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The best gifts are those that can’t be unwrapped: Sharing experiences with friends and family. Having a laugh. A delicious dinner. Well… all of those boxes can be checked with a gift certificate to Chef Johnny V’s cooking classes! Whether you are on a short visit to Santa Fe or a lifelong local, he offers something for everyone. One of the most beloved personalities in these parts, he is not only fun to hang out with – but also a fabulous private chef for hire and heads the cooking school at Las Cosas Cooking Shoppe in DeVargas Mall.

I have taken several classes with Johnny and had a blast at each one. An ideal class is limited to about 8 people, and each intimate group shares the experience of newly found skills, teamwork, and a yummy meal at the end. (I’ve always left overs to take home, too.) From New Mexican specialties to knife skills to exotic Indian curries, the choice is varied– and when you’re learning from Mr. Personality himself, you’re pretty much in for dinner-and-a-show!

His December schedule includes holiday themes such as “Christmas in New Mexico;” “Christmas Lunch in Umbria;” Chile Fest-Green and Red;” and the “Annual Tamale Roll.” Santa Fe newbies must take “High Altitude Baking for the Holidays”to finally understand why your cakes just aren’t turning out the same at 7000 feet elevation! Johnny V is also a SuperChef with the local Cooking With Kids organization so his “Kids Holiday Cookie Class” is a great way to entertain youngins during school break, specially if don’t have a diy quadcopter even planned out.

Johnny has his own cookbook if you want to take a piece of him home with you (and everyone does…) and he also is partnering with another local cookbook author, Lynn Cline for a “Maverick Cookbook” class based on her tome of the same name.

SEE THE WHOLE SCHEDULE AND REGISTER FOR CLASSES HERE

What’s the saying about “teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Give your loved ones a lifetime of yummy meals by way of Johnny V’s classes… and maybe they will even return the love and cook for you!

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When deciding where to dine in Santa Fe, NM there is no shortage of sumptuous options. From down-home New Mexican food to world-class fine cuisine from award-winning chefs, we have more than most small towns deserve! However, if we were to point out a lack in our culinary landscape, it would be in the more exotic options… and Chef Kim Nath Nou can fill that dinnertime yearning in your own home with Khmer cuisine of Cambodia.

Chef Nath has a fascinating personal background of being Cambodian-born with Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai heritage. Her cooking is uniquely flavorful, bursting with a kaleidoscope of Asian influences. Multiple winner of Santa Fe’s annual Souper Bowl fundraising event, and long time professional chef, you may have sampled some of Chef Nath’s dishes most recently at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen’s popular Thai Nights.

At a recent dinner where Chef Nath served a sampling of her mouth-watering, multi-course Khmer offerings, I came to realize that the biggest difference between caterer and a private chef is the personal connection. Where a caterer would likely prepare food at his / her own facility and come ready to serve it while fading into the background (which is ideal for some events), a Private Chef is part of the dining experience. It’s like turning your dining room into the Chef’s Table at a fancy restaurant.

If you are interested in wine pairings, local wine expert Matt Slaughter is available to accompany Chef Nath for your dinner. Matt brought very unique and expertly paired viniferous delights, including a Malavasia wine from Arizona which was superbly partnered with the soup. When not doing private parties, find him at Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen.

Chicken Satay : Roasted organic chicken skewers, marinated in lemongrass-turmeric sauce. Served with cucumber relish and peanut sauce. Wine pairing: Von Winning Riesling

Tom Yum Seafood Soup : Lobster tail, black mussels and shrimp in lemongrass-galangal broth with a touch of tamarind and coconut cream. Seasoned with sweet and sour jalapeno sauce. Garnished with cilantro. Wine pairing: Merkin Vineyards ‘Shinola’ Malvasia Bianca

Lamb Curry : Organic lamb simmered in a tangy coconut-red curry with sweet potatoes, onion, zucchini, bell peppers. French beans and yogurt. Served with Jasmine rice and baby greens salad tossed in a miso-ginger dressing. (*note: I don’t eat red meat so the fish substitute was equally amazing tasting as this lamb dish sounds!) Wine pairing: Chateau du Hureau ‘Tuffe’ Cabernet Franc

Dessert : Coconut ice cream accompanied by rose tea.

Everything we enjoyed was delightfully prepared and Chef Nath came out to check on the group several times. Matt gave fascinating and entertaining presentations for each wine. It was a dinner party to remember!

NOTE: If you live outside of Santa Fe – good news! Chef Nath is willing to neighboring states. Contact her directly for more information.

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Want a truly New Mexican-inspired cocktail for your holiday table? Try The Corn Maiden featured on PBS’s A Moveable Feast TV show, hosted by Curtis Stone. The Santa Fe episode features Chefs Martin Rios and Leslie Chavez, and the cocktail is from The Liquid Muse

Corn Maiden
By Natalie Bovis, The Liquid Muse LLC

1 1/2 oz red chile infused vodka
1/2 oz OM Meyer Lemon & Ginger liqueur
3/4 oz Dole pineapple juice infused with sage syrup
1/2 oz freshly extracted corn milk
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnish: red chile sugar rim
Shake, strain, serve up, or pour over ice

(Photo credit: Bleacher + Everard Photography)

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August Special – Paint On the Patio with Robbi Firestone!

Whether you are a tourist in Santa Fe wanting to experience something uniquely New Mexican, or a local in need of a mini staycation, a 15-minute drive from our historic plaza is all it takes. Indulge all of your senses at Buffalo Thunder every Thursday in August!

Join renowned artist Robbi Firestone for a two-hour Paint on the Patio session under a gorgeous portal situated alongside the hotel’s swimming oasis, and nestled against the elegant Red Sage restaurant. This creative respite from everyday life provides a physical, mental and creative “time out.” Easels, paints, brushes and guidance are provided by Ms. Firestone, who encourages attendees to break the rules and paint according to their instinct and inspiration. Best of all, the class is a non-intimidating way to release one’s inner artist in a sophisticated setting.

The resort’s Sommelier, Laurie Catizone has curated a mouthwatering list of viniferous offerings by the bottle and by the glass. Thoughtfully chosen and well-priced, adding some liquid inspiration to this experience is highly recommended! Also, Executive Chef Eric Stumpf presents scrumptious appetizers to accompany the sips and strokes. (Try the shrimp flatbread!)

I highly suggest a night of it by booking dinner at Red Sage after the class. The scallop appetizer– cooked to plump and succulent perfection – presented atop a bed of parsnip puree is sheer delight. Entrees range from locally sourced lamb to farm-fresh vegetables from the area.

If the painting class, dinner and wine are still not quite enough, book yourself a room and stay over. Some rooms even have balconies and / or fireplaces. Check rom rates here. A great solo timeout, couple getaway, or girls-night-out!

Intrigued? Why not make it a family affair at the Pool and Paint Party on August 27. No better way to bid summer farewell in the Land of Enchantment. Call the resort for details!

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On May 19th, the fourth annual For The Love Of Cocktails Grand Gala will be held at Delano Las Vegas. This exquisite event brings the finest mixologists, cocktail bars and chefs together for a huge celebration of libations. But even more importantly, the event is also a three-day fundraiser for the Helen David Relief Fund, a breast cancer support fund for bartenders needing help with medical bills and everyday living expenses. 

The charitable organization was founded by Tony Abou-Ganim (The Modern Mixologist) in memory of his inspiration and cousin, Helen David, the beloved owner of the Brass Rail bar in Port Huron, Michigan during a time when women business owners were rare. Despite fighting breast cancer twice, Ms. David lived 91 vibrant years.  Abou-Ganim has joined forces with Back Bar USA and the United States Bartenders’ Guild to expand the program by creating For The Love Of Cocktails!

In honor of this great cause, I’m sharing my summertime twist on a Negroni which I first tasted from the hands of Tony Abou-Ganim, himself. Tony will also be conducting a fundraising bike ride for the Helen David Relief Fund during Cocktails & Culture Festival in Santa Fe, NM on Saturday, June 3, as a kick off to Negroni Week, a national fundraising effort.

Natalie’s Negroni

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce Campari
  • 3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice
  • Garnish: pinch freshly grated ginger
  • Build in double rocks glass over ice. Stir. Enjoy.

If you’re thinking about making your way to Vegas, I found some great Las Vegas hotel and flight packages on Vegas.com to simplify your planning.

Hope to see you out there!

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The Liquid Muse by Natalie Bovis - 1y ago

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up and everyone is looking for an excuse to let our inner Leprechauns out to play by knocking back some Irish whiskey! What makes this particular kind of whiskey special? As the luck of the Irish would have it, I’ve got a quick overview.

Whiskey is made around the world, and each region – America, Canada, Scotland, Japan and Ireland – has its own set of regulations. Irish whiskey is made within its national boundaries, from grain, aged a minimum of three years in barrels, and typically has a light, fruity quality. Potcheen is the equivalent of American moonshine, meaning it is doesn’t follow official laws of production or aging.

Smooth and versatile, Irish whiskey’s popularity and sales have quadrupled in the United States, over the last decade. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing spirits categories, worldwide. And, in congruence with global trends, new micro distilleries are popping up across the emerald landscape. Meanwhile, most well known brands have been bought by larger companies, helping them reach enthusiasts around the globe. Let’s explore a few:

Last year, the adventurous Irishman Tim Herlihy, Brand Ambassador for Tullmore D.E.W., spent a month traveling throughout our fifty states seeking the most interesting St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and recording his findings. Along the way, he visited San Francisco’s Buena Vista famed for its Irish Coffee, saw the world’s largest shamrock in Georgia, and attended the world’s shortest one-man St. Patrick’s Day parade in Arkansas. His trip ended at the famed Dead Rabbit Irish Pub in New York City. See this interesting interview he did upon completing his trip and get his Irish Coffee recipe:

Tullamore D.E.W. was the first to boast a triple blend of grain, malt and pot still whiskies, which impart sweetness, citrus, and spicy notes, respectively. Its name comes from Daniel E. Williams, the distillery worker who worked up to head honcho, back in the 1800s. While journeying, Herlihy is also introducing the U.S. to Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy, their new 15-year old version, which is thrice distilled, and aged in used bourbon, oloroso sherry and rum casks. With the power of William Grant & Sons behind the small brand, it is now sold in 80 countries, winning 35 gold medals in the last decade.

Jameson is perhaps the most widely known brand, and has seen huge growth here. Consistent, versatile and affordable, try it in place of vodka in a Moscow Mule (with lime and ginger beer) for your St. Pat’s celebration.

Teeling Single Grain is made from malted barley. The Teeling family’s distilling dates back to the 1700’s, and the youngest generation has opened the first new distillery built in Ireland in 125 years. Teeling’s tasting notes include fig, melon, citrus, vanilla, spice and cloves.

Bushmills is marked by clean, fruity notes, this pot-stilled whiskey has followed the same recipe for four centuries, and is one of the top sellers in the U.S.

Connemara is an enigma in the Irish category being the only peated version, giving it a rich smokiness. It’s high proof so enjoy it with a little dilution, or as the base of a cocktail.

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The Liquid Muse by Natalie Bovis - 1y ago

It is immensely exciting and  humbling to have been voted a “Local Hero” in the area of Mixology in Edible Magazine’s annual awards.

I grew up Santa Fe, graduated UNM, then took my lil’ BA in French and Theater and moved to Los Angeles so – like most dreamy-eyed actors and writers – spent most of my time catering, waitressing, cocktailing and occasionally bartending. I did singing telegrams (I’m a terrible singer!), was an Assistant at Miramax Films, and did pretty much everything to scrounge a buck until I got some kind of lucky break.

Well, by the time a no-name gal hits her 30s, the possibility of “being discovered” in Hollywood diminishes to ashes. I escaped to Spain for a couple of years, worked in Paris for a bit, then, in 2004, moved to Washington DC and became a restaurant publicist. There, I got to work on the Kimpton Hotel bars and restaurants, and that’s where I first heard the word “mixology.”

Inspired by the history of spirits, classic cocktail recipes and bartenders muddling herbs into drinks, I left my job and, in 2006, started a cocktail blog called The Liquid Muse as I began to study, read and attend seminars about spirits and cocktails. Pretty soon I was writing national magazine articles and being flown around the world to visit distilleries, judge competitions and teach seminars. Looking back, it was dumb luck.

Fast forward ELEVEN years… and I have three cocktail books, dozens of videos, a slew of TV appearances, customized signature cocktails for celebrity events, co-created OM Liqueurs, train restaurant staff, do product consulting, and I produce my own cocktail festival right here in Santa Fe (June 2 – 4).

Cocktails & Culture Festival is a way for me to grow my business while giving back to our community. My decade-long ties to some of the most influential and KIND people in the booze business made it a possibility to reach out and say, “I want to help build a cocktail community here. Could you help me?” And, lo-and-behold, it still floors me to have these incredible people come to educate and inspire bartenders and home entertainers through seminars, tastings and parties during the festival. It also wouldn’t happen without the support of the liquor brands who get involved. Big companies, small companies, local companies… they are all investing in our community through the festival. There are no words for my gratitude. It’s just enormous. So, Cocktails & Culture also raises money for several organizations: Cooking With Kids; Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico; and the Helen David Relief Fund which supports bartenders with breast cancer.

The biggest compliment I can receive is that some of you out there consider my work worthy of acknowledgement, and that you see my desire to support the local culinary, mixology and tourism industries. Receiving this honor only makes me want to work harder, and give more. I am a champion all that we have to offer here. I want to be worthy of an award called Local Hero. Thank you.

And, congratulations to the other businesses named Local Heroes!

  • Cafe, Santa Fe – Tia Sophia’s
  • Cafe, Albuquerque – The Shop Breakfast & Lunch
  • Restaurant, Santa Fe – izanami 
  • Restaurant, Albuquerque – Artichoke Cafe
  • Chef, Santa Fe – Colin Shane, Arroyo Vino
  • Chef, Albuquerque – Carrie Eagle, Farm & Table
  • Restaurant, New Mexico – Rancho de Chimayo
  • Gastropub – Loyal Hound
  • Food Truck – My Sweet Basil
  • Food Artisan – Heidi’s Raspberry Farm
  • Specialty Retailer – Santa Fe School of Cooking
  • Beverage Artisan, non-alcoholic – Verde Juice
  • Beverage Artisan, alcoholic – Santa Fe Brewing
  • Mixologist / Cocktail Program – Natalie Bovis, The Liquid Muse
  • Farm / Ranch – Romero Farms
  • Olla Award – Cherie Montoya
  • Organization – Farm to Table 
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The Liquid Muse by Natalie Bovis - 1y ago

In my cocktail classes, I always stress that if you can follow a cookie recipe, you can make cocktails! Mixology is the liquid element of the culinary arts so everyday kitchen appliances are commonly used, especially for homemade ingredients. Still, for properly executing cocktails, these are some essential tools to have in your home bar:

Paring knife and cutting board – Keep a designated bar set for cutting garnishes or halving lemons and limes for juicing when entertaining at home, or on a picnic.

Citrus press –This handheld device is essential for easily squeezing fresh juice for a cocktail. To use it, slice the fruit in half, place the cut-half down (where the holes are) then squeeze it directly over the mixing glass.

Jiggers – These measure liquid in fractions of ounces. The most commonly found jiggers are metal and look like two cones connected back to back, with one being larger (usually twice the size) of the smaller one. Cocktail recipes call for varying amounts so it’s helpful to have a few sizes such as ½ : 1 ounce, ¾ : 1 ½ ounces; and 1:2 ounces.

Muddler – These long pestles are used to squash fruit, vegetables and herbs in the bottom of the mixing glass, thereby releasing their juices, oils and flavors.

Bar spoon – This long-stemmed spoon measures about ¼ ounce, and is used stirred drinks (ones that are all spirit such as the Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, etc).

Mixing glass – This is a wide-mouthed glass in which cocktails are stirred. They can be a simple pint glass or a decorative, ornate vessel.

Cocktail shaker –During Prohibition, a myriad of “disguised” cocktail shakers were shaped to look like art so as not to rouse suspicion that alcohol may be consumed on premises. Antique shakers are interesting conversation starters, and wonderful gifts for weddings and birthdays. Professionally or practically speaking, though, the Boston shaker is a great choice. This is comprised of a pint-sized mixing glass, which can also be used on its own for stirred drinks, or in conjunction with the slightly larger tin cup for shaken drinks.

Strainers – there are 2 main kinds of cocktail strainers: The Hawthorne strainer is used in conjunction with the metal part of the Boston shaker. It has a coil around the perimeter, and holds back ice and other particles when straining into the cocktail glass. The Julep strainer is slightly cupped, round, and dotted with holes through which liquid flows. Usually used for straining stirred drinks from a mixing glass, it gets its name from when people used them to hold back crushed ice while sipping Mint Juleps.

Zester – These are mainly useful for garnishes, which are visual, aromatic and flavorful drink enhancements.

Ice Scoop – Even for home parties, this useful tool is easier to use than prongs or spoons, and more sanitary than – ick – your hands.

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A new dawn of dining is on the horizon at Sunrise Springs. The luxuriously tranquil, immaculately landscaped, somewhat mysterious retreat center has been kept exclusively for guest use only since re-opening last year. Offerings such as yoga, puppy therapy (that’s a thing!), art projects and dining have been part of the program for resort goers. However, with Chef Rocky Durham now leading the restaurant, the public is welcomed to enjoy Sunday brunch in the peaceful oasis.

View from Blue Heron

Chef Durham cut his teeth in back-of-the-house positions as a teen in Santa Fe, studied classical cooking in Portland and worked at the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans. He later took flight across the pond and opened eight Santa Fe-themed restaurants across England. After returning to his hometown, Rocky taught at our local cooking schools and earned “Super Chef” status for Cooking With Kids, a program bringing healthy cooking skills to children in this area. Chef Durham is also a supporter of New Mexico agriculture and viticulture as you will see in this episode of “Digging In,” an online sustainable culinary series by The Liquid Muse and Edible Magazine.

Sunrise Benedict

I fluttered in to Blue Heron for the inaugural Sunday service and instant relaxation ensued. The calming color scheme and refined simplicity of the interior design and art offer a step out of the mundane. Brunch is by reservation only, and I suggest you request a table by the large windows overlooking the lake, gardens and Autumn’s fiery red leaves on majestic trees, below.

Ginger, Rice Pudding Brulee

I was excited to experience Chef Durham’s brunch, particularly as he had mentioned the Duck Confit Hash with blackened scallions and smoked guajillo aioli ($25) a few times in a prior conversation… I ordered it…YUM! We also ordered the Sunrise Benedict which comes on a blue corn crepe with avocado, house-made sausage, poached egg and cottage fries ($20). And, the Ginger, Rice Pudding Brulee is essentially a few delicious desserts presented in one ($10). Another plus: the coffee comes from Santa Fe’s Iconik, woot!

Extending an invitation to our local community, and visitors, is a wonderful move on the part of Sunrise Springs. In months to come, Sunday brunch will expand to lunch and dinner, and the Moon House will become a wine bar. Keep in mind that the current owners of this resort also own Ojo Caliente so it is also exciting to know that Sunrise Springs will also offer day passes to the spa and private hot tubs – a luxurious place to roost to revive, restore and see the sun rise or set.

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