Thursday, November 1, 2012


Spiral and Chili-Rista
So we crawl out of Chaco… and head back to civilization.  We stop in Espanola, NM, which is about 22 miles north of Santa Fe.  We check into the Cottonwood RV Park.  The park is for sale and has seen better days but it’s reasonably priced, has WIFI and a Laundry room.  Dave needs his oil changed and Dimples is frankly a mess inside and out. 

On the suggestion of one of the park workers we stop at El Paraqua for lunch.  El Paraqua is a hidden gem in Espanola. (Well not all that hidden.  Every major food critic including the NY Times, Frommers and Gourmet Magazine have positively reviewed this restaurant.)  We are so NOT disappointed! With the first bite of my Stuffed Sopapilla smothered with Carnitas, my taste buds are singing arias! Chris practically licks his plate as he finishes his Huevos Rancheros.  In fact the food is so outstanding that we return later that evening for dinner.  The margaritas are mixed to perfection, the clam strip appetizer crisp and juicy, the Trio of Enchiladas (ground beef, chorizo and steak) mouthwatering, the Chili Rellenos Y Carnitas are light and the beef tender and flavorful, And the Sopapillias… ah the Sopapillias… that accompany each entre…. are light, and puffy, with a family secret seasonings… (I think it’s heroine because I now dream of these LOL) We finish with a couple of Mexican coffees and the flan, yum yum yum!!! This is Northern New Mexico cuisine of the highest caliber.
El Paragua Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The next morning Dave goes in for oil change and lube job at the local GMC dealer.  On the way back, Chris stops at El Parasol, (The original take out taco stand that spawned El Paraqua)  for some quick take out.  The breakfast burritos are to die for.  This is fast food for the foodie in all of us!
El Parasol - Española on Urbanspoon

Santa Fe Style
Although Espanola is relatively close to Santa Fe, we would like to get more urban. We e-mail a former neighbor Moni Vancamp, (who with her husband, Gregory Kondos owns a home in Santa Fe) asking for dining recommendations etc.  We are pleasantly surprised to learn that Moni and her girlfriend, Barbara will be in Santa Fe the coming weekend.  So after taking Dimples to a self-service car wash and cleaning off the desert grime, we head into Santa Fe.  Here we stay at the Trailer Ranch RV resort. Although it’s located on a busy thoroughfare, it’s quiet and has great WIFI.  There is also an El Parasol take out right down the street… YEAH!! When checking in we meet some fellow full-time Airstreamers and discover that they are the creators of the Ginger Goes Glamping Blog! (Woo Hoo… rubbing elbows with celebrities!)  But wait… it gets better…

We meet up with Moni and Barbara on Saturday morning at the Tesque flea market. Barbara is a producer of organic extra virgin olive oils from a grove planted in 1888 by her grandfather on her family’s ranch (Martell Ranch) in Solano County, CA.  I wish I could direct you to a website where you too could purchase some of this wonderful olive oil, but alas the website is pending… but the oil is spectacular (thank you Barbara!) Moni introduces us to Alex, who sells museum quality turquoise jewelry.  We learn a lot and admire but we let Moni and Barbara do all of the purchasing LOL.  We did get some great spices from Chef Abdul Wasabi.  Afterwards we have brunch at the Tesque Market where the Green Chili Stew is spicy and flavorful and the Huevos Rancheros heavenly.  Northern New Mexico chefs sure know their stuff!
Tesuque Village Market on Urbanspoon

We return to Santa Fe and leave Dave at Moni’s house near downtown and head off to do a little shopping and gallery browsing.  Browsing galleries with Moni who is an art consultant is always informative and entertaining.  We finally end up back at Moni’s where we meet up with Barbara’s friend Joe Dan Lowry.  Joe Dan’s family owns the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque and is the author of THE most comprehensive book about these lovely blue and green stones.  Joe Dan answers questions about turquoise, but he’d rather talk about all of those things we are supposed to avoid in polite company.  The discussions are lively and thought provoking and revolve around our common humanity.  It is refreshing to have real adult conversations without any avarice or hurt feelings.

Santa Fe is a mecca for seekers of great: shopping, food, art galleries and Museums.

Native Vendor
So let’s talk shopping.  Outside of the downtown there are strip malls and big box stores.  We stop at Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a replacement for our Simple Human soap dispenser. Our model has been discontinued, but they have a floor model and they swap out our broken part at no charge. (SWEET!) The shopping downtown offers a plethora of boutiques and Native American vendors selling handcrafted jewelry and wares.  Here we pick up a small Acoma pot by Anne Lewis to add to our small collection, some tin Dia de Los Muertos figures to decorate Dimples, and a lovely Indian inspired belt to hold up Chris’ pants that seem to be increasing in size as we travel about.  At Diva jewelers, Chris has the broken opal in his wedding ring replaced with a piece of spider web turquoise.  I also have my wedding ring sized down… it was falling off due to weight loss.  Overall we are good and don’t go too crazy with the purchases.

Now Food… ah… if we keep this up… all of our advances in weight loss may be lost!

Rooftop Pizzeria on UrbanspoonOur first attempt to grab a bite is at the Plaza Café.  Somehow we are invisible and after sitting for over fifteen minutes with no acknowledgement and watching patrons who were seated after us get drinks and service.

Plaza Café Downtown on UrbanspoonWe leave and head across the plaza to Rooftop Pizzeria where we enjoy a Chicken pizza with green chili and pine nuts and nice glass of Chardonnay and a dark draft oatmeal stout.

Blue Corn Cafe on UrbanspoonOn another foray into town we grab lunch at the Blue Corn Café.  Their enchiladas are wonderful and the Corn Chipotle Chowder filling and bursting with flavor.  Their Sopapillias don’t compare to El Paraqua, but they are nevertheless light and tasty.  

with a twist

A hankering for sushi leads us to San Q  in Burro Alley where we sit at the sushi bar and allow the chef to prepare his choice of offerings of his freshest sashimi and a custom unagi roll with a Santa Fe twist. It’s fun to eat off the menu! Chris finishes off his meal with a wonderful bowl of Oyako Donbori (a Japanese comfort food.)  At the New Mexico History Museum’s Cowden Café we share a Frito Pie, a tasty (albeit junk food) regional favorite. 
El Parasol on Urbanspoon
Of course, we stop at El Parasol a couple of times to grab, some of their tasty burritos and yummy Chilaquiles. (Chris is exceptionally fond of the corned beef burritos.)

Art Galleries are everywhere offering pieces by local and international artists for every taste and pocketbook.

Loretto Chapel
And then there are the museums.  Wonderful world-class museums!  Our first stop is the Loretto Chapel to view the “miracle staircase.”  This is something I heard about as a child and although we don’t buy into the mysticism it is part of the cultural heritage of the city.  Since we are seeking culture, we purchase a Culture Pass that grants access to 14 museums and monuments in the state. Four are located in Santa Fe. We spend three days exploring two of them.  

Museum of Indian
Art & Culture
The New Mexico History Museum and Palace of the Governors gives the visitor an in-depth comprehensive view into the stories that made the American West, from the prehistoric indigenous people through the colonial occupation by Spain, The Mexican era, Statehood, the development of the atomic bomb and on up to the present.  The Museum of Indian Art and Culture is a real treat.  A panel Native American Curators and others designed the exhibits.  The ongoing exhibit, Here, Now and Always takes us on a journey from the pre historic beginnings to present day experiences of the Southwest indigenous peoples.  Relics from Chaco Canyon fill in some of the gaps in our understanding of the complexity of the culture and a museum employee points out a thousand plus year old net made from human hair measuring over 150 feet long and tells us of its unlikely discovery in a cave buried in bat guano. Fascinating!  This is one of the most comprehensive collections of Southwest Indian tools, art and artifacts. The current exhibit featuring works by third generation native contemporary artist Margarete Bagshaw excites us.  “Breaking the Rules,” says it all! Her works are modern, visually stunning and retain a native sensibility in fresh and exciting ways. Much to our dismay... photography is not allowed in any of these museums :-(

We also catch a showing of the film Cloud Atlas at the local Cineplex. Although this movie has received mixed reviews, we found it stimulating and fully enjoyable.

Chili-Rista's everywhere!

Santa Fe is in the news this week… seems the actor Gene Hackman bitch slapped some homeless guy who called Gene’s wife the C-word…. We didn’t see it but we were just around the corner in the museum when it happened…

So after a week here in and all of this blatant name dropping… We think we should stay another week… the weather in perfect and there is just way too much more to do here!


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