Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Our New Back Yard"

We are only a few days away from our long drive back to PA. We are sad to be leaving this beautiful land of desert, mountains and 'Big Sky' that is always sunny and never grey or dreary. We like the pueblo architecture, the New Mexican food, and the focus on art in Santa Fe, the third largest art market in the U.S. We made new friends and re-connected with friends who had moved out here from the East Coast.

We are happy to report that we have purchased a piece of land very close to where we have been staying these last two months. It is a 12 acre plot (but no grass to mow:) with a 360 degree view of all the mountain ranges. We have found a home builder we admire and trust, and Eric will be working with him to design our new home and studio.

A big decision, a new beginning with a promise of more adventures in this "land of enchantment".

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Have an 'Owl - of - Sight' Day"

We had just seen a feature on CNN about Travel and Leisure Magazine's Top Breakfast Places in the World ( Low and behold, number 17 on the list is the Tecolote Cafe here in Santa Fe. Since Guy Fieri of the TV Food Network made his appearance there, the lines of people waiting for a table are notorious.

 We went on a week day and only had a five minute wait for a table. The word "tecolote" means "owl" in Spanish, and there were owls everywhere - owl paintings and drawings from patrons of all ages, ceramic owls, and owl earrings on our friendly server. Right next to the large autographed poster of Guy Fieri on the wall is a map of the US with hundreds of pins showing where visitors have come from. We put our pin in Central PA. The New Mexican food was as good as it gets. I particularly enjoyed the basket of home made muffins and cinnamon rolls placed on each table along with the entree.

I can't say that I have been to others on the list such as Cristalli de Zucchero in Rome, Mr. Minsch in Berlin, Ten Belles in Paris, or Morning Call in New Orleans. Let's leave those for the next travel adventure.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"A Zebra in a Cactus Garden"

Eric and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Lara Nickel and her husband Nicholas at the Pantry in Santa Fe this afternoon. Even more of a treat was a visit to their home and studio in the Historic Eastside. Their apartment is part of the compound that houses the Nedra Matteucci Gallery and unbelievably beautiful sculpture garden.

Lara, an native of Santa Fe, describes herself as a "concept artist". Lara paints floor to ceiling canvasses  of cacti and other plants. She has a life size zebra painting that is grazing on a separate smaller painting of straw. Lara's art work, when completed, will be looking for a place in a gallery or home with very large walls.

Nicholas, a native of France, is a young man of many talents. His knowledge of New Mexican plants is extensive. For example, the flowers of the chamisa plant attract bees that produce a very fragrant honey which we tasted. As we were leaving the home, he pointed to his bee hive on top of their pueblo roof! He has plans for many more hives for honey production.

Thank you for a very enjoyable afternoon, Lara and Nicholas!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Attack of the Junipers"

Most of the greenery here is in the form of large juniper bushes/trees. They provide shelter for the wildlife and a buffer against the strong winds. A few days ago, I took a photo of one of the usually green junipers near the house. I was amazed to see that the green had turned brown. This is not what we are accustomed to seeing in the East. The dull, brown/grey trees of Winter become green in the Spring, often blooming with flowers. To my surprise, I learned that the junipers here are now full of brown pollen. During the high winds of the last few days, the normally crystalline blue sky is now a brown haze. The pollen is so thick that our usual spectacular view of the mountains from the road has disappeared. Allergy sufferers beware!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Le Pod"

Eric and I were looking for a quick bite to eat between appointments in Santa Fe. We discovered "Le Pod", an Airstream trailer aka gourmet "food truck". It was parked in a lot on the Old Santa Fe Trail. The owner and Chef Jean-Luc Salles describes his curbside cuisine as "A hip, retro eatery on wheels serving French street-food with a New Mexican twist."Side dishes and specialties" include Escargots cooked in butter served in the shell with crusty baguette. We preferred our baguette wrapped around a "Frog Dog", a French style hot dog served in a hollowed out warm baguette. Another unique food experience in this great city!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Eric the Intrepid Food De-Coder"

It is always fun going out to eat in a restaurant with Eric. After his menu choice is served to him and he takes the first bite, he closes his eyes for a few minutes. Then he starts "de-coding". For example, we had a delicious salad at El Farol on Canyon Road. Eric tasted the dressing, and said, " olive oil, honey, but not quite sure about the vinegar and one other ingredient". When he asked our friendly server  for a list of the salad dressing ingredients, she confirmed the olive oil and honey as well as sherry vinegar and piñon nuts.

At another lunch outing with our visiting Seattle friends Bill and Deb at La Boca, Eric ordered a steak with an amazing dark, rich caramel sauce. "Foodie" Eric just had to have that recipe, and our server was happy to give him the list of ingredients:  butter, brown sugar, pimenton, (a hot smoked paprika) and a special smoked sea salt.

Eric found a shop called the Spanish Table that specializes in imported Spanish food, spices and cookware. He asked Ana, who works there, for the two ingredients pimenton and smoked sea salt. Eric explained that he was going to try to duplicate the steak sauce he had eaten at La Boca. Ana smiled and said that La Boca purchases those ingredients at her shop. She not only has them in stock, but she gladly offered Eric the restaurant's recipe for the steak with the sauce!

Last night, we had a dinner party with our new friends and neighbors, Russ, Amy, Glenn and Rita. The following is the menu that Eric prepared based on his new tasting experiences at several different restaurants in a tribute to Santa Fe:

Starter: a brick of cream cheese topped with home-made jalapeño jelly and crackers.

Soup: Roasted tomato soup finished with a dollop of Mexican crema and sour cream

Salad: mixed greens, iberico and manchego cheeses, pear slices poached in sweet wine & piñon nuts with a vinaigrette of Spanish sherry vinegar, honey and olive oil.

The main entrée was grilled hanger steak with a caramel and smoked sea salt sauce plated with a risotto of wild mushroom and apricot.

Dessert was an orange chocolate creme brulée garnished with whipped moscarpone, candied orange peel and shiny panned chocolate almond pieces.

As you can see by the photo, a good time was had by all, with rave reviews for the chef and the cuisine!

Monday, March 11, 2013

"What a Difference a Day Makes"

We are learning about the different weather changes that occur here in Santa Fe. One acquaintance told me that the windy months are March and October. We are talking HIGH winds here, folks. On a previous drive from PA to Santa Fe in March, we were blasted by winds as we crossed from Colorado into New Mexico. I remember wanting to stop at a rest area to let the dogs out of the car for a break, and we could not even open the car doors because of the force of the wind.

 One can actually watch the storms come over the mountains here. Yesterday, we awoke to a steady snowfall, and we drove through nearly white out conditions to have brunch with our gallery owner friends Larry and Linda. By the time we left the restaurant at 2:30, the sun was shining and the snow had completely disappeared!

  Mark Twain wrote "If you don't like the weather in New England, then wait a few minutes." In these times of extreme climate changes, his statement could apply to all 50 states.

 Twain was no doubt smiling with us at the beautiful sunset we witnessed this evening over the Cerillos Mountains. A promise of 70 degree weather by the end of the week. Love this place!!!!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Chasing the Tale"

Eric and I were delighted to be able to attend an opening at the Matthews Gallery on Canyon Road last evening. Linda and Larry Matthews are featuring the works of Jamie Chase, painter and graphic novelist, for one weekend only. The exhibit "Chasing the Tale" features original art from "Hound of the Baskervilles". Jamie was chosen by Dark Horse Comics to illustrate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous story. I purchased my own autographed copy of "Hound of the Baskervilles" as well as an iconic pen and ink drawing of Sherlock himself, signed by Jamie.