This summer, my husband and I were invited to a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Neither of us had ever been there, but I was so excited to experience the flavours of this area. I knew that I was attending 2 cooking classes and could not wait.
We stayed at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa which was within walking distance to all the sites of historic Santa Fe. After a long day of travelling we were quite hungry and tired, so did not want to venture to far from the hotel, but were unsure where to eat. The hotel staff told us to go to Tia Sophias, which was close but also is only open for breakfast and lunch. It was great! I had my first plate of huevo ranchero and for someone like me who is gluten free, wow!
After getting a good nights sleep, we then went for a long walk to check out Canyon Road and all the great art galleries. Again, as someone who went to art school a long time ago, it warmed my heart to see a community embrace the arts fully. Everywhere you turn you see metal, glass, oil, watercolor, sculptures, it is definitely worth the walk.
Plan on spending the day just walking to and from Canyon Road. I warn you though, Santa Fe is at 7000 ft above sea level, which means you can get altitude sickness there. Even living at over 3000 ft here in Calgary, both Kevin and I experienced some altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water, and I mean plenty plus if you are there in the summer like we were you need to wear a lot of sunscreen and watch your alcohol consumption. With so many different kinds of tequilas and margaritas there it is hard, but again, with the altitude the alcohol can really affect you a lot more.
Supper for us was at Ore House, where we indulged in a fine margarita and then dined on great tex-mex cuisine.
We spent a lot of time walking in Santa Fe for downtown it is easy to navigate but also the history of this place is incredible. Especially coming from a place like Calgary, Santa Fe dates back to the 1600’s and is the oldest capital in North America. Visit San Miguel Mission, which is the oldest church in the US, see Loretta Chapel and St. Francis Cathedral.
We spent an evening at Museum Hill and discovered four world class museums featuring folk art and native art.
I have to say we ate really really well in Santa Fe. I had no trouble at all finding gluten free food to eat. Tex-Mex naturally is a gluten free meal, with the staple of corn tortillas always offered.
One of the spectacular meals for me was at La Casa Sena. Yes, the corn tamales I had were great, but to tell the truth it was the dessert that sent me over the edge. Literally, ask our friends, my reaction was over the top. I had lavender crème brulee with habanero sugar. Strange you say, would that be good. It was unbelievably good, probably one of the best desserts I have ever had. The richness and creaminess of the crème brulee with the combo of lavender and the heat of habanero. Is there a picture of this dessert you ask? No, there is not for I was so over the moon for it that I forgot to take a photo.
Part of my week included 2 cooking classes by the Santa Fe Cooking School. Both my husband and I took a tamale cooking class. Now truthfully I had never had a tamale and did not know what they were but was thrilled to find out they were gluten free.
We were taught how to make a variety of tamales with masa harina (ground corn flour), using cornhusks and banana leaves to steam them in. I especially liked the dessert tamale that had a filling of sweet apricots but was topped with a sauce of peanut and Chipotle Chile Salsa .
The other class I attended was an outdoor cooking class which I tasted local New Mexico wines and learned how to use the wonderful varieties of chilis.
I enjoyed fish tacos from Bumblebee’s Baja Grill but was mildly disappointed I could not try there famous sauce. Bumblebees is very aware of gluten issues and have signs letting customers know what they can and cannot have and one of the cannots is the sauce.
Because one of the things I love most is to collect spices, Santa Fe was a mecca of chili spices for me. In fact I brought back a duffle bag full of spices. My only warning is be careful at the airport. Even though I had all spices in clear bags for the security to see, I was still pulled over and searched. In fact, even after going through the whole body scan process, my bag of spices, after being “wanded” set off an alarm, that included a full pat down of me. I was not impressed with the process, but have also learned not to say anything to security for I wanted those spices to come home with me. Ahhh the joys of flying!
Have you encountered any issues with bringing spices or foods on flights?
Our last night in Santa Fe we decided not to do tex mex and went barbeque. We walked to Whole Hog Café and had some local barbeque treats. I enjoyed the pulled pork and brisket, while my hubby had ribs. Both were excellent and we had fun trying out the multitude of sauces as well as checking out all the barbeque trophies in the café.
I would highly recommend adding Santa Fe, New Mexico to your travels. We spent a week in Santa Fe but there are so many places around Santa Fe that I would still like to see. The height of chili season is the end of August and would love to go there then. Supposedly on every street corner there is someone with a propane torch scorching chilis and the smell of chilis is in the air-that would be something to see.
Also the sunsets alone are worth it.