Taos: green chilies and more chilies

Historic Taos Inn
Historic Taos Inn

Taos is a funky mountain town full of galleries, museums, and little bed and breakfast places. The land surrounding Taos has long attracted painters, writers, and free spirits with its beauty, natural light, and wilderness. I stopped in at the historic Taos in for an afternoon snack on the Adobe bar patio, which faces Taos’ main street (and great people watching).

Cowboy Buddha Margharita
Cowboy Buddha Margharita

I ordered the Cowboy Buddha margharita – perfect and classic, made with Herradura Silver, Cointreau, hand-squeezed lime juice it was tangy, not sweet, and came ith a hard salt crusted rim.

Green Chili Stew
Green Chili Stew

A little peckish, I also ordered a bowl of green chili stew, a New Mexican classic usually made with pork. The Adobe Inn makes a vegetarian version, thick with roasted green chilies, tomato, onion and topped with cheese. Surprisingly spicy (which is just the way I like it) I needed all of the fresh flour tortilla served alongside it, eagerly ripped into pieces and dunked straight into the bowl.

Orlando's New Mexican Cafe
Orlando's New Mexican Cafe

For dinner I stopped in at Orlando’s, famous throughout Taos for it’s green chilies. A funky little place with a dia del muerto theme and a colorful, umbrella shaded patio, Orlando’s is a popular neighborhood joint, and the dinner rush starts early!

Chili Rellanos
Chili Rellanos

Chili Rellanos were stuffed with pepper jack cheese, breaded and crisply fried, then covered in “christmas” chili sauce (both red and roasted green chilies) and more cheese.  Served with pinto beans and posole – another New Mexican classic made with hominy – it was a very filling meal, especially with the tri-colored tortilla chips and salsa I munched on while I waited and the homemade blue corn tortillas that came alongside the chilies. The dish was actually a bit bland, so I added a lot of the rich, deep red “extra” spicy chili sauce they make in-house.

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Blue Corn Tortillas
Blue Corn Tortillas

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Breakfast Burrito: The Road to Taos

Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast Burrito

On the road! I flew out out to New Mexico to visit family (hi Dawn, Anne, and Mary!) and took a roadtrip up to Taos. Just a few hours in state, and I needed a breakfast burrito in a bad way. If you take St. Francis Drive from Santa Fe up to Taos, you travel through a lot of pueblo land. I stopped at spot on the side of the road  in Ohkay Owingeh called Fairview Cafe.

Fairview Cafe
Fairview Cafe

A classic breakfast burrio comes in two sizes – hand-held and plate. I got the handheld (slightly smaller) in which all the ingrediants go inside the tortilla, instead of the chili slathered on top. I skip the breakfast meats, and but keep the rest of the ingrediants – scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese and chili. I can never decide between red or green chilies (I want whichever is spicier that year, but also the other!) so I always order my burrito “christmas” – with both red and green chili. The burrito  hit the spot, and I got back on the road to Taos.

Headhouse Square Farmers Market

If you still haven’t been down to the Headhouse Square Farmers Market, now open on Saturday and Sunday, get there! It’s a cute little spot with a nice selection of breads and pastries, plants, fruit and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, cheese and (if you’re into it) meat.

Heirlooms
Heirlooms

Heirloom plants are grown from a vast array of traditional seeds, many forgotten and not widely distributed. Think there are only three kinds of tomatoes? Think again! I got a purple zebra-striped variety.

Peppers!
Peppers!

I love hot peppers, and picked up a type called “rat turd” from Happy Cat Organics.

Basil
Basil

By the bunch or the plant, it’s one of my favorite herbs.

Asparagus
Asparagus

So fresh it’s kept in a tub of ice water.

Apples
Apples

It’s always apple season in Pennsylvania, and the varieties at Headhouse abound.

Patches of Star
Patches of Star

I LOVE all the different varieties of goat cheese sold by Patches of Star Farm. Salted chevre and garlic chive queso fresco are some of my favorites.

Radishes and Greens

Radish Greens Soup
Radish Greens Soup

Did you know that you can use EVERY part of the radish? My CSA was filled with radishes this month. Not being much of a radish eater, I had to search around for recipes and ideas, and have already found many. I made a soup with the peppery radish greens and some homemade vegetable broth and yogurt.

Baby Kale and Radish crostinis
Baby Kale and Radish crostinis

I used the radishes, along with some baby kale, in a delicious, buttery toast topping.

You can find both recipes in the posting I did for Farm to Philly this week.

Spring Risotto with Truffled Shitake Mushrooms

Spring Risotto with truffled shitake mushrooms
Spring Risotto with truffled shitake mushrooms

I’m trying to eat and cook with more local seasonal ingrediants. It’s not any harder, really, it just takes a little bit of thought and some personal education about just what is in season. I had good friends coming in for Friday night dinner, and decided to make this risotto filled with spring vegetables I could pick up easily.

I followed this recipe to a T (I know, an anomoly for me).While I was waiting for my guests to arrive, I pre-chopped all the vegetables, and made a quick broth from the trimmings and a clove of garlic.The only thing I changed was additing the fresh asparagus and peas with the fifth cup of vegetable broth instead of the fourth. The vegetables came out perfectly al dente. I also sliced some shitake mushrooms, tossed them with garlic and truffle oil, and roasted them until the edges crisped. A drop of truffle oil and the mushrooms garnished the risotto and leant a “fancy”  and rich flavor for our special meal

Barn Burners (and bites) at Farmicia

Barn Burner, Manhattan
Barn Burner, Manhattan

When I found out that Farmacia, a great local restaurant that focuses on seasonal, locally sourced food, had added a 1/2 off drink menu to both their happy hour and their brunch, I made my way over quick. Farmacia makes a great bloody mary, called the “Barn Burner” as well as some exciting mixed drinks using herb and fruit syrups and other unique cocktail  inventions, including one of my favorites, “the garbanzo” with pear vodka and just a hint of lime and pineapple.

Trio of spreads with baguette
Trio of spreads with baguette

I’m serious about my bloody marys, but I’m also serious about my food. The happy hour bar menu offers an extensive vegetarian-friendly list of snack and sandwiches, all in suprisingly large portions. I shared the trio of spreads with sliced Metropolitan baguette. The white bean spread was bland and gluey, but the olive tapendade, filled with chunks of sundried tomato, was plenty flavorful, and the artichoke pesto was suprisingly complex and almost had a tuna texture. I should have stopped there, but I also orded the grilled goat cheese on sourdough sandwich. Unfortunately, the kitchen was running slow and I had to take it to go. 30 minutes later in the dark movie theater the sandwich was cold and greasy, but under such sad circumstances, I don’t think it’s fair to judge it!

Hacienda Eggs
Hacienda Eggs

Always ready to try some place new, I think I shocked all my brunch companions by agreeing to return to Farmicia just a few days later. It was the barn burner, I’m telling you (they make it just as spicy as I want and with a huge meaty green olive) and the fact that they offer brunch of Saturdays and a happy hour from 11-3 – you can’t get much more civilized! I ordered the Hacienda Eggs,two fried eggs, crispy tortilla, re-fried black beans, salsa, and sprinkle of queso fresco. I asked for the avocado salsa instead of sour cream, and our incredibly friendlyl and accomadating waiter said “no problem.” Drinks flowed, everyone loved their food, we had a lusciously large round back booth, and it was one of the best brunches I’ve had this year.

Sorrel Pesto with whole wheat rotini

Sorrel pesto with whole wheat rigatoni
Sorrel pesto with whole wheat rigatoni

I picked up a bunch of fresh sorrel at the Headhouse Farmers Market the other weekend because it intrigued me. I’d never eaten sorrel and had no idea what it tasted like, or what to do with it. A quick perusal of the internet turned up quite a few recipes for sorrel pesto, so I gave it a shot, altering the recipe/s to suit my taste. Sorrel has a lemon-y flavor that is enhanced but the additional lemon.

Sorrel Pesto
serves 4

1 bunch fresh sorrel
2 bulbs green garlic
small handful of fresh parsley
1 oz. pecorino, diced
small handful almonds slivers, or pine nuts
1/3 cup. olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon zest
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 Tbs.)

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until the sorrel is mixed and the cheese and almonds are finely chopped. The pesto should have the consistency of a thick, chunky paste. Spread over bread, crackers, or add to pasta.

I cooked some Trader Joe’s whole wheat and flax rotini until just al dente, draining the pasta but leaving about 1/2 cup of pasta water in the pot. Placing the pot back on a low flame, I added the pesto, mixed well, and heated the pasta through. Top with a few shavings of pecorino, and you’re set!