New Mexico chiles
New Mexico chiles

This is the second in Dennis Kamoen’s five-part series about Santa Fe, New Mexico, which he discovered on a visit to the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Check out the first part here, and tune in tomorrow for the next chapter.

Says Dennis:
“My trip to Santa Fe is about discovering a special place to visit; a cool film festival, great food and accommodations, beautiful environs and great people. I will return to Santa Fe time and time again.”

While staying at the charming La Posada de Santa Fe resort, I was meeting friends for dinner on the patio, at Fuego. I learned that chile is a central part of Santa Fe culture. When dining in Santa Fe, you may be asked if you’d prefer red or green chiles. Well, consider replying, “Christmas,” which means both” to the ears of local residents.

Of course, a margarita was in order to complement the wonderful dinner prepared by Fuego’s talented chef. As the day turned into evening, I found warmth in the pleasant spice the chiles provided, in addition to the warmth the Mexican blankets offered. It was a fun and memorable experience with friends and great food and accompanied by light from the big fireplace under a beautiful Santa Fe sky. Breakfast, lunch or dinner at La Posada de Santa Fe is an enjoyable experience. In fact, my favorite local spot to have a drink and a bite to eat is their The Staab House, one of the coziest bars in the west.

The Staab House at La Posada de Santa Fe
The Staab House at La Posada de Santa Fe

The following day, I stopped to chat with one of the hotel’s knowledgeable concierges who told me a little bit about Santa Fe. She offered to arrange for one of the hotel shuttle drivers to take me to The Compound on Canyon Road, where I was meeting five lovely ladies for lunch. The Compound has an interesting history. Designed by Alexander Girard, the restaurant is a uniquely attractive dwelling that was originally an adobe home.

The ceiling at The Compound restaurant designed by Alexander Girard
The ceiling at The Compound restaurant designed by Alexander Girard

Girard was a world-renowned architect, interior designer, furniture designer, industrial designer, and designer of textiles. Girard and his wife, Susan, are appreciated by the people of Santa Fe for their Girard Foundation’s donation of more than 100,000 pieces of folk art to the Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art. It was one of the most enjoyable restaurant experiences I’d had in a long time. The food was superb, the atmosphere was outstanding and The Compound instantly became one of my favorite restaurants. Later, for dinner, we had plans to explore the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

Santa Fe School of Cooking
Santa Fe School of Cooking

I was interested in learning how to cook with chiles, and it’s supposed to be fun to do with a group of friends. In addition to having a stock of cool kitchen items, their school offers all kinds of chiles, cooking classes and even local restaurant tours. We had a great time making delicious chile rellenos, and yes, I got the recipe. The following morning I had a healthy breakfast at Fuego and made plans to go and check out the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market at the rail yard.

Santa Fe Farmers' Market
Santa Fe Farmers’ Market

That’s where I met up with Sam Baca, the Program Director for the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. The SFFMI is an advocate for farmers, ranchers and other land-based producers. If you’re interested in learning about its mission, or how to run a fully sustainable and successful farmers’ market, this is the place. I enjoyed learning more about chiles and this popular farmers’ market and had a nice time. Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is both indoor and outdoor and has seasonal days and times, so be sure to check the site (above) before you go.

Dennis Kamoen
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