Santa Fe Springtime Restauranting

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Thumbnail image for enchiladas_finished.pngpoblano_relleno.jpgThumbnail image for SantaFe-Pasquals.png
Enchiladas, Red, Green, Rellenos and a Strawberry Shortcake.

Colorado Mexican food is different than New Mexico Mexican and the most obvious place where New Mexico's cuisine excels beyond all other versions of Mexican food is in the enchilada.

At Cafe Pasquals on Water and Don Gaspar in Santa Fe, they have perfected the enchilada and several other things as well. You can find many of these in the Cafe Pasquals Cookbook, that was designed by one of the woman sitting at the table on this beautiful spring afternoon in April 2010.

I'm eating the enchiladas, with red sauce, of course, and someone else has the green chili. And we start a recurring discussion about the merits of the two.

Blue corn tortillas at Pasquals add another earthy note to the already earthy chili and with the simplicity of the cheese and onion insides, I think red is best. The combination is something that New Mexicans have been working on 10months out of 12, every year since there was a New Mexico. Only for two months of the year would fresh green chilis be available. They didn't have a bushel stored in their freezer like I do today.

After having enchiladas here, at the Shed and then at Harry's Road House in Santa Fe, this is what we learned from a native ... Green chili on chicken, mushroom, spinach enchiladas, red on plain cheese and onion.

My green chili loving friend doesn't agree and heads into the morally relativist chasm saying "it's just personal preference." I disagree. I think there are better combinations, and lesser ones. Look for the upcoming rant about this on

Green chili is for rellenos -- which are fresh chillies stuffed with cheese. The above picture is a fresh poblano chili stuffed with chicken and cheese from the Santa Fe Bar & Grill. The salads here were big, fresh and a nice alternative to Mexican food if you're ever in Santa Fe long enough to get tired of enchiladas.

Back to Pasquals because it was the best meal we had during the four day trip. Fantastic enchiladas but also a great fresh kale and ricotta salade cheese salad, a great BLT and then our waitress told us -- desserts that will make you swoon more than you're second-grader boyfriend.

I picked the fresh-made strawberry shortcake and everyone else pooh poohed the idea of dessert, told me not to spend the money or the time. No one wanted to share. I guess they didn't have that great an experience in second grade.

So the waitress said, I'm bringing a shortcake and if you three woman don't eat a bite of it -- while I eat it in front of them -- she'll give it to us for free. The shortcake was a perfectly light hand-made biscuit, not-too-sweet, with perhaps a hint of nutmeg. The strawberries were fresh and slightly syrupy in something that seemed very native to them. The whip cream was freshly whipped not grainy sugar competing with the strong, sweet taste of the berries. And the sprig of fresh mint just made the whole a smelling and tasting pleasure.

My friends were the masters of self-control. They did not take a bite. Note my satisfied grin.

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