From a foodie perspective, New Mexico comes in first with its biggest foodie export: delicious New Mexico green chiles. And while we had plenty of green chiles while in Santa Fe (more on that coming soon), that isn’t the only delightful cuisine that Santa Fe boasts. We decided to learn more about the influence Spanish cuisine on the area in the Authentic Spanish Tapas cooking demonstration at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. And, of course, enjoy the feast that ensued.
Santa Fe School of Cooking
The Santa Fe School of Cooking features state-of-the-art kitchens and demonstration areas for classes on cuisine ranging from Spanish tapas to Native American cuisine, to southwestern classics like tacos and burritos. They also host foodie walks, where participants get to try several local restaurants and really get a flavor for Santa Fe. Because there were so many people in our class, we didn’t get to cook ourselves, but we opted for the Authentic Spanish Tapas demonstration.
The location is absolutely perfect and was only a few minutes away from our hotel. You really can walk there if you allow yourself enough time. When you walk in, you are immediately met by a lovely sight: green chiles and sauces, and southwestern cuisine cookbooks and cooking equipment. We spent some time browsing the options, and, of course, I got a bunch of green chiles to go.
The cooking school is deceptively big. The multiple demonstration rooms are kitchens are quite spacious and the kitchens are expansive. And, while you wait, you can relax on the outdoor patio. The ambiance of the school is great, with a real southwestern vibe.
Our demonstration (and meal) consisted of several courses. We started with a Mediterranean Salad, then moved on to Warm Toast with Serrano Ham and Tomato Spread. Third, we had a Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese and Onion Compote. That was followed by the meats: Shrimp with Almond and Pine Nut Sauce, then Grilled Beef with Sea Salt Caramel. We finished off the demonstration and meal with dessert of Magdalenas with “Sherried” Orange Caramel Sauce.
We started with a delicious and light Mediterranean salad. The light salad was perfect for warm weather, with a light, fruity dressing, goat cheese, nuts, fruit, and baby greens. It was absolutely scrumptious! The sweetness of the fruit perfectly complimented the light dressing and was a great way to start the meal.
We then moved on to warm starters. We truly enjoyed the Serrano ham crostini with tomato sauce and goat cheese. The savory ham paired perfectly with the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Topped with soft, mild, goat cheese on a crispy mini toast and it was the perfect blend of favors and textures.
I am usually not a fan of goat cheese but the goat cheese the cooking school used was absolutely lovely. It was mild in nature but the cooks chose the perfect dishes to top with goat cheese from a consistency standpoint. It even worked on the Baked Spinach with goat cheese and onion compote.
One of my favorite courses was the Shrimp with Almond and Pine Nut Sauce. It was absolutely delicious. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and simmered in a pine nut, almond, and tomato sauce. Served with a perfectly grilled crostini, it was a great meat tapa.
Next we had the grilled beef with sea salt caramel. The sea salt caramel was made from scratch. I am not a huge meat eater, so I am not the best judge in this area. Not to mention I don’t really like caramel either. But the meaty flavors of the beef contrasted sharply with the sweetness of the caramel and it was an interesting juxtaposition. Other meat eaters near us really loved the dish and touted the unique flavor pairing.
We finished our demonstration and tasting with Magdalenas, which are small Spanish cakes. For our final course, our Magdalenas were topped with a sherried orange sauce, also made from scratch as we watched and learned. And wow, it was absolutely scrumptious! Even after so many courses, we made sure to make room for this soft but flaky pastry that was perfectly doused in orange sauce. The presentation was so pretty, you almost didn’t want to eat it…but we got over that.
Throughout all of the eating, we were watching the food be cooked firsthand, from scratch. We learned how Spanish influence meshed with Native American culture to form the cuisine of the southwest. Most, if not all, of the ingredients were locally sourced. And most interestingly, we learned about the different types of chile, and especially New Mexico green chiles. I had no clue that the heat doesn’t really come mostly from the seeds of a chile, but really the membrane. New Mexico is the perfect climate for a plethora of chiles even though it is most known for its green chile.
We were met with awesome service throughout the course. Servers came by to make sure we were good on all of our courses, and to serve drinks, including wine, for purchase.
Santa Fe School of Cooking Review
I completely understand why people say when you come to Santa Fe you cannot miss the cooking school. The demonstrations, the food, and the ambiance are absolutely perfect. Next time I am in Santa Fe, I plan to take another class, or hopefully time it up for a foodie walk throughout Santa Fe. It is definitely an activity I recommend if you visit Santa Fe, as you will not be disappointed. Oh, and come hungry, because with all of the food you will enjoy, you don’t want to get full too quickly. Grade A.
Thank you to the Santa Fe School of Cooking for sponsoring our cooking class! All opinions expressed are my own.