Category Archives: New Mexico

New Mexico Ranch Earns Animal Welfare Certification

CertifedGrassFed-logoPeople 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.

New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant

John Rivera Sedlar returning to his hometown with a fusion restaurant.

John Rivera Sedlar
John Rivera Sedlar

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.

Sedlar was raised on bizcochitos, empanadita and tamales in the New Mexican kitchens of his mother, aunts and his grandma Eloisa, who was a professional chef. He spent three years in the Spanish cities of Sevilla and Zaragoza. Continue reading New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant

Keeping Up with the Food & Bev Business

Online resource for biz news from the Rocky Mountain region.

CompanyWeek-logoSuch food and beverage producing businesses as wine-making, brewing, coffee roasting or making artisanal foods in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region are covered by Company Week, an online publishing operation that launched last summer but that I just learned about. With the decline of print publishing, this is a valuable resource for keeping up with news about and trends in the production of things we like to eat and drink. What I really like about the searchable website and the free weekly digital newsletter is that they highlight news from small, local entrepreneurial businesses. Print publishing veteran Bart Taylor helms Company Week.

Between the weeks of September 10 and March 10, Company Week’s Food & Beverage category profiled Crooked Stave (brewing), Polidori Sausage, Peach Street (distillery), Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sushi Den (“equal parts manufacturing and art”), Zum XR (performance beverage), Epic Brewing Company, Patsy’s Candies, Fresca Foods, EVOL (burritos), Door to Door Organics, Good Belly (probiotics), Mile Hi Foods, Kitchen Coop, Boulder Soup Works, Ska Fabricating (brewing), High West Distillery, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau and White Girl Salsa.

The Lifestyle category as included posts from the making of longboards to mountain bikes, but also inexplicably such food and beverage enterprises as Epic Brewing Company and Growing Spaces (off-grid greenhouses for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs of all sorts year-round, without the need for heating). Thanks to Bart Taylor for hiring Wendy Aiello, Denver public relations diva, for spreading the word on this valuable site. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.

Studio F’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner

James Mazzio’s new Studio F hosts star chef Charles Dale & winemaker John Sutcliffe in short-run “restaurant”

James Mazzio, an award-winning chef of considerable local renown, recently launched a multi-faceted, multi-layered food venue in LoDo’s landmark Ice House. At the entrance, the Red Star Deli is a weekday operation serving perhaps the best and most imaginative sandwiches in the city.  Pass through a set of doors to Studio F whose appearance reflects its origins as  the classy Mise en Place Cooking School. Studio F now accommodates  pop-up dinners (the first has been this week) and Chef Series cooking classes with top local and visiting chefs, and is suitable for team-building or a great private party.

James Mazzio, left, and Charles Dale, right, make for a star-studded platring team.

Star chef Charles Dale orchestrated the first of these pop-up dinners, two per evening Thursday and Friday, paired with really nice wines from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez.  Mazzio and Dale have a long history. Charles Dale, then owner/chef of Renaissance in Aspen. gave Mazzio his first restaurant job. When Dale initially asked Mazzio about his butchering ability, he claimed to have the skill. He now laughs about the lie that helped launch a stellar career — and Dale laughs too. Dale was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 1995 when he ran Renaissance, a dazzling fine-dining restaurant, and James Mazzio was one of the 1999 honorees when he was executive chef at 1515 in Boulder. Both restaurants are long gone, but those of us who dined at either or both still remember them well.

I have concluded that too many cooks don’t always spoil the stew. As I watched these two chefs deftly plating some of the dishes on the expansive granite counters, I mused that rarely is so much culinary  talent performing such a routine task in public. Because the tasks are routine, it’s possible for guests to walk over and chat for a few minutes — something that is not possible in a restaurant setting, even with an open kitchen. Just an observation about one of aspects of close encounters with gifted chefs that I enjoy the most. For the menu, click Continue reading Studio F’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner

New Mexico Pastry Chef Won “Food Network” Challenge

Chocolate train takes top honors on television chef competition

Darci Rochaud

Darci Rochau, pastry chef at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on the Santa Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque, recently won first place on the nationally televised  “Food Network Challenge.” Competing against three other teams and assisted by her husband, Greg, she won with“The Transcontinental,” an elaborate five-foot-tall chocolate train looping around a mountaintop that she created in less than eight hours.

The sculpture was made from more than 100 different pieces of chocolate. It was equipped with illuminating headlights and also puffed smoke out of its engine. Rochau practiced nearly every evening for six weeks before the competition in order to perfect the sculpture so the competition day would go smoothly. It certainly seems that it did.

FroYo News in Boulder

One shop de-franchises & two new frozen yogurt dispenseries

StockPhotoPro illustration.

Boulder has gotten a lot of publicity laterly for a spate of new, upscale pizzerias — Pizzeria Basta, Pizzeria da Lupo, Pizzeria Locale, Backcountry Pizza and before that, Boulder Organic Pizza. Premium frozen yogurt is grabbing foodies’ attention too. The operators of CéFiore just off the Pearl Street Mall have given up their franchise, developed their own recipes and have changed the shop’s name to Smooch. Despite the intended Italo-French (or Franco-Italian) implication of its name, CéFiore is in reality a subsidiary of a worldwide seafood and sushi buffet developer and  franchiser called Todai. CéFiore had interesting and unusual flavors and flavor combinations. The flavors were lush, but for whatever reason, I rarely saw many customers. There already seemed to be more people in Smooch Frozen Yogurt & Mochi the few time I’ve passed. Owners Michelle and Christopher Luu not have developed their own new flavors, but they also are working with local companies like Boulder Ice Cream, not permitted under the franchise agreement. I haven’t tried it yet, but will — for sure. 1926 Fourteenth Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.

The space at the Sunrise Center at 30th and Arapahoe (aka, the King Soopers Center) now hosts Ripple Frozen Yogurt, which offers yogurt in ordinary and exotic flavors including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and unusual ones like green tea or pumpkin. They boast that they always have 16 of the most popular flavors and another 50 in rotation, plus 50 toppings that include various fruits and home-made cookie crumbles. I haven’t tried it yet either, but will — for sure. 1632 30th Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.

Aspen Leaf Yogurt, a new brand of frozen yogurt shops recently launched by Durango-born Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, will open when it opens in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. It promises sweet and tart flavors. I can hardly wait. The first store is open in San Antonio, and in addition to Boulder, others are open or will be soon in Farmington, Greeley and Boise.It isn’t open here yet, but when it is, I’ll try it — for sure.

New Mexican with a Twist at Tim’s Stray Dog

  Taos Ski Valley cantina serves the flavorful food of northern New Mexico with some hybrid dishes added 
                                                   
There must be a story to the name, “Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina,” but I don’t know what it might be. The congenial restaurant in Taos Ski Valley’s tiny commercial core was owned for 20 years by Todd and Summer Harter. It has long been a popular hangout for visitors and locals. They happily dig into generous servings of the northern New Mexico version of the culinary style that many people (OK, many Anglos) lump under the category of “Mexican.” It is a daytime and early-evening place that closes at 9:00 p.m., but then again, Taos Ski Valley has never been a place for night crawlers.

Two years ago, four partners with great credibility in the area — Marcus Aragon, Tori Mendes, Rachele Griego and Rick Trujillo — bought the cantina. Aragon ad Mendes are (or were) part owners or in some way involved with of Santa Fe’s legendary Coyote Café. The cantina is unpretentious and dishes up good, flavorful food in sizable portions. It uses such local ingredients as New Mexico-raised beef and, of course, those fabulous chiles that are a staple of the local cuisine. 

Tim's Stray Dog is casual and (despite backless wooden benches) comfortable.

Until last week, I hadn’t been at Tim’s in a long time, but it’s the kind of place that immediately feels familiar and comfortable. The main level, which does come across like an upmarket cantina, is furnished with sturdy picnic-style bare wooden benches and tables finished to a high gloss. The cantina is low-key on a quiet weeknight, when just the main level is open, but it’s lively after skiing and in a busier time than January. A few locals, a couple of other visitors and I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and flavorful fare. I started out with a prickly pear margarita, while the guys mostly ordered beers.  

Prickly pear margarita is based on Sauza Blanco tequila sweetened with prickly pear juice to create something of a girly drink.

Most of the items on the menu have such familiar names as tortilla soup, chile relleno, nachos, burritos, tacos and so on. But there are also some regional dishes like Navajo tacos and Frito pie, which Texans love, and such odd but tasty hybrids as bratwurst in a flour tortilla with green chili, cheese, onion and sauerkraut and a chile relleno/sushi hybrid called Mexican Suzie Sushi. I put the “enhanced” bratwurst in the category of “boy food” that gives me heartburn when I even think of it, but I had to the the sushi-inspired dish. As for the items found on many menus, the Stray Dog’s flavorful versions elevate them way above the run-of-the-mill Mexican/Tex-Mex repertoire.  

Chips, salsa & guac' to start. Blue corn are my favorite, and both the salsa & guacamole are interestingly seasoned. The salsa had a nice little kick of heat.

 

The Mexican Suzie Sushi is a blue corn-battered chili relleno wrappred in a tortilla, cut like sushi and served on red (here) or green chili.

 

Echilada hidden under a blanket of rich mole, served with the obligatory shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and some grated cheese, plus a heap of Mexican rice and a bit of corn salsa.

 

Three steak tacos in flour tortillas with cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa, sour cream & rice.
Slow-roasted pulled pork with red chile BBQ sauce on a bun with excellent gringo fries.

 

Stray Dog's spin on fish tacos is a pair of flour tortillas topped with seared ahi tuna dusted with red chili powder, with avocado slices, shredded cabbage and cusabi dressing.

 

I'm not even sure what this is. I scooted to the other end of the table to take a quick pic. It has an egg on top like the Local Loco, a New Mexico/Hawaii hybrid, but otherwise it looks like one of the other combination plates. Anyone know?

 

This enormous chile relleno is a blue-corn-battered filled chile, flash-fried, with lettuce, tomato and a ramekin of fabulous green chili on the side.

 

It's almost a law in New Mexico to finish a meal like this with sopapillas to share. Puffy squares of fried dough with a squirt of honey are the perfect end to an interesting take on what has become a cliche cuisine.

 Price check: Starters, $4-$11; soups and salads, $6.50-$12; burgers and “sandos,” $9-$11;  New Mexican Specialties (range from Frito pies to steak combos), $9-$19. 

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