Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Mexico Grub - Most Like It Hotttt

I like spicy food.

Prior to my relationship with The Gentleman, most of the spicy food I consumed came from Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. Southwestern spice, however, is very different from the flat spice of wasabi or the pinprick slow burn of Thai chili peppers. Southwestern food is fiery and flavorful, less vinegary than other hot spices. At least to my beginner's palate.

But what I've learned is that I not only like spicy food, I really like spicy food. I'm slowly getting more and more daring, choosing the two chili pepper option after finding I'm used to the one chili pepper option. Not quite yet onto three chilies, but give me time.

We did not go to Tijuana. But the restaurant wanted us to think we did.
 The first place we went to was Frontier, and the first thing I ordered was (of course) huevos rancheros. I have since come to decide that I. Love. Huevos. Rancheros.

I mean, what's not to like?! It's eggs, veggies, tortillas, cheese, and spicy. All awesome things that, when thrown together on a large plate, become EVEN MORE AWESOME.

Huevos rancheros awesomeness.
 On the morning of our failed balloon ride, The Gentleman took me to Flying Star to cheer me up. It worked, because I ordered this:

Breakfast hash with organic red quinoa, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peppers and onions, and a poached egg.  I have got to try this at home.

During our brief afternoon visit to Santa Fe, we did get to go to The Shed for lunch. It's apparently where famous people hang out. We didn't see anyone famous (this time), but we did have a pretty incredible meal:

Carne Adovada Plate - 
Pieces of lean pork slow-roasted in a marinade of Shed red chile, garlic and oregano. One rolled blue corn enchilada filled with cheddar cheese, onion, covered with red chile & baked. Served with pinto beans & posole

To clarify, posole is a Mexican stew made with pork and hominy. That's those little yellowy bits at about 11 o'clock on the plate. Those little yellowy bits were delightful.

And it was here, at The Shed, that I experienced the most delightful margarita. I am not, per say, a huge fan of margaritas. I don't love sour mix, and most margarita mixes are somehow too sweet for me. But the bartender made me a margarita that featured St. Germain as a primary ingredient. I LOVE St. Germain! And it really did make quite a difference - it was sweet enough to balance the sourness, but not overly sweet. And it tasted fantastic with tequila.

Here is where a Fun Embarrassing Story comes into play. The bartender, who was quite amicable and lovely despite the fact that the restaurant was one like an hour and a half wait (FOR LUNCH, mind you), asked me how I liked my drink after I'd tasted it. I told him that St. Germain is basically one of my most favorite drinks, and he asked if I had ever tried a drink called "Death in the Afternoon?" Champagne, he said, and St. Germain, a candied cherry, and then something else that I didn't quite catch. I hadn't tried "Death in the Afternoon," as it turned out. But I would keep that in mind.

Wellp, because we were on vacation, The Gentleman and his family decided to order another round of margaritas with lunch. Being an adventurous person always seeking to broaden my horizons, I asked the server for a "Death in the Afternoon" cocktail. He sort of looked at me strangely, and I explained: "The bartender mentioned it?" He nodded and went over to the bar, and I saw the bartender look puzzled at first, but then over at me, and gave me a mischievous thumbs' up.

The other, normal, margaritas arrived at the table. "What did you order?" everyone wanted to know. Something with St. Germain and champagne, I said, because I didn't think I could drink any more tequila and still sightsee around Santa Fe all afternoon.

The bartender himself brought me my drink - a champagne flute filled with some sort of clearish green liquid, and a side split of champagne. "People don't usually order these for lunch!" he exclaimed, and I was just about to lament the lack of champagne lunches when The Gentleman politely asked what the green liquid was in my glass.

"That," the bartender said, setting down my flute and pouring champagne into the glass on top of the green liquid, "is the absinthe! Well, and some St. Germain in there too." He set the champagne split, now half-empty, down next to my full champagne glass. "Enjoy!" he exclaimed. "The last time I drank these was with my now-ex-girlfriend. We each had two and took a six hour nap."

So there I was, at a nice lunch in Santa Fe with my boyfriend and his parents, and I had just ordered an absinthe cocktail.

How classy.

The Gentleman seemed to find it hilarious. "Absinthe. You ordered absinthe."


"Yes, of course. And it happens to come with absinthe as well."


"Well, you got one."

I tried to generously share my drink around the table, but no one was clearly as stupid brave as I was or was looking to expand their horizons. So I expanded my own horizon. All the way into an hour-long nap on the car ride home.

This is a "Death in the Afternoon." It's delicious. And by all means, order it. But possibly not at lunch. With your boyfriend's parents.

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