January Cuisine Scene

Lynn Cline - January 9, 2018

Cooking classes, family meals, the beloved annual Souper Bowl and more

In Santa Fe, the first month of the year can be slow. Compared to the heat of summer, when thousands of visitors and locals turn out for festivals, fiestas and food-focused events, winter is a quieter time. The holiday hoopla is over. Tourists and locals are back at work and counting the days until spring break. Those who aren't snowbirds are most likely dreaming of sandy beaches and warm-weather getaways.

This year, though, Santa Fe is a warm-weather getaway, due to near record-breaking temps averaging well above freezing. Winter is not coming, leaving snowbirds heartbroken that SKI Santa Fe has less than a foot of powder, compared to an annual average of 225 inches. It's a dire situation in a drought-fearing time. But hold on to your ski hats because there is some relief, some savory alternatives to just sitting around worrying and wishing you were in a rainforest or the French Alps, where heavy snow recently cut off ski resorts. And if you're a foodie, you really are in luck as January's calendar of events includes fun cooking classes, family meals from a decorated young chef and the beloved annual Souper Bowl, which kicks off this month's Cuisine Scene report.

Souper Bowl XXIV

One of the oldest and most treasured food events in Santa Fe, the Food Depot's 24th annual Souper Bowl heats up at noon on Saturday, January 27 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The competition offers a chance to sample some of the best soups in the city while raising funds that help feed the needy in our community. Taste your way through a roomful of delectable soups made by acclaimed local chefs. The soups are divided into categories—cream, savory, seafood and vegetarian. You'll cast your votes for the winners in each category, along with the trophy-worthy Best Soup award. This is one food event that will make you feel good about eating unlimited portions. Last year's soup-off raised enough to provide more than five semi-trucks of food and more than 160,000 meals to Santa Fe's most vulnerable residents.

Participating restaurants include Del Charro, Rio Chama, La Plazuela at La Fonda, Vinaigrette, Turquoise Trail Bar & Grill at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino and last year's champion Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen.

Image: Compliments of Vinaigrette

What's Hot at the Santa Fe School of Cooking

James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison knows a thing or two about creating dinner-party worthy meals with a slow cooker. Her newest book, “Texas Slow Cooker” introduces readers to the joys, and convenience, of using a kitchen device that became famous as the Crock Pot, which sold millions during the 1970s. Originally marketed as way for working mothers to cook a meal at home while they were at the office—in a pot that “cooks all day while the cook's away”—the Crock Pot and other slow cooker brands are back in vogue, as you can see by Jamison's book, filled with 125 recipes you'll want to make.

Jamison, who's the host of the “Heating It Up!” radio show, airing Fridays at 11 am on Hutton Broadcasting's Talk 1260 KTRC, will teach you how to make some of these recipes during her Santa Fe School of Cooking class, Taking It Slow and Low: Southwestern Slow Cooker Cooking (SlowAndLow), which starts at 10 am on Saturday, Jan. 20. The menu features jalapeño cornbread with sorghum butter, beef and red wine stew, creamy jalapeño spinach and Rio Star Grapefruit Pudding Cake. The earlier you can make your reservation for this class, the better. In fact, you should be making a phone call or an online reservation right about now.

Winter brings back the cooking school's popular Bonus Classes, offering you the chance to be part of the test audience for new menus that will join the school's “tried and true” class schedule. In East Meets Southwest, a three-hour demo class with Chef Deena Chafetz, the new menu is

an Asian-New Mexican meal that includes hot-and-sour shrimp soup with chicos, soy-braised pork belly tacos, kimchi and tofu rellenos with avocado-cilantro creme, Thai-style slaw with green papaya and jicama, coconut sticky rice with mango and red chile– piñon pralines. The class takes place at 10 am on Friday January 12, Thursday, January 25 and Thursday, February 1.

Image: Compliments of Cheryl Jamison

Family Fare

Arroyo Vino's Family Meal night has become a welcome staple, as guests know the three-course prix fixe menu celebrates an array of foods rooted in a region or showcases an ingredient acclaimed Chef Colin Shane has used to construct that evening's offerings. On these nights, the restaurant's regular menu is not available but optional wine pairings are. Two seatings are all that's offered, one at 5 pm and one at 7:30 pm. At the time of this writing, menus were not yet finalized, but the winter schedule is out, so here's what you need to know. The first Family Meal of the year is held on January 18 from 5 to 9 pm, featuring the food of New Orleans. On January 25, tour the tastes of Japan, and on February 8, dine on the foods of the Swiss Alps. If these sound enticing, your best bet is to make reservations now.

Image: Compliments of Arroyo Vino