A travel journal
to Santa Fe by SeenThat
Quote: "Do you want Christmas?" they charmingly ask while referring to a red and green chilies stew. Sometimes a burrito is upgraded here and called a chapati roll. Santa Fe, where people eat organic and take food back home so that they can enrich their compost pile, is a different city.
But sometimes life is stronger than us, and recently I found myself unexpectedly invited to a lunch at Annapurna. I liked the name, it reminded me of some loved places in Nepal, but sadly I found that the Santa Fean version had nothing to do with them.
Beyond the nice name and worrying logo, they specialize in organic vegetarian and vegan food, serve authentic chai, and have a large selection of imported teas, have vegan and gluten-free baked goods and that they specialize on Southern Indian food. The last one is the obvious result of their vegetarian restrictions to the menu.
The place was very spacious, with a few tables in the center and cubicles around the walls; the last were separated from the huge central chamber with the help of long silk curtains. We chose the food by the counter and then found shelter inside one of the cubicles, sitting on comfortable cushions and mattresses placed next to a low table.
The chai ($3.25) arrived first and was true to its fame, despite its price approaching a chai stall daily profits in India; it can be ordered in the milk or soymilk versions and a take away is available for an extra $0.50. It can be served hot or chilled for the same price. Moments before, I spotted next to the imported teas some packages of yerba mate ($1.50), a drink typical of certain parts of South America. Well, they didn't claim to be exclusively Southern Indian. Served in a pot, the teas cost $2.75.
A few minutes later arrived the solid dishes. The Mataar Paneer ($6.95) was well done; the paneer—that soft, white Indian cheese—was especially good. Tasty peas and tom sauce completed the dish. The chapati bread needed to consume it in the Indian fashion was defined as an extra and cost one dollar. A raita, which is a kind of potato salad, was served as a small side dish for $0.25.
In Santa Fe as in Santa Fe, even French restaurants serve burritos. Immense amounts of creativity are invested to provide the requested item under the ethnic restrictions of the specific place. Annapurna stood up to the task and invented the "chapati roll." For $4.95 it is possible now to buy the same New Mexican hit and feel in Mumbai.
For dessert, the cakes were the best option. The carrots and chocolate cakes seemed to be the most popular; they were good and cost around three dollars the portion. However, they added to the basic inconsistency of the place, and after studying the menu it was hard to define it as Southern Indian. Fusion cuisine can be excellent, but it should be advertised accordingly and not disguised under unclear titles.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 24, 2006
905 West Alameda
The Galley is an old bus painted brown with a small sign announcing "Cajun Food." Curious, I decided to stop one early afternoon. Needless to say, ten seconds later a car stopped next to me and became the second potential customer of the place. However, it was only a potential customer, because the woman just looked at my order and drove away. Apparently, I am never truly alone.
Callie, the proud owner, claims that the "self-sufficient Mobile Land Galley can cater your event anytime, anywhere." My visit was less pretentious; I just wanted to taste some New Orleans food because a friend did some positive remarks about it, especially regarding its unique spicing. The menu was simple and clear and included food in three categories: seafood, chicken and pork, and vegetarian.
Seafood in the heart of New Mexico seemed to be a bit too adventurous; thus, I opted for the second category. Meanwhile, Callie insisted in my tasting some of the menu before ordering. The wild wind and hints of a coming rain made me hesitate, but before being able to answer, she put a sample of the crab and crawfish bisque in my hands. Callie defines it as "a decadent creamy thick 'n buttery lobster-like stew over rice, it's not a soup." The lobster-like referred to shrimp-bits, but otherwise the dish was truly decadent and tasty. Inspired by my photographing, she gave me another sample, this time of the chicken and sausage gumbo, a "hearty, flavorful, satisfying and warm but not too hot." The ingredients were successfully described this time and the dish was equally tasty.
The dishes could be ordered in regular lunch trays, pints or quarts. I am unacquainted with imperial units, but the prices of the last two hinted that they were too big, thus I chose a regular tray. As a result of a comment by a friend a few days earlier, I asked for a jambalaya, which Callie describes as "white rice turned brown with all the spicy flavors, plus an abundance of chicken, sausage and ham." The dish arrived in a big tray with two pieces of hot bread and a small coleslaw salad. As promised, the rice was tasty and spicy, somehow just before it becomes too hot to be pleasant.
Driving away, I began planning my next visit. Would be any witnesses to my eating Callie's Caribbean Shrimp on Saffron Rice? Stay tuned.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 24, 2006
Sitting on the Cerrillos and Rodeo junction, the place is easily accessed from downtown through Cerrillos. It offers plenty of free parking in front of it and is far enough from downtown to be pleasantly empty. There were no surprises inside, where photographs dating back a century, wall paintings of the modern New York skyline and photographs of old movies decorated the place. Alongside a few coaches, there were regular tables and chairs, which were not fancy, but were comfortable. For take away, the order should be placed at the counter; otherwise a waitress takes the order from the sitting guest.
While studying the huge menu, I asked for an espresso ($1.5). It arrived quickly within a china cup, breaking the Santa-Fean habit of paper-cups; even the cutlery was made of solid metal. For a town so concerned with recycling, Santa-Feans have a weakness for paper and plastic.
Unfortunately, the espresso was weak and lukewarm. Usually, that would be enough to send me elsewhere, but the food menu looked attractive. Hence, I asked for a regular coffee ($0.75), which arrived with cold milk aside. This one was good, and the waitress kept filling it during my long stay.
It was a tough decision, but finally I took a special omelette breakfast ($6.95). It included two eggs, prepared as per the customer preferences, two slices of bacon, two small pancakes, potatoes and a bagel with butter and jelly or with cream cheese. There were fifteen kinds of bagels to choose from, but - faithful to the place - I chose the New York Rye, which came coated with cumin seeds; it was fresh and of top quality. To accompany it I preferred the cream cheese to the jelly. There were thirteen kinds of cheese, and I chose the plain one; in such a way it was easier to appreciate its excellent quality. The tasty pancakes were served with an overdose of maple syrup and butter and the potatoes were served non-peeled and cooked to their exact point.
It was hard to leave the place; the food was enough to induce an early siesta and only the coffee, flowing from an endless spring, kept me awake until it was time to leave.
The place, as many others in Santa Fe, works for very limited hours, specifically from 7am to 3pm every day including weekends. Is that a hint to skip the lunch specials and to enjoy instead one of their excellent breakfasts as a brunch?
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 24, 2006
New York Deli
4056 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe 87507
The kitchen is of the open type, allowing observing the cooking while waiting. The place is clean to the point that it looks new; there are no signs of the cooking fumes and vapors on the walls or ceilings, the wood has an untouched natural hue which gives to the place an unreal quality, like a toy restaurant in a huge theme park.
The menu is varied and is divided into a breakfast and a lunch section, a silent testimony that the place - as most of Santa Fe—is closed at the evenings. Breakfasts cost between $5.95 and $7.75, while lunches prices oscillate between $7.50 and $8.25 for the main dishes. The only (?) side dish—a small version of their Farmer's Salad—costs $4.25.
I arrived there on time for a late breakfast. The options were varied and the main dishes were always incomplete; the lacking ingredient could be added at an extra cost. For example, granola with yogurt costs $6.25, but to get fresh fruit with it, two dollars should be added. A bowl of fresh fruit would cost $5.95, and yogurt could be added for an extra $1.50. The most expensive dish in the breakfast menu was roasted corn and green chili frittata with Yukon gold potatoes, a roasted tomato and fresh fruit for $7.75; adding house mixed greens would add an extra $1.50.
Even in Santa Fe, that looked very expensive for a one-dish breakfast. Disliking the idea of buying one but paying for two, I decided to concentrate on the pastry items. A simple coffee costs $1.60, while muffins and croissants cost $2.25, simple scones $1.95 and an addition of butter or jam costs a mere $0.25. A croissant suited me, a good and fresh one is an acid test to a pastry shop, but it wasn't available. A blueberry muffin took its place. It was very fresh and the blueberries were excellent, but somehow it had a residual taste of disappointment.
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