Gourmet Girl: March Cuisine Scene

Gourmet Girl - March 4, 2015

James Beard nominees, Paleo Diet demo class, St. Paddy's Day gourmet cooking class & more in the world-class City Different

Photo courtesty pursuitist.com

New Mexico's James Beard Nominees
The James Beard Foundation has announced this year's award nominees, and once again, New Mexico has some big names in the running for the culinary equivalent of the Oscars. Up for Best Chef, Southwest, are Andrew Cooper of Rancho Encantado's Terra; Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin; and Jennifer James of Jennifer James 101 in Albuquerque. In Rancho de Taos, Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal was nominated once again for Outstanding Beer, Wine, or Spirits Professional.

If you're wondering how the nominees are selected, the process starts in October, when anyone can respond to an open call online and submit up to two entries. From there, a Restaurant and Chef Award Committee made up of critics, editors and writers create the semifinalist list from about 35,000 submissions. Then, a group of committee members, former Beard Award winners and regional panelists will cast their votes and the five semifinalists with the highest number of votes in each category become the finalists. The winners will be announced in Chicago on May 4.  Click here to see the full list of nominees.

Photo courtesty SantaFeTravelers.com
Lunch at The Guesthouse
Run, don' walk, to The Guesthouse, which is serving lunch only through March 13. You'll get to sample some innovative food on an ever-changing menu made by professional culinary students at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy who enrolled in a one-year program designed to prepare them for a future in the food service industry. The menu features a wide range of dishes from Smoked Ham and Split Pea Soup and BLT Wedge Salad with Salmon, to Eggplant Napoleon, Falafel Plate, Salmon Burger, Green Chile Meatloaf and Vanilla Custard with Apple Compote.  Lunch served Thursdays and Fridays, 11:30 am to 1pm.

Cook the Caveman Diet
The Paleo Diet, or the Caveman Diet, has swept the country advocating foods our ancient ancestors of the Paleolithic era may have eaten, including lean meat, nuts and berries. If you're intrigued, join Chef Rocky Durham for his Everday Paleo class, Also at the Academy on March 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, he'll demonstrate a paleo-friendly dinner that includes Consomme with Picadillo Beggar's Purse, Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Gastrique and Strawberry "Cheesecake."

Chef Johnny V from Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe

A St. Paddy's Day Feast
Over at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School, celebrate St. Patrick's Day by making an elegant Irish meal with Audel Cayce who studied Irish Cookery at the famous Ballymaloe House in County Cork. In her St. Paddy's Day Gourmet class, you'll learn to make Fluffy White & Brown Irish Soda Breads, Irish Colcannon Soup, Bacon and Cabbage with Chap & Parsley Sauce, Lamb Shepherd Pie and Orange Cake with Orange Syrup & Clotted Cream. What a great alternative to drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage. Erin go Bragh!

The Sweetest Show on Earth
Two of my favorite things—chocolate and coffee—take front stage at the Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest March 21 and 22 at the Expo New Mexico State Fairgrounds. A celebration of chocolate, coffee and gourmet foods, the festival is the largest gathering in the region featuring chocolatiers, coffee roasters, tea houses, cake, donut and candy makers, wineries and more. In addition to food and beverage sampling, the festival includes a chocolate sculpture contest, a S'Mores eating contest, cooking demos, baking contests, a "There Will Be Cooking" demo, baking contest and a barista latte art contest, as well as live music. For kids there will be free games, bounce houses and face painting. Vendors include The ChocolateSmith, Iconik Coffee Roasters, Señor Murphy, Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Aroma Coffee, New Mexico Pie Company, Black Mesa Winery, Marble Brewery – a new addition this year is the Cupcake Vineyards' Wine & Lounge.

Photo: Facebook

Adieu, Ristra
Sad to see that Ristra has forever closed its doors.  Famous for its French cuisine with a New Mexico flair, the acclaimed restaurant was praised in The New York Times and other influential publications and had a large, loyal following with locals and visitors as well. After the death of its founder/owner Eric LaMalle nearly two years ago, the restaurant changed hands but was never the same. Longtime chef Olivier Grenet left to open his own eatery, L'Olivier, and Ristra seemed to fade away. It took me by surprise to read of its closing as I hadn't heard a word about Ristra since Grenet left. Now, it's another chapter in Santa Fe's dining history. I will always miss LaMalle's beaming smile and lyrical accent, and his restaurant's innovative food.