TJK - I'm not sure how the jalapeno bacon was created; they may have bought it that way. Maybe someone from New Mexico could tell us whether that's a well known item there or unique to Tecolote. It had a strong taste of jalapeno, almost stronger than the bacon taste, and there were tiny bits of jalapeno on it.
AHI - The sheepherder breakfast was incredible, get there if and when you can! Thanks for the compliment on the photos; the food was so good it was hard to take a bad picture of it.
Mayor Al, thanks for your comments and encourgement. I'm a LONGTIME reader on the Roadfood website but only an occasional poster, and I always enjoy hearing what you have to say. It was so interesting to hear that people from the west are as surprised at the east's greenness as we are at their brownness.
Here we go with Part 3....
Thursday afternoons' museum visits also included a trip to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. Of course she is the area's most well known artist. Most people know her by her flower paintings, but thanks to the lectures we received in the mornings, I was able to see that she's about much more than that. The lecturer, an art historian and photographer, had taken photos of many of the locations she painted and then juxtaposed them with the paintings themselves. This allowed a very interesting glimpse into her artistic process, and how she focused on details that spoke to her, radically simplifying the image and bringing out its beauty. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs in the museum, but if you like O'Keeffe's work it's a great place to visit.
Speaking of beauty, one of the most powerful impressions I got of Santa Fe is how important art and artists are here. So much is consciously made colorful and beautiful! Check out this parking sign:
Thursday evening we were given time for "dinner on your own" (most of the meals were included in the tour package, along with the hotel, lectures, and field trips.) After consulting Roadfood, we decided to visit The Shed.
The Shed is entered through a pretty courtyard behind Susan's Christmas Shop. We had earlier visited that shop because I like to buy Christmas tree ornaments as souvenirs of places I visit, and they had some nice ones - we ended up buying five between the two of us. Here's the entryway to The Shed:
I began with a frozen strawberry margarita, and my friend with a traditional lime one. Here's the strawberry one (a little blurry, as I was later after two -- well, one and a half of these.)
My appetizer was the cold raspberry soup, which was delicious. However, due perhaps to the effects of the margarita (?) I could not get a clear picture of it. It was creamy, fruity, and not too sweet, and I could have eaten much more of it.
My traveling companion ordered the veggie quesadilla:
This was OUTRAGEOUSLY good. It was simple but so well made: crispy flour tortillas, lots of creamy molten cheese, and bits of tomato, red onion, scallion, jalapeno, and cilantro. My "can I try a bite" turned into several pleas for "just one more...."
For my main course I ordered the fish tacos:
They were good -- grilled mahi-mahi, purple cabbage, pineapple and mango salsa (not enough; I could hardly taste it) and soft flour tortillas, topped with a hefty chunk of perfectly ripe avocado. The rice on the side was good, but nothing special. I look forward to trying more fish tacos, though.
Companion ordered (no surprise) the cheese enchilada platter, which came with blue corn tortillas, pinto beans and posole (hominy stewed with pork.) Her reaction to this plate was probably the same as yours will be to the picture of it....
Where's the enchiladas???
Ok, that's pinto beans in the upper left, and posole is the white chunky stuff from the middle to the bottom of the plate. She ordered her chile "Christmas" style, and so you can see red chile on the left side of the plate and green chile on the right.
After digging around for a bit, the enchiladas were discovered buried under the other stuff. She regretted not ordering the enchiladas by themselves instead of as part of the platter, but I had convinced her to get the platter so I could taste posole, which neither of us had ever had. Too bad that neither of us ended up liking it -- it was bland and mealy. I think they cooked it just fine; I just think neither one of us care for hominy (although I love grits, which is the stuff all ground up.) Unfortunately, it seriously interfered with her enjoyment of the enchiladas.
I also ordered the frozen mocha cake for dessert. It was delicious but frozen quite hard, which forced me to chip off little bits at a time. This actually was not a bad way to savor the dessert, although I'm not sure if that is what they had in mind. Once again, no picture though (sorry.)
Wandering about the plaza area before our meal, we encountered this burro:
This statue sits at one end of Burro Alley, which in the days of the Santa Fe trail was the street where travelers parked their burros whilst drinking and carousing. Or so our guide told us.
The entire day Friday was taken up with a day trip to Taos, so no lectures in the morning. We were on the bus bright and early.
As we went up further into the mountains the scenery became wilder and more spectacular.
We saw many arroyos, or dry stream/river beds, which we were told were sometimes used as roads by the locals. This can be dangerous however, especially in "monsoon season" (July), when heavy thunderstorms can come up suddenly and turn them into raging torrents - every so often someone gets killed that way.
There were also some actual rivers and streams.
In the morning we visited the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. Millicent Rogers was a daughter of a wealthy family (connected somehow with Standard Oil, I think) who had a career as a model and actress and become a serious collector of southwestern art and folk art when she moved to Taos in the 1940s. Her collection (well, about one tenth of it, that is) is housed in a small jewel of a museum. There are many treasures there, and fortunately we were allowed to take photographs in the museum. There was pottery, weaving, furniture, religious art, silver and turquoise jewelry, and paintings galore. However, I'll give you a glimpse of just one breathtaking pieces, a turquoise necklace:
The stones are huge--the piece at the bottom is the size of my hand, fingers included!
There were many eccentric and artistic looking houses in Taos -- we took a picture of this pink one:
The fence of upright sticks to the left is called a "coyote fence", and we saw many of them in both Taos and Santa Fe. They are an aesthetic statement, but supposedly also do work to keep out the coyotes.
In the afternoon, we had the privilege of visiting Taos Pueblo, which is the oldest surviving community of people in North America. About 1,000 years old, it predates the Spanish conquistadors by hundreds of years (let alone the Pilgrims, who came along a hundred years after the Spanish.)
The multilevel adobe structure and single adobe dwelling house about 100 members of a tribe of about 3500, the rest of whom live off the reservation. Those who live here have chosen to do so without electricity or running water, just as their ancestors did.
Many of the dwellings had beehive-shaped ovens, or "hornos" beside them, which are used for baking. A fire is built inside and left to heat the over and then die out. Once the fire is out, bread and other items are put inside to bake. The adobe bricks hold the heat for a long time.
It was very dry and dusty there -- a true desert landscape. I was also struck by how many very quiet and mellow dogs were wandering about. They seemed very peaceable and used to people. One even let me scratch his ears, abeit with a resigned expression on his face ("Tourists......")
Here a couple of dogs seek shade next to one of the hornos.
The pueblo also featured a cafe:
Full from our box lunch, I did not partake, although I was tempted by the freshly made fry bread.
The residents did seem to have a good sense of humor about themselves as a tourist attraction:
So, to sum it all up: New Mexico's license plate slogan is "Land of Enchantment". I was certainly enchanted by it. This was a memorable vacation.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about it and will let me know how I did with my trip report. I had fun writing it!
I will leave you with one more picture, of the incredible New Mexico sky as seen over Taos Pueblo:
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