Red or green? When you travel to New Mexico it’s all about the chiles. We arrived in Santa Fe just in time for dinner. My taste buds were clamoring for a plate of real New Mexican food and a great margarita. And those delicious Santa Fe New Mexico blue corn muffins? I'll tell you about those soon. First, a few tips on what to do when visiting fantastic Santa Fe, New Mexico.
New Mexican Cuisine
New Mexican cuisine is influenced by the cuisines of Spain as well as Mexican and American Indian cultures and relies heavily on their wonderful chiles. They are generally red or green with the green chiles being the same chile as the red before it ripens on the vine.
Maria's New Mexican Kitchen
The first night we headed to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, famous for traditional New Mexican food and margaritas since 1950. I ordered chicken enchiladas with both red and green chile sauces. It definitely took care of my chile craving. Deep, rich flavor and a heat that sneaks up on you rather than hits you in the face. By the end of dinner I was smiling and breathing very clearly!
Historic Santa Fe - Since 1610
Santa Fe is a renowned destination for fine food and dining, art, culture, shopping, and history. Founded in 1610, the city over 400 years old. At 7000 feet the air is cold, dry and crisp and the skies a remarkable blue. It snowed earlier in the week and there was still a dusting of snow on the mountain tops.
Exploring Santa Fe
The first day I was on my own exploring the city on foot. I headed to historic Santa Fe Plaza in the heart of the city, walking along old streets that were a part of the famed Route 66, enjoying the distinctive pueblo architecture and warm colors at every turn. I managed to stay out of trouble while browsing in and out of the many art galleries, jewelry stores and quaint shops but losing track of time my stomach reminded my I had skipped lunch.
La Fonda on The Plaza
Cold and hungry, I walked into La Fonda on the Plaza. La Fonda means “The Inn” and this historic place has been hosting travelers since 1607. A step off the Santa Fe Trail, La Fonda is steeped in history. You feel transported back through time when you step through the doors of this national treasure. A big bowl of hot, brothy chicken tortilla soup with crisp tortilla strips on top and a glass of wine warmed me up.
Santa Fe Cathedrals
With a happy stomach, I spent the afternoon touring the Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, and the little jewel called Loretto Chapel. It's reminiscent of St. Chapelle in Paris and famed for its mysterious spiral staircase. I had a terrific afternoon exploring and walking the streets, discovering the charm of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Farmers Market
I always look for farmers markets when we travel. It’s a great way to learn about what is grown in the area and discover wonderful products produced by local artisans. Santa Fe’s Farmers Market is in the train rail yard. My treasure hunt netted me lots of fun things to carry home to play with in my own kitchen.
Historic La Casa Sena Restaurant
After the farmers market we walked to La Casa Sena. If you get to Santa Fe, be sure to go. Restaurant La Casa Sena is in an old hacienda style adobe originally built in 1868 and restored to its former grandeur in 1983.
The main dining room stands where stables once stood. The restaurant is rustic and elegant inside with dark wood beamed ceilings and white tablecloths, a quiet and warm respite from the busy Saturday streets of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Blue Corn Muffins
With a contemporary Southwestern menu, lunch began with a basket of warm blue corn muffins studded with yellow corn kernels. They were hard to resist devouring smeared with soft butter before we took a picture. I emailed La Casa Sena and asked if they would share the recipe and they happily agreed, saying that it’s the most requested of their recipes. More than their famous muffins, the food was fantastic.
I hope our visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico entices you to go explore this wonderful city. In the mean time, try these delicious Santa Fe New Mexico blue corn muffins, courtesy of La Casa Sena.
Santa Fe Blue Corn Muffins
- Standard muffin pan
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter allow to sit at room temp for 2 hours
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1 New Mexico or Anaheim green chile about ½ cup, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- ½ cup fresh corn kernels from 1 ear, or frozen works, steamed until just tender
- ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- ½ cup all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free blend substitute
- ¾ cup blue cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and chopped green chile. Add the corn, cheeses, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and milk, and mix just until blended.
- Divide the muffin dough into 12 pieces and place in a well-greased, 12-muffin pan. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out dry. Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool.