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Inn Of The Governors

Santa Fe Local’s View: Sazón: The Flavor of Mexico

sazon seafoodIt’s a rare moment when a meal conjures the word “sensual,” but it is the only word I can think of to best describe my most recent meal at Sazón.  The atmosphere melds modern style paintings of Spanish horses with provocative paintings of Frida Kahlo and then classic red, yellows, and gold paintings of appetizing fruits, vegetables, and grains against the aged barn-wood floors, rustic vigas, and a kiva fireplace.  The Spanish guitar music subtly floats about the room, occasionally whispering gently at the table.

The servers approach with respect to your meal amongst friends or family, yet speak with earnest zeal as they describe the night’s specials.  All of these are precursors to the citrus, chocolate, earthy, buttery, nutty, spicy, peppery, all encompassing flavors that follow.  My friend and I were fortunate to be waited on by Mari, one of Chef Olea’s newest servers.  Clearly the General Manager, Aaron’s training and family approach to staff worked; we did not learn of her newness until we started bantering with her about the food’s exotic names and locations, testing her knowledge of each word’s unique meaning.  She smiled, explained, investigated, kept smiling, and followed up with whatever we asked.  First off, we went with her recommendation to try the Oaxaqueños-baby grasshoppers, taquitos (chapulines), avocado, and sour cream.  Yes, grasshoppers—crispy, subtly flavored bites reminiscent of bits of bacon finished with a sprinkle of orange rinds.  If you didn’t know they were grasshoppers, you would assume they were a magical, top-secret family recipe.

Fernando OleaFrom there our pretense of reserve was compromised.  We enthusiastically ordered the lamb shanks coupled with pureed sweet potatoes and the honey sweet, nut based mole and delicately sautéed spinach. We coupled the lamb with the salmon special-freshly caught salmon topped with corn truffles, wrapped in filo dough then surrounded by a sweeping arch of sweet red chile sauce.  The kitchen carefully split the dishes for us while still preparing each with the original presentation.

The more we ate, the more our mood went from “foodies” to kids sorting through their Halloween baskets.  First, the lamb was the best thing in the world, then the salmon took charge, then the sweet potatoes, but wait, no, the lamb’s the best.  In fact, we concluded the only way to show the chef how much we liked the lamb was to forego utensils, grabbing the shank with our hands and using it to mop up every last bit of sauce, sweet potatoes, and mole until nothing was left but the brittle bone.

Throughout all of this the staff kept our waters full, softly touched base to see if we were happy, and maintained our selection of specialty cocktails offered at the adjacent Tequileria – Sazón’s adjunct drink experience focusing on quality tequilas and mescals.  Simple, fresh recipes combining mescal, chiles, limes, and El Jimador tequila, herbs, grapefruits and black lava salt augmented our already exquisite experience.

Sazon greenThe dessert menu in no way played second to the appetizers or entrées.  We originally ordered the Chef’s specialty (which is not described and nor it will be until it arrives – a small act of faith).  We also ordered a trifecta of herbal and fruity sorbets.  Before our order could be fulfilled however, the kitchen prepared a sample plate of the sorbets, the house lava cake, a natilla, wafer layered dessert, and a milky moist tres leches cake.  All of which treated our senses to a new, unique experience for the night without overshadowing the parade of flavor that preceded it.

There really is so much that could be said.  In the end, I can only recommend you go to experience a truly unique Santa Fe experience.  The web site, sazonsantafe.com will further explain Chef Olea’s story and provide a brief history on mole.  Sazón resides on Shelby Street, just one block away from Inn of the Governors and is open for dinner Monday through Saturday.  Reservations may be made via telephone, the web site, or through OpenTable.  Of course, our guest services team will happily help you.  Last, but not least, any special requests or dietary restrictions will be accommodated-please tell your waiter, or call ahead to help the kitchen honor your need.

Until next time, Buen Provecho! Sam G of IOG


Santa Fe Local’s View: Santa Fe Restaurant Week

Picture this – your strolling under the cool, clear night sky with a friend, a loved one, or just your sense of culinary adventure – the stars looking down as you approach one of the many eateries featured in Santa Fe’s Restaurant Week. The doors open, greeting you with warm air peppered with smells of chile, locally raised meats seasoned from herbs and spices raised on family farms – lamb, pork, chicken – cilantro, garlic, onions, basil, mint – all combined with the Chef’s signature styles. New Mexican Fusion or Continental or French Provincial or Italian, almost any food you can think of wrapped in the intimate settings of Santa Fe’s eclectic architecture and styles. You’ll experience old adobe homes, modern and austere urban settings, and the hidden gems sandwiched between generic retail shops in out of the way places. Regardless, the boutique, specialty approach of each restaurant will provide a memorable, distinct meal indicative of the City Different’s overall culture.

Photo Credit: Kate Russell

Photo Credit: Kate Russell

The event celebrates its 6th year February 21 – 28 with discounted multi-course meals (for $25 for two or $20, $30, or $40 per person) and fun daytime events that will expand your cooking repertoire. Visit www.santafe.nmrestaurantweek.com. It’s a great opportunity to try our world-class cuisine during a time of year that affords lower rates for lodging as well. Our weather is, well, a reflection of Mother Nature’s whims so you may question your calendar when you feel late Spring air on your skin, or you may need to cuddle together as you skirt back to your toasty room-maybe with a crackling fireplace.

The restaurant list is extensive, but a few notables include L’Olivier, Il Piatto, Dinner for Two, Joseph’s Culinary Pub, and Restaurant Martin, all of whom have been featured in the Inn of the Governors’ restaurant blog.

We hope to see you and hear your reviews of this growing Santa Fe tradition.  Bon Appetit!  SamG of the IOG


Santa Fe Local’s View: Snowshoeing and Hiking in Santa Fe

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”  Andy Goldsworthy.

I love this quote!  It embodies how I feel when I am getting ready to head up to the mountain after a fresh powder of snow. My energy level rises and I am a bit euphoric at the mere thought of getting my snow boots and mittens on.  Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would get all bundled up to go outside and just couldn’t wait for the final scarf and hat to be pulled on? The anticipation was just too much.  Well, I am thrust back to that very special time when I get ready for snowshoeing in the Santa Fe National Forest.

Snow shoeing and “hiking in the snow” are one of the easiest and most fun activities that can be done in Santa Fe’s backyard.  If you are visiting and need to rent a pair of snowshoes, Aspen Sports is nearby and is where I rented my first pair over 10 years ago. The Santa Fe National Forest offers many trails that are easily accessible by car and just a short swoosh through the snow brings you to a quietude that makes you feel extremely present in the moment.

Before I start to share these blissful moments with you, please remember that anytime we venture into the wilderness we must be prepared.  Be sure to have adequate clothing, water and snacks, a first aid kit and if at all possible; snowshoe or hike with a buddy.

2015-12-23 12.52.23This past Christmas I had family visiting from Florida and it was my nephew’s birthday, as well.  He had never been snowshoeing and was very excited to be able to spend his day up on the mountain and to experience this new adventure with his aunt.  No one else cared to venture up with us as it was overcast and a bit windy, but we were well prepared, stocked with goodies and fine to go it alone.  What an amazing day!  After renting snowshoes and poles (highly recommend having poles) for him, we were ready for the 20-30 minute ride to our starting point.  We parked at Aspen Vista and readied ourselves for the journey up to where we could see the Quad Ski Lift.  This trail is immediately to the left – inside of the gate and is called the Alamos Vista trail.  It had recently snowed and the powder was perfect.  We stayed on trail for the most part, but ventured to the edge of the mountain a few times to get the perfect photo. At Carl’s meadow we plopped into the snow and made snow angels.  Try getting back up when the powder is 6-8 inches thick!  It can be quite the endeavor. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the very top and we could see the skiers getting off of the quad lift and heading down to Ski Santa Fe.  Our time frame included stopping and catching our breath and of course, taking beautiful photos.  And, since it is always easier coming back down; it only took us about an hour.  So, for a little less than 3 hours on the mountain, we got an excellent work out and breathtaking photographs to share with everyone.  All in all, it was an amazing 19th birthday for my nephew and a wonderful experience for me to share with him.

Selfie Tesuque Campground Trail HeadThere are numerous trails, with varying difficulty, for hiking in the snow, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing in Santa Fe.  When you visit the Inn of the Governors, we have the Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area books at our front desk that you are welcome to borrow.  I am always available for questions on snowshoeing or hiking in Santa Fe and look forward to meeting you on your next visit and sharing some of my favorite spots. I also recommend Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing for a guided tour through our beautiful back country. Please let Scott know that we sent you. Not only will you have a great adventure, but Scott is very knowledgeable about the history and geography of the area, too.

Travel safely, Deb Swanson


Santa Fe Local’s View: Santa Fe’s Best Restaurants – Dinner for Two

When I landed in Santa Fe 13 years ago, I was given multiple Santa Fe “must dos.”  Indian Market, Bandelier Monument, Shidoni Sculpture Garden, Ski Santa Fe to name a few…and of course, restaurants.  On the top of the list was the newly opened Dinner for Two.


Family owned and operated, Dinner for Two (D42 as the local concierge endearingly call it), exemplifies a community oriented, sustainable restaurant.  Chef Andy Barnes works side by side with his dad, Gregory (who bakes his grandmother’s bread recipe daily), and his mom, Pam, who manages the daily business minutiae and bakes the cookies.  When asked about the “hierarchy,” Chef Andy sums it up in a direct, yet humble way: “we work as a family, we all do what is needed.”  His pride is apparent in his quick answer to my questions, but his humility sets the tone of the entire place.  Naturally, I asked Chef Andy about their signature dishes, which he listed as the table side presentation of the Chateaubriand, Banana’s Foster, and our Caesar Salad.

Dinner for Two melds a fine dining menu and experience with a non-pretentious “every-man” setting making it perfect for the young married couple treating themselves to a hard earned anniversary meal or the affluent traveler wishing to indulge their palate in its entirety.  The walls are adorned with his dad’s own art, or the art of a family friend.

food D42

Another aspect that makes Dinner for Two unique in particular is their deep commitment to “farm to table” practices.   The Barnes family has a 40-acre farm named Blue Rose, where they raise their chickens, many of the herbs, and some of the restaurant’s produce.  If they don’t raise it, they partner with local farms, some of who grow product exclusively for the restaurant.  Additionally, they feed all edible waste to the “Blue Rose” chickens, re-purpose the fryer oil as biofuel with their neighbor, and recycle the cardboard boxes and glass bottles.   In fact, Chef Andy is an active member of the Farm to Restaurant Project.



Never resting on their laurels, the Barnes’ recently welcomed renowned Sommelier Mark Johnson to their family to maintain the extensive, yet focused quality wine list.  That’s not to dismiss that Chef Andy and Gregory have both been awarded Wine Spectators “ Award for Excellence” for the past ten years.  Chef Andy graduated from the Santa Fe Community College Culinary program, and then the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  He also participates in the annual Food Depot’s “Souper Bowl,” (January 30th is the date for 2016’s event) which helps to raise funds for the local food bank and the homeless- in fact; he won the event in 2015.

On a final note, Dinner for Two is named for its intimate setting that allows for a perfect couples night, but is by no way limited to reservations of two.  They are capable of seating groups up to 20 people, with advance notice.  They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 4pm-9pm; closed Monday and Tuesday.  You may make reservations directly at 505-820-2075 or on Open Table.

In Health and Prosperity.  SamG of the IOG


Santa Fe Local’s View: A Santa Fe Christmas

As the countdown to Christmas nears, our hearts look forward to the traditional food and events of Christmas in New Mexico. Christmas day is all about family, but for many of us in Santa Fe – Christmas Eve is all about being out and about seeing friends, both new and old.

If you grew up in the City Different, there are many memories of filling your tummies full of spicy Posole, pouring your to-go cups full of hot chocolate or cider, and bundling up for a very special night. Posole is a soup or stew made with hominy corn, chile and flavorful seasonings and is a Christmas tradition in many of our homes. Whether you make it at home or enjoy it at one of the many restaurants that serve this New Mexico favorite, like our very own, Del Charro, it is the perfect food to warm your soul for the cold winter night.

 Once you are full of good food (and definitely good cheer) you dress in your warmest duds and head to the one place in town where you are sure to bump into someone you know. Friends from high school that you haven’t seen in years to new friends made in the magic of the season; there is always a friend and a joyful smile around every corner. Just after dusk, the lanterns made of brown paper bags, a votive candle and sand, light up with a lovely glow. There is some debate about the name of these little bags of light, to some they are “luminarias” but to Santa Fe, New Mexicans they are “farolitos”. No matter what you call them, they are a lovely sight when lined up along the street and adorning the tops of the houses and galleries along Canyon Road. You stroll along with your loved ones, singing carols and enjoying the kinship of those you know or meet along the way. If you are staying with us this year, stop by the front desk to pick up some hot chocolate, hot cider and biscochitos for the evening’s festivities.

For the very adventurous souls, looking for something culturally unique to New Mexico on December 24th and 25th, it is truly worth the hour and a half drive to the Taos Pueblo for their very special Procession of the Virgin Mary and the Christmas Day Traditional Dance. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated as a National Historic Landmark. The pueblo offers a door to the past with multi-storied adobe buildings that have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years and have a spectacular view of the mountains. Share in the experience of this beautiful tradition and please be respectful of the pueblo’s rules of etiquette so that many can continue to enjoy these holiday events for years to come.

Merry Christmas from Inn of the Governors. We wish you and yours a peaceful New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2016! Safe travels, Deb Swanson

Note: This post was originally published on December 23, 2013 and has been updated for current events.


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