Romance. It’s dee-lightful, it’s dee-lovely, and it’s dee-signed for two. The good qualities my honey possesses deserve the reward of some romantic moments spent together in the place we both love so much. Considering that Santa Fe is a leading contender for USA Today’s 10 best list of most romantic getaways (hint: we’re allowed to vote daily until the January 27th close date), there simply couldn’t be a better time to dive into a dee-licious detour from daily demands by designing tempting treats for two. And I’m ready to fill in a few empty spaces on my calendar by celebrating the best of what we share — life and love — in the City Different.
Let’s Fall in Love Again – with Chocolate
Even with an inviting itinerary, it’s indulgent to start the day slowly, just lolling in bed awhile or catching the tail end of an old black-and-white movie on TV. When we give ourselves the gift of a Santa Fe hotel overnight, in-room coffee takes care of any need to rush. Instead the rush comes just after 10 am when the award-winning Kakawa Chocolate House opens, and we can start a day of delightful dalliances with a different dark and heady brew: chocolate!
Created via thoughtful research into chocolate’s historical past, Kakawa’s sipping beverages are hot chocolate like you’ve never had it. And sipping is key, because these elixirs are deep, rich, and meant to be enjoyed slowly. I’m happy that the menu is deep, too, so with two of us, sharing means twice the taste.
I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting to a weakness (okay, that’s putting it mildly) for chocolate. But I am grateful chocolate is a food substance that has undergone a massive craft conversion toward the artisanal. USA Today just gave the nod to Santa Fe’s chocolate excellence, so I say don’t stop with just one stop. It seems to me that you can never have too much of a good thing, and I’m grateful that C.G. Higgins agreed with that sentiment by conveniently providing two locations for luscious sampling. And it’s simply divine when my sweetie comes up with a killer idea on planning ahead: “Let’s get a box of fudge for later.”
Oh Ho, Honey, Let’s Head for Ojo
Me and mine are big on road trips. Many of our memorable moments have come about in the front seat of a car heading out onto a back road where surprises become gifts. Maybe we see a mule deer pausing to stare back at us while her mate bounds ahead. Or it might be one of those fantastic cloud formations in which New Mexico specializes. And those sudden gifts of nature often occur when we’re on our way to treat ourselves to the healthful luxuries of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa.
Although it translates literally to “eye,” “ojo” is the word used here to indicate a spring; hence, Ojo Caliente means warm spring. These natural hot springs were known for their historic healing properties long before people like me put pen to paper in praise of their efficacy. I’m a devoted fan of the public pools, with their varying mineral components, but a special day with a special someone definitely rates a private pool. Soaking tensions away under the blue New Mexico sky is so worth a scenic drive up north.
And once we’re thoroughly soaked and muscles are melting, we head for some skilled hands-on healing … ahhh … now what to choose … maybe a Hot Stone Massage for you — with basalt stones from the nearby Rio Grande — and a Sacred Journey Aroma Wrap for me? Just thinking about all the possibilities, I feel more relaxed. So relaxed, in fact, that I think spoiling ourselves with a full spa package might be the best idea of all!
While we’re on the subject of full spa packages, doesn’t a bath for two surrounded by drifting rose petals sound like a scent-ual immersion experience? Add in a massage, a facial, and a manicure, and I am over the moon, especially when I don’t even have to put it all together by myself. The Inn and Spa at Loretto already did that when they created Corazones en Fuego – Hearts on Fire. No surprise, since the Spa has won a Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice award four years running; it is definitely time to feed some rosy romantic fantasies close to home!
Let’s Nibble Our Way Around Santa Fe
I know one thing for sure: many a magic memory in my life has been enriched by a food component. Frankly, everything about living in Santa Fe makes me feel hungry — for the enjoyment of innovative art, the solace of great music, the warmth of the sun on my face (remember, minimum SPF 30 at 7,000 feet), and the taste of food prepared by talented chefs that all together form the basis of a terrific lifestyle.
Taking an inquiring mind (and taste buds) to spend a few pleasant afternoon hours on a restaurant walking tour with the Santa Fe School of Cooking means a meal in four separate stops on a relaxing stroll around downtown. The School has planned several winning combinations for comparing and contrasting the flavors that pop up on the dining tables of the City Different. My appetite is definitely aroused by hearing the thoughts and inspirations of each individual chef, and samples at these private tastings are paired with wines from the restaurant wine list.
And if you’re looking for a way to expand the experience, add a cooking class and take those savory Santa Fe skills home — I do it, and I live here! In fact, there couldn’t be a better time for a class than right now, since the Cooking School is offering a series of super-affordable Bonus Classes through March, as they refine their annual repertoire. Don’t you just love being the first one to show up with new recipes?
Evenings Divine with Baby Mine
Any perfect day needs a capstone, and all this talk of culinary tours and cooking classes puts me in the mood to plan a dreamy dinner, especially with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Champagne, sunset, plus Santa Fe means it’s decided: Terra at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado. Any excuse to drive a bit off the beaten path into the serene setting of northern New Mexico works wonders for me, especially if a great meal in an authentic setting awaits.
Surrounded by 57 pristine acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I always feel like I’ve gone back in time when I see the sun in all its glory setting over this unspoiled landscape. Spare and beautiful, dotted with pinon and juniper trees, the vast blue heavens arcing overhead, being here speaks to everything I love about living in the Land of Enchantment.
Dinner at Terra is an exercise in creative contrasts: a luminous backdrop of ancient mountains and sky and a tasteful contemporary use of native materials, stone, wrought-iron, and warm wood. The only challenge to settling in for a leisurely meal from Chef Andrew Cooper’s kitchen is homing in on that entrée … again, thank heavens that loving means sharing.
I may have to insist, however, that my other half weigh in when it’s time to plan where to lay our heads on a set of luxuriously soft white sheets. With so many great hotels in Santa Fe, picking out one place among the many is a two-person job. No complaints from me, though. We’re going to be the lucky ones, since I’m planning to suggest over dinner that we make this year’s anniversary present to ourselves a regular getaway right here at home. Then all we’ll have to do is snuggle up by the fire and design our next special getaway for two.
Make Memories Together in Santa Fe
I cherish the knowledge that the person I’m sharing my life with shares the same love for all things Santa Fe. Even though I occasionally hope my sweetie will surprise me with a slate of loving adventures, I’m content to make magic for both of us. And maybe that’s true for you too. But what do you think? Should we leave the computer open to this page and see what happens?