No, Santa Fe isn’t Vancouver (or the Flushing neighborhood of New York) but HG still manages to enjoy some authentic, savory Asian cooking. Talin Market sells a large variety of international food. Lots of Indian spices, Chinese, Korean and Indonesian imports, etc. One corner of the store is a ramen bar serving the noodle soups as well as specialty teas. And, then there’s the pop-up restaurant: Every Monday a Szechuan family takes over and produces dumplings, fiery dan dan noodles, delicious bao sandwiches, hot and sour soup, special egg drop soup and other delights. It has become so popular that Talin has installed extra dining tables to meet the demand. The dumplings (pork, shrimp, lamb or vegetarian) are fresh and juicy. The dips range from traditional to Szechuan mai lai mouth numbing goodness. The bao sandwiches are creative (a bargain at $3.75). The “Duckwich”, described as “The best Asian sandwich”, contains a generous piece of roast duck plus green apple slices and scallions. The braised pork belly sandwich has finely shredded cabbage and an exotic red sauce. On Friday and Saturday, Talin offers Vietnamese spring rolls and Japanese curries. The longtime Santa Fe standby for sushi, sashimi and other Japanese delights is Shohko Cafe. Ramen is served but the restaurant’s specialty is great, greaseless tempura prepared with farm to table ingredients. HG is also very fond of the restaurant’s meticulous sushi creations, grilled fish and unagi hand rolls. Santa Fe has a few Indian restaurants but, with the aid of the very good VIJ’s cookbooks, HG/BSK confine their Indian meals to home cooking. However, one of HG’s favorite Indian foods is the Dosa, a lovely chickpea pancake served off the grill and consumed with a variety of fillings, sauces and chutneys. Similar to, but lighter than, the Mexican tortilla. Difficult to make at home. Thus, HG was overjoyed to see a sign on Cerrillos Road advertising the imminent opening of a South Indian restaurant—Paper Dosa–specializing in these delights. For a small city, Santa Fe continues to astound with its great variety of taste experiences (plus an overabundance of art, music, cinema, theater and other aspects of culture).
Neighbors got together for a celebratory feast. The place: The beautiful home of Polly B. and David F., a talented, life enhancing couple. Their big kitchen-dining-living room is everyone’s fantasy of Santa Fe. Antique beams and thick adobe walls. A monumental kiva fireplace containing an abundance of blazing logs. Well lit and meticulously placed works of art. The celebration: Polly B., a noteworthy photographer, has faced (with bravery and good humor) eye surgery. Success at last. The beautiful woman can see. An unflattering eye patch has been removed. Good reason to eat, drink and laugh a lot. Present at the celebration were two of Polly’s three daughters, Jennifer (who lives in Beijing) and Leslie (who lives in Washington and Cape Breton Island) plus neighbor Karen K., the film producer who has been dubbed The Dessert Queen by HG because of her genius at crafting sweet things. HG/BSK brought appetizers of chilled prawns (with remoulade sauce) and a spread of smoked salmon. Polly’s daughters grilled salmon and accompanied the moist and flavorful fish with a tangy red pepper sauce, an unusual mushroom risotto and a nicely dressed green salad. There was a good, warmed baguette and a lush cheese course. Needless to say, much Pinot Grigio and Cabernet was drunk (preceded by potato vodka). The feast concluded with Karen K.’s Ile Flottante, HG/BSK’s favorite dessert. Karen K.lived up to her royal soubriquet. Well, that’s life with HG/BSK’s New Mexico neighbors. So, what do your neighbors do (besides playing loud music and arguing loudly) ?
HG was in the mood for a traditional Paris bistro meal last night and, of course, BSK rose to the occasion. The only things missing were the scent of Gitanes cigarettes and a scratchy recording of Edith Piaf in the background. Look at the photo. There are two juicy grilled lamp chops (given a nice rubdown with garlic). Some snow pea pods stir-fried with garlic and ginger (a bow to the Asian influence on modern day bistros). Instead of the traditional pommes frites, BSK served herbaceous, lemony couscous. Decorated the plate with a grilled tomato and some Greek yogurt (always nice with lamb). Yes, a simple plate of big flavors. Typical BSK cuisine. A civilized French meal at home, in a bistro or at a fancy restaurant, is always multi-course. So, HG started with Whole Foods’ surpassingly tasty faux crabmeat salad. Followed the lamb with cheese and mache salad. Ended with a pale but pleasant substitute for creme caramel: Kozy Shack flan. Pinot Grigio with the fake crab. Cabernet with the lamb and the cheese. French brandy with the flan. If someone has to lead the good culinary life, it might as well be HG. (with thanks to BSK).
Blood oranges are one of nature’s blessings. Cut a blood orange in half, eat the pulp, drink the crimson juices and you get a tasty burst of summer energy that is particularly welcome when winter skies are grey and wind is frigid. Blood oranges are a pleasant addition to alcohol. HG squeezes a quarter of an orange into a glass of white wine. Adds ice and a dash of Aperol (or Campari). A nice variation on the classic Venetian “Spritz.” HG often gives vodka the same treatment. With tequila, HG adds half a lime to temper the orange sweetness. Slices of blood orange are the perfect dessert after a Chinese (or Indian) meal. Gifted Daughter Lesley R. makes a sublime polenta cake topped by glazed slices of blood orange. (Gorgeous Granddaughter Solfia delighted the old folks by making a very presentable version of this cake a few weeks ago). FYI: David Lebovitz has a wonderful recipe for this cake on his Sweet Life In Paris blog.