Bits and Bytes: Local Organic Meals on a Budget, Harvest Fest & the Winding Down Harvest Season

- November 3, 2011

"As we move into the holiday season and start planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah feasts, it's the perfect time to find culinary inspiration..."

Local Organic Meals on a Budget

As we move into the holiday season and start planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah feasts, it's the perfect time to find culinary inspiration in Local Organic Meals on a Budget, a series of cooking classes offered by Kitchen Angels, in partnership with the Santa Fe Farmers' Market Institute and Home Grown New Mexico. The classes are just $10 and are focused on preparing simple, fast and easy meals using local, organic foods.

November features Tracy Pikart Ritter, who got her start in Santa Fe as the executive chef of Santacafe, helping the restaurant earn a "Best Restaurant in Santa Fe" from the Zagat guide, and the prestigious DiRona Award, from the Distinguished Restaurants of North America.

Tracy opened up the Whistling Moon Café, where the cumin-dusted French fries were a big hit, along with pasta dishes and other delicious menu items. She's also been featured on Good Morning America and in the pages of the New York Times, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. She also was a featured chef at the James Beard House and a consulting spa chef on the QE2.  Her specialty is innovative, healthy cuisine.

Tracey's class takes place Saturday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m.

Matt Yohalem is the owner of Il Piatto, winner of a Best New Restaurants Award from Esquire Magazine. The restaurant was also nominated for a James Beard Award. Matt keeps his restaurant stocked with fresh, organic food he buys from the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, in keeping with his philosophy that cooking with fresh, locally grown food makes meals delicious.

Matt has cooked in restaurants in New Orleans, Paris and southern France. He came to Santa Fe to work as a chef saucier for Mark Miller's Coyote Café, and then opened Bistro 315 before establishing Il Piatto.

Matt's classes are scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

Each class includes a raffle for cookbooks, gift cards, cooking utensils and other great prizes.

All classes take place at Kitchen Angels, 1221 Siler Rd. For more info, or to register, call 471-7780 or visit http://localorganicmeals.com/index.html.

Santa Fe Harvest Festival Underway

The Santa Fe Harvest Festival is in full swing, and the spirited Restaurant Relay takes place around the Plaza this Saturday, Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. Teams of servers carrying loaded trays of drinks will compete for a cash prize.

The second round of the Chef Showdown also takes place this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Buffalo Thunder Resort, as chefs compete for the ultimate prize, the Best Chef distinction. Prior to the throwdown, a group of amateur chefs will compete in their own contest, and the winner earns a seven-piece set of copper cookware.

Don't miss the Grand Gourmet Food and Wine Expo from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, followed by the Best of the Fest Finale Gala Dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Eldorado Hotel Pavillion.

And from now through November 23, more than 40 Santa Fe restaurants join the Harvest Festival celebration by offering great dining discounts.

For more information, and to purchase festival passes, visit http://harvestfestival.santafe.com.

The Last of the Fall Harvest

The busy autumn harvest season is winding down in northern New Mexico, which means those gorgeous butternut squash, pumpkins and apples will soon disappear from the stands at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market. Take advantage of the bounty before the season ends. Once the outdoor market closes, the indoor vendors will still be selling their organic beef, chicken, eggs, goat cheese, salsas, jams, jellies and baked goods, but the very fresh fruits and vegetables won't be available again until next season.

Now is a great time to stock up on green chile you can freeze, condiments and non perishable ingredients for your holiday feasts. You can also find wonderful and unique holiday gifts for those on your list, and place orders for fresh lamb, roasting chicken and other main courses of your holiday meals. 

The Santa Fe Farmers' Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Railyard District. The Tuesday market continues through November 22, and after that it will close for the season.

For more info, go to http://www.santafefarmersmarket.com.