Straight—well, mixed—off the Margarita Trail

Solution for a summertime cold: one spicy margarita. Escape from a torrential monsoon: shelter and a margarita. After a long hike: an icy margarita with a salty rim. Friends visiting town: Take them for a margarita. Santa Fe, of course, is full of the sweet and sour, tequila-based cocktail. Tourists savor them and locals have their favorites. There’s Maria’s millions of super-strong varieties; La Choza’s delicious concoctions, from sweet to smokey to spicy; Secreto’s smoked-sage creation; The Dragon Room’s pink margarita; Tomasita’s Gold Coin—just to name a few local faves, but of course, the list goes on and on. TOURISM Santa Fe’s ode to the Margarita? The Margarita Trail.

This year, TOURISM Santa Fe takes the City Different’s love of the tequila-based cocktail, with its endless creative potential, on the road—or the trail, as the case may be—which began on Cinqo de Mayo and is now in full swing. But the margarita dates back long before this year’s Cinqo, and “Santa Fe can boast that it was the first city in the new world to import tequila from Mexico,” Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita, writes in the Santa Fe Margarita Trail Passport, the ticket to featured margarita recipes, discounted specialty drinks from 31 participating restaurants and bars, and fun prizes. Local Flavor set out to try each and every one—and this month, Still Hungry? asked a few of our favorite participating bartenders—Robert Morrison from Santacafé, Rochelle Roybal from Agoyo Lounge and Winston Greene from Bar Alto—to shake up a special drink just for our readers. These drinks are delightful, delicious and of course, different. So grab a passport ($3), hit the trail and enjoy! Continue reading

Still Hungry? December 2015

Plucked from the pages of the local cookbooks we are featuring this month in “Gifts for the Home Cook,” here are four great recipes that will bring a little local flavor to your holiday table.

For the holidays, I have a few traditions I share with my family. We always have breakfast together after everyone gets in, and this year, I’m making everyone these Southwestern-style pancakes from Sharon Niederman’s gem, The New Mexico Farm Table Cookbook.

Toasted Pinon-Dusted Blue Corn Pancakes

Serves 4

This is a Sunday morning brunch treat that my family serves with bacon and chokecherry syrup that we make from chokecherries we forage in Cimarron Canyon each August. This recipe is good with honey butter.

1 ½ cups finely ground atole (toasted blue cornmeal) preferably horno roasted
¼ cup all purpose or whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup toasted ground piñon nuts, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups buttermilk or a combination of whole milk, yogurt, or unsweetened soy or coconut milk
¼ cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
Honey butter, for serving (optional)
Chokeberry syrup, local honey, or pure maple syrup, for serving

Heat a griddle, preferably cast iron

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including ¼ cup of the piñons. In another bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir quickly, just enough to mix. Spoon the pancakes onto the hot griddle, using 2 large tablespoons of batter per pancake. When the edges start to bubble, flip once with a spatula. Serve hot with honey butter, if desired, and chokecherry syrup, local honey, or real maple syrup, sprinkled with the reserved ¼ cup of toasted piñons.

Niederman, Sharon. The New Mexico Farm Table Cookbook: 100 Homegrown Recipes from the Land of Enchantment (The Farm Table Cookbook). The Countryman Press, 2015.

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Still Hungry? July 2015

“When did ginger beer become indispensable?” I turned on the TV just in time to hear a fictional bartender utter these words. When, indeed? There was a time when mixers came out of a gun and the most exciting fresh fruit behind a bar was an orange. Mixologists are more than mere bartenders, they are passionate about their craft and take time to create cocktails that use fresh, seasonal ingredients, usually sourced locally, which enhance the flavors of the spirit rather than mask them. These drinks are fabulous on their own, but when paired with the right food the combinations complement each other the way a Chianti complements pasta with tomato sauce.

Apothecary Lounge at Hotel Parq Central

Katixa Mercier, Apothecary Lounge Manager, and Frank Sanchez, Chef

When Katixa Mercier came to the Apothecary Lounge three months ago she had the opportunity not only to develop the cocktail program but to work with Chef Frank Sanchez to create a bar menu of small plates that would work with the cocktails. On mixology Katixa says, “It’s important to honor the classics,” but she also likes to “push the envelope a bit and get to play.” Katixa focuses on local ingredients for her cocktails as much as possible. “Hotel Parq Central is a local business and we feel a social responsibility to give back to the community.” A restaurant and bar can’t stand out there on their own—they need to “be involved with the whole industry. People want to know where things come from.” Continue reading

Get Out the Hard Stuff!

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Everywhere I look, trees have thrown off their colorful robes. Crackly piles of yellow leaves lie everywhere, piling up in corners and covering the ground between tree trunks. The afternoons, ever shorter, have a wonderful crisp feel and most days I can smell piñon and cedar fires burning in nearby kivas. Wool sweaters and hats are being pulled down from the top shelves of closets and we’ve all got our eyes on the Santa Fe ski basin, waiting for snow. It’s here: winter has crept up on us. I’ve traded in my salad bowl for the Crock-Pot and likewise it’s time to retire mojitos and mint juleps in favor of darker spirits and warming winter cocktails. I asked some of northern New Mexico’s most talented bartenders for their favorite cold-weather creations. Their original recipes and twists on old classics will have you feeling warm and fuzzy through the holidays and beyond. Continue reading