September Santa Fe Cuisine Scene
The Big Green Chile Cheese Burger Battle
It's green chile season, the most wonderful time of the year. When that delectable smell of roasting green chile wafts across the city, who doesn't desire a big old bowl of green chile stew, an earthy green chile sauce that can pair with just about anything, and of course our world-famous green chile cheeseburger? There's nothing else on the planet like a grilled burger on a toasted bun, topped with cheese, maybe a slice or two of bacon and some onion if you like, all smothered with fresh roasted, chopped green chile, as hot as you can take it.
In recent years, green chile season has culminated with the annual Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown, which takes place on Saturday, September 7 from 2 to 5 pm at the Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Co. In this competition hosted by Edible New Mexico, locally owned restaurants across the state vie for the chance to have their version of this iconic burger deemed the best in all the land, or at least the Land of Enchantment. In pursuit of that goal, competing chefs have, since 2013, cooked up nearly 38,000 burgers for more than 4,800 hungry tasters, according to the event's Facebook page.
The Smackdown actually hands out two awards, the People's Choice Winner, decided by the general public attending the event, and the Reigning Chomp Winner, awarded by a panel of foodie celebrity judges. James Beard award-winning cookbook author Cheryl Alters Jamison, host of the "Heating it Up" food talk radio show on KTRC AM 1260 / FM 103.7, is in her seventh year as a Smackdown judge, the only person who has judged the competition every year. “I love being part of the Smackdown because the green chile cheeseburger holds such revered status here," she says. "The chefs are serious, but burgers always bring an element of fun. It’s fascinating to see the chefs take the same few ingredients and create such wildly different results. And, I love the emphasis on using New Mexico chile, grass-fed beef, cheese, and more.”
The seven finalists vying for this year's awards include Luminaria at Inn and Spa Loretto, where Chef Jason Stewart has crafted a Midwestern-stye burger patty stuffed with Hatch green chile and local Monterey Jack cheese that's griddled and then topped with more chile and cheese, crispy onions , bacon, heirloom tomato and spicy aioli. If that doesn't get you hankering for a green chile cheeseburger....then you're probably not a meat-eater.
Tasty Santa Fe Tours
It's the perfect weather for a walking tour, and one of the most gratifying ways to stroll around downtown Santa Fe is on a Restaurant Walking Tour with the Santa Fe School of Cooking. For more than a decade, these tasty tours have showcased the diverse flavors of the city as well as the acclaimed chefs and restaurants that have put Santa Fe on the world's culinary map. Three tours, each with four different stops, take you behind the front of the house with a private tasting and a chance to meet the chefs, owners, sommeliers and others responsible for running some of the city's finest restaurants. From rustic Italian to creative contemporary, as well as traditional New Mexican with a modern twist, innovative Southwestern and much more, the restaurants on these tours serve up an impressive variety of fine food that you'll find nowhere else.
There's a reason that Fodor's Travel included the Santa Fe School of Cooking on its list of Recommended Restaurant Walking Tours, and that's because these tours take you on an epicurean adventure, whether you're a local or a visitor. Led by renowned Santa Fe chefs, the tours include a stop at the renowned Anasazi Restaurant, where Executive Chef Peter O’Brien blends modern cuisine with Old World techniques to present food with a flair, relying on seasonal ingredients. At il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen, Chef/Owner Matt Yohalem's regional Italian cuisine features ingredients local farmers deliver right to the restaurant's front door. Other stops include Joseph's Culinary Pub, where Chef Joseph Wrede's acclaimed creative cuisine draws from global and regional influences, and La Plazuela at La Fonda, where you'll sample a fresh twist on traditional New Mexican flavors, as created by Executive Chef Lane Warner, who's been with this historic Harvey House hotel for more than two decades.
Wine & Chile Returns
Raise a glass to New Mexico chile and to the grapes that produce fine wine when the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta returns, September 22-29. The five-day celebration that pairs 75 Santa Fe restaurants with 90 wineries from around the country is the city's biggest foodie event of the year, drawing some 3,000 locals and visitors for winery luncheons and dinners, cooking demos, wine seminars and so much more. The big event, the Grand Tasting, takes place at the Santa Fe Opera, but many other events draw big crowds, too. A Film Fiesta opens the festivities, followed by a Gruet Golf Classic, a Grand Fondo Bike Ride, a Champagne Brunch, and a Live Auction Luncheon that raises funds to sponsor restaurant service classes, wine and cooking classes and other Santa Fe restaurant community events, as well as Santa Fe's Cooking with Kids and Santa Fe Restaurant Week. Each year brings a new slate of guest chefs from around the country to participate in Wine & Chile, and this year's visitors include L.A. Chef Neal Fraser of the critically acclaimed Redbird restaurant; San Francisco Chef Ravi Kapur of Liholiho Yacht Club; and repeat visitor Laura Werlin, a San Francisco author and chef who's an authority on cheese.