Post image for New Mexico – now with more cheese!

New Mexico – now with more cheese!

June 29, 2010 · 60 comments

Contrary to evidence of my blog posting (and reading/commenting, sorry everyone!), I am indeed still alive. I have to say though, it was touch and go during my time in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You almost lost me to the ravages of excessive cheese consumption.

Everything is served with cheese. This is pretty good for the first day or two, until you feel like you are turning into cheese. You are dreaming about cheese. Your conversations with fellow visitors quickly turns to cheese. You start reading a menu with friends and you all groan and roll your eyes simultaneously as your eyes pass over the words “cheese” (or “beans”, “salsa”, “corn chips” or “chilli”). You then just start avoiding any such restaurants.

Oh dear, the Burrito Co Cafe is closed. No cheesy cheese time for us.

Before we hit our cheese avoidance mode, we stumbled upon a restaurant that seemed to be more on the side of Mexican than Tex Mex while looking for another restaurant following the very vague directions of some well meaning American tourists. The tourists looked like lovers of cheese so I think it was a happy mistake that we found ourselves at Santa Luna instead, and were soon dining on Mole Rojo, a dish described in the menu as coming from the Oaxaca state of Mexico and consisting of “house made mole, a delicious and world famous Mexican type of salsa made with a variety of dry peppers, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and chocolate”. The mole rojo was served with chicken, refried beans and rice.

Mole Rojo - Oaxaca dish from Santa Luna Restaurant

The mole was delicious, with a real depth of flavour but also tinged with a hint of sadness as I knew I would not be able to recreate the magic at home due to the combination of a lack of Mexican cooking skills and eagle eyed (or is that beagle nosed?) Australian quarantine.

Once we got into cheese avoidance mode we managed to have some impressive meals around town. Our final dinner was at Coyote Cafe, which sounded like a place we would want to avoid but turned out belie its name with the quality of the food (despite the fact we were greeted by a woman whose body seemed to be waging war with the leopard print dress she had squeezed it into, and we also think she had a hickey on her neck).

Baby lettuce salad with saffron poached pears, gorgonzola, pecan toffee and cidar vinaigrette; Crab and tuna salad with greens, scallions, fennel, heirloom tomatoes and horseradish mignonette; Eric's Futomaki twist caesar salad with romaine, reggiano anchovy parmesan, warm polenta croutons; Wahu, himachi and tuna salad with sugar snap peas, radish and cucumber salad with sesame soy yuzu, Vietnamese chutney and wasabi

My crab and tuna salad more than made up for my decidedly mediocre sushi lunch that I had eaten in my quest for anti Tex Mex food. “Eric’s Futomaki twist” was an interesting way to present the caesar salad as well, and I guess a useful technique should you want to serve salad to non salad eaters.

Chile glazed pork tenderloin with sweet potato flan, roasted sweet & sour hazelnut cabbage and huckleberry sauce; butternut squash, crimini mushroom and sweet pea risotto; Atlantic salmon, fingerling potatoes, baby beets, asparagus and horseradish emulsion; white miso sea bass with lobster jus, buttered wasabi mashed potatoes, bok choy and black truffle.

I could have eaten this pork dish a hundred times. I need to start making hazelnut cabbage and I need to find me some huckleberries. You know, I didn’t actually realise there was such a thing as a huckleberry. I just associated it with that cheeky death-faking lad and thought nothing more of it. In my subsequent wikipedia huckleberry search however, I also came across the phrase “a huckleberry over my persimmon”, meaning “a bit beyond my abilities”. Nice.

Dealing with the following day did indeed prove to almost be a huckleberry over my persimmon, as I found myself trapped at Albuquerque airport due to United Airlines overbooking my flight and Chicago bound planes being grounded due to storms. I was then trapped in Chicago thanks to delays due to “operational reasons” and then once I finally arrived in Toronto in the late hours of the night, I discovered that United had managed to completely lose my luggage. Thank god my persimmon was boosted by Mardi and Mr Neil of eat, live travel, write – braving the eager latex covered hands of the G20-hepped-up Toronto airport security, picking me up, dusting me off and filling me up with good food and wine before packing me off to bed (generously shared by Cleo, she of the wet nose) to get my rest for the days to come in Toronto. But that, my pretties, is a tale for another day.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 29, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Yes I think you need to figure out the recipe for that pork dish too. And hazelnut cabbage – mmmm!! By golly you were not making it up about all the CHEESE were you? I can’t BELIEVE we took you cheese tasting after brunch on Sunday!! LOL!

(ps: Cleo says “where’s that nice lady gone?”)

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Conor July 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Cheese cheese cheese! We’re closing down and all our cheese must go! Our prices are CRAZY! Cheese deals like you’ve never seen!

You know, it says a lot about the cheeses at that place you took me to that I was able to try them and actually enjoy them. Well done, cheese men.

Aw Cleo, meow…

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Hannah June 30, 2010 at 9:38 am

I’d still love you, even if you did return to our fair shores with a crusty rind on the outside, a silky rich middle, and a personal aroma that gets more pungent with age.

And if you were more like a Roquefort, and were getting a bit blue in the face, I’d do my best to cheer you up my sprinkling you with chestnut honey and popping you on a Waterford cracker.

Because that’s what friends do.

P.S. I’ve wanted to try mole for yonks. Darn customs. I know they mean well, but why must they me to cruuuu-el?
Hannah´s last blog post ..Kale and Seaweed Salad of Scrumptiousness

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Conor July 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I pride myself on my increasingly pungent aroma. I have been cultivating it for years.

I have also wanted to try real mole for years, and oh man I’m glad I did. I wish I could share the mole love. Australians need mole. Why must customs slip, slop slap mole? WHY?

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Jo @ secondhelping June 30, 2010 at 9:56 am

I congratulate you for managing to get to cheese avoidance mode, I’m such a sucker for it I may not have had the strength. That pork does look good though…

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Conor July 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Jo, it is not hard to find the inner strength required when your arteries are hardening by the second.

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Patty Price June 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

I just came over to check up on you and I’m glad I did, fun to see all that good grub, yum! Hope you’re well and I always enjoy your posts, Patty

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Nice to know I have you coming to check on me! If I ever fall over and can’t get up again I can just get comfy and know that soon you’ll pass by and give me a hand :D
Thanks Patty!

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Tim June 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

you forgot someone

http://imgur.com/vqSzY.jpg

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Of course! How could I forget him?!

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OohLookBel June 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I’m hoping that there will be more cheese in your upcoming adventures. Never mind, it’s good to have you back anyway. (It would have been good if you had a pic of the hostess at Coyote Cafe, lol!)
OohLookBel´s last blog post ..Hold the Coriander- Peppery Chicken Curry

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Cheese is never too far away. I have since recovered from the overload and am enjoying a happy relationship with the dairy goodness.
I know! Sorry to not have photographic evidence to back up the description. It’s actually probably for the best though.

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pierre June 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

hi conor have a noce trip !! Pierre de Paris
pierre´s last blog post ..Rouleau de courgette- crème wasabi-raisin-crevette- écume de betterave

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Thanks Pierre!!

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Emma @CakeMistress June 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Welcome back!
There’s a CHEESE HEAVEN!!! Sad that it’s so far away in New Mexico, but I’d be willing to fly one day for an epic cheesy cheese fest. A pack of tragic leopardprint mamas couldn’t keep me away.
Can’t wait to read more about your travels.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Cheers Emma! Seriously, there is a cheese heaven but only if you are not too fussy about the type and quality of your cheese. For big quantity lovers, it’s the place to be though!

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Dawn@CocinaSavant June 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm

sorry parts of your trip was so cheesy (as was that comment), but it looks like you did stumble upon some neat dishes. i love the presentation of the caesar salad! welcome back!
Dawn@CocinaSavant´s last blog post ..Taste of the Nation

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Hehe, someone had to say it ;)
That caesar salad was pretty damn cool!

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Simply Life June 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Oooh looks like some great dishes!
Simply Life´s last blog post ..Parmesan Crisps-

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Sure were :)

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Jessica June 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

A huckleberry over my persimmon? I’m a born and raised American and even I hadn’t heard of that one! lol These dishes look wonderful. Hope you enjoy your time in the West.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Maybe we can start a huckleberry over my persimmon revival? Thanks, I had a ball (of cheese) :)

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Cakelaw July 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

What fabulous looking food! Thank goodness it is lunchtime and I can satisfy my hunger ..
Cakelaw´s last blog post ..TWD – Rum Drenched Vanilla Cake

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

As luck would have it, it is actually now lunchtime here and I can read your comment without wishing I were also about to get eating. Excellent.

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mademoiselle délicieuse July 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Welcome back! Although you are sans hammer pants and the possibilities of illegal spice importation, I’m sure you will have many tales to share of your travels that are beyond the realms of CHEESE. Looking forward to it all =)
mademoiselle délicieuse´s last blog post ..The comfort of food and blogging

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm

CHEESE!
Just imagine how much more cheese I could have eaten if I had the pants. They may have drawn the attention of customs to me though.

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Agnes July 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Wah, you got to try proper mole. And you ate your weight in cheese? Super jealous!

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Proper mole is pretty fantastic, even without first dulling all your senses by overloading them with cheese!

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Katherine July 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Hooly Dooly. I love Mole. I wish I could eat lots of cheese. Unfortunately I’m lactose intolerant. Booooooooooooo
Katherine´s last blog post ..Kulinarya – Filipino Barbeque

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm

How unfair. You can get those tablets with the enzyme stuff in them though, right? I guess that probably can’t help you to eat your weight in cheese though :(

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Is it wrong to think that dying through consumption of cheese sounds like not too bad a way to go? OK perhaps but it would be fun no? Good to hear that you’re still alive and kicking and eating!

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

It would certainly be an interesting way to go. Would give them something good to write on your tombstone, and the food theme for the wake would be sorted!

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Adrian @ Food Rehab July 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I say more cheese, the better. And if you are fortunate not to be lactose intolerant, definitely try and eat your weight in cheese (only on holidays) LOL Glad you had a ball!
Adrian @ Food Rehab´s last blog post ..WIN 5 tubs of Ben -amp Jerry’s Ice-cream-

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Oh yes, holidays make all sorts of overindulgence totally acceptable. Eating your weight in lots of different things, and washing it all down with every cocktail on the menu, is totally fine. Thanks! :D

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Arwen from Hoglet K July 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm

The mole sounds good. I like the saying about a huckleberry over my persimmon – I’ve never had a huckleberry before either.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I wonder how hard it is to get our huckleberry fixes in Australia? Am adding it to my super long list of things that I would like to try and source but keep forgetting about..

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Velva July 3, 2010 at 2:28 am

I smiled when I read your post. We are just returning from a vacation in France and we have been on fromage (cheese) loving festival. I need to go cheese free at least week to recover (laugh).
Isn’t it wonderful that the food no matter where you travel food is the focus?

This was a wonderful post of your food journey through New Mexico.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Ooooh, a French cheesefest would be incredible! This place was all about quantity, but I think the French cheese overload would be a quality laden affair.

Thank you, and I completely agree about food being a focus with travel. It is such a good way to immerse yourself into a new culture.

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Chef Dennis July 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

how I do love Mole!! my grandmother made the best mole, I have ever had….I really need to learn to make it, although I know it will never be as good!
thanks for sharing your adventure..your meal looked delicious!
Chef Dennis´s last blog post ..Tiramisu its Pomegranate Too-

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Oh wow Dennis, you are lucky! Please learn it and share! Although, I am sure I won’t be able to source the ingredients here so maybe it is best if you don’t and then I won’t get too jealous :)

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Evelyne July 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Oh my what a cheesy adventure! Glad the Coyote Cafe was a relief…although I want pics of the hostess! Back home? I am In North Carolina now…feeling like your cheese is my pulled pork. Overdose
Evelyne´s last blog post ..Guest Post from Jeroxie

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I know, I’m a failure for not getting pics of the waitress! Next time I am confronted with a leopardy lady such as her I’ll be sure to make up for it.

Mmmmmmmmmm pulled pork.

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tasteofbeirut July 6, 2010 at 3:14 am

I was chuckling reading your post! I know just what you mean about that cheese obsession; as for mole, what a treat! I have a friend back in Texas, a Mexico native, who has it made at home in Mexico and freezes it and brings a year supply back to Texas with her. Love the stuff, when it is well made, that is.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Oh god, a year’s supply of mole?! Worth buying a special freezer just for that!

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Andrea@High/Low July 6, 2010 at 5:53 am

I’ve never been to New Mexico, and now know what to expect. Wasabi mashed potatoes sound heavenly right now!
Andrea@High/Low´s last blog post ..HLFD in TO- Presidents Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Yes, if you ever do head down there be sure to pack some stretchy pants :D

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Karen Harris July 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

As a native from the land of cheese, I personally have never reached the stage of cheese avoidance but could certainly see how one could. New Mexico comes in a close second only to Texas in the artery hardening category. If you ever find yourself in Houston or Austin and are feeling a bit too healthy, let me know and we can certainly find you some cheese covered restaurants to raise your cholesterol level.

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I’d love to come visit and go on a cholesterol hunting mission with you! Will start exercising extra now in anticipation of this possible event!

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Magic of Spice July 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Great post…I am afraid I would have been lost in cheese too… Glad you survived:)
Magic of Spice´s last blog post ..Whats for Dinner – Ginger and Lavender Bisque

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Conor July 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Thanks! It was touch and go but I managed to pull through. I think my cholesterol levels may have returned to normal by now.

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Forager @ The Gourmet Forager July 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Have you heard the Youtube hit “United breaks guitars”? It’s the song for all travellers screwed over by United Airlines. My partner has a couple of horror stories about them too. Hope the luck and cheese improves!
Forager @ The Gourmet Forager´s last blog post ..Monkey Magic- Surry Hills

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Amy @ cookbookmaniac July 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm

too much cheese not enough mole
Amy @ cookbookmaniac´s last blog post ..Perama Greek Restaurant – Perfection in every bite

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Conor August 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

Amy, perfectly summed up. I still dream of the mole but luckily the cheese nightmares have subsided.

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Jenn @ defunkt gourmet July 12, 2010 at 10:24 am

Wait – is there such a thing as Too Much Cheese? Wow. Funny enough, I just picked up a grocery store “magazine” featuring cheeses…. lol.
Love the pictures and I’m glad that you had a good time in New Mexico. Sucks about your flight debacle though :(
Jenn @ defunkt gourmet´s last blog post ..Chocolate Beer breakfast

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Conor August 1, 2010 at 11:32 am

Jenn, it’s one of those things you don’t think can actually exist until you experience it. Sadly, there is such a thing as too much cheese. Luckily however, it isn’t a permanent affliction :D

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Tracey@Tangled Noodle August 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much for this taste of Santa Fe! Our roadtrip was just sampling of the states and cities, so we didn’t get a chance to explore as much as we would have liked. Coyote Cafe and the Santa Fe School of Cooking are at the top of my list the next time (and I am determined that there will be a next time!) we visit New Mexico. When I need extra motivation to make it happen, I’ll come back here and drool over the food photos! 8-)
Tracey@Tangled Noodle´s last blog post ..Sisterhood of the Cookie Pants

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