March Food Fun

- February 29, 2012

"New restaurants, upcoming events and a nod to the nominees for the 2012 James Beard Awards prove that New Mexico remains a top culinary center"

The changing of the season brings a spring crop of fresh food news from Santa Fe and Albuquerque. New restaurants, upcoming events and a nod to the nominees for the 2012 James Beard Awards prove that New Mexico remains a top culinary center, brimming with talented chefs, locally grown foods and festivals that celebrate foods of the region.

New Mexico's James Beard Nominees
Here's a toast to the five New Mexico chefs, restaurants and wine and spirit pros nominated for the 2012 James Beard Foundation'schef and restaurant awards, announced February 21st.

Three out of the 20 nominees for the prestigious Best Chef Southwest Award are in northern New Mexico. This is quite a feat considering that the Southwest is one of the biggest regional categories in the country. Up in Taos, chef/owner Frederick Muller of El Mez was nominated for his creative blend of New Mexico and Mediterranean foods. Albuquerque's Jennifer James, chef/owner of Jennifer James 101, earned her second nomination in this category. Martin Rios, chef/owner of Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe, also earned his second nomination in this category, having cooked for last year's awards banquet, held in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.

The Compound, owned by Mark Kiffin, a past winner of Best Chef Southwest, was nominated for best national restaurant service and Ron Cooper of Del Maguey in Ranchos de Taos, a past semi-finalist for Wine Spirits Professional, is nominated once again for his "single village" unblended Oaxacan mescals.

The finalists will be announced on March 19 in Las Vegas, followed by the awards ceremony on May 7 at Lincoln Center in New York. View the complete list of nominees at www.jamesbeard.org.

Guess who's coming to dinner?
Guess who's coming to dinner? was such a popular event when it debuted last year that organizers are holding it again this year, June 23 from 5 to 9:30 p.m., to raise funds for the community leadership work of the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

This inspirational moveable feast takes place in 20 homes, gardens and art studios of notable Santa Feans, where top chefs personally prepare meals for guests. You won't learn about your dinner destination until just a few days before the event, but wherever youy dine, you're guaranteed to have a great time. Perhaps your dining locale will be a house with a scandalous past, or your dinner companion a Nobel laureate. Maybe a celebrity chef from Hawaii will prepare your meal?

Dinner is followed by culinary throwdown at the Museum of International Folk Art, where restaurant chefs compete to make the best dessert for the Silver Spoon Award, chosen by you and your fellow guests.

Guess who's coming to dinner sold out quickly last year, so be sure to make your reservations now at www.guesswhoinsantafe.org.

New Soup Restaurant in Santa Fe
Soup fans rejoice! Santa Fe has a new restaurant where soup is the star of the menu. SUP offers eight to 10 soups daily, along with homemade sandwiches, salads, breads (including gluten-free breads) and desserts.

Anthony Damiano, the only chef in New Mexico awarded the Certified Master Chef accreditation by the World Master Chefs Society, is SUP's general manager and his wife, Lisa, a former baker at Café Pasqual's and current teacher at the Santa Fe Community College, is the consulting pastry chef.

Damiano, a restaurateur and chef who has established and worked in restaurants around the country, including the Russian Tea Room, has cooked for many celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Mikhail Gorbachev, Woody Allen, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael J. Fox.

SUP is devoted to producing high quality, flavorful made from fresh ingredient ingredients at reasonable prices. Soups include pumpkin posole with roasted pepitas, classic menudo, pork jambalaya with mixed seafood, Italian wedding soup and crawfish  jumbo. The sandwich menu includes The Gobbler, made with turkey breast, cranberry walnut relish and goat cheese, Chicken Panzella, with chicken, pesto mayo, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, arugula and house-made mozzarella, and the Crabcake 'Wich, with crab, horseradish, panko breadcrumbs.

Dessert includes German chocolate cake, ginger orange carrot cake with cream cheese frosting,  fruit cobblers, pear almond tart, red velvet cupcakes, cookies and more.

Find out what's on the menu every day by signing up for Sup's free daily e-mails. SUP is located at 559 W. Cordova Rd. and is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more info, call 819-5775 or visit www.eatsoup.net.

Hottest Show on Earth
The 24th Annual National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show returns to the Sandia Casino and Resort in Albuquerque March 2-4, where more than 15,000 people roam the exhibition hall, sampling everything from spicy barbecue to hot salsas, marinades, rubs and desserts offered by some 200 exhibitor booths. The exhibit and trade show also includes kitchen gadgets, shirts, gourmet chips and more. Visitors can try more than 1,000 products and attend daily cooking demos featuring barbecue, spicy food and tequila.

This is the world's largest and longest-running trade show devoted to spicy foods and barbecue. Dave DeWitt and his wife Mary Jane Wilan launched it in 1988 with just 37 exhibitors and it's grown steadily over the years, drawing exhibitors from Germany, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and Mexico.

One of the show's most anticipated events  are the Scovie Awards, named after American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who created the Scoville Scale that measures heat levels of chile. Awards are given to first, second and third place winners in 65 categories, ranging from best hot sauce to best spicy cheese and beverage. If you're a fan of spicy foods, this event will fire up your appetite.

For more information, visit www.fieryfoodsshow.com.

New Farm to Table Restaurant
A new restaurant devoted to fresh produce, meat and dairy sourced locally opens in Albuquerque's North Valley on March 1. Farm and Table serves up full entrees as well as small plates, flights of wine, beer and cheese. Sample menu items include rustic quinoa salad with roasted root vegetables and panko-encrusted goat cheese; mushroom and spinach empanadas; fig wood smoked scallops; herbed potato gnocchi; and beef tenderloin with blue cheese compound butter. Many ingredients will come from the restaurant's nine-acre alfalfa farm and 1.5-acre produce farm.

North Valley native Cherie Montoya Austin decided to open the restaurant on a piece of land owned by her father, who farmed small plots of land in the North Valley during the 1970s. She and her mother have operated La Parada, a retail store selling unique items from around the world housed in a 200-year-old adobe on the property, for the last seven years.

Farm to Table is located at 8917 4th St. and is open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday, 5-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Brunch is served Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more info, call (505) 503-7124 or visit www.farmandtablenm.com.