August Cuisine Scene

Hang on to your picnic baskets and grill gear—summer's not done yet

How the heck did August get here so fast? It feels like we were just settling in to the long, slow days of summer, and now we're reluctantly counting the days until school starts and Labor Day arrives, heralding the fall season.

But hang on to your picnic baskets and grill gear. Summer's not done yet. The peaches are ripe, the corn and tomatoes are coming in and Indian Market is coming up. There's plenty of time left for summer in Santa Fe before we must give in to the changing of the seasons. Read on to learn about just a few of the culinary happenings in Santa Fe this month.

Let's start with one of the city's biggest events of the year, the 97th Annual Santa Fe Indian Market, held August 18-19. In addition to viewing gorgeous pottery, textiles, jewelry, paintings, and so much more crafted by nearly 1,000 Native American artists from around the continent, you can sample Native foods from local and family-owned vendors from around the Southwest. Try roasted mutton and fry bread along with more upscale fare from professional Native chefs. If you're intrigued by what you taste, head out to explore more Native flavors at downtown restaurants such as Maize, where the menu is inspired by ancient cultures of the region, including the Puebloan culture.

You could start with Three Sisters Soup, a summer squash bisque with cornbread and fermented black beans, then try the Cornmeal-crusted Rainbow Trout with roasted beets, creamed corn and red pepper sauce. The rustic Willow Basket features the catch of the day that's steamed in a banana leaf and served with mango jam and a vegetable medley. The Dreamcatcher dessert is a delectable trio of chocolate pecan mousse, pinon meringue and pistachio ice cream.

At the Blue Corn Cafe, right off the Plaza, you can savor Grilled Corn and Chipotle Soup, a cream-based soup featuring the ingredients of the region. But order a cup instead of a bowl so you'll have room for the Fry Bread Taco, traditional Native American fry bread that's loaded with pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, red or green chile and your choice of calabacitas, carne adovada, pork carnitas, chicken or beef.

If you'd like to learn more about America's indigenous cuisine, sign up for the Santa Fe School of Cooking's Native American class on Friday, August 17 at 10 am. James Beard award-winning author and culinary culture scholar Lois Ellen Frank will explore America's first great cooks, and their long history of farming and plant use. You'll learn to make trout with herbs and bacon baked in clay, Indian wild rice saute, sauteed rainbow chard and berry crisp. And then you will get to eat of all of the wonderful fare created in this three-hour demo class.

Before summer ends, take the time to savor its flavors at the Santa Fe Cooking school's Celebrate Summer class, held Monday August 20 at 9 am. You'll gather on the school's patio for an intimate, hands-on class devoted to the grill and outdoor wood-fired oven. The menu includes red lettuce with pears, walnuts and honey-sherry vinaigrette, masa encrusted pork chops with a green chile and raisin chutney; grilled sweet potato salad and apple empanadas. Perhaps tasting the apples will help get you ready for the coming fall.

One of the best things about this time of year in New Mexico is green chile, and one of the best ways to learn about cooking with it is with Chef Johnny Vee. Sign up for his Green Chile Master Class at Las Cosas Cooking School on Friday, August 10 from 6 to 9 pm and you'll learn precisely how to handle New Mexico's favorite ingredient, whether it's Hatch, Big Jim, Barker Extra Hot or any other variety. The menu for this class covers the gamut, from Green Chile Potato Soup and Green Chile Cheddar Souffle to Mixed Greens with Green Chile Green Goddess Dressing, Blackened Steak Dunnigan on Green Chile Brussels Sprout Cakes and even dessert, Yogurt Sorbet with Candied Green Chile. As Chef Vee says, “Feel the heat! “

The green chile fun continues at with Chef Vee's New Mexico Party Food class at Las Cosas Cooking School on Saturday, August 11 from 2 to 5 pm. Here, you'll learn to make dishes with ingredients that are synonymous with the Southwest—Grilled Jalapeño Poppers, Chile Con Queso, Smoked Beef Chile & Fixins', Guacamole Boats, Green Chile Crab Rangoon, Red Chile Bourbon Caramel Corn, Buffalo Sliders, Beer Batter Onion Rings, and Dulce de Leche Whoopee Pies. These are foods you can make year-round, excellent for summer cocktail parties, as well as fall tailgating, holiday parties and more.