Comprehensive Sampling of Santa Fe's Fiery Southwestern Fare
As any chef in Santa Fe can tell you, ristra—a decorative bundle of fiery chili peppers—is fundamental to the preparation of the regional cuisine. The peppers are chopped and roasted when green, dried and ground when red; they're used to flavor practically any dish, from Santa Fe–style stacked enchiladas to loaded cheeseburgers. You can taste this area's zesty cuisine for yourself on a two- or three-night culinary tour of Santa Fe from Epitourean.
Two-Night Tour: First, a docent will lead you on a foodie tour that chronicles Santa Fe’s 300-year-old culinary tradition, which has been influenced by Spanish, Native American, Mexican and, recently, Asian and Indochinese residents. You'll make multiple stops to snack along the way.
Next, you'll learn to cook fiery southwestern fare at home during a hands-on cooking class taught by a top regional instructor. The trip concludes with a gourmet dinner at award-winning restaurant Luminaria, where talented chefs use local, organic ingredients for dishes such as blackened Atlantic salmon a la plancha and a pekin duck breast served with mole and caramelized bananas.
Three-Night Tour: A three-hour foodie tour led by a docent will jump-start the three-day culinary experience. Next, you'll join a hands-on southwestern cooking class, where you can ask a master chef about how to do anything from glazing spare ribs to stuffing chili rellenos with valuable family heirlooms.
The trip is capped by a multicourse dinner at the AAA Four Diamond Geronimo. Executive Chef Eric DiStefano has curated an international menu that emphasizes French and Asian cuisines. You'll find entrees such as fiery sweet-chili- and honey-grilled Mexican white prawns as well as brown-butter roasted chicken breast, served alongside parmesan soft polenta and black trumpet mushrooms. If you've opted for the three-night tour, you'll receive a cookbook signed personally by celebrity chef Johnny Vee.
Accommodations in Santa Fe: During your tour, you’ll settle in for the night at Fort Marcy Hotel Suites. The hotel sits on 9 acres of manicured and rugged grounds and gardens amid the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Indoor and outdoor pools are available to guests. The recently remodeled suites feature wood-burning kiva fireplaces and stocked kitchens.
It's also worth it to take short walk from Fort Marcy to the perpetually sun-soaked downtown area, a historical center, where you can see how fragments from the Native American, Latino, and western traditions make Santa Fe the vibrant mosaic that it is today. The 400-year-old site of the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica has fancy stained-glass windows that throw rainbow sparkles onto the stone floor. A cowboy-boot shop in the city offers custom leather wares made by hand.