Being such a prominent hub of Native American traditions, Catholicism and New Age practices, Santa Fe oozes mystery and ancient spirituality – it’s a melting pot of soulful and creative people, and wickedly spicy food. It is no surprise that there are fabulous shops, museums, art galleries and incredible restaurants throughout the town.
When in Santa Fe, we always make a stop at Pasqual’s. It is one of those restaurants where people start lining up before it opens in the evening with hopes that they will score a seat. We had just come off a long day of traveling, we were famished and we didn’t have a reservation so we wandered over early, in fact, we were the first diners to arrive. A few minutes later, a jovial line of hungry out-of-towners hoping for a seat inside this renowned restaurant congregated.
We always opt for the community table at Pasqual’s, where, inevitably, we meet fun and interesting people. This evening we met an especially lively group. There was an English gentleman and his wife on a road trip from their home in Vancouver, a vivacious woman from Austin, Texas, who spends her days doing, “whatever I want”, a man who inherited a rubber hose and conveyer-belt company – “have you ever considered how many hoses are in a commercial airplane?” Um, no, I had not.
There was a pretty young woman who had travelled all over the world, and the friendly gentleman sitting next to me, Mark, who was in town on business from Wisconsin. Mark had connections to both California and Boulder so we had plenty to talk about. Occasionally, you’ll meet some grumpy folks who didn’t want to sit at the community table in the first place, but this friendly crowd was into checking out what everybody else was eating, oohing and ahhing over the dishes that came one after the other to the table, wine and beer flowed freely and all of us ate until it hurt.
I started off my evening with an agave wine margarita, Ric with a beer and we shared a pupusa of griddled golden corn masa with zucchini, corn, jack, and green chile, which was amazingly good. Next I had the garden enchiladas served Christmas style, which in New Mexico means half with red chile sauce and half with green chile sauce and Ric had Plato Supremo, which was magnifico!
We could have sat alone, just the two of us, which would have been wonderful and romantic but instead, we enjoyed the company of an interesting and amusing group of people who were into the culinary and social experience of the community table. I highly recommend opening oneself up to serendipity and strangers in this fashion; you may be pleasantly surprised by who you meet (famed photographer, Annie Liebowitz sat down next to my sister-in-law and niece at this very table).
Navajo tacos are one of the popular street foods of New Mexico. Built more like a Mexican tostada than what most of us think of as a taco, these are made with a thick Native American fried bread and usually layered with steaming hot chile or ground beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato.
I made my fry bread using organic flours and fried them in vegetable oil instead of lard and layered on some of my vegetarian chili.
|Navajo Tacos ~ Santa Fe Style|
- 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup masa
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cups milk
- ¼ - ½ cup water
- 3 cups chili (homemade or store bought)
- 2 ½ cups shredded Jack or cheddar cheese
- 2-3 cups lettuce
- Vegetable oil
- Place the flour, masa, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl and mix.
- Pour the milk over the dry ingredients and mix lightly with a fork.
- Add just enough water (about ¼ to ½ cup) to get it to come together.
- Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- To make the fry bread, heat about 1 to 2 inches of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Place the dough on a work surface and cut or pull into equal amounts depending on the size of the fry breads you’d like (I usually get 6 fry breads out of this recipe), and then roll the pieces into balls.
- Using your hands, press the dough balls out into a disk, using your fingers to stretch it as you go. You can also use a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, if you’d prefer.
- One at a time, carefully slip the dough into the hot oil and fry until it just begins to get some browned spots, flipping at least once in the process.
- Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- To assemble a taco, layer with chili, lettuce, freshly cut tomatoes, cheese and garnish with avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream and salsa.