Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

It Must Be Tuesday

Santa Fe 3 of 4

It snowed again this morning! Even so by 10:00 AM, the sun was out and that's when we took a brisk walk back to the Museum of Art after being told yesterday by security guard Mike Saiz that all government-run museums are closed on Mondays.

With limited time in town, we could only explore around the plaza in the heart of downtown. Santa Fe maintains its charm because of their strict building code which mandates that all structures be made in the Adobe style. Which no doubt is why it was chosen as the first UNESCO city in America plus it is the oldest capital city in the US. And, as advertised, it is very walkable.

Here's the glitch. At 7000 feet above sea level, a deep breath can be hard to come by if you have a heart condition. Consequently, I was powered by VJ who dragged me along the sidewalks like a pull toy. I huffed and puffed my way through town, shuffling from one bench to another.

I didn't anticipate breathing troubles. Yet after the first night, when my sinus cavity became clogged, I woke with the worst case of dry mouth of my life. It was so dry my gums burned. Fortunately, I'd packed essentials like Biotene spray to remoisturize my mouth and saline spray to open my sinus.

You'd think that would be enough, however, my blood pressure decided to take a spike too. Even after I'd asked my doctors before leaving town if I should worry about anything. They said "not to worry". Let me assure you had I known I'd have rented an oxygen tank. Although we did hear there was an oxygen bar somewhere nearby.

While the city slogan is "hydrate" it doesn't forewarn that the air is so dry it will pull the moisture back out of your body before you can even swallow it. Note: It's so dry, it practically sucks the moisture from your water bottle.

Today's plan was to see as much as we could before we went to our cooking class at 2:00 PM. The Santa Fe School of Cooking offers a variety of year-around classes in Mexican cuisine. Jeff enrolled us in the 2 o'clock session for Authentic Spanish Tapas Class. Or so I thought.

When the class was announced as the Red Chile Workshop, I am embarrassed to say, my disappointment showed badly. But as it always seems to happen, when I get in a snit and act like a goose, everything turns out.

With our instructor Chef Allen at the stove, he demonstrated how to prepare dried New Mexico chilies, but more importantly, he demonstrated how to de-hot them. After that, just by adding water and a heaping spoonful of lard to ground masa, Chef made tortilla dough for us to roll and press into rounds for frying in hot-well-seasoned cast-iron skillets.

Next it was all about the salsa. We used those New Mexico dried chilies and Roma tomatoes that we'd charred over a gas flame. Everything was delicious. With a dozen participants in our 2-hour class, we had lots of salsa recipes to sample. The surprise being that none of them turned out to be too hot for my delicate palate. As our last order of the day, we cleaned up our work stations before stopping in the kitchen store on the way out.

With our hotel only a block away from the school, we made it back in time for another stamp on our city-wide Margarita passport. With 50 choices, we picked the El Dorado Hotel since it was our home away from home. Which is why we simply dined on Happy Hour tapas washed down with half-priced margaritas at the Oasis bar for our dinner.

Wednesday was our last full day to see the rest of the downtown sights. Even though many private galleries were still closed during the off season, we couldn't get to all of the ones that were open. Santa Fe houses over 200 fine art galleries plus a half a dozen or more museums, and throw in a few churches, there just wasn't time to see it all. Which is why we didn't even scratch the surface when we saw the ones around the plaza. There are so many more galleries on Canyon Road's Museum Hill plus the Art District at the Railyard.

There are also lots of jewelry stores. That's when I found out my old-pawn squash blossom necklace was now worth $15,000.00. After that evaluation, I needed a margarita. Upstairs was the Coyote Cantina so I didn't have to go far. After lunch we went to both Owen Gallery locations to find Page Allen (the lady we'd met in Paris in 2012 at the Pompidou Modern Art Museum over lunch) only to discover she was enroute to Paris.

Heading back to our hotel we peaked in the courtyard at Grant and West Palace streets after a sign with a beautiful Spanish dancer caught my eye. It advertised a Flamenco Dinner Show at the El Flamenco Spanish Cabaret upstairs. Naturally, I called to make reservations only to be told they didn't perform midweek in the Spring. Just the same, owner Estefania Ramirez would be at the theatre around 3:00 PM, if I wanted to meet with her to learn about their world-class flamenco dancers and performances. So, I waited.

Which is how we found the café on the corner. You could wash down tapas with a beer, a glass of wine, or a cup of tea, while painting greenware. They'd even fire it for you. Thus, making your own souvenir. We didn't do this but we should have.

Instead, we settled in at Happy Hour for our final margarita. Actually, that wasn't such a bad idea after all.


Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected]


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