Saturday, December 24, 2022

La Boca - Santa Fe, NM

In November we met with friends in Santa Fe, New Mexico that we had not seen in 27 years. We mostly ate, talked and shopped, in that order. They go to Santa Fe often and most of the places we ate were old favorites of theirs. However, I suggested that we try La Boca, a place they were familiar with but had never eaten. It looked very intriguing on-line. 

The chef, James Campbell Caruso, is an eight time James Beard Award nominee in the 16 years the restaurant has been open. The menu has been described as a modern re-invention of classic Spanish cuisine with a preference for fresh local ingredients. It is a small-plate sharing menu which I love. 

We had the following dishes in the following order:
Croquetas de Jamon: fried coquettes filled with a white bechamel sauce of a butter and flour roux mixed with milk, and then added Spanish ham. Good, but not spectacular. 

A potato and wild mushroom soup not on the regular menu. Lots of mushrooms with a little bit of spice. It was excellent. 

Alcachofas: grilled Roman artichokes that have a rounder shape and non-thorny leaves, called globe artichokes in English. They came with queso de cabra, a  semi-soft Spanish cheese made of goat milk with orange and mint zest. They had an unusual look, were softer than the artichokes we normally eat and I enjoyed it with the cheese.  

Chorizo Iberico is chorizo made from the black-hoofed Iberico pig of Spain. It is dark red and marbled with fat that starts to melt at room temperature. It came with pipparra-egg salad. Pippara peppers are a Basque pepper traditionally pickled, mild and spicy-sweet. It was okay at the time, but knowing more about it now, I would like another taste of it. One of the fun things about a restaurant like this is that you are exposed to new cooking ingredients and styles. 

Grilled eggplant with melted Manchego cheese (a sheep cheese from central Spain that is one of Judy's favorites), capers and saffron honey. This was five stars: nice texture and flavorful. Perhaps the best item we tried. 

Patatas bravas: fingerling potatoes with spicy sherry vinegar, garlic and roasted garlic aioli. Good, but not must-eat. 

Roasted beet salad with arugula, coriander, crushed Marcona almonds, Greet yogurt and red and yellow beets. I liked this dish because it had large chunks of cooked red and yellow beet that were flavorful and easy to eat. I find most beet salads are low on beets, particularly the yellow ones that I love. 

Sage Bakehouse sourdough baguette with olive oil. 

Mejillones: west coast black mussels in coconut salsa verde, coconut, cilantro, garlic, spinach, lime and jalapeno. Mejillones is Spanish for mussels and I love mussels. It was an off-putting bright green that tasted much better than it looked. The mussels were large and plump, some of the best I've ever had. Another five star dish that may have been the best. 

Chicharrones de Andaluz: fried pork belly, cumin, sea salt, lemon and harissa. The pork belly was cooked more than I prefer and was crispy, but still fatty. This came toward the end and our bellies were filling up. 

Braised beef short rib with Yukon gold mashed potatos, fried sage, caramelized onion and Oloroso pan sauce (a variety of sherry made in Jerez and Montilla Morilles and produced by oxidative aging). This was also a five star dish, but we were so full at the end what we couldn't finish it. 

I feel like I always learn when I go to a restaurant like this and look up the ingredients and start to appreciate the effort and ingredients that went into the dish. 

1 comment:

  1. I can't decide if this post makes me feel hungry or over-stuffed. Such a fun meal! Definitely one I'd go back to on a future trip to Santa Fe.