cream Parlor on World List

Recognition for Taos Cow’s pure ice cream.

TaosCow-logo I often complain that when compiling lists of “top” this or “best” that, national sites pay scant attention to restaurants in the flyover states of the Mountain West. When some establishment makes such a list, more often than not, it’s in Denver.

So it came as quite a fine surprise when The Daily Meal’s selection of the World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors 2016  included the Taos Cow in tiny Arroyo Seco, a hamlet between Taos and Taos Ski Valley.  It’s actually more than an ice cream parlor but a place to stop for breakfast and lunch offerings, including really good soups.  I have no delusions that The Daily Meal actually had a correspondent try out. Bon Appétit, USA Today and the two Times newspapers (L.A. and New York) previously  wrote about it. The Daily Meal’s words about this ice cream:

Taos Cow, Arroyo Seco, N.M.

Specializing in all-natural, rGBH-free ice cream since 1993, Taos Cow mixes traditional flavors with local ingredients, creating Southwestern-inspired varieties like Buffalo Chip (vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate-covered coffee beans), Maple Walnut (made with real maple extract and walnuts), Cherry Ristra (cherry ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and piñon nuts), and Holstein Sunset (strawberry ice cream with white, dark, and milk chocolate chunks).

In case you’re wondering, rGBH is a growth hormone commonly administered to cattle.

Cafe Pasqual’s in the Morning

Santa Fe favorite creates breakfast entrées.

P1090156On previous visits to Santa Fe, lunch or dinner at Cafe Pasqual ‘s has been on the food docket. I always enjoy this cheery eatery a couple of short blocks from The Plaza. The breakfast items are unusual, with flavorful versions of popular New Mexican favorites plus items I’ve never seen before.

Mexican cut paper flags and ristras hang from the high ceiling.
Mexican cut paper flags (a folk art form called papa piccada) and ristras of dried chiles hang from the high ceiling. They’ve been there long enough so that some are a bit tattered — the papa piccada, not the ristras.
Well-foamed cappuccino comes in a large, handle-free bowl.
Well-foamed cappuccino comes in a large, handle-free bowl.
Breakfast tortilla is a griddled whole wheat tortilla, melted Jack cheese, guacamole, eggs and salsa. This is a single. Doubles are also available.
Breakfast tortilla is a griddled whole wheat tortilla, melted Jack cheese, guacamole, eggs and salsa. This is a single. Doubles are also available.
Julia's wild salmon gravlax, a Scandinavian salmon dish. Line-caught, Cognac-cured salmon, Gruyére potato cake, watercress, chives and créme fraîche.
Julia’s wild salmon gravlax, a Scandinavian salmon dish. Line-caught, Cognac-cured salmon, Gruyére potato cake, watercress, chives and créme fraîche.

Price check, breakfast entrées, $9.75-$17.75.

121 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe; 505-983-9340.

Cafe Pasqual's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Local James Beard Award Nominees

Regional chefs, restaurants in the running for honors.

BeardAwardMedalThe James Beard Foundation has released the names of semifinalists for various 2016 restaurant, chef and beverage awards, and again, a few local names appear on this list. Some are “the usual suspects.” Others are new for consideration to go on to the next step — the list of finalists — for these prestigious honors in the top categories. Semifinalists from Denver/Boulder again lead the Colorado nominees for what are called the Oscars of the culinary and restaurant realm:

Also in the Mountain time zone, Eloisa of Santa Fe was nominated in the Best New Restaurant category. Chef John Rivera Sedlar, a Santa Fe native, named it in honor of his grandmother, Eloisa Rivera. Sedlar, along with Mark Miller and Stephan Pyles, wrote Tamales, one of my favorite Southwestern cookbooks. And up the road in Ranchos de Taos, Ron Cooper of  Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal was nominated as Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional. And it was a good day to be a chef named Jennifer. In addition to Jasinski’s national nomination, Jennifer James of Jennifer James 101 in Albuquerque was nominated in the Best Chef Southwest category.

Green Chile Cheeseburger: Denver or Santa Fe?

The capitals of Colorado and New Mexico lay claim the best of this Southwestern fave.

SantaFe-logoAsk a Coloradan which city makes the best green chile cheeseburger, and the instant answer is Denver, The Mile High City. Ask a New Mexican, and the reply is Santa Fe, The City Different. There are plenty of reasons to visit beautiful, artistic San Fe, and its Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail is one of them.

Here’s what Santa Fe claims: Santa Fe, NM is a burger lover’s paradise, and ‘The City Different’ spends 365 days celebrating the Green Chile Cheeseburger. Santa Fe’s indigenous cuisine dates back to the area’s Native American roots and their staples of beans, corn and squash. With the introduction of foods brought by the Spanish like onions, tomatoes and of course, chile, the table was set for what became the distinctive New Mexican fare with its enduring emphasis on the use of chile in and on almost everything.  The green chile cheeseburger has been a staple on menus around the state of New Mexico since at least the middle of the 1900s.

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