We had a delicious and memorable time touring Northern New Mexico--never to be forgotten--all 9 of us touring the beautiful Rio Grande valley, with its fabulous foliage and delightful and historic sites all along the way from Albuquerque to Taos.
We started late Saturday afternoon in Albuquerque with a wine tasting in the beautiful Casa Rodena winery in the north valley of Albuquerque and continued up the valley to dine at the El Pinto, known for its New Mexican food.
Excitedly, we packed ourselves into the van for our tour to Taos via Santa Fe. The views were brilliant with golden cottonwoods and willows lining the stream beds and shadows accented by the occasional cloud on the stark mountains lining our way.
Our first stop was the La Chirapda winery, the first winery to reestablish after Prohibion in Northern New Mexico. Their European styled wines are excellent and were a treat to the palate before winding our way into Taos for the evening and the next two days.
We stayed at the charming and beautiful Casa Benavidez, nestled just a short walk from the main Plaza of Taos, the nation's first art colony and a very historic city--once the capital of the New Mexico territory. Following a get acquainted walk about the picturesque streets of Taos--each of us dressed for an elegant dinner at Lambert's, where they totally knocked themselves out. Rated the best in Taos for the past few years, the food is so creative and delicious. The executive chef and his 3 sous chefs reviewed how they created the evening's specialties, which delighted each of us.
The next day, we visited the historic Taos Pueblo, the only remaining multi-story dwelling of all New Mexico's Indian Pueblos. Well over 1000 years old, each wanted to stay longer, but did join us the tour of Milicent Rogers (the Standard Oil heiress) collection of art, jewelry, pottery and all manner of Indian artifacts.
After a free afternoon, I presented a full participation cooking class of Northern New Mexican dishes. All were wonderful cooks and created a truly delicious dinner.
The next day, we took the high road from Taos to Chimayo--touring along the barest wisp of a road along the peaks of the tallest mountains in the state--viewing little villanges created by the Spanish over 400 years ago and home to many artists. We lunched at the quaint Rancho de Chimayo on Northern New Mexican specialties.
In the afternoon, we arrived in Santa Fe and checked into the newly refurbished St. Francis Hotel--just steps from the famous Plaza. Following an afternoon of free time, we dined on traditional, beautifully prepared Northern New Mexican dishes, once again, innovatively prepared by Estaban Garcia, the Executive Chef of the St. Francis.
The next morning, we all went to Canyon Road, the mecca for art and one of the most famous art gallery areas of the world. Following some gallery and store browsing--we lunched together in a Spanish tapas restaurant set in the oldest restaurant building in Santa Fe. The rest of the afternoon and evening was free.
The last day came up far too quickly!! Most all of us toured the museums around the plaza--joining in a group to lunch at the Shed, a delicious 1960's feeling restaurant that is very, very popular--always having a long wait-time for eating in their quaint and charming dining rooms--a part of the famous Sena Plaza, a block from Santa Fe's Plaza. Their specialty is Northern New Mexican food.
Our farewell dinner was spectacular. Chef Martine, a third generation chef from Guadalajara creates the most amazingly delicious and innovative dishes, all decorated with a very fine, artistic hand. Each beautiful dish was totally enjoyed and enhanced by the chef reviewing his hints for creating each.
We all said our reluctant goodbys and look forward to seeing each other again!