The Year in Food

A look back at 2014 in the Culinary Capital

Photo: Mike Fisher

As the end of the year approaches, it's time to pause and reflect on 2014, a year that brought us new restaurants, edible events and national attention. Take a look back at the year in food, before 2014 comes to a close, and you'll see that we live in a culinary capital, a place where food reigns supreme!

Restaurant Openings

This past year saw the opening of Fire & Hops, Joel Coleman's innovative gastropub in the Guadalupe Street adobe that once housed Tulips. The menu is creative and spans the globe, from the Quebec dish poutin, made here with cheese curds, bacon and green chile to French cassoulet with duck confit and Spanish chorizo and  Chiang Mai Sausage, accompanied by sauerkrat and spaetzle. Even the snacks are inventive, from curry spice nuts to salt and vinegar potatoes and pork rinds. Coleman left Santa Fe a few years ago after gaining a following with his stints around town, including at Mu Du Noodles and Koi.  He was hailed with a hero's welcome upon his return to open Fire & Hops and already, he's earned a loyal following of foodies.

Loyal Hound, another gastropub, joined the scene with modern comfort food and craft beer and wine. Housed in the St. Michael's space formerly occupied by Hidden Chicken, the restaurant serves up big hits, including the Herbed Belgian Waffle with BBQ Braised Kyzer Farm, and Green Chile Cole Slaw and the Chicken Shortcake, served pot pie-style on biscuits with melted cheddar. Yum...

Photo courtesy of Georgia

Fans of Georgia O'Keeffe will love the Johnson Street restaurant Georgia, which opened this year. The menu pays tribute to the iconic artist who lived in Abiquiu with more than a few of her favorite items, including watercress and endive salad, simple greens, grilled rack of lamb and roasted cauliflower.  Brett Sparman, formerly of Luminaria, heads up the kitchen, and also offers an eclectic tavern menu featuring mac'n'cheese, Wagyu beef burger and Brett's jumbo crab cakes.

Chef Xavier Grenet opened L'Olivier, serving classic French fare including grass-fed rosemary-braised beef short ribs, grilled achiote elk tenderloin and glazed suckling pig with truffle penne.  Grenet trained at L’École Française de la Gastronomie Ferrandi in Paris and worked in some of the world’s finest restaurants including Jamin, which earned three coveted Michelin stars. He also served as head chef on movie sets, including “Le Grand Bleu” and “The Professional” before coming to Santa Fe to head the kitchen at Ristra, where his Southwestern French cuisine earned raves from diners and critics.

And just in time for the holidays came Cheesemongers, a unique, full-service, cut-to-order artisan cheese shop on Marcy Street, offering more than 100 varieties of cheese, along with cured meats, antipasti, mustards, chutney, pickles and more. Seasonal cheese plates, grilled cheese sandwiches and regular classes on making cheese, pairing cheese with wine are also on tap. I was there on opening night and the line was out the door...A very nice Christmas present for Santa Fe!

Photo courtesty of izinami

After helping izanami earn a coveted James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant, chef Kim Muller took a bow and handed the chopsticks...er, baton over to David Padberg, who spent eight years in Portland as the chef of Park Kitchen and the founding chef of Raven & Rose. The menu includes pork belly kakuni with parsnip puree, Wagyu beef ishiyaki cooked on a hot stone and tempura avocado and squash. In addition to delicious food, izanami also offers incredible mountain views.

Cafe Fina,  the popular breakfast, brunch and lunch spot on Old Las Vegas Highway, opened its doors for dinner, Fridays through Sundays. The menu includes a few classics—Caesar salad, duck confit and fried oysters—as well as some signature dishes and the cafe's popular green chile cheeseburger. The menu was created by longtime Santa Fe chef Chris Galvin and owner Murphy O'Brien.  The cafe will continue its Dosa Night on Mondays, too.

The Santa Fe School of Cooking celebrated 25 years, a pioneer in a family business that has enchanted visitors and locals alike with cooking classes, culinary tours, boot camps for foodies and a shop featuring New Mexico ingredients, kitchen ware, cookbooks and more. Congratulations to Susan and Dave Curtis and their daughter, Nicole Curtis Ammerman, for 25 wonderful years and here's to 50 more!

Edible Events

FUZE.SW, the second annual food conference, was a huge success, with a schedule stuffed from breakfast to dinner with talks, tastings, food demos and more. This year's theme, devoted to Native American foodways, featured award-winning author Betty Fussell as well as a host of cookbook authors, food historians, acclaimed chefs and, of course, incredible food.

The second annual Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown took place in the Railyard, with 16 restaurants vying for the Judges' Award and the People's Choice Award, won by Second Street Brewery and the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid, respectively.

Final Farewells

Painting of Joseph by Ben Haggard

Santa Fe lost a vocal voice in the food world with the passing of Joseph Santa Fe Pulse, who colorfully covered the city's food scene with panache and great photos to boot. His friends miss him dearly and his culinary contributions, as well as posts about Santa Fe art and culture, are greatly missed as well.

Looking Ahead

As for 2015...what's to come? The much-anticipated opening of Eloise, the new restaurant at the Drury Plaza Hotel helmed by Santa Fe native John Sedlar, a pioneer of Southwest cuisine who's returned home to cook up some culinary magic. A few more James Beard award nominations and new restaurants. And definitely a lot of good eats. Happy New Year!

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

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