Santa Fe’s Cuisine Scene

- April 25, 2012

"Bobcat Bite up for national award; La Boca expands and Il Piatto hosts foodies who write..."

Bobcat Bite Up for Munchie Award

Bobcat Bite is the only New Mexico nominee in the first ever Munchies: People's Choice Food Award, an online contest open for voting through April 30.

The celebrated restaurant on Old Las Vegas Highway has been praised for decades by diners and food critics alike, and now its world-famous green chile cheeseburger is up against In-n-Out's Double Double Animal Style burger in Irvine, Calif.; Matt's Bar's Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis; and Shake Shack's Double Shackburger and the cheeseburger at Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien, both in New York City. The winner receives the Most Iconic Burger Award.

The awards cover 20 categories in all, including Best Food Truck  and Coolest Coffee Shop as well as Favorite Stadium Eats, Best Local Farmers Market, Best Ice Cream, Best Taco, Best Pizza and Best Craft Brewery. Awards are also bestowed on food celebrities, including Favorite TV Food Personality, Favorite Food Blog, Favorite Food Related Magazine and Favorite Food Reality TV Show.

The nominees were chosen by a panel of food celebrities led by TV host Andrew Zimmern that included Colman Andrews, co-founder of Saveur magazine, author Mark Kurlansky and actor Tom Cavanagh.

You can vote once a day for the same nominees so be sure to check back daily between now and April 30 to vote for your favorites. (As of this writing, Bobcat Bite was lagging well behind Shake Shack.) Here's the link to vote:

La Boca In the News

James Campbell Caruso launches his new cookbook, Espana: Exploring the Flavors of Spain, with a book signing party and tapas buffet at his restaurant La Boca from 3 to 5 p.m. on  Saturday, May 12.

Caruso has been busy lately. In addition to writing the book, he's getting ready to open Taberna La Boca, a Spanish-style tavern with a cozy bar and outdoor patio for serving tapas, draft beer, wine and sherry. Just steps away from La Boca, the tavern will offer a place for guests to await their tables at the restaurant as well as a casual drinking and dining spot.

The menu will include empanadas, bocadillos, salads, soups, tortilla Espanola, pastires, espresso, wine beer, sherry and sangria. You can also order tapa and sandwich platters to take out for office lunches and other events. The tavern also will be available to book for private events, wine dinners, paella parties, chef's table dinners, wedding receptions and more. Caruso will use the space for cooking demos, sherry seminars and other food and wine events. Look for Taberna La Boca to open this summer.

Cooking Up a Cookbook

A powerful gathering of food writers convened at Il Piatto the other day for "Cooking Up a Book," a half-day workshop that examined today's shifting publishing world, as well as ways to cook up a blog, e-book and cookbook.

New York Times food columnist and cookbook author Molly O'Neill led the seminar, as guests nibbled on delectable hors d'oeuvres prepared by Il Piatto, including black truffle crespelles, made with spring peas, asparagus and American sturgeon caviar; house-cured salmon bruschetta with mascarpone, capers, red onions and tomatoes; a four season tart with morels, summer chile, autumn pinon and wintered goat cheese; and confit duckling drummettes with goat milk, morbier cheese and hot pepper.

The first half of the workshop was devoted to discussing the current cookbook publishing market, where most major publishers give your book just six weeks to make a dent in the marketplace and if it's not a hit, they stop promoting it, O'Neill said.

"What's happening in publishing today is that nobody knows what's happening," she said. "Conventional publishers changed from acquiring books that they loved and nurturing them for a long time to acquiring a thousand books a season, throwing them at the wall, and supporting only the one that makes the most dent in the market in six weeks."

Luckily, food writers have options. E-books are far less expensive to make and more sustainable for the environment and, best of all, easy for authors to publish and market themselves, according to O'Neill and her fellow panelists, cookbook author and chile expert Dave DeWitt and blogger Shauna James Ahern, of the award-winning blog Gluten-Free Girl.

O'Neill spent a decade as the food columnist for The New York Times Magazine and was host of the PBS series, "Great Food." She has also written for The New Yorker and Saveur and is the founder of One Big Table, a multi-media company that collects, celebrates and preserves American food stories and recipes in traditional books, web content, television, radio and documentary film. She also is the founder of, a learning collaborative where she teaches online writing workshops in food writing, memoir and new media.

Ahern founded her pioneering blog, Gluten-Free Girl, after she was diagnosed with celiac disease. She has written for Gourmet, Bon Appetit and The London Times and authored two books, Gluten-Free Girl and Gluten-Free Girl & The Chef.

DeWitt is a food historian and a leading world expert on chile, spicy foods and spices. He has written more 40 books, including The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia and The Southwest Table. He is a regular guest on television shows and the producer of the  annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show in Albuquerque.

O'Neill and her panelists spent the second half of the workshop listening to pitches for cookbooks from workshop participants and then responding to what they heard, in the style of American Idol or Iron Chef judges. Proposed books included one devoted to plant foods, shoefly pie and Mennonite cooking, unusual vegetables, what to do with leftovers and a culinary memoir. They liked a handful, and told the others to refine their ideas to better fit the market.