La Mesita Eatery: Down Home Goodness

October 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy to be back in The Land of Enchantment where the trees are golden, russet and red. The skies are blue. Autumn breezes are refreshing. Cool nights call for a blaze in the living room fireplace. Pals Karen K. and David F. treated HG/BSK to a dinner at La Mesita Eatery, a family owned and staffed restaurant in Pojoaque, minutes from HG/BSK’s home. Karen and David touted the fried chicken. HG was dubious when HG found out the bird was deep fried rather than pan fried. A version of the Kentucky Colonel’s crap was anticipated. The chicken arrived. Big portion. Delicious, greaseless crunch cloaked an interior of juicy, flavorful free range chicken. A revelation. Wow!! Accompanied by down home mashed potatoes topped with fried onions. HG drank a great California IPA. A true, no frills comfort meal. Blessings upon you, Karen and David.

Green Tomato Treat

November 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK is a seasonal and inventive cook. For example, a few weeks back: Green tomatoes. BSK found some nice green tomatoes at the Pojoaque Farmers Market close to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Traditionally, green tomatoes are sliced, dipped in egg and spicy corn meal and fried (preferably in bacon fat). A staple of down home Southern tables. That’s not what BSK did.. BSK cooked a batch of the green guys with chicken broth, onions, coriander, cumin, cardamon, pepper and salt. When done, the mix went into the blender and was pureed. The smooth stuff was gently reheated. Voila!! Green tomato soup. Tangy. Spicy. Perfect way to start a meal.

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Sopaipilla Factory: Anything but a Factory

March 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

A sopaipilla is an airy, crisp northern New Mexican treat much like a classic popover. Served with a ball of honey infused butter, they are addictive. As the name indicates, they are the specialty of Pojoaque’s Sopaipilla Factory, a very pleasant restaurant about a 15-minute drive north of Santa Fe. Despite an unfortunate name which brings to mind the dreaded Cheesecake Factory, this is not a tourist restaurant. The clientele is local (like HG)) but very diverse. Many tables of turbaned Sikhs (there are some nearby ashrams); multi-generation Latino families dining together; farmers, ranchers and artists. The food is classical New Mexican with a surprising number of healthy vegetarian options (including tofu fajitas). HG’s twice-a-week lunch is a chicken/cheese enchilada (HG requests that sides of rice and beans be eliminated). Here’s how the dish is composed: A very sizeable amount of shredded white meat chicken is rolled in a tortilla with white Mexican cheese melted on top. HG specifies “Christmas”. This means half the dish is covered with flavorful green chile sauce and the other half with fiery red. For crunch, HG showers it all with chopped sweet onions (There’s also a mini salad of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes). If HG is really hungry, HG orders the giant chicken burrito or the chicken stuffed sopaipilla (both adorned “Christmas” style). The restaurant also offers a suave bowl of tender menudo. A full bar with a nice array of tequilas and margaritas. HG sometimes has a “Michelada”, a beer and Clamato juice drink in a salt rimmed glass with lime edges. The drink gets a substantial shake of Tabasco. It’s a local favorite as is everything about this delightful restaurant.

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Hot Stuff

October 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Some like it hot. Some like it very hot. Some like it blazing. If you fall into one of these three categories get over to the Pojoaque Super Market on Highway 285 (about 15 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico). This is a Native American-owned, plain folks grocery that happens to have one of the great collections of tongue-sizzling foods — Inside there is a veritable wall of hot sauces, salsas and fiery condiments. Plenty of smoky chipotles, stinging jalapenos and dried peppers of every variety. It was here that HG discovered Mrs. Renfro’s Jalapeno Green Salsa. The label says “Hot” but it is a civilized “Hot’, zesty and full of fresh flavor. There’s a picture of motherly Mrs. Renfro on the jar lid. A Texas lady, Mrs. Renfro and husband George began bottling sauces in 1940. No preservatives. Just natural goodness. HG likes a dolllop of it on soft scrambled eggs and on fried pork chops. For a special treat, HG pan broils a hamburger (using a fatty chuck). Tops it with melted muenster cheese and Mrs. Renfro’s magic substance. That’s how `we do it in the Land of Enchantment.

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Hot Sweetness From Texas

November 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Pojoaque Super Market on Highway 285/84 in New Mexico (15 minutes north of Santa Fe) is an HG favorite, a veritable treasure trove of ingredients needed for authentic Southwestern cuisine. There are at least 100 salsas on the shelves ranging from “super hot” to “mild.” “Mild” raises an instant sweat. “Super Hot” can induce cardiac arrest.

There are at least 40 varieties of canned beans and posole. An encyclopedic array of peppers — hot, sweet, fresh, canned, frozen, jarred and dried. Spices galore. A take out counter featuring truly funky menudo, green chili stew and enchiladas.

Customers are a colorful group. Latinos. Native Americans from the nearby San Ildefonso Pueblo and Santa Clara reservations. Sikhs from local ashrams. Artists, politicians, farmers, and of course, Bronx reared elder Jews like HG himself.

HG loves to browse, taking in the regional goods. A big, recent discovery: Candy Krisp Jalapenos from Texas Pepper Works (a Houston outfit). There’s a rattlesnake on the jar label and the words: ” Nice Bite. Not Too Hot. Not Too Sweet.” That’s truth in advertising. Perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.
Great on a cracker with some goat cheese or cream cheese. If you have trouble sourcing a jar visit: www.ribafoods.com.

“O”, Oh My, It’s Good

May 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Simple, perfect dinner at “O” Eating House. Tempura fried zucchini with a garlicky aioli. Grilled eggplant topped with an herb laden tomato coulis. Roasted, succulent quail on a bed of couscous. Dessert: A wedge of flourless chocolate cake studded with pine nuts. The last, a perfect companion for a final glass of red wine.

I have posted previously about “O” and I will continue to, as meals there keep getting better and better. Steve Lemon is the chef and he is a major talent. “O” is located in Pojoaque, some 15 minutes north of Santa Fe and about one hour from Taos.

Says HG: If your travels take you to New Mexico make “O” a destination (and if you have kids with you, Steve Lemon’s pizzas are superb).

Salad Sorcery And Deft Pizzas

March 18th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Beautiful and brilliant granddaughters (this is not Grandpa excess and overstatement) Ms. A and Ms. S. are visiting. After a hike among ancient Native American cliff dwellings the young ladies were hungry so HG and BSK took them off to “O” The Eating House in Pojoaque (New Mexico of course!).

Creative salads and thin crust pizza. Salad one: Hand crafted, creamy buratta on top of paper thin slices of pear dressed with lemon oil; topped with roasted hazelnuts. Salad two: A deconstructed Caesar featuring a poached egg and deep fried, breaded anchovies. Salad three: A toasted round of artisan goat cheese atop frisee dressed with an assertive vinaigrette. The pizzas: A conventional mozzarella and tomato made brilliant by the addition of handmade fennel sausage; sublime combination of guanciale (cured pig jowl), roasted eggplant and fried onions and peppers. Civilized dining in The Land of Enchantment.