In the Midnight Hours…

Nightlife-MeowWolfe-LK_MG_8232Santa Fe is notoriously known as a sleepy little town, lacking in options for late-night revelry. “They roll up the sidewalks at nine p.m.,” the joke goes. But Santa Fe is shaking off that reputation with plenty of places to shake it on the dance floor, belt out karaoke or take in a show. Believe me, there are places to have fun into the wee hours of the morning, if you know where to look.

Visitors and recent transplants to Santa Fe, here are some ideas on how to spend your midnight hours in our not-so-sleepy town!

Uniquely Santa Fe

Among the state’s most-instagrammed locations, Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return has been called a combination of children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym and fantasy novel, but that doesn’t really capture it. It’s really something you have to see for yourself––it is truly indescribable and highly regarded as a must-see for any visitor. But here’s something you may not know about the wildly creative art installation: At night, it transforms from a child-friendly playground into a psychedelic—and much more grownup—concert venue. Meow Wolf stays open late when there’s music, sometimes as late as 2 a.m., depending on the show. You can delight in the elaborate House of Eternal Return and enjoy the current band or DJ—all sans the rug rats.

Meow Wolf: hours vary during shows; 1352 Rufina Circle, 505.395.6369, meowwolf.com.

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Back Stage at Restaurant Martín

RestaurantMartin_DSC2255Restaurant dinner service is usually an elegantly organized chaos, as servers and chefs prepare multiple-course meals, adapt to last-minute additions to the party, and navigate diners’ ever-growing dietary restrictions. Jennifer and Martin Rios take this orchestration to the next level during the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, presenting four events, as well as maintaining their usual restaurant hours. During the five-day event, Martin will present a demo and tasting; they’ll host a luncheon with Rick Bayless; present a wine dinner; and participate in the Grand Tasting—serving nearly 4,000 plates of food between special events and normal operations. And the owners/operators pull all this together mostly through phone calls during their respective 15-minute drives home to Tesuque after closing the restaurant at 10 p.m.—on a good night.  

Martin has been a part of the Fiesta since the first year, 27 years ago, and he’s doubled down since opening Restaurant Martín with his wife/business partner Jennifer eight years ago. The Fiesta stalwarts see the event as a way to introduce new customers to the restaurant and connect with devotees who attend their wine dinners annually. For Martin, it’s a chance to experiment—a bold move, since he’s doing so with the palates of hundreds of discerning customers—and learn from the other notable chefs who pass through his kitchen. “We like to create something different than the ordinary,” he says. “When it comes to the Wine & Chile dinners, we really do something special. I try new ideas and concepts. It’s a lot of fun for me because it takes me away from my everyday life.” Continue reading

Rick Bayless in Santa Fe!

Rick BaylessAfter 15 years, celebrity chef Rick Bayless is returning to this year’s Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, this time on the heels of his latest—though certainly not first—James Beard Award win. The nine-time cookbook author, TV host and chef of several restaurants earned the foundation’s highest award for the four-star Topolobampo Grill, which he opened in 1991, shortly after the casual Frontera Grill, a sea-change restaurant in the history of Mexican food in the United States. Chef Bayless is set to prepare a luncheon with fellow chef and friend Martín Rios at Restaurant Martín. The four-course lunch will be paired with wines from Craft + Estate. Bayless will also present a cooking demonstration at Santa Fe School of Cooking. Although scant on menu details at the time of our conversation, Chef Bayless is sure to ladle traditional Mexican fare with organic, local ingredients.  

As devoted as you are to Mexican food, you’ve also been a champion of organic ingredients from local purveyors. When did that become part of your repertoire?

Basically, it came from the fact that I lived in Mexico and learned that the best food came from the places with the best local agriculture. My wife and I decided to settle in Chicago, which has the second largest concentration of Mexican people in the nation (and my wife’s family is from there), but we were missing one great thing: local agriculture. Thirty years ago, there was not a farmers’ market, and you had to drive a long way to find farm stands. We had our work cut out for us to find local, seasonal product. It took many years to find farms willing to supply a restaurant. But it all came from how important agriculture was to great food.

The Frontera Farmer Foundation has provided $2 million in small grants. Why did you decide to focus your philanthropic efforts on supporting local, organic farmers in the Chicago area?

In Illinois, 95 percent of the farm fields are corn and soybeans, which doesn’t go into the food scene. We had to find farms interested in working with us and willing to grow things for us. We discovered fairly quickly that farms couldn’t supply us because they didn’t have the equipment. First, we provided no-interest loans for watering systems, hoop houses or a new tractor so they could be more profitable and productive. They had to pay us back in a year, in dollars or product [worth the value]. We really wanted to make it into a for-profit foundation. Most of our grants are small—$8,000 to $12,000. It would take them years to be able save that amount, so a grant from the foundation pushes them years ahead in what they are able to do. Continue reading

The Legacy of Lynn Walters

Lynn Walters by Kate Russel

© Kate Russel

For more than 20 years, Lynn Walters has led a revolution that has transformed how children and their families eat. Sparked by an idea that hands-on learning in public schools could empower children and families to make healthy food choices, Lynn nurtured a small nonprofit from three volunteer chefs to a nationally acclaimed organization that has changed the lives of countless kids in Santa Fe and around the world.

Now Lynn is stepping away, ready for a change and confident that Cooking with Kids will continue to impact lives under the new leadership of Anna Farrier. “When we started in 1995, few programs used real food to teach nutrition,” she said during an interview over breakfast in the rambling garden at Harry’s Roadhouse. “That’s changed, and now there are lots of programs. Cooking with Kids can really serve as a resource for other communities. I’ve been thinking about this for the past few years, and it’s time to pass the baton.”

Lynn didn’t set out to become a chef with a desire to change how kids eat, although she’s long had a love of food. “I had a great sweet tooth growing up,” she said with a smile before taking a bite of buckwheat pancakes with wild Maine blueberries. “My grandmother came to the U.S. from Poland in the early 1900s. She made delicious apple strudel, borscht and other Eastern European delicacies. I watched her cook, fascinated. My family loved food, and cooking was an important part of our lives. My dad would grind his own flour to make bread. My mom taught me to bake cakes, and I loved the magic of baking.” Continue reading

Seghesio Family Vineyards – 2016 Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta Honoree

ted-at-crusherThere are times when sheer hedonism influences a wine selection—no need to impress friends or drink the wine currently in demand or in style. You just want a wine that tastes good with barbecue, roast turkey, green and red chile, or any other comfort food that calls for red wine. And indeed, there’s a wine that can do that—Zinfandel. Not the pink stuff, White Zinfandel, but the wine that’s been produced in California for over 150 years. And among producers, one of the best for this varietal is Seghesio.

The Seghesio Family Vineyards’ history begins with the arrival in Sonoma in 1886 of Edoardo Seghesio. Born in 1860, Edoardo left Piedmont (Piemonte) in Northern Italy in 1886 and emigrated to Sonoma. He purchased a house and 56 acres, and planted his “home vineyard” in Alexander Valley some years later, establishing the winery’s life-long love affair with Zinfandel. The varietal was cherished by the farmers transplanted from Italy because the wine can be prolific and retains its acidity in warmer climates. In 1902, Edoardo opened the family winery. Later, he bought an additional 120 acres in Northern Sonoma, an area Italian families likened area Tuscany. There, Edoardo planted the now-oldest vineyards of Sangiovese in North America, and his business continued to thrive. Prohibition began to have its effect in 1920—of the 2,000 wineries in operation in the United States, only 100 survived. Alas, Seghesio was one of them, but it re-opened to begin a successful bulk-wine business that continued until 1993. 

Even after Edoardo’s death in 1934, his widow, Angela, continued to run the winery successfully. Finally, in 1983, the family bottled its first wines under the Seghesio name. Within 10 years, production had grown to 130,000 cases, but the portfolio lacked focus. The family eliminated all but the wines that came from grapes grown on the estate and from specific growers, eventually reducing production to 30,000 cases. Edoardo and Angela’s great-grandson, Ted Seghesio, is a fourth-generation winemaker. He and several other family members are involved in the vineyard’s day-to-day operations. Despite the sale of Seghesio to the Crimson Wine Group, one cannot help but feel it’s still very much a family business. Continue reading

Santa Fe and Chile Fiesta’s Gran Fondo

12063762_1192261697456536_4582515969682001099_nWrapping up this month’s week-long extravaganza of good cheer, otherwise known as The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, will be the third Annual Gran Fondo Bike Ride. If you’re into road biking and would like to hang with a great crew of celebrity chefs, vintners and pro riders, you might want to take it easy Saturday night, as the event starts at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado at 6:30 a.m., Sunday the 25th, with your pick of 45-, 75- or (for the extra-motivated) 100-mile loops.

I recently caught up with two celeb riders to get the scoop. Tim Duncan is executive VP of sales and marketing at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa Valley. The winery, a long-time participant in Wine & Chile, was founded in 1972 by Tim’s dad and has made a name for itself producing, as reported in the WSJ, an “upfront” Cabernet Sauvignon. Tim’s been into cycling since he was a kid, and has done three centuries this year. “The most recent one was called ‘The Death Ride’ in the Sierra Mountains south of Lake Tahoe. It’s a tough one,” he says. “A hundred twenty-eight miles, and 15,000 feet of climbing, all in one day. So my buddies and I seem to think that’s fun.”

While chef and owner of The Compound, Mark Kiffin, was taking a breather between lunch and dinner in the kitchen office, we met for a talk. “I started cycling in Pebble Beach,” Mark says. “When I opened up the Inn at Spanish Bay, which was in ’87 to ’89. It was a sport I enjoyed and was pretty good at—for me.” Mark continues, revealing his great sense of humor, “It got me out of playing golf. I’m like, ‘Oh good! I can do this and I don’t have to do that any more.’ Learning to golf in Pebble Beach is like learning to ski on the top of Aspen Mountain. No pressure at all!”

Riding, it turned out, provided Mark with a much-needed release from work. “What I like about riding a bike is there’s one seat,” he explains. “When you’re in the hospitality business—and I love this business, I’ve been in it my entire life, but I go out to dinner six nights a week basically; I just want to go by myself. You have to learn, ‘Be here now.’ Stay focused. Ride your ride.” Continue reading