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Archive for September, 2007

Eating in New Mexico Day 6

This morning we went down the street to the Zia Diner for breakfast. The place was fairly empty.

A. ordered fried eggs, bacon, hash browns and a raspberry scone along with his usual morning coffee.

Z. ordered 2 chocolate chip pancakes and a lemonade.

This morning I decided to order a little pot of Jasmine green tea. At home I usually drink green tea with breakfast, but rarely when eating out because often the quality or choice of teas is lacking. When I saw they had not only green tea but Jasmine green tea on the menu I figured it might be okay and it was. They used Numi brand tea which makes a decent Jasmine green tea (and a very good gunpowder green tea also).

I ordered something called the Nutty New Mexican which was a takeoff on eggs Benedict. It started with a Wolferman’s English muffin topped with a ton of their corned beef hash (corned beef, potatoes and green chile) with poached eggs on top with a bit of hollandaise sauce on the eggs. It was huge and I was only able to eat about half of it, but wish I could have saved the rest for later, it was so good. Just the right amount of heat, not too much, but still there. The only fault was that one of the poached eggs had a solid yolk, it should have been runny.

After going back to the room for our usual getting ready for the day routine we walked towards the Plaza area for a morning of shopping. We stopped in a little import shop and got Zoe some beaded bracelets and rings from Guatemala. We went to the Nambe shop and ordered a beautiful vase (made from the mysterious Nambe metal) and had it sent to my BIL and his wife for their wedding present. We picked up various little things for ourselves and for others including some Senor Murphy pinon brittle (okay but not my favorite), red chile peanut brittle (this was my favorite) and a pinon log (similar to a pecan log only with vanilla fudge inside the caramel and pinon nuts outside- this was pretty good). We also picked Z. up a couple of kid’s books, one a book about Acoma Pueblo (which we were going to the next day) and the other a kid’s book of Pueblo stories.

After walking back to our hotel and stopping at the UPS store to mail some things back home, we drove to the Chocolate Maven for lunch (we had eaten a dessert/snack here earlier in the week). That time we ate in a small room downstairs that had a glass window into the bakery so you could watch them making all the yummy baked goods. This time we were seated upstairs in a larger dining room.

Z. ordered a cheese pizza and lemonade.

A. ordered a Mediterranean melt sandwich (it had things like artichoke hearts, olives, mozzarella and provolone cheese) and iced tea.

I had a Pellegrino and a cheddar melt, which doesn’t look like much in the photo but was delicious! It had cheddar cheese, tomato slices, caramelized onions and Dijon mustard on a light rye bread (toasted of course). One of the best “grilled cheese” I’ve had!

We stopped at the bakery on the way out to pick up some cookies. Some mini chocolate chip cookies that we ate in the car, and some shortbread cookies to bring to our friend Joe. Joe is an old friend, he did a reading at our wedding 24 years ago. He is a painter, a very good painter, and lives in the mountains in Cerrillos. We left the restaurant and drove out to see him at his house/studio.

This is the view out of his front door. We hung out with him and his cats (Maurice Ravel and Colin Maloy) until early evening. Z. played with the cats and at one point was outside with them. Joe excused himself and went to the door to tell Z. to be careful to watch where she stepped as there were rattlesnakes out there (!!!). She came in (at least for a while). We had one period where the wind really kicked up and it got dark and ominous but it petered out quickly and didn’t really become anything. We snacked on organic red grapes and the shortbread cookies and were all surprised when we realized it was 7pm. So we said our goodbyes and headed back to Santa Fe.

We decided that pizza would be good for dinner, we were tired and not in the mood for a “real” dinner and didn’t feel like takeout in the hotel room either. So we went to Upper Crust Pizza where the three of us shared a cheese pizza and A. and I shared a Greek salad. The pizza dough was thick and doughy yet crisp and the sauce had a tomato paste flavor. There was a lot of gooey cheese with lots of tiny browned dot spots all over (sorry, we were too tired and forgot to take pictures). We left full and went back to the hotel room where we had a package of Newman’s Own Organics peanut butter cups (which conveniently has three cups per package) and had them for dessert. Then we (or should I say I) started packing as we were checking out the next morning to head to Albuquerque for my mom’s list’s F2F (Face to Face).

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Eating in New Mexico Day 5

Rough night. Z. coughed all night (she and A. flew with colds, hers was on the way out but came back with a vengeance last night). My back and hip hurt all night (I’d been having back pain all summer, but it was getting worse and adjusting to hotel beds was rough). We got up early, around 7ish, showered and dressed and walked down to the Plaza to eat breakfast at the Plaza Cafe.

A. had a chile rellenos omelet and coffee. Z. had two very large buttermilk pancakes (upper right corner- sorry, this is the only photo of the food) and I had 1 blue corn pinon pancake (very good, I preferred it to the also very good blue corn pancakes we had at the SF Baking Company- the pine nut flavor really added something to it), 1 fried egg (over easy which I haven’t had in years, it was really good) and a side of bacon (which I shared with Z. and A.) and some decaf. It was all very good and very filling.

We waddled out of there and walked back to the hotel and got ourselves ready for the day. We drove out to Museum Hill and went to the International Folk Art Museum (we bought the 1 day 2 museum pass for this museum and the Indian Arts and Culture Museum across the courtyard). Before going inside we walked the labyrinth they had in the courtyard between the two museums. A. and I had been to the International Folk Art museum many years ago but the last time we were there with Z. it had been closed for renovations. We thought Z. would enjoy the giant room filled with toys from around the world. She did but what she enjoyed even more was the hands on section in a special weaving exhibit. They had a group weaving loom, needlepoint and loop potholder weaving. She especially got into the needlepoint, mostly she was needle pointing letters (Pokemon names). We spent a long time there, but since we could sit down I didn’t mind. She really wanted me to buy her some kind of needlepoint kit, she was sure they would have one in the gift shop, but they didn’t. I told her that I had all the stuff at home and when we got back I’d set her up with it, but by the time we got home she had lost interest.

After seeing the whole museum we decided to leave Museum Hill and go to the Cloud Cliff Bakery for lunch (this is in that industrial section not far from Chocolate Maven). Z. had a cheese quesadilla from the kid’s menu and a giant glass of chocolate milk. A. had a green chile cheeseburger and a side salad. I had a bite of his burger and it had a nice grilled flavor.

I had a turkey green chile croissant with a small cup of Garden Delight (vegetable) soup and a side salad. Very, very good! The soup was really tasty (I think I tasted some tarragon in it), the salad had a dressing that had mint in it, unexpected but very good also. Z’s quesadilla had some sliced avocado on the side as a garnish which she was not interested in, so I took it and put it in my turkey green chile croissant. It was already good but the avocado made it even better (they might consider that as an option). I really enjoyed that meal a lot.

We managed to get out of there without stopping at the bakery (that was not easy!) and drove back to Museum Hill and spent a long time at the Indian Arts and Culture museum. There was a lot to see and we all really enjoyed it. We saw an exhibit of paintings by Pablita Verlarde, who was hired at age 19 to do paintings for Bandelier National Monument. There was a show of incredible Navajo textiles called Spider Woman’s Gift. Their permanent exhibit was about Native American culture; Here, Now and Always. It was very thought provoking with a lot to read, much more than one could read and absorb in one visit (at least when it’s the 2nd museum of the day and we were getting tired). Definitely worth another visit someday.

We went outside and checked out all the sculptures in the courtyard and Z. and I walked the labyrinth again while A. videotaped us. This labyrinth was much larger than the one at the St. Francis Church, but it was also less intricate.

We left there exhausted and drove closer to the Plaza area to try and find a coffee shop that either didn’t exist or we were too tired to follow the map well enough. After driving around and around and finally parking, going into an expensive chocolate shop that didn’t have coffee drinks (only chocolate elixirs which didn’t seem very refreshing) and walking around and around we gave up and drove to the Santa Fe Baking Company (we knew we’d get good coffee there). Z. got a chocolate chip croissant and A. had some kind of twist pastry and iced coffee. I really splurged and had a piece of chocolate cake that reminded me of a gourmet ring ding, 2 layers of chocolate cake with a layer of cream filling in the middle and a thin chocolate ganache frosting on the top with a decaf double latte. It was heaven, YUM!

After stopping at a drugstore for water and saline nose spray for Z. (I suspected that at night she was drying out and this was exacerbating the coughing- she was also under the fan for the swamp cooler so I think she was also having some allergies) we drove back to the hotel and laid around for a long time exhausted. We didn’t want to go out for dinner, plus we weren’t very hungry, but eventually A. wanted dinner. So he called the Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill which was around the corner and ordered take out, which he walked over and picked up. Z. had the kid cheese quesadilla (again), I had some of an order nachos, and A. had a 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken with beans and rice. A. thought the chicken was very good. The nachos were pretty tasty although some of it got kind of wilted and greasy since it had been in a foam take out container.

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Eating in New Mexico Day 4

One of the things we did this trip was listen to the advice of my friend Joe and got ourselves some chlorophyll extract (or something like that from Whole Foods) to help us with altitude sickness. A. and I have always had a few days of dizziness and headaches when going to Santa Fe, and the one time that Z. went (granted she was 2 years old) she had lemon meringue poops, so we thought it was worth a try. A couple of eye dropper squirts into a glass of water and we had a drink reminiscent of green creme de menthe in color and of watered down grass in flavor. We all drank it twice a day for about 4 or 5 days and it worked very well for all of us. After a few days we started having green poops (think about when you eat beets) which was pretty weird and kind of funny. Z. hated drinking the stuff saying it tasted horrible. I barely could taste it.

So, Tuesday in Santa Fe, we went out for breakfast at the Santa Fe Baking Company. It’s located in a strip mall around the corner from Trader Joe’s. Z. ordered a giant cheese danish and a side of bacon (this was the summer of bacon for her- at least when going out to eat as it’s a rarity in our house- up till now she never touched the stuff). I had something called the AM Sandwich which was gigantic and so good. It was a giant herb biscuit scrambled eggs, cheese and thinly sliced ham inside. I couldn’t finish it, it was so big. I also had some of their organic decaf coffee with was very good. A. had blue corn pancakes with grilled sausage patties and organic coffee (regular of course). I forgot to take pictures (this happened a lot, we also often remembered part way through the meal). It was a busy place with mostly locals. We sat inside but they also have outside seating.

From there we went to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. It’s home has been moving around (they are working on a permanent home) and was in the parking lot of the DeVargas shopping center. It wasn’t very big (I imagine it’s much bigger on Saturdays) so it didn’t take us long to poke through it. We bought some goat milk and honey soap in the shape of a sleeping cat for our neighbor who was cat sitting for us and a canvas Santa Fe Farmer’s Market shopping bag.

We went back to the hotel (which was close by) and got ourselves ready to go out for the day. We drove the “low road” to Taos, which is the faster route which is mostly highway and goes through Espanola, famous for it’s low-rider cars (although we didn’t see any this trip, we’ve seen them in past trips). The last part of the trip does go through the mountains and it was quite beautiful. The “high road” is much more mountainous and windy and scenic, but takes a lot longer and with our late start we didn’t want to spend the time driving.

When we got to Taos we drove right to the Taos Pueblo. A. and I had been wanting to go there since our first trip, when we drove the high road and halfway there I read in the newspaper that they were closed that day. So we just walked around Taos instead and had green chile cheeseburgers and looked at art galleries. This time we made sure it was open by calling ahead that morning.

We paid our entrance fees and bought a camera permit. The architecture of the pueblo is beautiful and I took a lot of pictures of buildings (none of the Pueblo people, although an occasional tourist got into a shot here and there). We went into one old woman’s house and bought some oven baked bread (they bake it in outdoor ovens) and some pumpkin cookies (which were a bread like cookie, almost like a scone, not quite). For lunch we stopped at this stand one woman had where she was making Frito pies. She had one little table in the shade next to where she was preparing the food and told us to sit down there to eat. A. and I got the Frito pies, which were made differently from the Frito pies we have eaten at the Five and Dime at the Plaza in Santa Fe. The Five and Dime makes takes an individual sized bag of Fritos, opens it up and puts chili and cheese (and onions if you wish, I never wish) on top. Here, she took a styrofoam bowl and put the Fritos in the bottom, topped it with some chili, put the cheese and then some chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce and then more chili on top. I know many Frito pie aficionados think the lettuce and tomato is sacrilege but I liked it. We got Z. a piece of Fry bread with some powdered sugar on top (kind of like eating funnel cake for lunch, but our choices were pretty limited as to what she’d eat). As we ate lots of people came by to get their lunch and the overwhelming majority were people from the Pueblo, so we figured we found another place where the locals ate.

After eating we went through some of the shops (they shops are in people’s homes) and bought an inexpensive pair of turquoise and silver earrings. As we were about to leave a young woman was gathering a group of people for a guided tour and asked us if we’d like to join, so we did. I’m glad we did as we learned a lot and enjoyed the perspective of a younger, more “modern” member of the community (most of the Taos people live in more modern homes in the area surrounding the old Pueblo).

We took the “low road” back towards Santa Fe but in Espanola we turned left and headed towards Chimayo. Our first stop was the Santuario de Chimayo, a small church with is famous for it’s miraculous healing dirt. A. was insistent that we go and get some of the dirt to bring home for me, even though we all know that the dirt is brought in each day from somewhere else. Let’s not even talk about the fact that he is Jewish, not Catholic (although I was raised Catholic so maybe he thinks that make it okay 🙂 We got our dirt and looked at the wall of cast-off crutches and photos and rosary beads and went next door and bought a quart sized ziploc bag filled with Chimayo red chile powder. Oh did it smell so good! When we got back in the car we called a nearby restaurant called that we had always wanted to go to but never had made it to. It was early and we were able to get in without reservation. The restaurant is known for it’s homestyle New Mexican food.

We ate outside in the garden, with climbing plants and flowers all around us. It was very pretty, however the bees and the flies loved the garden too, so we spent a lot of our meal battling the insects. We started the meal with chips and salsa of course. Z. had that old New Mexican favorite, chicken tenders and fries. A. ordered the Carne Asada, an 8 oz. steak covered in melted cheese and green chile with a cheese enchilada and refried beans and spanish rice on the side. He loved it and ate every bite. I ordered the Combinacion Tradicional which was a beef taco (shredded beef, like a brisket, in a hard corn tortilla shell), a cheese enchilada and a pork tamale with both red and green chile (aka Christmas), with Spanish rice and beans. Along with dinner was a basket of sopapillas, our first of the trip. The sopapillas were good but a little limp (the best ones of the trip were in Abq at Little Anita’s towards the end of our travels) and we had to be very careful to put the plastic wrap back over the honey dish as bees do love honey. It was all very good and very filling but we still managed to make room for dessert. Z. had a chocolate ice cream sundae and A. and I each had a small flan. The flan was tasty but the texture was kind of odd (at least to me) as it had lots of little air bubble holes in it. We rolled ourselves out of there and drove back to Espanola and continued on the low road back to Santa Fe as we were all very tired and wanted to get to bed as soon as possible.

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Eating in New Mexico Day 3

Finally back from vacations and a bit more settled in the new routines with Z. back in school so time to get on with the NM food tour!

So it’s day three, a Monday morning and we decide to go to Cafe Pasqual’s for breakfast, and absolute must do when we go to Santa Fe. It requires a long wait outside the front door though, even if you agree to eat at the communal table (which we did agree to, but we got our own table). We waited about 45 minutes. Z. wanted a lemonade which came out as a lemon concentrate with extra concentrate and a carafe of water, you add your own sugar to it. She worked it out and got it the right sweetness for her and thought it was pretty great. She ordered a short stack of whole wheat pancakes, she wanted the regular stack but I insisted on the short stack since the pancakes are the size of a dinner plate (their plates are huge).

I ordered the Pasqual favorite, which is the same short stack with 2 eggs and applewood smoked bacon. They were very good, I love a really hearty whole grain kind of pancake and these were those. I ate only one pancake and half my eggs but A. helped out and ate the rest of mine in addition to his own meal.

A. ordered his “usual” the Huevos Motulenos which is this concoction of eggs, corn tortillas, chiles, feta cheese and sauteed bananas.

We left there happy and full and walked up to St. Francis of Assisi Church to walk the labyrinth they have outside the church. I’ve been talking to my support group facilitator about labyrinths and about this one in particular and was anxious to walk my first one. We walked it together and then Z. walked it again by herself.

We went to the Georgia O’Keefe museum for a while, back to the Plaza, and went to the Five and Dime for postcards and Tums (which we were going to need this trip!) We decided that instead of lunch we would drive to the Chocolate Maven and have a snack (aka dessert) since we had early dinner reservations. Why not, right? We’re on vacation!

The Chocolate Maven is this wonderful little place in an industrial section of Santa Fe, down the street from the Cloud Cliff Bakery. Z. had a chocolate croissant, I had a chocolate cream cheese brownie and A. had a mini chocolate pecan tart. Z. didn’t share her croissant, but A. did and his tart was very good. The brownie was rich and chocolate-y and the portion quite substantial.

Back at the hotel, A. and Z. decided to go swimming. The pool was not at the inn we stayed at but on the roof of the El Dorado hotel. I was tired and took some photos of the hotel room and then just hung out. When they got back from swimming A. went into the bathroom of our room and discovered that there was sewer water in the tub. We called the manager and found out that something had caused all the sub-level rooms to back up and that if they didn’t have it fixed by 7pm they would move us to a new room. It was time for us to go to dinner so we just closed the door behind us and decided not to worry about it.

We had reservations for the early show and dinner at La Cantina, a sister restaurant of La Casa Sena. There is piano music during dinner and the waitstaff performs Broadway show tunes. A. and I had gone there the first night of our first trip to Santa Fe way back when before Z. was born. It was fun and we had the best dessert, an avocado lime cheesecake, which unfortunately they don’t serve anymore (although I do have the recipe and made it for a party about 3 years ago). The prices are high and we weren’t ravenous so we stuck to the lower priced entrees. First, for the table, we got tortilla chips with three salsas (fresh, tomatillo and another red one of some kind). Z. had an off menu “kid’s cheese quesadilla” which she liked (this is her 2nd most favorite thing to eat for lunch after pb sandwiches). She was really tired though, so didn’t enjoy the whole dinner or show as much as she might have. At one point, a bit too loudly, in between songs she asked if it was over yet. Our waiter made a joke out of it, but it was a wee bit embarrassing LOL.

I ordered the Grilled Chicken and Jack Cheese Quesadilla which had pesto grilled chicken, sauteed squash and bell peppers, guacamole, and tomatillo and habanero salsas. The tortillas were crispy and the filling was very good. I was kind of full from the tortilla chips so didn’t eat too much of it and asked for a container to take it home (unfortunately, when we left, I forgot to take it, but it was just as well as we had so many other places to eat, we didn’t neet it.) A. had the La Cantina Linguine, which had a basil pesto cream, fresh tomatoes, spinach, corn, mushrooms and achiote grilled chicken, which he thought was very good and ate a good amount of. He decided to order dessert, a lavender creme brulee with a habanero sugar crust. We were not impressed, it tasted like a normal creme brulee (we could not taste the lavender or the habanero) and not a great one at that.

We stopped at the El Dorado hotel to check on the status of our room and found that yes, we were to be moved to another one, so we went back and packed up and moved. The new room was even bigger and nicer than the first room, so we were not unhappy. The only negative was that Z. had made a wonderful Pokemon display on the mantel of the old room and the new room didn’t have a mantel to recreate it. A couple of days later we found out that some restaurant near the inn had been throwing grease down the drain and the whole block had problems.

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