Taking Sabbatical: The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa

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Hyatt

With the extensive construction of the new Taos Ski Valley hotel across the street, we decided last spring to close the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa – along with its two restaurants – for the summer. So with nothing to do this during this time, I reached out to friend and Executive Chef Cheryl Scantlebury of IMG_0073the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. I know Chef Cheryl because we both procure our beef from the same New Mexico ranch – Four Daughters Land and Cattle. “Why don’t you hang out with us this summer?” she asked. Why not?

The resort resides on the beautiful Santa Ana Pueblo, located between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, along the banks of the Rio Grande River, with the majestic Sandia Mountains serving as backdrop. The Pueblo, named “Tamaya” in the native language, administers a total reservation land of 79,000 acres, of which 550 comprise the resort and the Twin Warriors Golf Course.

The Corn Maiden

The Corn Maiden

The Hyatt Regency Tamaya offers a creative dining scene with unique restaurants. These are some of the best restaurants in the Southwest and feature fresh, seasonal foods that are good for guests, good for the community, and good for the planet.

Santa Ana Café Patio

Santa Ana Café Patio

Guests can kick off their morning with a hearty breakfast at the Santa Ana Café and settle into a relaxing dinner on the patio after a day of golf or horseback riding. The Corn Maiden, serving regional inspired cuisine with a hint of international flavors, is a local favorite for special occasions. There is also the Rio Grande Lounge and the Atush Bar & Grille, where guests enjoy views of the ninth and eighteenth holes of Twin Warriors Golf Course.

View from the Atush Bar & Grille

View from the Atush Bar & Grille

Chef Cheryl Scantlebury

Chef Cheryl

The culinary program is under the quite capable auspices of Chef Cheryl, who has assembled an impressive leadership team: Executive Sous Chef Patrick; and Chefs Charity (Pastries), Eric (Corn Maiden), Jonathan (Santa Ana Café), Matthew (Banquets), and Noe (Garde Manger).

Most of my time has been spent between the Corn Maiden and the Santa Ana Café. At the Corn Maiden, I have focused on the grill and the restaurant’s signature rotisseries. The Santa Ana Café is really the workhorse restaurant of the resort, providing breakfast, lunch, and

Vegan Special

Vegan Special

dinner for guests. The Café also provides a daily vegan special, which is also dairy- and gluten-free. Design and preparation of the vegan special is typically part of my daily routine.

The culinary team has recently planted two large vegetable gardens on the property, along with new fruit trees and a beautiful herb garden. You can’t get any fresher than this. I have used vegetables and herbs from the gardens countless times to create the day’s vegan special.

IMG_0068

Weeding in the Melon Patch

Chefs in the Garden

Chefs in the Garden

It’s been a wonderful experience for me.  Everyone at the resort has been friendly and helpful. It’s been a time to work on cooking fundamentals – culinary boot camp if you will – and I’m becoming a better professional because of it.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

 

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Ricette Classiche: Fritedda

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Fritedda

The change of season is always something seasonal cooks look forward to.  At Bellavitae, we would welcome spring with fresh asparagus, peas, fava beans, artichokes, and morels.

In springtime, we should celebrate freshness, whether fruits and vegetables and served cooked or raw.  A perfect illustration of this is the classic Sicilian dish fretedda (also called fritella – in Greece it’s koukia me anginares, in Rome it’s la vignarola and fresh peas are added).  It’s a much-loved Mediterranean stew that is made at the end of the artichoke season and beginning of the fava bean season.

Best of Sicily magazine writer Roberta Gangi provides her recipe here.  Clifford A. Wright offers his here.  Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ Greek version is here.  Note that while these recipes differ significantly, I would label them each authentic (my views on authenticity of classic recipes will be saved for another post when I have time for such a rant).

Reader Gida Ingrassia recently commented on my May 2010 post In Season: Asparagus and Fava Beans:

“I am looking for a recipe to make Sicilian “fritedda” with fava beans, asparagus, onions, peas and artichokes. Do you use regular artichokes and pare them down or are artichoke hearts necessary? Please advise.”

Well, I suppose I have already answered the question in the introduction!  To understand this dish you need to understand its purpose:  It is served in the Mediterranean when the artichoke and fava bean seasons cross.  It celebrates spring freshness.  So use fresh!

Gangi, Wright, and Jenkins give you specific instructions on how to cook the artichokes.  Buy the youngest available, boil the hearts and tender leaves until partially forgiving but not yet quite soft enough to eat.  Then add the other ingredients for further cooking.

Pianogrillo

Pianogrillo Farm Olive Oil

Here are some tips for success:

  • Make this dish as soon as fava beans come into season.  Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal:  “It’s true that favas left to mature on their stalks too long will have a leathery skin that must be removed. Like peas, favas should be harvested and consumed when they are young.”
  • Don’t listen to the food snobs who insist you peel the beans after they’ve been shucked.  Again from Jenkins:  “How tiresome—and unnecessary. That’s not how it’s done in Italy. Or in Greece, Spain, Lebanon, Great Britain or anywhere else the beans are a spring staple. Only in France do they call for peeling the beans. Go figure.”
  • Use only the freshest ingredients.  Avoid dried favas, bottled artichoke hearts, or canned peas (in a pinch, I may use frozen peas).
  • Use Sicilian olive oil!  This tip will transform the dish from very good to phenomenal!  My favorite Sicilian olive oil is Pianogrillo Farm Extra Virgin Olive Oil available from Gustiamo or Amazon.

Thanks for the question, Gida.  Let us know how it turns out.

 

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Huffington Post: Taos Ski Valley Should be on Your Bucket List

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PETER PTSCHELINZEW/GETTY IMAGES

PETER PTSCHELINZEW/GETTY IMAGES

So says Food Editor Allison Spiegel, on Monday’s Huffington Post post entitled “Bucket List Places You Need To See In The Next Decade“.

“The world will look very different in the next decade than it does today. For travelers, this means the time to explore is now. . .  Before our world’s landscape changes even more, here are the destinations that should go straight to the top of your bucket list in the next decade.”

Besides Taos Ski Valley, she recommends:

  • The Philippines
  • Macedonia
  • Elqui Valley, Chile
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Malawi
  • Bolivia
  • Maldives
  • Mongolia
  • Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, Thailand

Plus this:

“Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is so much more than just a ski mountain. Rugged and remote, Taos is famous for its breathtaking scenery and the “legendary light” that has inspired artists like Georgia O’Keeffe. Taos has always had a sort of mystique about it. In 2013, billionaire Louis Bacon bought the mountain from its founders the Blake family, promising this lovably weathered mountain would get a “much-needed shot in the arm,” as The New York Times put it. This year, a chair lift opened to Kachina Peak, which had previously only been accessible by a hike. Thirty-five acres of new tree skiing opened, too, and the village’s ski lodge also got an upgrade. Ski Taos in the next 10 years to take advantage of these new developments, and also to experience the unique charm of the place while it lasts.”

Read the whole thing.

 

 

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Josh Ozersky has Died

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He was 47.  I began reading Josh’s writing when we opened Bellavitae.

In this photo released by the Yale University Press shows Josh Ozersky author of "The Hamburger".  (AP Photo/Yale University Press)

In this photo released by the Yale University Press shows Josh Ozersky author of “The Hamburger”. (AP Photo/Yale University Press)

Here’s what The Wall Street Journal reported today:

“Joshua Ozersky, who wrote prolifically on the subjects of dining and drinking for The Wall Street Journal and many other publications, was found dead in Chicago on Monday.  Mr. Ozersky was in Chicago to attend the annual chef and restaurant awards ceremony presented by the James Beard Foundation. He was a member of that organization’s advisory board as a well as a nominee and winner, in previous years, of its media awards.”

He was the founding editor of New York Magazine’s food blog Grub Street, a columnist for Time, an editor-at-large for Esquire and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal.  The New York Times yesterday called him “one of the most forceful food writers in New York.”

The Wall Street Journal continues:  “Mr. Ozersky was particularly vocal and passionate on the subject of meat. Under the pseudonym Mr. Cutlets, he authored “Meat Me In Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York” in 2003.  In his 2008 book “The Hamburger: A History,” he argued that his subject ‘isn’t just a sandwich; it is a social nexus.'”

 

Related:

New York magazine:  Platt Remembers Ozersky: A True Grub Street Intellectual

The New York Times:  Joshua Ozersky, Prolific Food Writer, Is Dead at 47

 

 

 

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The Biggest Thing Happening in Skiing This Year

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Tower

High above Kachina Peak (click to enlarge)

The Kachina Peak Lift, right here in Taos Ski Valley.

The new lift will expand the mountain’s advanced and expert lift-serviced terrain by 50 percent.  The five-minute ride will whisk skiers up some 1,100 feet on a triple-seated fixed grip lift to New Mexico’s second-highest peak to an altitude of 12,450 feet.

The lift is being manufactured and installed by Salt Lake City-based Skytrac.  A majority of the concrete was poured in April, and the crew was back last week to install the poles.  I’ve gotten to know some of the guys when they come in Café Naranja to eat breakfast or buy beer.

It’s tough work in tough terrain, but they seem to take it all in stride. Check out the video to see just how tough:

 

Here’s a report from Albuquerque television station KOAT that aired back in May:

 

 

The new lift is on schedule to be operational when ski season starts on Thanksgiving.

 

NewKachinaLift

 

Are you ready?

 

Tower 3

Helicopter

Tower 2

 

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The Best Breakfast Burrito in New Mexico?

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New Mexico magazine wants to know.  The publication has named the state-wide finalists and is asking readers to vote for their favorite.

Café Naranja has been named one of the finalists.  You can vote for your favorite by clicking here.

Breakfast Burrito at Café Naranja

Breakfast Burrito at Café Naranja

To celebrate the breakfast burrito’s success and its New Mexico heritage, the magazine has created the “New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway.”

You can vote for as many as 10 of your favorites each day of the voting period.  You can submit only one ballot each day.

Cafe NaranjaThe finalists are listed in alphabetical order.  Once you’ve made your ten or fewer choices be sure to scroll to the bottom of the list and hit the “Submit” button.

And remember you can submit a new ballot every day! Voting ends at 11:45pm this Sunday, May 18.

Cast your vote each day by clicking here.

 

 

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Wine Dinner One Week from Tonight

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Profile07-Silhouette08We’ve already started preparing the five-course wine dinner that will take place next Thursday, January 30th.

I spoke with René Schlatter, President and CEO of Merryvale Vineyards, today to finalize details.

The wines have arrived, and our entire staff is excited to provide our guests a memorable experience of great wine and food.

A radio spot about the event is currently running on KTAO radio; you can listen to it here:

 

For details on this fabulous event, click here.  See you Thursday.

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Merryvale-entrance

 

 

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