A tailgate party, Santa Fe Opera style

- July 2, 2011

"Our challenge each year is to outdo ourselves from years past."

Tailgate for opening night of the Santa Fe Opera is always one of our favorite events of the year. Four or five couples have gathered together on this evening on the overheated asphalt of the Santa Fe Opera’s parking lot for more than a decade and each member of our stalwart group brings a bit of their own magic to the event. Our Chef de Cuisine, if a meal served out of the back of an SUV were to have one, is Randy Forrester – grant officer with the New Mexico State Library and John Berkenfield, our Sommelier and Administrative Director of El Rancho de las Golondrinas outdid themselves this year – six food courses and seven wines.

By now everyone knows the drill: prepare for the event in our individual homes, show up at Tesuque Market at 5:00 pm, caravan to one of our favorite spots on the parking lot with the world’s greatest view and set up our tables, silver, china, crystal and sculpture - yes, even sculpture. This year even our choice of sculpture, a 1992 work by noted Native American sculptor Allan Houser entitled Reclining Nude, was noted by the Journal Santa Fe in its article about this uniquely Santa Fe event.

Our challenge each year is to outdo ourselves from years past. Randy certainly did so with his exquisite combination of a Shrimp and Mango Ceviche appetizer and Paella Valenciana entree. And, of course John’s wine parings were impeccable. Of special note were the Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay from Napa Valley and our desert wine – the Icardi Moscato d’Asti 1998 from Castiglione, Tenella, Italy.

We are already planning for next year and, yes, the opening night opera: Charles Gounod’s Faust, was wonderful. But, I will leave a description of that to someone with a clearer head on this morning after.