This morning, as I thumbed through an old blog I downloaded before I killed it off several years ago (if one can thumb through an electronic document), I came upon a lengthy post about a trip my wife and I made to New Mexico. Reading the post made me homesick. I don’t know how that is, as I’ve never lived in New Mexico. Yet, in some sense, I think New Mexico is as much home to me as any place I’ve been. There’s something about parts of New Mexico that makes me feel kindred to the people who inhabit the place. I sense that people there, at least some of the people there, are searching for what I’ve been trying to find my entire life. I don’t know what that is, either, but I’m still looking.
Despite feeling a sense that I’m home in New Mexico, I felt perfectly comfortable being a tourist, too. The following paragraphs, extracted from my lengthy post, brought back fond memories and made me want to return, soon. And they demonstrate my affection for food, don’t they?
For breakfast our first morning in Santa Fe, we walked across the street to a little coffee shop and ordered a breakfast taco that turned out to be large enough to feed a family of six. Good smells, good food. Very weird clientele, including two young women who used the place as their bedrooms, curled up comfortably in some beanbag chairs, and a surly old bastard who was annoyed with the waitress at the counter when she took our order before embarking on building his elaborate combination of cream and sugar and cookies and whatever else with a splash of coffee. I ordered an espresso that turned out to be wonderful. I wish I’d written down the name of the place.
After breakfast, we wandered along the plaza, viewing artworks and handicrafts and finally made our way to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. We viewed all the pieces in the museum; while we enjoyed it, we felt like the Kimbell in Fort Worth had done a better job of displaying her works. I’m a huge fan of her work, though, and the short video about her life made the $8/person fee well worth it.
For lunch, we did something very odd (seems to me); we ate in a place called Rooftop Pizzeria, in a newer-looking mini shopping mall on the plaza. As it turned out, it was an exceptional place for lunch. I got a glass of Saint Clair 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) and my wife got a glass of Osborne Cabernet Sauvignon (Spain), both of which were excellent and very reasonably priced. We ordered a thin-crust pizza topped with grilled eggplant, squash, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke heart, roast garlic, kalamata olives, basil pesto, and goat cheese (on my half). It was out of this world.
As we walked off lunch and tried to avoid being soaked by snow flakes, we came upon a tasting room for Santa Fe Vineyards, a winery in Española, New Mexico. The place had some interesting art on the walls, so we went in and browsed and were persuaded to do the $5 tasting. That, too, was a good thing. Despite tasting a few much-too-sweet-for-our-taste wines, there were some that were incredibly inexpensive and very good. The guy who orchestrated the tasting was young but knowledgeable and he convinced me to try some wines I normally would have avoided, some ‘known’ sweet wines that, as it turns out, are a bit sweeter than most I would enjoy but were good, after all. It turns out he is waiter in his other life. He works at La Boca, a tapas bar that has been getting rave reviews from the Santa Fe media and, we’re told, the Albuquerque media and beyond. He urged us to try it, saying the chef/owner was responsible for other restaurants in town getting a reputation for serving fabulous tapas. We succumbed to his persuasion; when we got back to the hotel, we asked the consierge to make a reservation for us at 8:00 pm.
La Boca did not disappoint. Here is a sampling of what we shared: marinated catalan olives; alcaparonnes (Spanish caperberries); coriander spiced grilled eggplant w/ red onion chermoula; cantimpalitos: grilled mini chorizo w/ membrillo glaze. I think we had more…but looking at the menu, I cannot remember. I’d like to go back to try the other tapas but also to try their larger-portion meals, including paella which sounded incredibly good.