Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good Eating in Santa Fe

I love coming to Santa Fe around the holidays - there is usually some snow on the ground and all the adobe buildings are decorated with the traditional luminaria they call farolitos. Of course, it seems to be extra cold this year, which means our outdoor activities are extremely limited. And snow is forecasted for today, which my kids are eagerly anticipating.

The heart of Santa Fe is the main Plaza - we visited the Palace of the Governors where we learned about Santa Fe history and the old trade routes of the Spanish Empire. And did some shopping with Native Americans artisans under the old Portal - where folks have been selling their wares for over a hundred years.

The dining is excellent here in Santa Fe - our first meal out was Sunday Brunch at Santacafe, a few blocks off the Plaza. After wandering around in the sub-freezing temps, hot chocolate never tasted so good! I had a really good spinach Nicoise salad - I don't know why all restaurants don't always do Nicoise with spinach, it's so much better than with regular greens. Amara's lamb chops were good but the gorgozola polenta they came with was remarkable. We did notice that Giada had visited here on one of her Food Network specials.

Dinner that night was at the historic La Fonda Hotel, the last stop on the old Santa Fe Trail. We had a New Mexican meal at La Pozuela, which couldn't be beat for ambiance. It's situated in the old courtyard in the middle of the hotel (which thankfully has been covered over), with the lights in the trees and the brightly painted window panes, was simply a lovely place for a casual meal. And I had sopapillas for dessert, smothered in honey - mmmm.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at Alexander's Steakhouse

Our Christmas Eve was spent at the San Jose Tech Museum at the Star Trek Exhibit, where we got to sit in Captain Kirk's chair and use the Transporter to beam down to a nearby planet. It was nice having practically the whole exhibit to ourselves.

After that, we headed to Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino for our dinner. We love this restaurant because it combines a high end steakhouse with a number of Asian touches, including an impressive selection of Wagyu beef. Their appetizer of hamachi shots is phenomenal.
However, tonight, I ordered a special of foie gras soup, served with cranberry espuma (Spanish for foam). It was served in a tall glass, with a creamy warm foie gras soup on the bottom and a cold cranberry foam on the top. It was an excellent soup, although very rich - it tasted like pureed foie gras with a bunch of cream added. I drank it with a straw and hubby called it my foie gras milkshake.

Other appetizers we shared included popcorn crab (surprisingly good), truffled french fries (really good for thick cut fries - I'm typically only partial to skinny cut fries...), edamame and fried shishito peppers.

The between course palate cleanser was a lychee gelee with pomegranate pearls. Sounded (and looked) better than it tasted though.

My New York Strip entree was fine but hubby got the New York Trio - consisting of American Angus beef, Australian F1 (a Wagyu and Holstein crossbreed) and Japanese A5 Wagyu. They were presented on a slate slab labeled with the word "Guess". It really wasn't very hard to identify the three kinds of beef. The Wagyu was almost disgustingly fat, with a richness than practically ran down the back of your throat. The Angus was just a nice New York cut of fairly typical prime beef. And the Australian was in between.

For dessert we ordered a couple of chocolate specialties including a modern interpretation of a Buche de Noel - one of my favorite holiday treats.
And finally, the meal ended with a big bundle of cotton candy - watermelon flavor today. All kids in the know who've been there before usually ask to make their own in the kitchen. Mei could have taken or left the meal (she's not a big meat eater) but the make-your-own cotton candy makes it all worthwhile for her!
After a nice flowering pot of white jasmine tea, we stumbled home to await Santa's arrival. Happy Holidays to everyone!