2012 Santa Fe: Our Next 18 days of Exploration

The weather during the three weeks we were in Santa Fe was beautiful--sunny days and cool nights, typically with a good breeze. It was hotter during the day than we expected at 7000' and much hotter than Vail. The difference in latitude from 39° North in Vail to 35° North in Santa Fe seemed to make an enormous difference in the temperature—or the 1000’ foot elevation difference—or something.

It was important to find shady trails for our hiking and biking! We went up to the Santa Fe Recreation Area (better known as the Santa Fe Ski Area)  and the weather was much cooler. During our stay, there were epic forest fires in the southwest, centering around Gila National Forest. Those fires produces some gorgeous sunsets, with the smoke and clouds that formed. Otherwise, unfortunately, it was hazy. Click here to have a look at all of our photos of Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is in the Rio Grande River Valley between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the east (and fairly close by) and further away Jemez Mountains to the north and west.
The Jemez Mountains from Santa Fe, downloaded from the web
The vistas, particularly of the nearby foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, are lovely. They undulate and provided us challenging hiking and biking.
The sensuous foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains behind the statue at the Indian Arts and Culture Museum
The predominant flora in the Rio Grande River Valley is sagebrush and the high desert terrain has lots of juniper, piñon forests close by (with many cottonwood trees too). We found some new bushes that were everywhere and that we liked. They were called Apache Plume.
Apache Plume, downloaded from the web
There were also Shrubby Cinquefoil (we saw cinquefoil hiking in Vail). When we hiked and increased our elevation, the forests turned into pine with big trees. Those dry arroyos must have water beneath the surface! The higher we went the more firs and spruces there were too.

On the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day we went to the Santa Fe Farmers Market at the Railyard (1607 Paseo de Peralta #1, SF, NM 87501, tel. 505-983-409). It was disappointing; there was nothing there yet. Obviously it was too early in the season. We walked the Railyard area (a modern art mecca), stopped at the Tourist Office and walked to Harry’s (202 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-968-1959) for Dimitri’s (casually elegant) clothes that he desperately needed. Dimitri liked the clothes and ultimately spent over $300 on new duds at Harry’s.

Along the way, we found a bakery where the Danish pastries were just like Dimitri wants them to be. It is called Swiss Bakery Pastries and Bistro (401 S. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-988-1111, web: www.swissbakerysantafe.com). We later ate a nice (freshly made) crêpe for lunch and talked to Phillipe, the owner. He said he has only had the shop for 5 months. We complimented him and told him we wrote a good Trip Advisor review for his shop.

One of the things we needed to do in Santa Fe was to have our Subaru serviced so we did that and other chores as well. On our firstThursday we drove the High Road to Taos, something we haven't ever done. It was lovely. We were meeting our friend Wendy Blake Stagg in Taos, a friend that Audre has known since the 1970's. (The last time we had seen Wendy was when she visited us in the Tres Valles ski areas north of Santiago de Chile in 2006.) We met Wendy at Bent Street Cafe & Deli (120 M Bent Street, Taos, NM 87571, tel. 575-758-5787, http://johndunnshops.com/BentStreetDeli.html) where we had lunch. After lunch the three of us walked around Taos, where we hadn't been since 1990-ish. It looked wonderful!

On the way back to Santa Fe we went to look at the gorge at Three Gorges Bridge and then took Blueberry Hill Rd. to 68 to 240  (by the Rio Grande) and then 285 into Santa Fe. Even though Audre had been visiting Wendy in Taos Ski Valley since the '70's she had never seen the gorge and it was worth the detour. Driving by the Rio Grande was kind of fun too. 

That night we had dinner at Kohnami Japanese Restaurant (313 S. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM, tel. 505-984-2002, web: www.kohnamirestaurant.com). We liked the décor of and it “felt authentic” when we stopped by during the day. We were greeted with the traditional Japanese hello from the sushi chefs when we walked in the door for dinner. There were 2 waitresses both Japanese who greeted us too. We were off to a good start. Dimitri had the “Nabeyaki Udon soup, cooked in nabe, or metal container, with vegetable, shrimp tempura and an egg on top” ($11.95). The broth was delicious and he was happy. Audre had the “Seafood Tempura, with a variety of seafood (fish, scallops and shrimp) and vegetables” ($16.95). It was excellent, crispy tempura batter and the seafood was good. That dish came with a good miso soup and rice. The order was huge and Audre couldn’t finish it. We liked our waitress—she was born in Japan, chatty and informative. The owner of the restaurant—a very enthusiastic and friendly Japanese guy with a ponytail—came by to chat which we like very much. We spent $32.38 and were very happy.

One of the great amenities of the fitness area of Quail Run is that you are offered a free introductory training session with a personal trainer. Phyllis Weiland, the Recreation Director, of Quail Run (pweiland@qrsf.com, tel. 505-795-7219) gave each of us a 1 hour session on free weights in the weight room of Quail Run. (There is also an aerobic machine room and a Cybex machine room for weight training.) We are trying to live by Younger Next Year and Chris and Harry say we need to do 2 days of free weight training each week (and that we should start with a personal trainer to show us how). It was a terrific session and we highly recommend Phyllis. Audre thinks that if we spent a longer time living at Quail Run she would become a gym rat.

BTW, our friend Susan Ross, who lived for many years in Taos (and who we will visit in Phoenix in October 2012) said this of Quail Run: "I know Quail run. Great place for you superhuman athletes. Trails swimming tennis gym works." So, we're superhuman athletes, huh? Not compared to other people our ages in Vail we're not!

The next day we,  the superhuman athletes, went on a three hour hike doing a loop in the Dale Ball Trails. It was very nice--with enough shade to keep us cool. We brought our lunch and looked at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There was prickly pear in bloom and a new cactus for us called Claret Cup.
Claret Cup Cactus
That night, after using the Jacuzzi at Quail Run, we went to Ristra because we had heard and read good things about it (548 Agua Fria St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-8608, web: www.ristrarestaurant.com). We decided to sit inside. We were alone in ones of the rooms in an old house—most everyone else was sitting outside on those hard, wooden, folding chairs. We sat side-by-side on a banquette by ourselves and we were a bit lonely, frankly. Our server, Robert was very good and so was the young man who brought the food and cleared (aka, the food runner). We were brought okay bread and butter. As usual, we shared everything and had one starter, one main and one dessert. We started with “Sea Scallops en ‘papillotte’, spinach, spices and saffron sauce” ($15). The papillotte was crunchy and good; the scallops were sweet and delicious and the sauce was wonderful. Because we were sitting side-by-side on the banquette, we were able to share our dishes easily (without spilling on the starched, white tablecloth). For our main, we shared the “Pistachio and Almond Crusted Pacific Sea Bass, Fava Bean Polenta, Cherry Tomato and Flying Fish Roe Fumet” ($32). It was a wonderful dish. We asked for the fish to be “rare” and it was—maybe even a little under-cooked. The fava bean polenta was good but Audre couldn’t actually taste the fava bean or the flying fish roe. For dessert we shared the “Berries and Honey Ice Tuile” ($8.50). The honey ice cream was delicious and the tuile was nice and crunchy. We had a delightful meal. We spent $63.30 plus tip. Also, the owner stopped by which we like very much. He told us about his other restaurant, Azur, a Mediterranean one.

Our friends the Dansons from Vail introduced us to the Strauds of Santa Fe. They have known each other for years--Susi's sister and Silvia Danson went to school together in Mexico City as children. The Strauds are a lovely couple who have lived all over the world while David was working for Proctor and Gamble. Susi has just finished a culinary arts degree in Santa Fe and they invited us to dinner. We were thrilled; we love to be invited to dinner parties.
At the Strauds for dinner
David is drawing and producing his drawings in card form. He gave us some of the most beautiful examples of his work. Audre wrote Dimitri a love note with one of David's cards.

Another one of the highlights of our stay in Santa Fe, was a family reunion with our 2nd cousins (on Audre’s father’s side) who live in Albuquerque. We drove to the The Range Cafe (925 Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo, NM, 87004, tel. 505-867-170) and there were the four Moesers! We had never met Richard (the father) but in 1998 we had seen Nicholas when in was 3 and Elizabeth was she was just born. Nicholas has just graduated from high school and is off to Tuffs in Boston. Elizabeth is 14. Sharon looked great and it was fun to spend time with Sharon and to get to know her family.
Us with the Moeser Family
After our breakfast with the Moesers, we drove the house of the Brownings in Corrales. The Brownings are friends of Wendy and Chris Stagg and live near Albuquerque and near San Miguel de Allende in Mexico where we are going to spend three months this après ski season. They were very informative and we enjoyed meeting them very much, in their gorgeous home. We will look forward to socializing with them when they arrive in San Miguel this summer

That afternoon we came back to our apartment at Quail Run and went to the gym to do step (Dimitri)/treadmill (Audre) and then free weights.

That evening we hosted the Strauds, the couple who previously had us to their house for dinner. Quail Run’s Grille was having a special North African buffet and it was pretty good.
Dinner with Susi and David at Quail Run, with the golf course in the background
Our next week in Santa Fe was our museum week. We had good museum experiences at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, the International Folk Art Museum and the Indian Arts and Culture Museum.

We also ate well. We went to Geronimo (724 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-1500, www.geronimorestaurant.com) because everyone said it was the best restaurant in Santa Fe. With that kind of hype, we thought we would be disappointed. On the contrary, Geronimo exceeded our expectations. The front room where we sat at a banquette was classically elegant. The restaurant is in a building that was built in 1756 and it has a number of rooms for diners. It was a chilly day in Santa Fe and when we arrived (we were one of the first) we thought the room was freezing, even with our wraps. The maître made it warmer and we got comfortable. Our server, Steve, was friendly, professional and knowledgeable. We liked him. Our food runner (from Guatemala) brought us bread—three kinds actually: a flat bread that had a piquant kick to it (that Audre loved), a roll of green chile and cheddar that had a wonderful taste and a sourdough roll that was more traditional. We shared everything, as usual, and decided to have 2 appetizers, one main and one dessert. There were a couple of appetizers that sounded good and it was difficult to decide. We chose the “Wild Mushroom Madeira Bisque, Asparagus & Scallions” ($12) from the Vegetarian Tasting Menu. The soup was outstanding and was more than enough for the two of us. It was followed by the “Duo of Tuna Feuille de Brick & Tartare, Petite Buttermilk Pancakes, Hoisin Green Garlic Sauce & Wasabi Aïoli” ($18). 
Duo of Tuna Feuille de Brick & Tartare, Petite Buttermilk Pancakes, Hoisin Green Garlic Sauce & Wasabi Aïoli
The feuille were wonderful and the sauces great. The 4 pancakes were light and perfect for the tartare. We were having a great eating experience and we decided to accompany the meal with a bottle of Hall Sauvignon Blanc Napa ($40). That was special for us (on our new regimen) and we enjoyed it. For our main we chose the “Fiery Sweet Chile and Honey Grilled Mexican White Prawns, Jasmine Almond Rice Cakes, Frisee’ Red Onion Salad & Yuzu Basil Aïoli” ($35). Another wonderful dish (that we couldn’t finish and so we brought one prawn home for lunch—it was large!).
Fiery Sweet Chile and Honey Grilled Mexican White Prawns, Jasmine Almond Rice Cakes, Frisee’ Red Onion Salad & Yuzu Basil Aïoli
We had to try Geronimo’s desserts so we ordered one “Coconut & Jasmine Ice Cream Bombe, Blueberry Soup, Vanilla Cake and Feuille de Brick Tuille” ($10).
Coconut & Jasmine Ice Cream Bombe, Blueberry Soup, Vanilla Cake and Feuille de Brick Tuille
It was yummy and we were stuffed. What a wonderful dining experience. We spent $142.42 plus tip.

The next day we went on a bike ride along the southern (unfinished and unpaved) portion of Santa Fe’s rail trail. It was beautiful and we saw flowering cactuses—a real treat!
A Whipple Cholla cactus that was flowering along the rail trail
That night we continued eating and went to the Compound, a restaurant that came highly recommended. We were under-whelmed. You can read all of our 2012 Santa Fe, NM Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM by clicking here.

On the other hand, we had a great meal at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi (a Rosewood Hotel, 113 Washington Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-988-3030). We liked our server, Hope, who was friendly, knowledgeable, professional and personalble. Our food runner, Adriana, was lovely too. The restaurant had a fair number of people and a nice buzz. There was a guitarist playing beautifully-Spanish inspired music. We were brought lavache (kind of dry), sourdough rolls (good) and wheat rolls (very good) with flavored butter while we perused the menu. We shared everything as usual and decided to have a half bottle of Alberti Malbec ($25) because the price of two glasses of Malbec would have been $26. We enjoyed it. We started with the “Duck Enchilada Molé, pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream” ($14). 
Duck Enchilada Molé, pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream

The molé was yummy and we really liked the dish. Around this time Executive Chef Juan Bochenski (Argentinean mother and a father with a Polish heritage) came to chat (which we love). He said that he and his staff has been experimenting with the molé to make it perfect, with the right spiciness. For or entrée we had the “Achiote Chile Roasted Duck Breast, plantain purée, tinga onions, orange-tomatillo gastrique" ($27)
Achiote Chile Roasted Duck Breast, plantain purée, tinga onions, orange-tomatillo gastrique
It was delicious dish. The onion preparation was wonderful. With our entrée, we had a side of grilled asparagus that we liked ($8). We decided that there wasn’t a dessert we wanted and that we were full. We had a very nice evening and spent $80.06 plus tip.

We also visited the galleries along Canyon Road by bike. It was a gas! We saw art and got exercise at the same time.

One of our hikes was from the Santa Fe Ski Area on a trail and was called La Vega. It was recommended by the Dansons from Vail. We were at 10,200’ at the start and it was cool and delicious. We were in a fir and spruce forest and the trail had lots of ups and downs, with the highest elevation being 10,800’. How does Audre know this? Well for $130 she bought a Maptaq Neo watch (http://www.maptaq.com/index.php/en/outdoor-sport-products/gps-sport-devices/watch-neo) with a heart rate monitor, a digital compass (that Dimitri says doesn’t work), GPS system (which does work) and all kinds of detailed and interesting statistics that are perfect for Audre. It is huge but Audre doesn’t mind it on her wrist. Dimitri is exasperated with the total absence of support for the watch and the fact that the manuals are translated from German (poorly). But Audre is going to keep it despite its faults.

We had another great meal at Restaurant MartÍn (526 Gallisteo St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-820-0919, web: www.restaurantmartinsantafe.com). We decided to sit inside because it was windy in the garden. There were a series of rooms in the house and we had one to ourselves but where we could see and be entertained by the diners coming into the restaurant. Our food runner brought us water (we decided not to have wine) and bread and butter. The bread was sliced but good (from a bakery in Albuquerque)—some baguette and some whole grain. Charles, our server, was pleasant, professional and knowledgeable but a little aloof. The flatware was Nambé and we liked having the local company’s wares used in the restaurant. The cuisine at Restaurant MartÍn is described as New American and it was. And, the dishes were composed so that they were particularly photogenic. We shared everything as usual. We started with the “Blue Lump Crab Salad, Mango purée, compressed watermelon, Marcona Almond flatbread, avocado pudding, crispy shallots, curry flavors” ($17). It was beautiful and it was delicious.
Blue Lump Crab Salad, Mango purée, compressed watermelon, Marcona Almond flatbread, avocado pudding, crispy shallots, curry flavors
The crab was sweet and the watermelon very intense. Each taste was distinct and very good (Audre didn’t taste and curry flavors, however). We were on a roll! For our entrée we had the “Alaskan Halibut with a pea purée swirl, sitting on artichokes, mussels, French breakfast radish and rock shrimp, accompanied by parsnip purée and bathed in a sweet corn nage” ($32). Another triumph!
Alaskan Halibut with a pea purée swirl, sitting on artichokes, mussels, French breakfast radish and rock shrimp, accompanied by parsnip purée and bathed in a sweet corn nage
The fish was perfectly cooked and, again, the little tastes were well-defined. We shared one dessert, “Honey Cylinders, filled with lemon curd cremeux, and accompanied by blueberry panacotta, cantaloupe sorbet, apricot droppings and cherry droppings” ($9). The dish also had a beautiful swirl of cilantro mint sauce and crispy roasted puffed rice that the chef makes in-house.
Honey Cylinders, filled with lemon curd cremeux, and accompanied by blueberry panacotta, cantaloupe sorbet, apricot droppings and cherry droppings

The  honey cyclinders were crunchy and sweet to the correct degree. We loved it.  We also had one coffee ($4).The meal was a delight. We spent $67 plus tip.

Even though Santa Fe is small (67000+ plus people) it will be having a Greek Festival (http://santafegreekfestival.com/). Unfortunately for Dimitri (the Greek) and Audre, it will be after we leave. Oh well.

Audre needed a new tiny purse and found a huge selection of them to choose from at  In Transit Leathers with Style (110 W San Francisco St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-988-8095, web: www.shopintransit.com, e-mail: sales@shopintransit.com). With Dimitri's help and Meagan, the sales assistant's help too, Audre selected a tiny purple one that will be featured in future (isn't Audre just the most modern of dames?) photos.