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 2016included 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.
On 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.
Regional chefs, restaurants in the running for honors.
The 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:
Outstanding Wine Program, Element 47 in Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel
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.
The capitals of Colorado and New Mexico lay claim the best of this Southwestern fave.
Ask 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.
Like other Coloradans, I was excited to read the announcement that Trader Joe’s was coming to Colorado. By the time February 2014 rolled around, when the first three stores opened here (Denver, Boulder, Greenwood Village), I was underwhelmed — even disappointed. I used to make a point of shopping at TJ’s whenever I was in New Mexico, but I have changed my buying food habits to the point where I shop there much less than I thought I would.
I was increasingly buying organic (Trader Joe’s is light on organic) and I was very dismayed at the packaging. Not only is there too much waste from shrink-wrap — which as far as I know is not compostable or recyclable — but I don’t like someone in the California corporate office deciding how many sweet peppers or chicken breasts I should be buying at one time. One notable exception seems to be bananas, which are priced by the pound with organic each a dime more than conventional.
Now a petition on Change.org asks Trader Joe’s to revamp their packaging and waste less. It starts, “Please package all of your products— produce (lemons, lettuces, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes…), nuts, frozen goods etc. in 100% RECYCLABLE AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING to ensure a sustainable and closer to zero-waste business model.” I signed. Will you?
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons, including concerns about the quality of life of animals before they are slaughtered. It comes as good news that the L6 Cattle Ranches in Corona, New Mexico, has become the first agricultural business in the country to earn Animal Welfare Approved Certified Grassfed designation. As consumers learn about the damaging impact that intensive farming has on our health, the environment and animal welfare, many are seeking truly sustainable alternatives, including grassfed meat., with demand for increasing by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade.
Not surprisingly, the US Department of Agriculture’s standards are fairly loose, and AWA therefore issues the only certification and logo in the United States and Canada that guarantee food products come from animals that were fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm. While other grassfed labels exist, none has reportedly fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management and farm animal welfare.
Sharie and Bill Leibold, owners of the 4,000-acre L6 Cattle Ranch have been producing strictly grassfed and finished Angus-Jersey cross beef since 2006. Although the Leibolds were already certified by Animal Welfare Approved in 2009 for their high-welfare and environmental management practices, they were eager to gain Certified Grassfed by AWA status for their grassfed cattle herd when the new program was launched in January. Congratulations to the Leibolds — and may other ranchers follow their lead.
Click here for purchasing and pickup-delivery information.
John Rivera Sedlar returning to his hometown with a fusion restaurant.
Who says you can’t go home again? Award-winning Santa Fe-bred, Los Angeles-based chef John Rivera Sedlar has been tapped to open restaurant in the new Drury Plaza Hotel in the heart of Santa Fe. Sedlar owns Rivera, a sleek, Los Angeles area pan-Latin fusion restaurant bearing his middle name.
He returns to his hometown of Santa Fe after four decades of pleasing diners in Los Angeles to open Eloisa, specializing in modern Latin cuisine. “Santa Fe has long been, and still is, the epicenter of the most flavorful, vibrant Southwestern foods found anywhere in the United States,” says Chef Sedlar.
“I’m so looking forward to returning to the Santa Fe cocina to cook once again my own contemporary versions of the wonderful foods I first ate as a child in my grandmother’s kitchen on Alto Street.” Sedlar’s father moved to New Mexico to work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His middle name, Rivera, comes from his mother’s family, an old Spanish family that has lived in northern New Mexico for centuries.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.