Grrl, Road-Tripping: Sante Fe. Margaritas, Tomatillo Salsa, Café Pasqual’s
GourmetGrrl.com: Food with ‘tude
May 11, 2005
GourmetGrrl is in the Land of Enchantment — New Mexico to you. A lot of blue sky, blue corn, and blue margarita pitchers. We were wowed by the food and put Santa Fe on the top of our favorite foodie vacation spots. As our favorite restaurant in Santa Fe says, “Panza llena, corazon contento!” (Full stomach, happy heart!) Can’t argue with that.
GourmetGrrl, aka Laura Holmes
Grrl with Pitcher
New Mexico wine? Better to pass on it and head straight for the tequila instead. If you can’t make it to the Roadhouse in Santa Fe for a pitcher, then this recipe is the next best thing.
Just remember the big three: fresh lime juice, good tequila, and good triple sec.
Here’s the deal: real tequila is a liquor made only in Mexico, which has been distilled from the sugary juices extracted from the cooked Weber blue agave plant. To be considered true tequila, it must contain at least 51% of this agave juice (sugar). Most cheap tequilas sold in the U.S. do not contain the required level of agave sugar, so check the label (additives mean hangovers). Real triple-sec is a clear orange liqueur made from the skins of orange peels which have been sun-dried, reconstituted with distilled water, fermented, and then triple-distilled. (Many commercial brand triple-secs use artificial flavoring so again, check the label). You can also use Cointreau, which is an ultra-premium triple-sec imported from France, or Grand Marnier, another French import made by blending premium triple-sec with premium Cognac that is then aged for a minimum of 18 months. And finally, using a shaker makes a better Margarita than a blended one because the flavors aren’t diluted.
1 lime, cut crosswise into 5 slices
1 cup coarse salt (such as Kosher, or margarita salt)
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 cup premium tequila (such as Casa Noble or Tequila Nacional brands)
1/4 cup triple sec or other orange liqueur (Bols brand is a good choice)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 lime, cut crosswise into 5 slices
Place 3 lime slices in single layer on small plate.
Lightly press rims of 2 Margarita glasses onto the lime slices, coating the rims with juice. Dip moistened rims into salt and coat lightly.
Combine ice cubes, tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds.
Strain mixture into glasses and garnish rims with 2 remaining lime slices and serve.
Grrl with Knife
Somehow all green things taste better in New Mexico – green chiles, green sauces, and green vegetables. Our fave of them all are tomatillos, a fruit related to the tomato that has a lemony- tomato flavor.
They look like small green tomatoes and are covered with a light green husk. (You can find them in almost any grocery store these days, and you can store them in a paper bag in your ‘frig for up to a month.) They’re a bit sticky when you handle them so be sure to rinse them well. You can use them raw, but we like the rich flavor of roasted tomatillos. Grab a bag of blue corn chips or tortillas and call it a night.
6 to 7 medium tomatillos
Fresh hot green chiles, to taste (roughly 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro (thick stems removed), roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, white part only
Salt to taste
Preheat a broiler.
Remove tomatillo husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness.
Broil the chiles and tomatillos on a baking sheet, 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos and chiles, including all the juice that has run onto the baking sheet.
Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, blend to a coarse puree, and scrape into a serving dish.
Stir the onion into the salsa and season with salt, about 1/4 teaspoon.
(Note: if you can’t stand the heat, reduce the number of chiles or leave them out altogether.)
Makes 1 cup
When you drive into Santa Fe, skip the shopping and head straight for Pasqual’s. In a town full of unbelievable restaurants, this little spot is still our favorite. The walls are lined with Mexican art and artifacts, there’s always a line (the restaurant only seats 50), but the ever-cheerful waitstaff will get you in as fast as they can.
We didn’t eat the night before just so we could devour the entire bowl of creamy stone-ground polenta with homemade chorizo and red chile sauce; the chile relleno, served omelette-style with eggs, tomato jalapeño salsa, and black beans; and the enormous chorizo burrito, stuffed with house-made chorizo and roasted potatoes. The freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice and pots of tea will round out your meal if you’re feeling the altitude, or check out the well-rounded wine list.
121 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe
505.983.9340 or 1.800.722.7672
Reservations accepted for dinner only