Monday, October 25, 2010
We took care of some personal business details in the morning before heading out for an unusual Monday brunch at Chicago Dog Express. (Yes, we are still in Santa Fe).
This place gets awards year after year for the best Chicago-style hot dog and we have to agree. The quarter pound Vienna Beef was cradled in an ultra-fresh hoagie roll with relish and mustard and then overflowed with crisp cucumber & tomato chucks tossed in a light, delicious oil and vinegar dressing. This was a truly delicious meal-on-a-bun.
Moving on to the Old Santa Fe Trail, we visited Mission de San Miguel, Originally built in 1610, it is reported to be the oldest church in the United States. The handcrafted religious folk art adorning the church was beautiful.
Across the tiny street alongside the Mission was La Casa Viejas de Analco, initially built in 1200 AD, it is considered to be the oldest house in the USA. This was a hidden gem with much to offer. There was an interesting video as well as historical displays and some curious lore.
Just as delightful was the adjoining coffee, tea and bake shop, Tiendita del Barrio, and its proprietor, Evelyn Roybal. The cozy adobe setting embraced us and we had a wonderful conversation with Evelyn, who is also the Historic Properties Director for both the House and the Mission. Her prior experience with radiology marketing paralleled Laura's story exactly. It was if they were kindred spirits, separated at birth but still living parallel lives. What an amazing connection! Evelyn has done a marvelous job of curating and restoring the old house and adding the lovely little shop to the reception and lobby area. And we must say, her baking is spectacular. We tasted one of her Bizcochito (the official State Cookie of New Mexico) and ended up buying all that she had left; they were exceptional! We wish Evelyn all the best in her new role!
The area around the Oldest Church and House is known as Barrio de Analco. It is the oldest part of Santa Fe and its spiritual center. We strolled along the narrow streets and peeked into the exotic courtyards of the Inn of the Five Graces.
After peering in the windows of The Pink Adobe Restaurant, we stopped into the adjoining Dragon Room Lounge to escape the blustery cold weather. Behind the massive carved wooden doors we found a romantic hideaway filled with lanterns, cushioned banquets, and a glowing kiva fireplace at one end. We took the table right in front of the fireplace and enjoyed some hearty beverages (thanks Monica!) while writing postcards and reminiscing about our time in Santa Fe.
We were hesitant to leave the oasis of the Dragon Room, but we wanted to do a bit more exploring before dinner. Our first stop was the Stan Natchez Art Studio. We were warmly welcomed by Viento Natchez whose father's work was exhibited throughout the Dragon Room Lounge and gallery. Viento was preparing pieces for the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration, which he invited us to experience the next time we were in Santa Fe. We look forward to taking him up on that offer!
For dinner, we headed to La Choza, a restaurant we had spotted earlier in the day. The adobe building looked cozy and reviews said that the food was delicious. It certainly was! We tried a combination platter of Carne Adovado, Tamale with Green Chili Sauce, and Chicken Taquito, all served with pinto beans, posole, and sopapilla. Oh my! This was true southwestern home cooking and the flavors, while spicy, were terrific. Galen, our server, was attentive and personable, and the host at the front desk was a hoot! Sort of a cross between Gene Wilder and Frank Zappa. He certainly made sure that we came and left with a smile.
After dinner, we returned to the El Rey Inn for a soak in the sublime outdoor hot tub and then prepared for tomorrow's trip to Taos.
-- Ted and Laura