Gourmet Girl's top summer fare in Santa Fe. . .read on. . .
As summer comes to a close, it's time to take a look back at the some of the highlights of Santa Fe's seasonal fare. From fried oysters and squash blossom beignets to Canadian salmon fish 'n' chips, a supremely delicious sweet corn soup with seafood salad, and other inventive dishes, it's not hard to enjoy summer's finest fare in the city's diverse array of restaurants.
Let's begin with that creamy corn chowder, a soup of the night at Bouche Bistro and one of the best dishes I enjoyed this year. The server arrived at our table with bowls layered with crab, mussels and calamari and then ladled the chowder on top. The flavors were fresh, as if just plucked from the sea, and the chowder was a perfect foil, rich, hearty and amazingly creamy. The soup could have served as a meal all by itself and members of my family who enjoy fresh seafood on Cape Cod every summer and were in town for a visit last month couldn't get enough of it. If you're lucky, chef/owner Charles Dale will offer it again as a special before summer ends.
Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro
The squash blossom beignets at 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, celebrating its 20th anniversary year, are a summer special you don't want to miss. Light and airy, the blossoms have the gorgeous hue of orange sherbet. Served with a fondue made of local goat cheese and a savory tomato coulis, this is one of chef/owner Louis Moskow's signature dishes, and it's the epitome of summer, bursting with sweetness, flavor and beauty. Hurry on over before they're taken off the menu.
Famed Squashblossom Beignets from 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
For a true summer treat, try Geronimo's Maryland Blue Crab Cakes, a perfect melding of flavors with a caviar dill sauce, braised leeks and baby watercress. It's a grown-up version of the crab cakes you may have eaten from the Chesapeake Bay, with the caviar and dill dressing up the sweet crab meat and the leeks and watercress adding an inventive touch. I'd be willing to bet that there's no equivalent of this dish to be found anywhere along the East Coast.
Chef Eric DeStefano of Geronimo.
In recent years, halibut has become the king of fish, its tender morsels of white fish now selling at gourmet prices. At The Compound Restaurant, James Beard-winning chef Mark Kiffin serves an Alaskan varietal, with a stew made of calamari, fingerling potatoes, roasted peppers and baby onions in a roasted pepper-tomato broth and a Marcona almond romesco. If you're looking for a decadent summer dish, look no more.
The beautiful interior of The Compound Restaurant.
Red Sage at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino serves up a version of langoustines, also known as scampi and Dublin Bay prawns. A close relative of the lobster, these delicacies are known for their sweetness and elegance. At Red Sage, they're served with shallots, garlic, white wine, lemon, tomatoes and risotto, creating a delicious entree that may transform you from a lobster lover to a langoustine aficianado.
Langoustines from Red Sage at Buffalo Thunder & Casino.
Over at Shake Foundation, it's easy to savor summer all year long with Brian Knox's killer fried oyster sandwich, served with a red chile mayo that has enough kick to awaken your taste buds without burning them. It's not easy finding fried oysters in New Mexico, but Knox not only has found a way to serve them daily, he's got a secret for making them delicious every time. Order 'em up with a side of hand-cut shoestring fries and an Adobe Mud Shake and you've got summer on your plate and in your cup.
Fried Oyster Sandwich with Red Chile Mayo at Shake Foundation.
If you're a fan of fish'n'chips, the Canadian Salmon version at Rio Chama will make you very happy. Served with a classic tartar cause, dill fries and creamy cole slaw, it's summer on a plate, and the salmon tastes as if it were taken right off the line, tossed in a batter and served up fresh as can be.
Rio Chama Steakhouse, located in Santa Fe's oldest neighborhood, the Barrio de Analco.