Glorious Tofu

March 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of Tofu (bean curd). Made from soybeans, the silken substance is one of the world’s healthiest foods, full of valuable nutrients, low in calories and no cholesterol. Prevents a variety of cancers. It has the virtue of making HG feel virtuous while devouring many dishes. HG’s favorite Tofu dish is Agedashi Tofu. Cubes of Tofu are dusted with potato or corn starch and deep fried to a golden brown. The hot Tofu is served in Tentsuyu (a broth of dashi, mirin and soy sauce) and topped with grated daikon radish. Shohko Cafe in Santa Fe serves a very good version. When living in Vancouver, HG/BSK often enjoyed Tofu with spinach at the Fortune Garden restaurant. Fiery Ma Po Tofu (Tofu, ground pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, hot chile oil, Szechuan peppercorns, peas, peanut oil) was a specialty at Congee Noodle House in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood (restaurant was very close to HG/BSK’s loft). HG/BSK would often get takeout containers of this dish (plus poached chicken or barbecued duck) for casual dinners at home. Here in New Mexico, BSK makes a comforting version of Ma Po Tofu as well as a warming soup of Tofu, spinach (or watercress) and smoked ham. At the pleasant Saigon Cafe in Santa Fe, HG often lunches on Pho, the great Vietnamese noodle soup, with Tofu replacing the usual strips of beef. The eatery also makes a good version of Chow Fun noodles with Tofu. On hot Prince Edward Island summer days, cool comfort is provided by Hiyayakko, a dish of chilled soft tofu flavored with organic soy sauce and grated daikon. Gives HG enough energy for long walks by the seashore and refreshing dips in the sea.


Asian Delights in the City Different

February 10th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

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).


Unfairly Unpopular Eels

July 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has had an interest in eels ever since HG learned that Freud, an HG hero, spent a youthful year researching the snake-like sea creature. The appearance of eels tend to turn off a great number of folks; but, they are nutritious, delicious and in Japan, where unagi is a favorite food, they are lauded as being an aid to vitality and longevity (the maternal grandfather of Exquiiste Maiko — HG’s Japanese daughter-in-law and favorite home chef — lived to be 100 and ate eel almost every day). HG enjoys unagi sushi at Shohko Cafe, the very good Japanese restaurant in Santa Fe. HG used to obtain unagi at Whole Foods and enjoy it as part of a sashimi platter. HG also liked to top a bowl of rice with much sliced unagi. Alas, Whole Foods no longer carries unagi and HG can’t find a good online source. However, the best eel dish HG ever experienced was at yesteryear’s great French restaurant, Henri Soule’s Le Pavillon. Soule served lightly smoked filets of eel with whipped cream spiked with lots of freshly grated, strong horse radish. Divine. Eel remains popular with London’s working class who enjoy jellied eels and patronize some of the city’s few remaining eel-and-pie restaurants. HG fears that this eel dish may be a specialized English taste like mushy peas, Marmite and the chip butty.


HG’s Eccentric Taste Treats

November 26th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s go-to lunch (when HG isn’t eating sumptuously at El Parasol, Sopaipilla Factory, Tune Up Cafe, Shokho Cafe, Shibumi Ramenya, The Talin Market or any of the other good noshing places in the Santa Fe area) is a big bowl of Spicy Flavor Saymyang Ramen, a hearty Korean, instant-noodle soup. HG orders it by the carton from H-Mart, the Korean online grocer. Some weeks ago, HG learned that Korean immigrants in Los Angeles often served their hungry kids packaged ramen topped with slices of American cheese. Sounds strange but HG gave it a try with some aged cheddar and gouda. Really good. (Purists like SJ and Exquisite Maiko might turn up their noses but HG finds the cheesy addition yummy). HG also likes another bit of culinary eccentricity. The oldster often accompanies the remains of dinner red wine with peanut butter and peach (or mirabelle) jam on a few crisp Keebler’s Club Crackers. Oenophiles would be shocked.

Samyang Spicy Ramen

Santa Fe Dining Musts

September 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Santa Fe seems to have more restaurants per capita than any place in the West. A very wide range from the pretentious and pricey to the down home and cheap. Permanent population is small but when the legislature is operating there is a deluge of politicos, lawyers, lobbyists, etc. And, of course, there are the omnipresent tourists. Once more a wide range: Dusty drifters, plain folks, multi-millionaire art collectors — and everything in between.

HG is often asked for dining advice in “The City Different.” Here are some must-visit spots that HG has posted about previously: 12 minutes north of Santa Fe in Pojaque is El Parasol and O’ Eating House. El Parasol is where the Latino folks eat and it is homey, cheap, delicious. Real Northern New Mexico cooking. Do not miss the green chile menudo and the chicken tacos. O’ serves sophisticated Italian food and creative, thin-crusted pizzas. In Santa Fe, go to Tia Sophia’s for Tex-Mex food, Jambo Cafe for Caribbean and African food, Tune Up (a real neighborhood hangout) for a great breakfast burrito smothered in green chile sauce. Tune Up also has wonderful pies and cakes (so save room). Shohko Cafe has surprisingly good sushi and crisp, light tempura. HG’s favorite New Mexico chef, Eric Stapelman, has two wonderful places: Shibumi Ramenya (ramen and Japanese izakaya dishes) and Trattoria Nostrani (sophisticated Italian food and splendid wines). Be forewarned: Eric runs fragrance-free restaurants so omit perfume and cologne. HG;s luncheon favorite is The Compound on gallery-lined Canyon Road. Do not miss the chicken schnitzel with caper sauce. Bon appeit!!

Great Japanese Lunch At Shibumi Ramenya

April 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Its true: Santa Fe doesn’t immediately pop up when thinking about Japanese food. While you do find a lot of New Mexico chili peppers, there’s also very good Japanese (and Italian) food available. HG’s favorite for sushi, sashimi and tempura is the very good Shohko Cafe. But, for delightful creativity and outstanding ramen and izakaya-style food, Shibumi Ramenya is the place. Here’s the lunch HG and Gifted AR, HG’s granddaughter, had recently. Started with a delightful burdock and carrot salad — slivers of burdock root and carrot sprinkled with sesame seeds and spiked with some fiery sesame oil. Healthy and delicious. Then, spicy pork gyoza, which, for some reason, reminded HG of the beef stuffed kreplach that HG’s Mom used to craft. Be assured, Shibumi’s very unkosher gyoza are better. Followed by big bowls of Tonkotsu ramen soup with springy noodles and melt-in-your-mouth slices of korubata pork. And, then the perfect dessert of strawberries and blackberries with custard and jam. Heaven. Will soon be back to sip superb sake and browse through the array of small plates utilizing the grill (yakitori) and the fryer (tempura). Must try the barbeque pork belly with eggplant; the cod and potato croquettes; the chicken yakitori and many other mouth watering plates. It’s all a tribute to chef/owner Eric Stapelman, a man totally dedicated to freshness and flavor. Before lunch, Eric gave HG and AR a tour of his back yard garden where he’s growing his own tomatoes, greens and herbs. From the garden to the plate with a touch of magic. That’s what Stapelman and Shibumi are all about.

Down Home Dining In New Mexico

June 19th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

HG has long discovered that even the most humble of restaurants (excepting the very worst) have something that they do wonderfully. And, that’s the way it is in Jacona, HG’s New Mexico neighborhood some 15 minutes north of Santa Fe. There’s El Parasol for a wonderfully soothing and earthy menudo. Gabriel’s for the ultimate mixed-at-the-table guacamole. Sopapilla Factory for (you guessed it) sopapillas ( they also do a giant chicken burrito smothered in green chile and a killer bowl of charro beans). All eateries are located on Highway 84/285.

HG never eats New Mexican food in Santa Fe. Too touristy. Santa Fe is HG’s venue for Japanese food: Shohko Cafe for sushi and tempura and Shibumi for Ramen.

On a cross cultural note. Last time HG was in Sopaipilla Factory, HG saw a large gent in a turban, long cloaks, etc, digging into an appetizing and spicy
platter. HG made inquiry. Sikh gent replied: “Tofu carnitas in red chile sauce”).

Hot Springs And Tempura. Life’s Okay.

March 19th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG, BSK and Glorious Granddaughters Ms. A and Ms. S. hit fun and funky Ojo Caliente Hot Spings nestled in the hills of Taos County, N.M. We dunked and lolled for hours in pools that promised various benefits due to the mineral composition of the water. HG felt very svelte in his Speedo since much of the Ojo Caliente clientele verged on the plus size oversize. As he sweltered HG chatted with a professor of rhetoric, a 300-pound poet, a hospice specialist who prepared folks for the long journey that has no return ticket. Sweet people. After a final dunk in a 105 degree caldron, HG swam for happy minutes in a 81 degree pool. Then cleansed in a big, delicious private tub.

It was a very clean, relaxed, mineral healthy HG and famille that motored back to Santa Fe. All were ravenous. Went to Shohko Cafe where much miso soup, gyoza, shrimp and vegetable tempura were devoured. There was also a very nice roll of salmon, cucumber and avocado. Also some New Mexico chili peppers stuffed with shrimp, fried tempura style and sauced with Thai sweet chili. A family clean in body, spiritual in mind and full in tummy.

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