Still Hungry? Dec 2017—Jan 2018

pomegranates-1178367-1279x850Shocking, but true—some scholars suggest the forbidden fruit instrumental in Eve and Adam’s split from the Garden of Eden was not the apple, but rather the pomegranate! Seasonally germane for cooks looking to give their holiday dishes some zing, the pomegranate may indeed bear some biblical guilt when one considers the pivotal Hebrew word peri in the Old Testament translates into a variety of fleshy seed-bearing fruits aside from the apple. With many fruits potentially implicated, we’ll grant the juicy infamy to the pomegranate, and move on.

Equally juicy is the pomegranate’s recent fame. We extoll its health bennies as an antioxidant (helps prevent some diseases), an anti-inflammatory (reduces eye puffiness the morning after) and as a mega vitamin C purveyor (offers 40 percent of your recommended daily). As well, the gems tarten any savory dish with the perfect tickle, and they’re seasonally pleasing to your holiday palette (and palate). While American culture heralds these qualities, ancient cultures exalt differently. In the Jewish tradition, the pomegranate symbolizes righteousness because it is believed to have as many arils (fleshy seeds) as commandments in the Torah—613! Housewarming gifts in Greece? Predominately pomegranates, which are symbolic of abundance, fertility and good luck. Memorialized in many paintings, including Sandro Botticelli’s 1487 “Madonna of the Pomegranate,” the fruit is also celebrated in Tehran at the annual Pomegranate Festival. And in some Hindu traditions, the seedy fruit symbolizes prosperity.

Yes, there are countless ways the leathery-skinned, akin-to-a-Christmas-ornament pomegranate is celebrated, but let’s just rejoice that this real jewel of a fruit can be sourced far and wide, depending on the season, thanks to cultivation beyond its ancient origins—from the regions of modern-day Iran to northern India—and offer some culinary ways to enjoy a holiday evening with the bold rubies. Continue reading

Notes from the White World: Snow, Solitude, Sun, Silence & Cycles of Water

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The storm had lifted and the temperature had begun to plummet as we turned off the pavement onto a Rio Arriba county road. It’s sunny in Santa Fe, but here a foot of fresh snow blankets the dirt track. I slow the Frontier down and shift into low but the footing seems solid, as long as we keep moving. Photo: Kitty Leaken

The storm had lifted and the temperature had begun to plummet as we turned off the pavement onto a Rio Arriba county road. It’s sunny in Santa Fe, but here a foot of fresh snow blankets the dirt track. I slow the Frontier down and shift into low but the footing seems solid, as long as we keep moving.

Rounding a corner, we are startled to see a county plow truck coming toward us. Luckily, there is a bit of extra room to the right and I ease off the road, graze a hidden boulder and coast back into the now-cleared road—smooth sailing ahead. “You gotta be lucky,” my father-in-law used to saw. Amen.

We roll on down into the hidden valley of the Rio Vallecitos. We park off the road at the river crossing, load up the kids’ old plastic toboggan and I do my Alaskan husky imitation, ferrying water, food and other gear for a winter foray to our cabin, about a quarter mile downstream. In summer, we drive across this waterway to access the property, but heavier trucks had been through it, breaking through the unset ice and turning it into a jumbled impasse.

Rope around my chest, I am off like a tortoise, dragging the sled over hill and dale. Kitty has gone ahead, and I see her off in the distance doing a sort of ballet movement with arms extended and a twirl or two as she drops out of sight. Continue reading

Chef 2 Chef – December 2017

Oppenheimer9C32D2DB-080F-4412-8574-6D96930DAF4D-1Inherent in the recipe is an implicit investment of hope, on our part, that it will deliver on its promise to please. Even before our culinary skills mature, many of us harbor the small desire of wanting the recipe to rescue us (not unlike in our search for meaningful love) from the mundane.

As we begin to know ourselves better as cooks, the selection process is refined, and we begin to understand that recipes are not separate from the cook who risks much in both its selection and execution.

But by now, we can see that the recipe (like advice from a friend), is only a guide, a suggestion, a possibility, and with skill, effort and attention to detail, we breathe life into a set of instructions that, without our willingness to fail, will remain unseen on the page, waiting to be discovered.

Each chef has a different story to tell. We all got to talking. Continue reading

Giving the Gift of Time

Ross Chancey

Ross Chaney

In the second of our two-part series featuring Santa Fe volunteers, we celebrate a firefighter, a raptor handler, a homeless provider, a GED instructor, a Santa Fe River steward and a grief and counselor. We’re grateful here at Local Flavor for the time these folks generously give, not just during the holiday season, but from one New Year to the next.

Ross Chaney

I experienced a lot of death as a young person. Both my parents died when I was a teenager and I didn’t have a place to go to like Gerard’s House. Then I met one of the founding board members of Gerard’s House—retired District Court Judge Michael E. Vigil, whose jurisdiction included Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties and who was very aware of the impact that grief has on the community itself. Unresolved grief—that spoke to me in two ways. I wanted to be contributing to the community in healing, on the cause side. If grief was leading to violence, substance abuse and other negative behaviors, then I wanted to work with our community members to help them process their grief. So that’s why I got involved. I saw that the impact would be the right way to contribute and to help people process their grief. In the short term, you’re able to help people who are in pain today. In the long term, you’re hopeful that by supporting their grief process, they’ll have a life that isn’t full of or avoiding that pain. By working with these individuals, the hope is there are concentric circles of impact. So if the child is able to process the grief, then maybe he or she will heal. And peer support is a really powerful part of the process. You can share and they can support each other. Just being in the room, you feel that support. Continue reading

The Twelve Days of Christmas (In a Case) or The Twelve Wines of Christmas

Emeritus-Hallberg-Ranch-Pinot-Noir__15894.1422574729The 12 days of Christmas are rarely celebrated as such, but 12 is indeed, it just so happens, the usual number of bottles in a case of wine. With enough people on our holiday lists, and plenty of parties and family get-togethers to attend, why not put together that unusual case of wine…to have on hand, just in case? And the timing is perfect, as new labels, releases and categories of wines continue to make their way into New Mexico shops and cellars. This holiday dozen selection includes wines you’re not likely to find on the grocery store shelf, but you should be able to get them from your favorite local, independent retailer, and if they don’t carry it, they can get it by special order. So here we go. Whether you’re thinking Christmas or Hanukkah; New Years or mere Monday; “what’s new?” or what’s classic; house-gift or holiday; we’ve got just the Twelve Wines of Christmas for you.

Pinot Noir is gaining steadily in popularity as a special event and dinner wine. It can show joyous fruit or sophisticated restraint. The grape must grow in a cool climate to maintain its acidity and bright, cherry-like fruit and Green Valley is the coolest sub-region of the famed Russian River. Brand new to New Mexico is Emeritus Vineyards Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir 2014. It’s estate bottled; the grapes are grown in a dry farmed vineyard on the famous Gold Ridge soil in Green Valley. Because the grapes are dry farmed, the berries mature earlier and the resulting alcohol content of the wine is lower. This wine has a crisp California appeal without being “over the top” and is a good choice for that friend looking for “what’s new?” Continue reading

What’s on your plate in 2018?

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A humorous and much-shared posting on Facebook earlier this year poked fun at the popularity of the latest food trends of both kale and coconut oil. Accompanying a photo of wilted kale in a frying pan poised over a garbage can was advice that simply stated, “Remember to always use coconut oil when sautéing kale; it makes it much easier to scrape into the garbage!” I totally connected with the jab; I guess I like kale well enough, but I don’t want it in a smoothie, and there has been some controversy about whether coconut oil is good for you.

I do think, as Americans, we take food trends too far; witness the gluten-free craze, for example. On a positive note though, I think the introduction of new ingredients, cooking techniques and cuisines does keep our eating world stimulating and our chefs on their creative toes, which both engages us and brings us back for more. So as we head into the great culinary unknown of 2018, I thought it would be interesting to contact some local culinarians who are actually involved in setting trends, and one who writes about them in the media, to see what they predict will be the “in thing” for the coming year. I also asked them to reflect on any concepts they thought were headed out of vogue or any they hoped would appear on the edible horizon. I got some provocative answers.

Cookbook author and Galisteo resident Deborah Madison was the first to reply. Her many cookbooks and food writing are proof that her finger’s on the culinary pulse. Famous as the original chef of the groundbreaking Greens Restaurant in San Francisco in 1979 (certainly ahead of its time then), and known for her fondly remembered time at Café Escalera in Santa Fe, Deborah admitted she’s not actually a fan of trends or very good at them. Continue reading