My sweaters have been washed and loaded into the cedar chest, my boots are back in the inner recesses of my closet, and I am so ready for spring. Just when I am totally fed up with winter vegetables, spring obliges me with new inspiration on getting fed. As the sun lifts higher in its course over the blue skies of Santa Fe, I feel lighter and brighter, and that means it’s time to say hello to the fresh green flavors of spring.
Vinaigrette Is So Much More Than a Salad Dressing
What can you say to a salad bistro except “I love you”? I say it regularly to Vinaigrette, along with giving thanks regularly for bountiful salads that spare me the struggle of trying to pair two lightweight appetizers to make one satisfying meal. If you bring a big boy with a bigger appetite, savory protein additions can be added, though I rarely need to tweak. During the summer growing season, a majority of the organic produce is sourced directly from the owner’s 10-acre Nambe farm, so saying Vinaigrette is farm-to-table is right on target.
My personal favorite is the French Frisee; cherie, I just feel so chic when I eat those curly greens (mais oui, the bacon lardons are tres delicieux). And j’adore the clever word play that invites me to tickle my taste buds with choices like the Nutty Pear-fessor or All Kale Caesar. There is a cast of seasonal salads in play too, and if your dining pals simply must have soup or a sandwich, both are on the menu. And in warm weather, I delight in the cozy back patio for enjoying my greens with a glass of wine and a good friend.
Sampling Sweet Spring Greens at Sweetwater
Me, I love a Brussels sprout. I always think it’s a shame that these beautiful stalks of tiny, tightly wrapped, tender leaves only seem to show up at holidays. That’s why I’m happy that they materialize at my mealtime when I land at the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. I’m so hooked on the bright, cheery, sustainable nature of this friendly spot, recently named by FlipKey as a top restaurant in New Mexico. My Green Goddess salad was chock-full of fresh greens, walnuts, pears and the afore-mentioned Brussels sprouts, all coated with avocado dressing. My inner goddess deserves this heavenly treat.
Lunch and dinner both have ample options for me and my vegan and gluten-free friends. On Wednesday Thai nights we can “Thai one on” with the once-a-week Asian dishes like Cambodian green mango salad or Vietnamese spring rolls. Wine and beer menu, yes, and those selections rotate to keep us interested. Thanks to Sweetwater, I’ve also discovered that breakfast can be pretty green, with smoothies like Sweet Greens (fruit-heavy but with spinach too!) or Soma’s Sunrise (carrots, beets, kale, and apple). Eat it…drink it...they have it all!
Make a Bee-line for The Beestro
Sitting in a beautiful dining room or outdoor patio is a treat at lunchtime; after all, I do plenty of brown-bagging during the week. But when there’s not enough time to make a leisurely lunch hour reality, the petite Beestro comes to the rescue. I can perch on one of the outdoor stools, or I can do take-out, which is perfect for a desk jockey, and just as perfect if I want to sit on the Plaza to people-watch. “Chef-made daily” and “available until sold-out” are calls to action that tantalize me, as is curbside service — call once to order, again at the pick-up spot, then receive the goods.
As a tried-and-true SantaFesina, I’m always up for a kick of chile, so the Serrano Lime Chicken Farmer’s Market Salad had my name on it (literally, because I called ahead just in case they ran out). Below a layer of marinated grilled chicken lay fresh greens, thin shavings of carrots and beets, salty olives, and a host of veggies snuggled together. I slathered on the piquant jalapeno ranch dressing, put my fork to work, and I was one very happy chiquita!
Spring is happening at the Santa Fe Farmers Market
The ultimate in greenery, of course, is being served up as we “speak” at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. With spring here, the Market is alive with new activity. There’s always a line for fresh greens from Mr. G’s, so get there early or go without. Bouquets of flowers are once again adorning dinner tables all over town, and the final jars of last season’s jams are selling out in preparation for what is to come.
Not a week goes by that I don’t feel lucky to shop at this centrally-located market, ranked as one of the country’s best by Travel + Leisure magazine. Open in the Santa Fe Railyard on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, it’s one of my go-to’s all year long, and not just for food, since I love the sustainable focus of the Wednesday movie series screening in the Pavilion at 7 pm through May.
Green Up Your Santa Fe Dining
That eat-green feeling is calling … not just for me but also for anyone who sees the sun arc higher or feels the gentle spring rain coaxing tulips to open and the first peas to flower. I am feeling refreshed and ready for everything green; will you accept an invitation to dine on the green side of Santa Fe?