December Cuisine Scene

Lynn Cline - December 4, 2018

Festive food fun

It's hard to believe that December is here and the year will soon be gone. This last month always speeds by faster than any other, thanks to the holiday shopping, gift wrapping, card writing, menu planning and countless other traditions that keep us frantically busy. When it all feels like too much, take a break and treat yourself to some festive food fun. Santa Fe is full of ways to escape the holiday stress, restoring your good cheer so you feel merry and bright rather than on the verge of turning into Scrooge. Read on for a few ideas about how to feed your spirit this holiday season.

The Joy of Cooking

The Santa Fe School of Cooking has some jolly good classes on this month's calendar, including Mole & More, devoted to the traditional Mexican sauce that packs a powerful flavor. The states of Puebla and Oaxaca both claim to be the birthplace of mole and today, many regions of Mexico have their own version. Mole, an ancient word meaning “mix,” is prepared in a variety of ways but each one includes at least one kind of chile. From there, the ingredients can include pine nuts, pepitas, sesame seeds, cilantro, onions, garlic, chocolate and many others. In this class, you'll learn to make smoked chicken with mole, perfect protein salad, arroz verde, chile glazed carrots and onions and Mexican chocolate torte with raspberry glaze. You'll likely be inspired to make a few of these dishes at home to include in your holiday feast, and you'll have the recipes to take with you. The class takes place on Friday, December 7 from 10 am to 1 pm.

New Mexico's Christmas culinary traditions are rooted in a rich history. Tamales, for instance, are America's oldest holiday food and when the Spanish made contact with the Aztecs in the early 16th century, Aztec warriors and hunters were eating them as food on-the-go. In New Mexico, families have long held tamaladas (tamale-making party)—where everyone helps stuff corn husks with pork or a combination of vegetables, then steams them to serve on Christmas Eve, along with green chile and red chile sauces. On Christmas Day in New Mexico, it's traditional to serve posole, which is dried corn cooked into a thick stew or soup. You can learn the art of making our regional holiday fare in the Santa Fe School of Cooking's Traditional New Mexican Christmas class. The menu includes two kinds of tamales—shredded pork and poblano and corn—as well as red chile sauce to serve with them. You'll also learn to cook holiday posole with green chile sauce and beloved biscochitos. These anise-flavored cookies are a Christmas treat in New Mexico, where they've been the official state cookie since 1989. They're often cut in a fleur-de-lys shape, a tribute to Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lamy, New Mexico's first archbishop. The class takes place on Saturday, December 9, from 10 am to 1 pm and again on Monday, December 24 from 10 am to 1 pm.

Fashion Fare

Hoping to dress in haute couture this holiday season, but you don't have a thing to wear? Make reservations at La Moda III Lunchtime Fashion Show, held at the very fashionable Eloisa in the Drury Plaza Hotel. You'll get an up-front view of stylish clothing, jewelry and accessories created by more than 15 area designers, as you dine on upscale fare from acclaimed Chef John Rivera Sedlar. His Modern Southwestern Cuisine—a fusion of Northern New Mexico classics with Latin and Southwestern flavors using local ingredients—will inspire you as much as the eclectic fashion The event is produced by Natasha Nargis of Natasha Santa Fe, a gallery of fashion, art, jewelry, textiles and more, and Singular Couture, a gallery of wearable art.

Mellow Music

When you need a break from the holidaze, head over to the Hotel Santa Fe lounge and relax by the fire. You can sip your favorite spirits and listen to the mellifluous music of Ronald Roybal, who plays enchanting tunes on Native flute and Spanish guitar on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to pm. Snack on delectable food from Amaya, choosing small plates such as a selection of artisan cheese and carne asada tostaditas,. Or warm up with a comforting bowl of signature red chile tortilla soup. If you're in need of heartier fare, try the stuffed poblano chile, green chile French dip or seafood andouille gumbo. Maybe you're craving a sweet treat as a reward for all of your holiday prep work. Go all out with the house-made flourless chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, ganache and caramel sauce or the apple-almond tarte tatin with caramelized apples, raspberry jam and almond crust, served a la mode. You definitely deserve it.