Thursday, March 19, 2009

Afternoon Tasting at Los Mayas, Santa Fe

The turquoise entry door at Los Mayas Restaurante greeted us warmly. So did the staff, particularly current executive chef and owner, Fernando Trillo, who clearly relishes his role as host. Natural light and bright colors continued throughout the old adobe restaurant and onto each plate.

Our tasting menu included nopales - pads from the prickly pear cactus - topped with Ranchera sauce, a tortilla-wrapped plantain smothered in a sweet mole sauce, and the first agave wine I had ever tasted. This rare wine is the 'mother' of tequila and the only variety served with lime.

Fernando's mother started Los Mayas, and recipes from the family's home Mexican state of Puebla are something of a rarity in Santa Fe. The restaurant also offers northern New Mexican dishes such as tri-color enchiladas and enchilada chicken mole and tamale pork red chile.

But the most exquisite part of our visit came when Fernando sat near the head of the table as he played his guitar and sang for us. By the time he ushered us out with kisses and hugs, we felt as if we had dined in a private home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yukon Gold Grill 'Fries'

Our quest continues for well-flavored food with reduced salt and saturated fats. Remembering the great flavor combo of Yukon gold potatoes and green chile in previous recipes (see posts for Yukon Green Chile Soup and Mexican Scalloped Potatoes) I set out to create a simple recipe that would complement marinated, grilled pork tenderloin.

What I came up with was a thick-cut 'French fry' that my husband could also grill on this lovely evening of spring-like weather. My waffle fry cutter came in quite handy too. The fries turned out perfectly and still tasted good two days later, straight from the refrigerator (though they're definitely better warm :)

Yukon Gold Grill 'Fries'
Makes 3-4 servings

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, skin on
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder (or dried minced garlic)
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon green chile powder (VOE - there is some salt in this)

Using waffle cutter, slice potatoes into 3/4" slices. Mix together olive oil, garlic powder, minced onion and green chile powder. Brush each potato slice generously, on both sides, adding a little more oil if necessary to coat all slices well. Cook on grill about 20-25 minutes, turning frequently, until dark brown/black spots begin to form. ENJOY!

VOE - you may keep the grilled potatoes slightly heated in a warm oven and uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Old Town Albuquerque - Where Past Meets Present

It's been three years since Albuquerque celebrated its Tricentennial anniversary. In a city full of creative people I found celebratory manhole covers placed throughout Old Town an especially fun idea; a nice mix of new artistry celebrating old heritage. Old Town is a lot like these manhole covers - full of 300-year-old adobe buildings that showcase a wide variety of new art in many different forms.

Hot air balloon enthusiasts enjoy Discovery Balloons, where there's everything from T-shirts to Tiffany-style lamps and wind socks decorated with balloons. In the shops of Plaza Dom Luis, near San Felipe de Neri Church, patrons purchase handcrafted kachina dolls, gorgeous handmade sterling bracelets or handwoven Native American rugs and baskets. And, of course, chile artistry is evident among the ristras, sauces, and rubs available in several shops near the central Plaza.

Old Town is also a place of celebration, from live mariachi music that fills a retail courtyard, to shop owners who 'christen' passers-by with brightly colored beads. And margaritas + enchiladas never taste better than when they're savored on a cozy patio with a view of New Mexican history.