March Cuisine Scene - March 7, 2018

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day, Shakespeare and 20 years of Las Cosas

Beware the Ides of March, and the winds of March, too. As unsettling as they are, though, each is a welcome sign that spring is just around the corner, even if it's been a very spring-like winter. March brings the return of the light and the planting season, as days grow longer and warmer. This month also marks the annual celebration of St. Patrick's Day on March 17 and it brings other food fun to Santa Fe, too. Here's a look at some of the culinary highlights of this month.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Let's begin with a look at St. Paddy's Day, created as a religious feast day in the 17th century commemorating the death of Ireland's patron saint. Today, it's a time for reveling in Irish food and drink and Joe's Dining is a great place to toast to this holiday, beloved by Irish-Americans as much as those who don't have a drop of Irish blood in them. This popular eatery will serve a meal fit for the Feast of St. Patrick all week long (March 11 through March 17 and be sure to make reservations if you plan to be there on the holiday.) The star of this feast is the ubiquitous corned beef and cabbage—a tradition that actually took root in America, not Ireland—and Joe's will serve it with boiled potatoes and horseradish. It wouldn't be St. Paddy's Day without a pint of Guiness, the famous Irish dry stout, and Joe's will be pouring it, along with New Mexico handcrafted ales from Santa Fe Brewing Company, Bosque Amber and Rio Grande Brewery.

Other places to get your Irish on this year include The Teahouse, where you can start the day with a scone, which is as popular in Ireland as soda bread. Accompanied by clotted cream and lemon curd, this light and luscious cross between a biscuit and a muffin will whisk you away to a cottage by the Irish sea, if only in your mind. Stop in for lunch and savor the Irish grilled cheese sandwich. A few bites brimming with the sharp tang of aged Irish cheddar and hearty mustard will have you planning a visit to the Emerald Isle, and its green fields dotted with happy cows. On St. Patrick's night, head over to Boxcar for a party that salutes the holiday with the traditional music of the Thistle Pipes & Drums, along with contemporary dance party music to get you out on the floor and moving. When you've worked up a thirst and an appetite, it's time for green beer and corned beef and cabbage.

A Feast with Food for Thought

Since March is the season for early planting, it's timely that new things are cropping up at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. The Food for Thought series hosts its second event, Speaking of Shakespeare, on Thursday, March 29 from 6 to 8 pm and it's devoted to the Bard of Avon, who wrote a thing or two about flowers. Because the garden will again host a Shakespeare play this summer, “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” the seeds are being planted for audiences now to ensure they won't miss this production. Directed by Rachel Kelly and collaborative director Nagle Jackson, the play premieres on August 22 and runs through September 2. You can hear all about it when Shakespeare scholar John Andrews, the Shakespeare Guild founder, takes the stage at La Fonda on the Plaza during Speaking of Shakespeare. The evening includes a delectable three-course dinner with wine as a prelude to this summer's magical themes of “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” And because it was Shakespeare who coined the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” in his play “Julius Caesar,” what better time than now for the Santa Fe Botanical Garden's Shakespeare event?

Cooking with Johnny Vee

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Are there any dishes missing from your culinary repertoire? Paella, perhaps, or perfectly cooked prime rib? Maybe you've tried to assemble tamales or stuff rellenos and given up, mystified as to why they don't turn out the way they should. Or perhaps you've baked cakes and cookies that failed to rise, then realized you don't know the basics of b high-altitude baking. You can learn all of these skills, and just about anything else you need to know to make delicious dishes at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe and Cooking School with one of Santa Fe's most popular and entertaining cooking instructors, Chef Johnny Vee (aka John Vollertsen). Now celebrating its 20th year, the shop and school are flourishing, and Vollertsen's classes are a big hit with locals and visitors.

This month's schedule includes a class devoted to tamales and rellenos on Friday, March 30, from 6 to 9 pm. You'll make savory tamales with pork or a sweet version with rum-soaked raisin almonds. You'll also learn to assemble chile rellenos using three different batters—blue corn, beer and souffle—and prepare sauces to accompany the fare. Take a New Mexico Favorites Class on Saturday, March 31 from 10 am to 1 pm, and you'll become an expert in preparing some of the favorite foods of the region—homemade corn tortillas, tomatilla salsa, green chile chicken enchiladas and more. If you've got wanderlust, a class with guest chef Christine Hickman could be the antidote. She'll teach you the art of making hearty Italian stews on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am to 1 pm. Then she'll show you how to make ciopinno, Italy's signature seafood stew, on Saturday, March 17, from 10 am 1 pm, along with other Italian dishes to complete the meal, including a buckwheat almond cake with chocolate drizzle. What a flavorful way to spend March 17 if you're not a fan of corned beef and cabbage.