Creative Travel in Santa Fe, New Mexico: #Foodlover Frenzy at Santa Fe School of Cooking!

by Elena

“The Farmers’ Market is a real Santa Fe tradition and a great place to get a feel for our food scene. Make sure you go there early Saturday morning …”. One of the very first descriptions I read about the city of Santa Fe is, once again, about food. “Have you put on weight yet, what with all your food tours all the time?!” Mum’s voice on the phone sounds half-serious, half-bemused. I still think I am able to balance, jogging in Central Park & having a rather active traveller’s lifestyle on this #CreativElenaRTW round the world trip of mine. That is, until … “yes Elena, you are confirmed to take part in the Santa Fe School of Cooking walking tour … You can then talk with the local Santa Fe School of Cooking about taking part in a cooking class as well”.

WONDERFUL. 😀 Sounds right up my #foodlover’s alley.!

How can you resist a warm welcome like this?

How can you resist a warm welcome like this? Santa Fe School of Cooking is, I must say, really very professional in dealing with their customers and clients, the atmosphere there one of warmth and welcome.

 

Upon entering, I am greeted by the (very colourful) wealth of cookbooks and recipes about New Mexican cuisine ...

Upon entering, I am greeted by the (very colourful) wealth of cookbooks and recipes about New Mexican cuisine …

 

... as well as dear Allen, who is our knowledgeable foodie guide today.

… as well as dear Allen Smith, who is our knowledgeable foodie guide for the day, serving us the first appetizing course on this Restaurant Walking Tour, a delicious creamy soup, right at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

 

Santa Fe School of Cooking Restaurant Walking Tours depart each Friday at 2.00 p.m., during the main summer season they add an extra tour every Wednesday at 2.00 p.m. It is a perfect introduction to some of the city’s best restaurants, but not only that: Most of all, it gives you a great overview of the diversity of the local food scene. There are just sooo many influences here: The Spanish restaurant “Taberna”, focusing on traditional Spanish elements in the culinary heritage of Northern New Mexican cuisine. Local places like “The Cowgirl” that pride itself on serving great chile dishes, which I can only confirm. Then, there is the “Inn on the Alameda” that runs apartments as well as an excellent restaurant, whose philosophy I particularly like and which has made me come back for more.

Our food lover exploration on this Restaurant Walking Tour offered by the Santa Fe School of Cooking starts with a visit to "Inn on the Alameda".

Our foodlover exploration on this Restaurant Walking Tour offered by the Santa Fe School of Cooking starts with a visit to the “Inn on the Alameda”, about 10 minutes walking from the School.

 

Here, we are served a delightful fusion of avocado creme, duck confit & quesadilla rolls ... I am hungry once more, and I liked this dish so much that I want to go back there before I leave Santa Fe!

Here, we are served a delightful fusion of avocado creme, duck confit & quesadilla rolls … I am hungry once more, and I liked this dish so much that I want to go back there before I leave Santa Fe!

 

Next, we are treated to this French-style restaurant "315", just a stone's throw away from the "Inn on the Alameda" ...

Next, we are treated to this French-style restaurant “315”, just a stone’s throw away from the “Inn on the Alameda” …

 

... where local chef & owner Louis likes to wrap visitors up in his Fine Dining French cuisine-style atmosphere.

… where local chef & owner Louis likes to wrap visitors up in his Fine Dining French cuisine-style atmosphere.

 

Delicious, tasty shrimp with a twist being served here!

Delicious, tasty shrimp with a twist being served here! The bite-sized and/or rather small portions assure we can eat our way throughout the tour …

 

... a tour which gives us many more opportunities to discover new places, such as this one selling hundreds of varieties of balsamic vinegar and oils that are all offered for tasting. Yum!

… a tour which gives us many more opportunities to discover new places, such as this one selling hundreds of varieties of balsamic vinegar and oils that are all offered for tasting. Yum!

 

We then swap scenes to accommodate Spanish influences on New Mexican cuisine, perfectly laid out at "Taberna" restaurant right by the Plaza of Santa Fe ...

We then swap scenes to accommodate Spanish influences on New Mexican cuisine, perfectly laid out at “Taberna” restaurant right by the Plaza of Santa Fe …

 

... where the entire decoration makes for perfect atmosphere ...

… where the entire decoration makes for a unique atmosphere.

 

During the walking tour, we are offered this beautiful scallop with delicious veggie cream & braised artichoke hearts ...

During the walking tour, we are offered this beautiful scallop with delicious veggie cream & braised artichoke hearts …

 

... I did indeed like it so much that I came back "for seconds" later in the week, having dinner at "Taberna"!

… I did indeed like it so much that I came back “for seconds” later in the week, having dinner at “Taberna”, a place that brought me close to being back in the north of Spain having Pintxos in a real local San Sebastián / Barcelona bar.

 

Beautiful Alcachofas, grilled jamón serrano wrapped in artichoke hearts, basil piñon pesto & goat cheese ...!

Beautiful Alcachofas, grilled jamón serrano wrapped in artichoke hearts, basil piñon pesto & goat cheese …! I LIKE!

 

The tour then wraps up with a visit to "Il Piatto", Santa Fe's best Italian restaurant known for home-made pasta, organic flavour cuisine & excellent wines. Irby Wood, representative of the wine "Il Fauno", takes his time to introduce us to this great served to us at the restaurant.

The tour then wraps up with a visit to “Il Piatto”, Santa Fe’s best Italian restaurant known for home-made pasta, organic flavour cuisine & excellent wines. Irby Wood, representative of the wine “Il Fauno”, takes his time to introduce us to this great red served to us at the restaurant.

 

For those wanting to “dig deeper” and really get down to the essentials of New Mexican Cuisine, a cooking demonstration class with passionate & knowledgeable chef Lois Ellen Frank is highly recommended!

“Chile, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, squash, pumpkin … Those were all essentially foods native to the Americas, and brought to Europe by explorers such as Christoph Columbus. Who, as we all know, was set on discovering India, so he sold the chile spice to the Queen as pepper spice, equally suited to make big money back in those days. Spices were prized equal to gold! Imagine Italian cuisine without the tomato! Europe without the potato! No fish’n’chips there in London, back in the days …!” Smiles and laughter ripple through the audience. Altogether, about 20 people have come to join the Santa Fe School of Cooking Demo Class with local chef & cultural (food) anthropologist Lois Ellen Frank, who has “just summed up 11 years of PhD in food anthropology … phew”, she tells us with a bright grin. “Cooking is very zen … a great, hands-on activity that has you focus on the task at hand!” And: “A recipe is just a recipe, basically a list of ingredients that anyone can write. It always depends on who ends up preparing it!”

And whether there is love, and dedication, and care, in treating your ingredients and sourcing only the best of those from the market. “We have a system here called CSA – Community Sourced Agriculture, that works really well. Like a bank, you deposit money into a local farm and get your best eggs and chicken meat back. It really has helped local farmers bounce back in the face of large-scale, industrial farming, which now is the norm here in the United States, unfortunately I must say.”

Lois Ellen Frank is a fountain of knowledge. It is a true delight listening to her while she & her partner prepare a “Contemporary Southwest Tasting Meal” for us. “I have been here for sixteen years”, he smiles in support of the passion that Lois Ellen exudes. “Like her, I just love what I do.”

"When you love what you do, it shows": Lois Ellen Frank focused on preparing great New Mexican food & patiently answering questions from the audience.

“When you love what you do, it shows”: Lois Ellen Frank focused on preparing great New Mexican food for us in her cooking demonstration class while patiently answering questions from the audience.

 

The Santa Fe School of Cooking is set up in a modern way with TV Screens & mirrors, allowing all of us to follow what is going on at the big table.

The Santa Fe School of Cooking is set up in a modern way with TV Screens & mirrors, allowing all of us to follow what the expert chef’s hands are preparing – chiles, that is.!

 

And mind you, the audience IS listening! What a fascinating course in food history and actual preparation tips & insights ...

And mind you, the audience IS listening! What a fascinating course in food history and actual preparation tips & insights …

 

... I love stealing glances over Lois Ellen's kitchen table!

… I love stealing glances over Lois Ellen’s kitchen table …

 

... while her partner in crime makes sure the "grilled adobo marinated flank steak" has just the right flavour & texture!

… while her partner in crime makes sure the “grilled adobo marinated flank steak” has just the right flavour & texture!

 

Once the meal has been prepared, we get to choose from this rather colourful selection of home-made ice tea, artesanal beers or New Mexican wine.

Once the meal has been prepared, we get to choose from this rather colourful selection of home-made ice tea, artesanal beers or New Mexican wines.

 

Bon appétit: Smooth Spicy Tortilla Soup as I have never had it before, the Tortilla chips actually blended in to produce a spicy flavour with a twist!

Bon appétit: Smooth Spicy Tortilla Soup as I have never had it before, the Tortilla chips actually blended in to produce a spicy flavoured soup with a twist!

 

Dessert is just delightful: A Coconut Flan with Salted Caramel on top ...!

Dessert, too, is just delightful: A Coconut Flan with Salted Caramel on top …!

 

Thank you all so much for this interesting foodie experience here in Santa Fe! Not to be missed on your next trip to the city, is what I can truly say after this experience.

Thank you all so much for this interesting foodie experience here in Santa Fe! Not to be missed on your next trip to the city, is what I can truly say and recommend after this experience.

 

Looking for further inspiration on what to do & see in & around Santa Fe, New Mexico? Here is my hand-picked selection of creative foodie travel tips, as shown on this Flickr Photo Gallery:

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Santa Fe School of Cooking to join their Restaurant Walking Tour & Cooking Demo Class. All opinions are my own.

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2 comment

Rita Branco 29 November 2014 - 23:57

Fantástico Elena!!! Parabéns. Que delícia participar desta experiência. Obrigada por partilhar conosco!

Reply
Elena 30 November 2014 - 04:00

De nada Rita!

Fico contente por teres gostado tanto. Na próxima vez, temos de visitar estes lugares juntas, o que achas? 🙂

Santa Fe New Mexico sempre merece uma visita !!!

Até já,

Elena

Reply

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