We dodged between the rain drops, so to speak, during our weekend visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. A friendly shop owner informed us that the unusual May cold front and rain had swept into northern New Mexico from Iowa. The Midwestern Gentleman and I exchanged a glance: thanks, Iowa weather, for following us to the desert. Even so, we managed to fit in all the activities we had been looking forward to, with minimal adjustment to accommodate the brief but powerful thunderstorms that cooled the dry air to the upper 60s.
After fueling up with a quick “second breakfast” at Santa Fe’s Burrito Company, we drove into the Sangre De Cristo mountains for a hike amid the aspen trees. The beautiful views would have taken our breath away, had the altitude (~10,000 ft.) not already done so. The warm sunshine on our faces contrasted strangely but pleasantly with the chilled air blowing off the pockets of snow which still dotted the landscape.
When we descended back to Santa Fe (altitude: ~7,200 ft.) in the mid-afternoon, we headed straight to the Inn on the Paseo, where we had booked a two-night stay. The co-owner/manager upgraded us to a deluxe fireplace suite in the main building, just upstairs from the breakfast room. Swoon!
A pleasant walk through a quaint neighborhood brought us into downtown Santa Fe in minutes, where we stopped into ECCO Espresso for a pick-me-up. I did a double-take when I saw “Straight Cocoa” on the menu: 70% dark chocolate with no additional sweetener. Heaven! I ordered it with soy milk (they were temporarily out of almond milk, but that was an option), and after the first few unfamiliarly bitter-chocolate sips, my taste buds adjusted to this new depth of rich, full chocolate flavor. Even if I could, I don’t think I’d ever want to drink sweetened cocoa again!
We strolled the pedestrian-friendly streets of downtown Santa Fe, soaking in the architectural character so different from the Midwest or the Northeast. We stopped into culinary shops selling green chile in all imaginable forms — canned, gelled, dried, powdered — and beautiful regional pottery. Jewelry shops full of silver, turquoise, and other amorphous stones popped up around every corner. Even knowing Santa Fe’s reputation for attracting artists, the caliber of the arts and crafts filling the galleries and artisanal boutiques astounded us.
We had been warned before the trip that The Shed was a must-visit local restaurant, and also that we would never get in without a reservation. I had called two weeks in advance to book our Saturday night table for two. We strode past dozens of people waiting in clusters around the restaurant’s front entrance and gave our name at the hostess station. The hovering manager shot us a relieved grin. “Thank you for making reservations in advance!”
We started with a pureed mushroom soup so unexpectedly flavorful that we’re now obsessed with recreating it at home. The Midwestern Gentleman blissfully tortured his taste buds with red chile enchiladas, while I opted for fish tacos (always looking for a way to boost those anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids!) The fish tacos were a good choice because the fish was grilled, not deep fried. The raw red cabbage, avocado slices, and pineapple topping the tacos all also boast anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, they were absolutely delicious! The meal was a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful day.
Day two in Santa Fe is a story for another post…