Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Mexico Cuisine: Red or Green?

Chile rellenos w red and green chile
plus an edgy crisp marg
at La Choza Santa Fe

"New Mexican food is similar to but not quite the same as Mexican and Tex-Mex" foods preferred in Texas and Arizona. New Mexico is the only state with an official question—"Red or green?"—referring to the choice of red or green chile. Combining both red and green chile is often referred to as "Christmas".

Squash enchilada (?) w green rice and green chile
at Cafe Fina, named for the gas station that predated the restaurant

It was hard to stifle my delight at being offered two kinds of chile with virtually everything we ordered. Green and red, and why not have both each time? I am a Christmas kid...

Good friends took us to three splendid spots, two in Santa Fe and one in Pecos, NM, where they live.

Huevos on black beans w green chile and plantains
at Cafe Fina

Cafe Fina offered an omelet with mushrooms, cheese, avocado and other tasty bits. 
Plus red+green chile.

Frankie's Casanova in Pecos
Across the street, they're prepping for a Longmire shoot.

Breakfast burrito and chicken enchilada
at Frankie's 

Huevos rancheros
at Frankie's

Thanks, Graham and Nik, for the New Mexico shot in the arm. I miss it already.

ps: you asked for it you got it, Pete...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Amtrak Love: The Journey, The Destination

Both count, and people + transport make a real difference. Here in the LA Union Station lounge (where you can await your train if you're ticketed ins a sleeping car) our attendants did a magnificent job of welcoming us, stashing our carry-ons, pointing us to snacks and beverages, and periodically checking their computers to see if we could upgrade from a roomette to a bedroom.  An extraordinarily comfortable spot, with wi-fi and a door to the outside so we could walk in the sun.

Just before our train arrived, we and our bags were picked up by a redcap who ferried us to the tracks.

An easy friendly trip to the doorstep of our bedroom car. This was Sunday, on our way to Lamy, NM, near Santa Fe, where we arrived Monday at 1 pm. More soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Discussing Solid Waste Over Dinner with John and Joey

What? Did I really just write that headline? Again, only on the train are you commanded to sit with people you don't know and then you find everyone is fascinating. It occurs to me this is a little like speed dating.
Meet John, a civil engineer who worked for the city of San Francisco for decades and still consults. We learned all about the city's solid waste management and the threat of rising sea levels caused by weather changes, which affect sewage treatment. The most remarkable part is all this didn't seem like bathroom talk at the dinner table.

Seriously smart guy. Seriously smart son, Johnny, who's studying history like his mom.

Wait! Who's this?
Maria, one of our favorite Amtrak servers, who remembered us a nanosecond before I remembered her. This is from a trip at least two years back. Off the train today at Lamy, NM, heading for Santa Fe and Pecos for a visit with longtime friends.

We're up all night for good fun...

...we're up all night to get lucky.

Can I just say: these two certainly did

But let's back up. The groom's a dear high school friend from many (many) years ago. And the motley crew that made its way from Chi, Michigan, and Memphis to wrap its collective arms around the bride and groom included our smart and elegant high school English teach/drama coach.
Both she and her husband provided some of the photos you'll see here, including these of the insane limo the groom sent to pick us up at our hotel and ferry us to the wedding site.

If you had any doubts, 
now you know you're in LA
 This thing was a safari wagon with an open-air rear end. Were we even cool enough to be riding inside?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Let's ask our favorite English teacher to start the wedding story...

The sun shone brightly, the air was perfect and the vivid purples, pinks of the flowers surrounding the pool (and floating on it) were backed up by the green hills just beyond. 

The bride and groom were radiant with joy and love. 

And as the dark descended, the moon rose over the hills.

Then the party lights lit up the trees and reflected in the pool as the music played and guests danced. It was magical.

It began elegantly with coffee, cocktails, and colorful cupcakes on the gussied-up porch of the bride and groom's home. Engaging guests chatted and sipped while the sequestered bride added her finishing touches.

Weddings seem to generate an optimism that lifts everyone higher. Smiles all around as the ceremony got underway.

The groom and his brother

Daughters: of the groom and the bride

Holding the snark for once in their lives,
 longtime friends stand for the bride

She's beyond radiant, walking down the aisle with her beloved mother

The ceremony was expressed in both English and German, owing to the bride's country of birth. Even the groom attempted to profess his love and commitment in German, which was funnier than you might imagine, since the German guests--and the bride's mother--interrupted periodically with (supportive) laughter.  A for effort for sure.

 After the ceremony, guests wandered...
 ...while the kitchen sizzled with activity.

Soon we'd know why: to start, seared ahi tuna on a bed of avocado, mango, et al.

Magnificent food accompanied by individualized note quotes from the bride and groom. 
(We loved ours.)

Did I tell about the food? Local, organic, masterful chef.

The groom and his daughter

The groom's band played, the bride's daughter sang, all was right with the world.

Ooo--a love song for the bride, as her mother and the groom's daughter share the moment.

Yes there was cake

 And dancing

And one handsome son of the groom

Blessings, J+J. Whatta party.