Sunday, May 21, 2017

For Great Food go to Portland

Aviary Kitchen is the Star with the Food
Portland per capita has more great chefs and more James Beard Best Chef and Restaurants semifinalist than any city in the US.  When you come to Portland you see a city under siege from young and old creatives.  I feel a little naked because I have no tattoos or piercings.  But every time I come to Portland I found another great restaurant.  This time it was the Aviary owned by Sarah Pliner a New York trained chef who had worked for Alain Ducasse and Marcus Samuelson.  Aviary is located in Northeast Portland ion the Alberta Arts District.  This is another area in Portland that is taking advantage of the growth of the arts and a migration of young smart entrepreneurs.
Aviary is just off the street with a nice little patio to take advantage of great weather in the spring and summer.  Tonight I went with my colleague Koushik who loves great food we made a decision to enjoy a few shared small plates so we could sample Aviary's great looking tastes.

Sweet Potato
Beans with Green Curry
We started with Roasted Sweet Potato it was served with maple Pasilla glaze and toasted pumpkin seeds with a side of watercress greens with apple and Fava Beans.  This is a nice little combo because the sweet potato and the maple syrup provides for a sweet bite the Pasilla Chile gives a subtle contrast of some heat.  The side salad cleanses the palette for the next bite which was Tempura Green Beans with Green Curry and Sesame Salt. The beans are lightly battered and served with a little crisp.  The Green Curry spicy bite is subtle and the Sesame Salt brings provides that toasted nut taste which brings out the freshness of the bean.
Our next bite was Red Curry Braised Goat.  I love Goat, I do not find it gamey and typically there is enough fat in it to make it very tender and flavorful.  Red Curry is one of my specialties that I love to make because it uses Red Chiles and brings up the heat level.  The meal was served with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Kabocha Squash, Goat Cheese Gnocchi and Kaffir Lime.  Kaffir Lime is used with many Curry Dishes to bring in that lime taste. I use the leaves to cook curry they have an amazing lime flavor mostly from the oil.  Take a bite of Red Curry Goat and cool down the palate with the Cherry Tomato.  Really a fun tasty dish.
The last plate was Crispy Pig Ear which my guest would not try but I was
Crispy Pig Ear YUM
anxious.  Last time I ate a Pig Part was Denver when I ate a deep fried Pig Tail.  I can walk you through the bite. The Pig Ear was crispy at the tip and tender toward the middle.  At the base of the dish you have a layer of Coconut Rice, Chinese Sausage and Avocado.  So was it a Pig Ear Stew or was it a Pig Ear Nacho either way it was delicious.  The Chinese Sausage was very much like Chorizo and the Avocado helped balance the heat.  Overall a great dish which I hope to see again.
Great Dessert
With this great meal we had some of the very tasty Aviary Cocktails.  I like a drink with a little heat and they have a great one The Chilango, spicy and refreshing.  Also Sarah is very proud of her desserts and her Pastry Chef, Koushik had the homemade Pistachio Ice Cream with Brittle and Chocolate.
Overall this was another great Portland meal made by a great chef who enjoys different ingredients and creativity.

Monday, January 2, 2017

London Food and Tour Highlights



I grew up as a British citizen, my father was British and I was born in Singapore which at that time was a British Colony. I became a US Citizen on my 18th birthday because I had to register for the draft.  I had not been to London for 25 years and a lot has changed since then.  London is a very large and diverse city and that has contributed to many of the changes to its culinary strength in the world.  We had a couple of highlights on our trip one that my wife had booked and one that I had booked.  We stayed at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair where we had a great suite and access to their Executive Club Lounge.  My wife is a great fan of tea. Each trip we try to find a purveyor of things we love to drink and eat.  This trip we found an awesome Tea company Simpson Tea, their winter afternoon tea is the best cold weather tea we have ever had.  I reached out to them on Christmas Eve and their owner Anna Louise Simpson responded and provided us a way to order it on line.  Great customer service even on Christmas.
We will start with my wife's which was a private tour of bespoke clothing capital of the world, Savile Row in Mayfair.  Our tour guide was Cindy Lawford who is an ex Pat who has been in London for the past 10 years.  Cindy specializes in tours of British Maker history including clothing, hats, shoe and art.
Master Tailors
Gold Embroidery
videoWe met Cindy in Gieves and Hawkes, 1 Savile Row to start our tour.  Mr Gieves bought the current building from the Royal Geographic Society in 1912 and merged with Hawkes in 1974.   In forming this union they were to become the leading supplier of uniforms and caps to the British Military and endorsed by the crown with many Royal Warrants.  Gieves and Hawkes has the the distinction of becoming the first company to introduce ready to wear fine clothing to Savile Row which ad prided itself of bespoke clothing for the world's rich and famous. A bespoke suit ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 depending on the quality of the material cut and features.  A ready to wear suit from Savile Row costs from $1,000 to $5,000.  
He has been there 45 years
Today we were lucky enough to see the tailor's workroom and get to hear them talk of their jobs and their passion for making such well crafted articles of clothing. It takes many years of apprenticeship to become a tailor for one of the bespoke shops on Savile Row, these folks are talented artisans that take the measurements and are in charge of every process of creating the clothing, this process often takes 3 to 4 months to finalize the finished product.  
The other highlight was to go into the Military uniform fitting room where
Military Uniform Fitting Room
Royalty and heads of state have been coming to get measured and fit for their new uniforms for over 100 years.  This room has many historic articles of clothing including a cloak the Queen of England wore to an event in the 50's. it is also used for the storage of the uniforms for the Honourable Corps of Gentleman at Arms.  these men come in several times a year get dressed in their uniform and march out together to their venue of the day. 
Awards and Certifications at G&H
This room is full of history from uniforms some as old as 200 years old.  There are pictures of the Royal Family in their uniforms and attire created by Gieves and Hawkes, there are coats from world leaders on display and the Royal Uniform of Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms.  
Guy Hills talking to JoAnn
Cindy took us to several other bespoke shops including the Huntsman who has dressed every major actor and statesman and Dashing Tweeds who takes the original sporting cloth of the UK Tweed and has adapted it to everyday urban wear.  Overall Cindy exceeded our expectations with a behind the scenes look of all things Savile Row and bespoke.  Cindy gives other tours in Mayfair and is a must for folks that are curious about London's finer things.

St Johns Bread and Wine

Friendly Kitchen @ SJB&W
videoLet's talk about my passion of eating great food.  Getting into restaurants in London is very difficult many close from the 23rd to Jan 2nd and others are just to hard to get into.  I had prearranged one reservation before we went and that was St Johns Bread and Wine.  The St Johns Restaurant brand was developed by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver.  Chef Henderson is often noted for his use of offal and other neglected cuts of meat.  The restaurant is in Spitalfield which would be best described as one of London's more hip areas.  

The best way to describe St Johns Bread and Wine is it is diner like with an open kitchen not fancy but serving outrageously great food at an affordable price.  This is a busy urban restaurant with no fanfare just a hook for your coat a basic wood chair and table.  During the holidays many restaurants encourage folks to have small office parties and there were several tables of 10 folks working their way to Christmas.  
Pressed Meat - Terrine
Scrumptious Pork
Our server Marijiana, she was a no BS cut to the chase but informative server.  The menu is very basic, you come here for everything Pork or different.  We started with the Pork Terrine.  The definition of a terrine is pressed meat parts and might sound disgusting actually turns our to be very delicious, served with some quince it is quite nice and something you could eat all night long.  We then had the Brown Shrimp (bay shrimp) served with Kohlrabi  and Chervil, this is kind of a shrimp coleslaw.  I liked this dish because it was creative.  On to the Quail with Spinach Coolea Souffle.  Quail is not my favorite dish because it is hard to eat but I took my time with it cut it is half and combined it with the Spinach and found it to be very delicious.  On to what we came for and that was the Roast Pig in this case it was a Middlewhite Pig which is specifically from the UK.  I love roast Pig the crackling skin, the juicy fat and the great melt in your mouth meat.  This was a very simple plate of several large sliced pieces
Whole Hog
served with Radishes and Watercress.  I could eat this plate at least once a week the flavor of the Pork still sits on my taste buds.
We wrapped up the night with some Hokey Pokey Ice Cream which is an New Zealand Dessert it is Vanilla ice cream with Honey Toffee chunks.
I am glad we went to this restaurant it reminded me what the UK was all about traditional well made comfort food served with no pretention. 
We also had an opportunity to get some Fish and Chips and some great Indian Food get highlights of that on my Instagram account @topcheftrail 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cooking School at the Ritz Paris

Several months back I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal on cooking vacations in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Paris.  The article had some suggestions of a few stand out culinary events to do and one of them was to enroll at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier for a class.  This would be a cool opportunity to go to a cooking class at one of the most famous hotels in the world the Ritz Paris.  I looked it up and booked it.  The Ritz Paris has recently undergone a 4 year renovation that cost over $450,000,000.  the hotel has only 159 rooms so there is a lot of personal attention paid to the guests.  This hotel is very pricey but if you ever have the opportunity to visit Paris it is worthwhile to at least have a drink in the Ritz Bar.  If you have the time I would definitely enroll at the cooking school.  The Ritz Hotel was founded in 1898 by Hotelier Cesar Ritz and Chef Auguste Escoffier. Everything about the food creation at the Ritz is like Chef Escoffier was still looking over the kitchen even though he has been dead for 80 years.  This was going to be a great adventure.

We met at the hotel and was taken downstairs to the where the school and the kitchens are.  The Kitchens are all brand new with the finest appliances that money can buy many are custom made to accommodate the culinary needs of the Ritz clientele.  There are 150 full time kitchen workers, this does not include wait and service staff.  So if you ask for any reasonable culinary masterpiece you will be assured to get it to make your stay perfect.
Our Chef instructor Chef Simon Manoukian and his assistant Muna greeted us and we were welcomed to the Ritz Ecole Escoffier.  Simon has been with the Ritz for 7 years and was recently asked to be the instructor for the Ecole.  There were three of us including my wife, the other lady Patricia was from Normandy and had been given this as 1 of her 12 monthly gifts for her 60th birthday.  Our class was to to prepare and make a 3 course meal focusing on seafood.  The kitchen was large and set up to give hands on instruction to groups.  Since we were only 3 we all had an opportunity to partake in all the preparation.  Our main ingredients today were Sea Bass and Langoustine, we were making a Starter of Langoustine Raviolis with a Seafood Sauce and Sea Bass with Chorizo Beurre Blanc Sauce and Mashed Potatoes.  Keep in mind we are starting from scratch so this is going to be quite an adventure.
The Seafood
First part of the recipe was to break down and fillet the Sea Bass.  This included removing the fins filleting the fish and removing the bones.  Even though I am the cook in the family, JoAnn made a much better effort than I did in filleting of the fish.  The breaking down of the Langoustine was more up my alley, first you snap off the head and if you are lucky you get the intestines to come with it.  You then need to remove the shell by pinching in the shell to break down the exoskeleton to make the tail meat easy to remove, you then you slit down the back to remove any of the remaining intestines and was in water.
Step 1 breaking down the seafood is now complete and just think that only took 45 minutes.  Time to prepare the Scallions and Herbs.  Need some knife skills for this and I have none.  But Simon showed us the technique of how to prepare the scallion by removing the top not the root and then removing the hard skin, then splitting it lengthwise in half.  You fan it lengthwise but not all the way with several cuts and you split it width wise in half so you can then easily dice the scallion.  We then chop the herbs and put them aside with the scallion.  From there we take all the shells and start creating a broth in an iron pot with oil.  The Pan must be very hot in order to simmer the shells to bring out some of the great flavor, we then add some brandy the whole time you are stirring to keep developing the flavor of the stock.  One of the things to remember is not to add any salt because you can rely on the salt that is naturally in the shells.  You then add some whole pieces of garlic, some butter and then whole cream not that half and half stuff.  At that point you just let it simmer for the next hour.
We then made the raviolis there was some prepared pasta squares that we placed the whole langoustine tail in, then brushed some yolk on the square to adhere the other pasta square in order to make the ravioli.  Once you assure there is no air getting into the ravioli you then seal it with a round press and then cut it with a larger round press. This is very time consuming at this point we are 2 hours in and have not even started making the potatoes or finishing off the ravioli sauce.  You all of a sudden realize why a meal in a fine restaurant costs so much even though a professional is twice as fast it still takes hours to prepare to the point of finishing and plating the meal.
We then prepare the potatoes to be pureed for the potato mash, yes I know I mixed two preparations.
Chef Simon
 First of all great chefs cook the potato with the skin on, why? Because it keeps the nutrients in and is easier to peel when they are fully boiled.  You just pick up the potato with a cloth and pull of the skin and then take your knife to remove any of the dark spots so your potatoes are white.  You can then either puree them or smash them.  Pureeing is time consuming but assures that the potato is fine and not lumpy.  To finish them off you add olive oil and cream chive, salt and pepper.
Time to finish the seafood sauce for the ravioli.  By now it has been simmering for 1 hour and a foam has accumulated at the top this foam is the impurities from the shells and it needs to be scooped off.
This is not a three swipes and you are done task this takes 10 minutes of slowly grabbing us much foam as possible to ensure the quality of the sauce.  When that is done we remove the shells and strain it twice once through a strainer that catches the big stuff and through a very fine strainer that picks up all the
Making the Ravioli
small stuff.  At that point you have a finished sauce.
Time to make the Chorizo Beurre Blanc first we take our shallots and combine it with white wine and the prepared herbs and fully reduce then add a little lemon and several sticks of butter a little at a time while whisking so it does not separate.  After 10 minutes take cooked chorizo and add to the sauce to get the spicy taste strain the the shallots, herbs and chorizo away and put aside for the fish.
Langoustine Ravioli
We now boil the raviolis for 3 minutes and when done put on a baking sheet with wax paper that has olive oil on it to prevent sticking.  Heat up a skillet with a little oil drop a fillet in it take your spatula and hold down the fillet so it does not curl cook both sides for 2 minutes each.
Sea bass with Chorizo Beurre Blanc
It is now time for final preparation take a bowl place 4 raviolis in a circle making sure to keeping the sides in the bowl generously put the seafood sauce on place some prepared herbs and flower petals on the plate and wipe down any remnant sauce that may be on the rim.  Then take a dinner plate and place the fillet of Sea bass down and take some forms to place the potatoes in. The form can be round, or rectangular any shape will do to make the perfect plate.

Finally get to eat
The Graduates
It is now time to eat, by this time you have been cooking for 4 hours and you realize that you are hungry and want to sit down with your new found friends at the school.  This is a great cooking experience, the staff is first rate and the kitchen is second to none in the world.  I only wish that i can go back.  Just 30K will buy you a 19 week course at the school from that you could start a whole new career.

Christmas Holiday in Paris

Paris at Sunset
Welcome to Paris
We just got back from 1 week in Paris and 1 week in London.  We had a few things planned in each city but the goal was to have some good meals at local restaurants and have a good time.  There was so much to write I am going to break it into to a Tale of Two Cities.  We start our journey in Paris where we were staying close to the Opera at the Ambassador Hotel.  The Ambassador Hotel is conveniently located walking distance to great restaurants, shopping and sightseeing, away from the huge holiday crowds visiting the Holiday Market on the Champs-Elysees.  Paris is considered one of the top destinations to soak in the Christmas Spirit with lights, festivals, and great eating and shopping to enjoy during the last 2 weeks of the year.  This stay we set up two major food experiences, cooking school at the new Ritz Paris and a Food Tour of the Latin Quarter.  The tour I will write up today and the School will be in the following article
Ritz Bar
We got to Paris very early in the morning and was able to get our room early to grab a nap.  After a few hours of sleep we started getting to know the area and get our bearing for the next week exploring.  The first place we headed to was the Ritz Paris to get acquainted with where we were going to go to our school.  The Ritz Paris just recently opened after a $450M renovation that took over 4 years to complete.  The result is one of the most exclusive hotels in the world that caters to only 160 guests per day and their every desire.  We decided to celebrate our arrival in Paris by going to the Ritz Bar, a cozy bar that you would have found yourself in in the early 1900's perhaps sitting with Ernest Hemingway or Coco Chanel.  We had a glass of wine and hung out while discussing our plans for the next few days




Veal Chop

.
Our first dinner was on 2 blocks away at Au Petit Riche a traditional french bistro that seemed to cater to businessmen and local area families.  You walk in to a small bar that is also a shell fish prep and serving station.  We meandered back to our table navigating through narrow passes often running in to servers, we finally came into a bigger room with lots of red valour, leather and brass.  This restaurant opened in 1854 and has not seemed to lose any of it's tradition and charm for the last 160 years.  I had the Roast Veal Chop with Potatoes which was cooked perfectly and came with a very nice sauce.  After going to cooking school and having several great meals, french cooking is very much about the sauce.  Au Petit Riche was a great recommendation from the staff at the Ambassador Hotel and the perfect way to start our trip.  The prices are reasonable and the food and drink quality is very good.
Foundation Louis Vuitton
Day two was full of adventure we had in mind of going to the Foundation Louis Vuitton and then on to Le Defense for their annual Holiday Market which I visited over 4 years ago.  The Foundation Louis Vuitton is definite must for you to see.  It is not easy to get to so you need to be a little bit adventuresome to take the journey but it is definitely worth it.  The building is relatively new and was designed by Frank Gehry.  The building is in a beautiful park that during the warmer days must be crowded with locals and their families.  Currently at the museum they are showing the Shchukin Collection which includes many representations of France's most notable impressionist artist.  He collected 100's of paintings that today would be worth several billion dollars.  He was considered a risk take because his countrymen felt there was better art in Russia at the time.  One thing to remember buy your tickets ahead of time so you do not have to wait in line.
Korean Pork Bao
That night we went to Hero located as they put it on the "Seedy" Rue St Denis.  Hero is a Korean fusion restaurant that has all sorts of yummy things, but is known for its Korean Fried Chicken.  The restaurant is small and only seats 24 people, this is a hang out for young hipster style people and savvy tourists that can find a hidden gem.  This is a small plate noshing venue that has great food and does not set you back many Euros.  We ordered a couple of small plates a sampling of their fried chicken both plain and spicy, the key to Korean fried chicken is that it has to have a crunchy coating and both versions had a great taste ans crunch.  We also ordered their version of a Bao, we got one fried chicken and the other marinated pork both were great and had a nice mayo based spicy sauce.  This is a simple place with a cool vibe just make sure that when you go there you do not venture off the lit path. After dinner we went to go see Rogue One at the local theatre and enjoyed the French Subtitles.
L'Entrecote
Steak Frites
On Saturday we found ourselves on Champs-Elysee.  I know it seems like we eat a lot on these trips but honestly we try to keep it to 2 meals a day with all the walking we generally do we actually lose a few pounds it is my form of a new miracle diet surely it is not sustainable.  To that end we were in the vicinity of one of the famous restaurants that serves Steak Frites.  Every time we have been in Paris the line goes out the door and there is an hour wait.  But today we ventured down Marbeuf and found the line to Le Relais de L'Entrecote to be very short so we hung out and were seated in 10 minutes.  There is an ongoing feud between L'Entrecote and Regent Bistro each one believes that their sauce has been copied by the other and as you know the french value their sauces.  I have provided you the hyperlink so you can enjoy the article that
Paris in the F
was printed in the WSJ 2 years ago.  Getting back to the food, we were seated very tightly next to others that cherished the opportunity to eat the best Steak Frites in France.  I asked for the menu and the server responded Steak or Lamb, unbeknownst to us it is an all you can eat of Salad, Steak and Frite.  I puckered a bit not knowing what this would set us back but immediately got prepared for my meal.  Hmm the salad was good greens in a vinaigrette, then came the Steak with it's controversial Sauce and the Frites (French Fries) no Ketchup.  Is it the best steak I have ever had?  No
but is is among the tastiest I have ever had and it coming and coming.  I was not looking forward to the bill because we were drinking wine, eating Boeuf and crunching fries.  To my surprise it was only $60 for the two of us what a good deal!  The rest of the day we continued to walk around the Champs-Elysee and enjoy the holiday festivities with the throngs of Parisian families.




You start with the Baguette
Sunday we were able to get a food tour of the Latin Quarter with Food Tours of Paris or tour guide Bobby was an American that had moved to Paris with his French wife for an adventure.  He was making a living as a teacher and tour guide.  These tours are not easy you have to have a great knowledge of the area and the food and our guide had done a great job in learning the history of the Latin quarter is over 800 years old and one of the oldest places in Paris, it is the home of the La Sorbonne opened in 1257 and home to many other universities.  It is one of the highest points in Paris which is why it was one of the first settlements because it was easy to defend. The tour takes approximately 3 hours and it is a 3 mile stroll through the Latin Quarter ending up near Notre Dame.  With any good European Foodie Tour we started at the Patisserie Saines Savuer and grabbed a Baguette so we could take in the tastes of the tour.  Our tour guide had explained that this bakery had the distinction of being one of the best in Paris in their annual judging of patisseries.  We started up the inclined street Rue Mouffetard which had small food specialty shops along the way , the first stop was the butcher Boucherie Mouffetard, we picked up cured sausages some bite size and some that were nice slices and some great pork pate.  
Compilation of our Latin Quarter Tour
Fromagerie

Beautiful Seafood
We stood in the street to sample the different flavors of sausage and to spread some of the pate on the baguette while listening to the history of the area.  Next stop was the  Cremier Fromagerie where we picked up some soft cheeses and learned how to tell what region the cheeses are from.  The  AOP seal Appellation d'OrigineProtégée (Protected Designation of Origin) is required by French law and tells you exactly where the origin of the cheese is from.  We then stood on the street and built on our previous purchases by adding some cheese to the pate and the sausage as my dad would say it was a spartan approach but how else would you feel like a local.  Off to the next stop a seafood shop to taste some Oysters at Poissonnerie Quonium.  Eating Oysters with Bobby is a learning experience.  There is no shell fish sauce, it is you, the Oyster and a lemon.  The lemon is their for 2 reasons one to enhance the taste and to determine the freshness.  when you squeeze the lemon on the Oyster the mussel retracts in the shell ever so slightly telling you that it is OK to eat.  Food is an art in France in all these pictures you will notice how the displays are made, the tend to draw you into the food product as a way to invite you to buy.
Odette La Choux
Now that we have stuffed ourselves we continue on our trip up to the top of the hill ending at the Pantheon for a quick overview of the area.  The Pantheon is 250 years old and many of the France's science, political and literary leaders are buried here  The Latin Quarter is home to over a dozen Universities ranging from cooking, to literature to physics and engineering.  Many of these buildings are over 300 years old and have amazing architecture.  We stopped for a nice glass of wine and finished up our baguette, cheese and sausage.  
From there we headed down the hill to grab our dessert and finish our tour. We had our dessert at Odette which is down near Notre Dame. Their specialty is Le Choux which is a small bite sized flavored creme puff.  These have now take the place of the Macaroon for me.


Boeuf Bourguignon
For one of my last meals I wanted to have a Beef Bourguignon, this is one of the first things I learned to cook with my Mom.  This dish is the best cold night appeaser, because it is hardy, savory and great to eat with mashed potatoes.  Bobby our tour guide who lives in Montmartre recommended La Cave Gourmande.  The restaurant was a 10 minute Uber ride from our hotel.  One of the greatest services of the last 3 years is Uber.  Uber in Europe is convenient, inexpensive and easy no cash trades hands it is all automatic.  La Cave is a small quaint restaurant with only a few tables.  I noticed that they had Escargot and we could not leave Paris without our fill of Snails.    I was there for only one thing at that was the Boeuf Bourguignon and it did not disappoint.  The Stew was in a piping hot cast iron pot which you were able to scoop a lavish amount of beef with your mashed potatoes.  It was everything I had hoped for.  Our server Anita was great and was helpful in picking the right wine to accompany the meal. 
Escargot Yum
This summarizes most of the stay in Paris the food here is consistently good there are a lot of experiences too many to cover in 1 week but the great thing on this trip is that we did all new things. Our final day in Paris was spent at cooking school at the Escoffier Ecole at the Ritz Paris, which is my next write up there is so much to talk about it needed it's own article.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Santa Fe New Mexico - City Different

Another Fantastic Sunset in Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest Capital city in the USA founded by the Spaniards in 1610.  We have been going to Santa Fe for over 30 years for business and pleasure.  I originally went to Santa Fe to sell computer solutions to Los Alamos National Labs.  We always enjoyed the magical character and started going there on vacation and eventually built a house.  To this day we still own property and visit there at least once a year.  We bought our first piece of original art in Santa Fe in the 1980's and have been adding to our collection over the years.  For the last 100 years Santa Fe has been a place where artists and photographers have been enjoying and capturing the natural beauty of this mountain city at 7000 feet.
Fiesta Mariachi
My favorite reason to go to Santa Fe is that it is very relaxing, the skies are colorful endless, the sunrises and sunsets never disappoint and life seems simple here.
Santa Fe is also the home of some of the most fantastic restaurants in the US.  It is constantly featured in magazines and on the Food Channel and is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 restaurant cities in the US.  Many of the foods are derived from the Spanish, Indian and Mexican heritages and in some cases feature the spicy Chile.  So when you have the opportunity to order a dish that comes with Chile try it with green or red Chile or as they call it when you combine the two Christmas.
The last several times we have been to Santa Fe I have focused on some of the newer restaurants that feature farm to table organic meals.  Our trip in August combined the old with the new including The Compound, Tesuque Village Market, Guadalupe Cafe, Santa Fe Bite (Formerly Bobcat Bite), Jambo Cafe and Paper Dosa.

Alaskan Halibut with Chorizo
Soft Shell Crab
The Compound Restaurant opened in 1967 and was designed by Alexander Girard who had developed the Braniff Terminal, the interior of their jets and was instrumental as a designer for Herman Miller Textiles.  The restaurant closed in the 90's and reopened in 2000 when Executive Chef Mark Kiffin bought it.  The restaurant is located on Canyon Road among art galleries, homes and other restaurants.  The Compound is considered one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe and the Southwest.  The restaurant is elegant and built entirely from adobe which was part of the original house built in the early 1900's.  On this evening we went with our good friends from Texas and enjoyed a great meal with a very nice bottle of wine, Belle Glos from the Clark and Telephone Vineyard.  For starters I had the Tomato Soup poured over creole barbecued shrimp and a buttermilk biscuit.  The presentation was great they poured the hot soup over the shrimp and biscuit which created quite the spectacle.  The soup was creamy with a hint of spice from the creole seasoning on the shrimp, all in all it was quite hardy.  The other terrific looking starter was the Carolina Soft Shelled Crab which was stuffed crab remoulade on a base of sweet corn and tomato and red pepper coulis.
For the main course I had the Halibut presented on portuguese chorizo and potato with saffron aioli.  The Halibut was perfectly cooked and the combination with the chorizo provided a great bite.  Others at the table had the Smoked Berkshire Pork with peaches and sweet potato gratin.  The meal was terrific but the experience of having a meal in this historic building turned restaurant was quite the treat, combine that with good friends, great service you have the perfect meal.

Lamb Curry
One of our new go to places is Paper Dosa which features South Indian Cuisine.   Paper Dosa is outside the main Historic Santa Fe and sits in a small center off of Cordova Avenue.  Dosa is a fermented crepe made of rice batter and black lentils.  The Dosa is served with Sambar (Lentil Based Stew), coconut chutney and tomato chutney.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan Paper Dosa has great dishes for you.  But along with the great choice of Dosa's you can also order Lamb, Prawn or Chicken Curry.  
Watermelon and Tofu Salad
We love Indian food so we sampled the watermelon and tofu sald on sprouts, the Dosa and Lamb curry. A Dosa is served with a potato filling that has different flavor choices like Masala, White Truffle or Spinach and Fennel. The Dosa is kind of a do it yourself burrito where you spoon out the flavored potato filling and add the Chutney's.  I broke pieces off of the Dosa and made it more of a Taco than a Burrito.  The Masala Potato stuffing had great heat and the chutneys provided a great cooling effect.  The Truffle filling was less hot but was filled with great flavor.  The Lamb Curry was tender and was packed with flavor and heat.
Greatest Burger
One of the Top Burger diners in the US is Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bobcat Bite one in a trailer off I-25.)  I had not been there since it was in that little trailer on the feeder road just off the freeway.  It is now on Old Santa Fe Trail near downtown in a sit down diner.  When I first went there 7 years ago I thought the burger was pretty good.  Time and a new location provided me with one of the best burgers I have ever had.  It was a very nice day so we enjoyed our meal outside while people watching in the afternoon breeze. The Burger was a 10 ounce beef patty (there is no shrinkage Mr Costanza) oozing juices topped with Hatch green chiles under melted cheddar cheese served with my favorite sweet potato fries.  This burger is a treat, if you like burgers this is a must.
Coconut an Peanut Chicken Curry

One of the new local places we tried out this time was Jambo Cafe on Cerrillos Road.  Jambo Cafe is very difficult to get into so if you do not have reservations you need to get there before 6pm.  The restaurant fuses African and Caribbean food to produce some of the best curries I have had.  Not all curry is spicy and I had the Coconut and Peanut Chicken Curry which was both very filling and delicious.  Jambo Cafe has a variety of food like goat stew, seafood dishes, jerk chicken and kabobs.  Jambo serves great comfort food nothing fancy but very well prepared.

Breakfast Tacos at TVM
Two great Breakfast recommendations are Tesuque Village Market and Guadalupe Cafe both are long term eating establishments with great history.  Tesuque Village Market is the only Market in the city of Tesuque across from the Santa Fe Opera.  It is an old wood building with seating inside and outside, nothing real formal just a good place to go hang out and get great food.  When in Santa Fe I only get one thing for breakfast and that is the Breakfast Burrito and it is always stuffed with a pork product, chorizo or bacon or carnitas, I then have it smothered in Christmas Chile green on half and red on the other half.  I promise I do not go hungry till dinner.  There are other great dishes at the market but unfortunately when it comes to breakfast I am very stubborn
Chile Relleno
The other great Breakfast Spot is  the Guadalupe Cafe off of Old Santa Fe Trail.  Several years ago they took over the famous Pink Adobe Restaurant which started business in 1944 and now serve Breakfast and Brunch as the Guadalupe Cafe and Dinner as the Pink Adobe.  I will not bore you with my awesome Chorizo Breakfast Burrito but instead tempt you with the Chile Relleno stuffed Poblano with goat cheese and pine nuts combined with the second stuffed with egg and cheese.  I had a bite of both and they were delicious.  I recommend both restaurants for either a great breakfast or dinner.
Santa Fe never disappoints there are over 50 great restaurants and some terrific chefs either started here or have made it their career here.