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Benjamin B

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About Benjamin B

  • Birthday 09/17/1980

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  • Location
    Santa Fe, NM
  1. This thread seems to have been dead for a while, but... I've recently quit drinking and although I still do wine tasting at work (spitting), I would like to do some drinks that are either Mocktails/NA Cocktails, or some sort of non alcoholic pairings that will match food (maybe something like the French Laundrys Non-Alcoholic Pairings?). Anyone have recipes or suggestions?
  2. Eric is back in the kitchen. Most of the menu seems to have taken on a serious Asian influence. I've heard mixed reviews of the new menu but I haven't been yet. I plan on going in the next month or so to check it out.
  3. We went out to eat at Aqua Santa last night. Fantastic meal, Wonderful Service. Brian Knox (owner and executive chef) was cooking and greeted us on the way in. It appeared that each meal was cooked to order by Brian and his Sous Chef with one other assistant working in the back of the small exhibition style kitchen. The plates were either floral print around the edges or light blue transparent glass. It all fit with the theme of "Slow Food" quite nicely. We started with 2 glasses of the house Bordeaux (Sarah did not want a white because she was cold). I had the Grilled Calamari Salad with Wilted Greens and Aioli, Sarah had the Pappardelle with Crab, Pears and Peppermint. Both were amazing. The pappardelle was home made, and had a wonderful texture, the crab was abundant and the pears and peppermint just blended perfectly with the cream sauce to create a dish that very well could have been the main course...and perhaps, was the star of our meal. My calamari was over wilted romaine lettuce with a dollop of aioli and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Toasted bread (almost like perfect little micro-croutons) was mixed in for texture and the whole dish came in together with such freshness that it seemed that it just as easily could have been from a village favourite on the coast of italy as from a small converted house on the north-west side of Santa Fe. Before our main courses came I asked for a suggestion on wine. I had ordered the Pan Seared Chorizo Stuffed Quail with Golden Rasins and Fingerling Potatoes. Sarah ordered the Braised Shepherds Lamb with Wilted Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes and Feta. The server suggested a Gary Farrell 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir and I took his suggestion. The Lamb was succulent and fall apart tender and the wilted spinach was wonderfully salty in contrast to the rich lamb flavour. Excellent all around The Quail was semi boneless and stuffed with chorizo and golden raisins. It was perfectly cooked, not in the least bit dry. The chorizo and golden raisin stuffing was just slightly spicy. The fingerling potatoes appeared to be pan fried in the fat from the quail and all together it was a hearty yet delicate meal for a chilly night. We finished our meal with a Pear Crisp with Creme Fraiche. I had a glass of Dow Tawny Port and Sarah had an Espresso. The Pear Crisp was seemed to have almost no sweetening other than the ripe pears. The creme fraiche had a nice tart tanginess that mixed with the sweet pears and the light fluffy crisp on top to create a desert that could have easily paired with many cheeses. Honestly, being someone who dislikes most sweet desserts, this was perfect for me. Sarah, as someone who prefers simple desserts, thought that it was perfectly executed and exemplary of a home made pear crisp. In the end, our waiter forgot to charge us for the wine, and when I notified him that he had omitted this (an $80 charge) he added it and said "Oh well, even if you hadn't caught it it wouldn't have mattered because it was such a pleasure to serve you". Never was there a rush. Never were we asked "how things were" but rather asked about our experience: "Are you enjoying yourselves tonight?" "Are you having fun? Good, you look like you're having a great time". Effortless service, unrushed in every way and very friendly without being overly informal. It was like coming into a friends house and eating expertly cooked food while being served by a gracious host who was glad you'd decided to come over. This is an experience we will be repeating again.
  4. Risotto al Barolo

    Awesome, I'll see if I can get that at Whole Foods or at my local wine shop. Any advice on the main course?
  5. Risotto al Barolo

    I want to cook some Risotto al Barolo but I can't really justify spending $50 on a bottle of Barolo right now. What is a good substitute? I was thinking Barbaresco or Gattinara but I'd like to keep it to about $25 if possible and the cheapest Gattinara I can find is $37. Also, Risotto al Barolo is usually served before the main course, so what is a suggested main course to follow? I'm hoping to cook this dish this evening and dinner is in about 5 hours. Help a fellow cook out with a little advice on the fly!
  6. The "Porcinis" are actually Queen Bolete mushrooms, which are related to the Porcini. We went on a 75 mile backpacking trip from the Ski Basin to Truchas peaks and all around in the Pecos Wilderness. On the way up there were literally hundreds of Bolete mushrooms everywhere in the Puerto Nambe area. I picked a few on my way back down at the end of the trip and used them when we got back to Santa Fe. We went back up a few weeks later and we couldn't find anything but Anamita Muscaria (Fly Agaric). I have a friend who goes up and brings down pounds of chanterelles and hedgehogs. I have also heard rumours of there being psychedelic mushrooms up there, but since that's not really something I want I've never looked for them.
  7. To my knowledge there are no shitakes that grow up in the Pecos Wilderness. Perhaps these were boletes? The most common edible mushroom in the Pecos. I know that Eric had made some pickled boletes recently. Anyone heard any buzz about Martin Rios's new place Restaurant Martin? I'll be working there and I was wondering if anything is being talked about outside Santa Fe.
  8. I prefer La Choza over most places in town for New Mexican food. The margaritas are good and I like both their green and red chile. I think cafe pasquals is a good choice for breakfast/brunch... but that it's overpriced and overrated for dinner. Their chorizo burrito is probably my favourite breakfast burrito in town.
  9. It's been overhauled, perhaps, but it's barely working. Most of the links are not hot. ← I guess I just opened it and looked at the menu. The menu links worked for me. Hopefully, you will be able to take a pass through it. It is a controversial place in SF. Most of this is due to the strictly enforced "no fragrance policy." The owner is a bit of a character from Brooklyn and some people are not fans of his or how he enforces the policy, but he has always treated me well when I have dined there. He also has provided decent wine selections from a fairly extensive Itallian focused list. All of this aside, I think the food is truly fantastic, especially the pastas. The chef has remained with the restaurant, which is unusual in Santa Fe. She deserves a lot of credit for creating great Italian food in a climate where everyone wants to focus on Southwestern. It looks to me that the pricing has been scaled back some. I know in January, he had reworked the menu to make prices more reasonable due to the economy. It is still not a cheap meal, but one I have always found to be worth it. ← I've never gone to the restaurant, mostly because I've been told by a number of friends in the food/wine industry in the area that the owner is one of the biggest a$$holes in town. He apparently has been quite a bully towards people in the industry who were simply unsuspecting friends, and I've personally seen him be beyond sleezy to young women (and women in general). Supposedly the fragrance policy is his way of being able to do whatever he wants in his restaurant. If he doesn't like you, he simply kicks you out and cites the no fragrance policy. In all honesty, the policy makes sense (I never wear fragrances of any sort, nor do I wear products that are fragrant), but his implementation is suspect. That being said, I've been told that the chef is possibly the most skilled in town, and it is likely that my curiosity will outweigh my dislike of Eric's actions.
  10. I decided to try the recipe for the very basic sauce that slkinsey recommended. We made some gnocchi to go with the sauce, a basic spinach salad with roasted balsamic onions. It was a perfect match for the freshly made gnocchi. Thank you for the recipe, I've never made that sauce before.
  11. It's still kicking. I hear the economy is hurting it quite a bit right now.
  12. Looks good on paper. Did it taste good too? Any favorites on this list? ← Yeah. Sorry about that, I posted and intended to come back and put in more information... and then I forgot. 1. Grilled Asparagus wrapped in Smoked Salmon with Goat Cheese, Capers and Pickled Red Onions. Wine was a Verdejo. My least favourite of the meal, not because it wasn't good, but because it was so... plain. Very good, but I make it at home just as well. 2. 3 Sausages: Morcilla with a Piquillo Pepper Sauce, Pork & Fennel with a Pomegranate Sauce, Spanish Chorizo with a Quince Paste. Pickled Peppers. Wine: A Dry Muscat and Gewürztraminer blend. The sausages they use here are excellent. I'm not sure where they get them or if they are made in house. I suspect that they are made in house, but I have no real reason to believe that other than the fact that they always seem a cut above what I get. The wine they used was also quite good and something I'm trying to get my wine guy to pick up for me. 3. Crab and Scallop Cannelloni in a Manchego Sauce, Stuffed with sage. Topped with Fried Sage. Wine: Burgans Albarino This was actually my favourite of the meal. The scallops were perfectly tender, the sauce was incredibly rich but not overwhelming, the sage went well and wasn't overdone. Albarino is one of my favourite whites and I found that it complimented the seafood perfectly. 4. Pan Seared Steak {Flap Steak I think} with Smoked Salt, Smoked Paprika in a Caramel Sauce. Wine: [This was a Spanish Red, very strong coco and caramel finish with a tannic start] This whole menu was a bit more brute force flavour than the last one I had here, but once again, everything was excellent. The steak was perfect temperature and the caramel sauce was delicious. I still need to go back and ask about this wine because I forgot to write down what it was. 5: Cabrales Cheese with Dried Mission Figs in a Saffron Honey. Wine: Muscatel A nice desert. I would rather have cheese and figs for desert than creme brulee or pot de creme any day. We had Espresso with lemon after dinner.
  13. Dinner at La Boca for our Anniversary Dinner: We did the tasting menu at La Boca. 5 Courses with wine parings: 1. Grilled Asparagus wrapped in Smoked Salmon with Goat Cheese, Capers and Pickled Red Onions. Wine was a Verdejo. 2. 3 Sausages: Morcilla with a Piquillo Pepper Sauce, Pork & Fennel with a Pomegranate Sauce, Spanish Chorizo with a Quince Paste. Pickled Peppers. Wine: A Dry Muscat and Gewürztraminer blend. 3. Crab and Scallop Cannelloni in a Manchego Sauce, Stuffed with sage. Topped with Fried Sage. Wine: Burgans Albarino 4. Pan Seared Steak {Flap Steak I think} with Smoked Salt, Smoked Paprika in a Caramel Sauce. Wine: [This was a Spanish Red, very strong coco and caramel finish with a tannic start] 5: Cabrales Cheese with Dried Mission Figs in a Saffron Honey. Wine: Muscatel We had Espresso with lemon after dinner.
  14. Good to know. What places in town serve with totally fresh squeezed lime? I know Lazy Dog does...
  15. Another couple of additions: Saigon Cafe: I love the Vietnamese food here. It's always fresh, Always pretty fast and it's basically a diner with a very diner like attitude. Try the egg rolls, they are the best I've ever had, anywhere. The Canh Chua is good and comes in a huge bowl. Remember to order a side of limes/cilantro/shiso/bean sprouts if you get a soup. Is it authentic? I have no idea. I've never been to Vietnam. I do know that a lot of my friends make it a point to go there once a week or so. Oh, and it's cheap. Eat lunch there. Maria's: I haven't eaten there at all. We had fantastic margaritas there the other night. Expect to pay for your margarita though, we had 2 margaritas and the bill was $33 + tip. Not bad at all if you love your liquor, but some people get sticker shock. You can order $50 margaritas there. I love tequila, so if you can spend it... do it. All my Santa Fean friends say this is THE place for margaritas so go there to drink and go elsewhere to eat. From what I've seen, I agree.
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