Published: August 6th 2012August 6th 2012
Much like our arrival to New Orleans two years ago, we literally bolted out of the truck, quickly unloaded the car and immediately began to explore all the sight, sounds, tastes and adventures Santa Fe has to offer. This visit, different from our first trip to Santa Fe, we are staying two blocks off the main plaza and within walking distance of the heart of the city.
Now keep in mind, last time we were in this fine city, we were about a two months away from getting married - rigidly dieting, not drinking and working out each and every day - even while on vacation! This trip is different! We are 8 years married, arrived ready to taste red and green chile and margaritas were certainly on the agenda.
After a fairly uneventful stop at Blue Corn Cafe we wandered throughout the plaza, 'window shopping' among the artisans, artists and jewelry makers. All beautiful things rich with color, design and textures. Our next stop was for a margarita at an upstairs restaurant called the Thunderbird Bar and Cafe
. Here not only did we enjoy handcrafted specialty margaritas made to order by a very nice bartender - Jim had
the Fire and Smoke and I had the Thunderbird Margarita (Don Julio Reposado, Vanilla Caramel Liqueur, a a dash of mango puree and topped with lemon sour) - our amazing bartender shared her favorite less expensive New Mexican eateries.
On the recommendation of our bartender, we bagan the long walk to Tomasita's
. A local institution, this multi-room restaurant was CRAWLING with people. An over 45 minute wait for a table, we retired to a standing room only bar to enjoy a margarita. Quickly we were 'adopted' by a few locals who recommended the Frogg frozen margarita. Fantastic, eerily reminiscent of Bourbon Street strength but perfectly made, the margarita washed away any anxiety over the long wait. Our next cocktail was the Frogg margarita swirled with homemade Sangria - named, you guessed it, The Swirl. Before I took my first sip, we were seated at a perfect table with lots of great people watching and within earshot of the acoustic guitarist playing bandolera music. We both ordered combo plates and enjoyed the pillow sopapilla that are served with each meal. A doughy, puff pastry served with sweet butter and honey, it is a sure fire way to blow your
appetite before your meal even hits the table. We tried these devilish treats, but then had to stop. Food was good, but not remarkable. The sauces were delicious, but my enchilada was simply a blue corn tortilla filled with very overcooked, dry chicken. The chile relleno more than made up for it with Hatch green chile sauce that was out of this world. We walked back to the hotel and it was only then that we gave voice to the fact that we are up over 7,200 feet altitude. No wonder we were winded walking back - and I thought it was the sopapilla and margaritas!
After a less than restful night of sleep due to an over stuffed pillow top matress and very high altitude, we awoke to a full day of plans: a breakfast at Los Potrillos
, a soak at the beautiful Japanese day spa Ten Thousand Waves
and a trip to Chimayo
to buy their famous red chiles. Each place with its own unique experience, it is no wonder we enjoy this city. At breakfast, we enjoyed stellar salsas served with breakfast and sat in chairs that were hand carved in the shape of horse heads.
At Ten Thousand Waves, it was a strange mix of blissful relaxation while realizing that some folks have a much higher tolerance for public nudity. We measure on a different scale when it comes to the value of privacy and let's just say, Jim is not a communal Japanese bath kinda guy! Once we were in our secluded, private hot tub, every care in the world was washed away as we soaked and enjoyed the pinon pines surrounding us.
Chimayo... where to begin. We were so lucky to find Leona in her shop, just as she had been 8 years ago - still selling her delicious chiles and cook books. I read recently that she had breast cancer a few years back, making it all the more bittersweet to see her again.
Now, it's important to say that Chimayo is best known as a historic village and home of a sacred site of a miracle over 200 years ago. On the grounds is the Santuario de Chimayo, an adobe chapel that draws pilgrams, some of whom are expecting to be healed by the sacred dirt found in the sanctuary. So we entered the main chapel and it's Sunday
and filled with Catholics praying and asking for miracles. It was bright outside and neither of us totally remembered the layout. Once in the dark caverns of the small room where the sacred dirt is found, it was hard to focus your eyes and in the middle of the ground in the middle of this VERY tiny room is a hole with two scoops and the earth that is so coveted. I walked in and inched to the other side of the room and Jim followed - immediately walking smack into the sacred hole and falling to his knees, slamming his camera on the floor and throwing the bag he was carrying in his arms. I immediately resorted to a much used Chwan-ism and shouted "Jesus", perhaps not the best explitive given our environs. I was panicked that he had actually hurt himself. Jim picked himself off, dusted off his ripped up knee and quietly whispered "I think we should leave". Probably a good idea in advance of the nervous laughter that followed. So, Jim fell into the sacred hole at Chimayo - a performance hard to top.
We decided to get while the getting was good and traveled
back to Santa Fe. We came back to the room and washed off Jim's knee and then took a drive, stopping along the way to shop a bit. Being Sunday, many of the most intriguing restaurants were closed - unfortunately. We ended up sitting in the bar at the Tune Up Cafe
. Jim had a burger with green chile and bacon and I had the shrimp tostada salad special. A beautiful tortilla topped with mixed greens, fresh vegetables and shrimp, it was delicious and a welcome change for the heavy fare as of late.
(Insert here my unending promise to start a diet as soon as we get home, ahem!)