Gourmet Girl: December Cuisine Scene

It's the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you love to eat, drink and be merry. Across the city, fabulous food is being served at holiday office parties, at get-togethers with family and friends, at neighborhood gatherings and, of course, at sumptuous holiday feasts and the last dinner parties of 2019.

Let's face it, December requires a ridiculous amount of sublime snacking and delectable dining. But where do you go when you need a break from all the cookie baking and appetizer making, from way too much cocktail-shaking and wine pairing decision-making? You're in luck. In the international food destination of Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of spirited spots where you can sit back, relax and let someone else do the cooking and the entertaining, at least for one night. Read on for some enticing suggestions, and don't forget to make reservations.

A Taste of Italy

315 Wine DinnerIf you're dreaming of a sojourn to Italy, head to 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar for a Northern Italian Wine Dinner on December 19 at 7 pm. The four-course prix-fixe dinner highlights five wines presented by Michael Bassler of North Berkeley Imports. The evening kicks off with an amuse, a fritter of potato and Jerusalem artichoke with smoked salmon, apple, pea shoot salad and horseradish cream, paired with a Villa Varda Pinot Grigio from Prata Di Pordenone, Friuli, and it only gets better.

The appetizer, grilled pizzetta and house-made garlic sausage with black truffle cheese and sun dried tomatoes, is paired with a Cantina Kurtatsch Schiava Griaga from Sonntaler Cortaccia, Alto-Adige. The second course brings together roasted snapper in papillote with a pour of Tiziano Massoni Colline Novaresi, Niebbiolo, from Piemonte. Love lamb? Then you'll love the third course, lamb sugo, a rich Italian red sauce, with pappardelle, mascarpone and Grana Padano, accompanied by that superstar of Italian wines Barolo, in this case Fratelli Alessandria Barolo, also from Piemonte. Wind things up with a wild mushroom serviette dumpling with roasted shallots, dried fruit compote and spiced chestnuts, paired with Musella Amarone della Valplicella from Veneto.

To add to the evening's festivities, Taos artist Read Lockhart will be on hand along with his landscape and still life paintings. And isn't a conversation with a passionate artist always enhanced by fine wine? Be sure to make your reservations early for this enchanted evening.

The Delights of Duende

You'll be swept away to Andalusia, if only for an evening, during a passionate performance of Entreflamenco. You'll feel as if you're in the southern Spanish region where flamenco music and dance originated as you watch Santa Fe's acclaimed dance company at El Flamenco, performing December 13-31. The holiday stress may melt away as the mesmerizing dancers stomp their feet and clap their hands in rhythmic intensity, accompanied by the lilting live music of Spanish guitar, flute and other instruments. Spanish wine and tapas— wine-stewed chorizo, mushrooms in sherry reduction and other delightful small plates— will only enhance your memorable experience in this intimate cabaret-style venue.

Fine Holiday Spirits

Raise a glass to this holiday season at Susan's Fine Wine & Spirits, which has scheduled some festive events this month. December 18th brings the Spanish Revolution, a tasting devoted to natural wines from Spain's established and emerging wine-making regions as well as from its neighboring islands. Join Chris Barnes of José Pastor Selection to sample some of Spain's most innovative wines. These are lovingly crafted by winemakers devoted to minimalist techniques that let the terroir of native Iberian grapes come through in every sip. A few samples of these wines may have you imagining yourself on a sunny Mediterranean island, at least while you're at this even, which takes place from 4:30 to 6 pm.

On December 20, 4:30-6 pm, Linda Tetrault of Ten Thousand Waves's The Floating World will host a Seasonal Spirits Tasting, featuring the portfolio of Haus Alpenz, importer of international aperitifs, wine, spirits and more. As you sample the wonders of winter libations, your holiday spirits surely will rise.

Christmas at the Coyote

Celebrate Christmas in high style at the venerable Coyote Cafe, with a feast that will be served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is the restaurant that put Santa Fe on the world's culinary map when Mark Miller opened it in 1987. The Coyote continues to garner rave reviews under the ownership of Quinn Stephenson, who recently bought another iconic Santa Fe restaurant, SantaCafe.

True to form, Executive Chef Eduardo Rodriguez has created a dazzling prix-fixe three-course menu that features fried Blue Point oysters, quail with chorizo and cornbread stuffing and ancho cherry demi glace and a Poinsetta Flower Pot, a clever construction of red endive, prosciutto, Fuji apples, gorgonzola and red chile candied walnuts, with a strawberry vinaigrette. And that's just for starters. Entrée options include whole Maine lobster with sweet corn gnocchi mac'n'cheese, baby spinach, and calabicitas and Patagonian sea bass with Remero Farm vegetables, potato and spinach ravioli and ruby grapefruit butter. The Coyote's famous Tellicherry Peppered Elk Tenderloin is on the menu, too, along with the Legendary Cowboy Cut. Vegetarians will be excited about the eggplant ravioli with heirloom cherry tomatoes and cremini and chanterelle mushrooms. This will be a Christmas feast that even Scrooge would love.