Santa Fe Satisfaction

Nov 09

Today we spent our second day in Santa Fe taking in the art, culture and cuisine of the area. In today’s fast and cheap economy it is a rare treat to spend time in a city with much focus on the old ways and support for a local artisan community.

We started the morning by returning to Oleaceae!__olive-oils-and-specialty-oils a specialty shop for Olive Oils, Vinegars and Sea Salts. After walking out with a few bottles yesterday we had to return for a few more things. Entering the small shop is a delight. The staff greet and introduce you to the oils, vinegars and salts – all available for tasting. The oils include many exquisitely flavored olive oils, olive oils from Greece-Chile-California-Spain, roasted French walnut oil, almond oil, Japanese sesame oil, and porcini oil. A new favorite of mine was the roasted squash seed oils – roasted pumpkin, butternut, acorn, delicata and kobacha squash. Each has its own unique flavor but I settled on the butternut and pumpkin oils yesterday, adding a Harissa flavored olive oil today to yesterday’s Italian Herb Olive Oil. The flavored vinegars were just too many to taste. I decided on the base aged 18-year-old Dark Balsamic to pair with my Italian Herb Oil or drizzle on some strawberry ice cream. They have 18 different Dark Balsamics and 12 White Balsamics. I came away with a Georgia Peach and Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic. I can’t wait to get back to the kitchen to try them all. For the finishing touch I added some Ghost Pepper Salt and Himalayan Salt.

On the way to drop of the bags in the hotel we stopped at a silver shop I had seen the day before looking for a gift. The owner of the shop was the inventor of the earcuff in the 1970’s. He runs the shop now with his daughter. He says the idea for the earcuff came to him in a dream. They were talking at the front counter with one of the customers about how several of their casters had gone out of business and they were in the process of trying to find a new caster. The economy has taken its toll on the jewelry business. Much of this business has been shipped overseas. Their pieces are interesting and inspirational

We ducked in to the T-shirt shop next to pick up a wreath of chilis. While we were there one of the locals was standing at the counter with a cup of soup that smelled heavenly. He directed me across the street to the cafe above the New Mexico History Museum. I had to try some. He said it was a corn chowder but it wasn’t. The soup was a split pea with spinach and cauliflower with hint of cumin and chili powder. Delicious.

We moved on from there in the car for a drive to the Gerald Peters Gallery to view some fine art. My daughter, Lindsay, is a photographer and wanted us to look up one of her favorite’s, Robert Buelteman–G_BA&ved=0CF4Q9QEwBg&dur=56. Buelteman’s photographs are made by passing high voltage currents through plants and they are hauntingly beautiful. You can read a bit about the process here His work is very unusual and well worth a look if you are ever in Santa Fe. The Gallery has a number of his pieces but you can also enjoy his work on the walls of Roof Top Pizza on the Square downtown.

We headed out the road to a Chinese restaurant – Lulu’s, that Tracy had read about. It was really tasty.

On the drive back we stopped at Kakawa Chocolate House. This is a unique and decadent treat that will only set you back $3.50 if you just have one cup. Their passion is historic drinking chocolate elixirs. We settled on the Atole and Marie Antoinette elixirs. They are served in tiny espresso/chocolate cups, just the right size for the richness of the drink. The Atole, which isn’t available on the website, delivered a spicy knockout punch. One of the ingredients is blue corn tortilla. The Marie Antoinette was delicately flavored with orange blossom water, almond milk, raw unprocessed cane sugar, ceylon cinnamon, mexican vanilla and orange blossom essential oil. After a taste I could see why this was reserved for the elite courtiers of the day. A steady crowd streamed through the line as we sat and enjoyed our chocolate. Once it settled down for a few minutes, we were able to try some of the specialty chocolate bars and I came away with four different kinds to treat myself over the coming months – one bite at a time.

Back at the hotel we stopped for a short rest and then headed over to the Square for a look at the Navajo artisans along the sidewalk. We purchased bracelets from two different artists. It was so nice to purchase something from an artist with clear pride in their work. Each artist told us the story of how they made the bracelets. The artist who sold my friend her bracelet was clearly touched with emotion at the sale – perhaps sadness at parting with a piece of herself mixed with gratitude for the income on a cold winter’s day. Unfortunately in this day of cheap Chinese reproductions, artists such as these are often squeezed out of the market. We will each wear our bracelets with pride in the craftsmanship and a memory of the artist whose path we crossed.

As you think about shopping this holiday season, give thought to looking for gifts made by local artists in your community – seek them out as they may be harder and harder to find. They need our support and nurturing to survive.

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