This Gig brought to you by Green Chile

I am in Santa Fe — probably my favorite place on earth — this week for Baroque Holy Week concerts with Santa Fe Pro Musica. They’re in the magical Loretto Chapel, and I’m singing two great pieces: Pergolesi’s Salve Regina in C minor and Handel’s Gloria.

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In case you haven’t figured out by now, I like to experience places not just by their sights and sounds, but just as importantly by their tastes. And I have some favorite tastes from this favorite place of mine. Last summer I rhapsodized over Ecco Gelato, which scoops up arguably the best gelato in the U.S. Today I’m here to talk to you about green chile.

In New Mexico, chile — both the green made from fresh chiles and the red made from dried chiles — is a culinary staple. New Mexican cuisine features red or green chile sauce, or both (which is called Christmas), on almost every dish. And any self-respecting non-New Mexican restaurant will let you add green chile to your eggs or your burger or your pizza or your pasta.

New Mexicans put chile in everything, from nuts, to popcorn, to hummus, to candy.

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When I was in Indonesia five years ago with the Swara Sonora Trio, several people we met told us that spicy chile (also an important ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine) was good for singing voices. I decided to take that questionable fact and run with it. I ate a lot of spicy sambal that month.

This week I am off and running again, moments after arriving in Santa Fe Tuesday morning. I checked into my hotel and then hopped down the street to the Guadalupe Cafe for a lunch of cheese enchiladas with Christmas.

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I used to think Guadalupe Cafe had the best green chile in town, but they’ve moved and the menu is different and it just didn’t taste the same. The red chile was pretty good but the green had little taste. Still, it was a tasty meal.

Unfortunately, like many singers I have problems with GERD (acid reflux), so I have to be judicious about my consumption of GERD-activating foods. I waited a couple days until my next green chile experience: a green chile grilled cheese sandwich at Luminaria, which paired nicely with their slightly spicy black bean soup.

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I was wondering whether I could squeeze in two more chile meals before leaving tomorrow, but yesterday I overdid it. I went to one of Santa Fe’s most famous restaurants, Tomasita’s, and ordered their vegetarian combination plate.

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I admit with shame that I scarfed down the enchilada, taco, most of the beans, rice and chile sauces, and then followed it with a sopapilla (which was really not a good choice — fried dough after all that cheese and chile? but it was soooooo good torn into bits with honey poured into the pockets). The red chile was very good, but I should stop kidding myself and ordering Christmas all the time, because I’m a green chile girl. Tomasita’s green was wonderful, and I’m sure I wouldn’t hurt red chile’s feelings by leaving it off my plate next time.

Chile may be good for the singing voice, but acid reflux is not. I spent the rest of the day getting mine under control with ginger tea, carrots, and a carefully timed lavender gelato. Luckily I still sang well last night, and finished the Handel Gloria at quite a clip!

But that will be my last green chile experience this trip. Unless I think I can swing a breakfast burrito at the airport tomorrow morning…

Fruits (and pastas, and soups) of Labor

During my time on the ground I’ve been busy…making food! When I arrive home from a gig one of my greatest joys is getting back to cooking and baking. Food is my only real hobby, in the sense of something I do regularly outside of work (music, although it’s my greatest passion, doesn’t qualify since it IS my work). When I started this blog I thought that a lot of postings would be about food, and I imagine that day will come soon, but so far delicious edibles haven’t featured much except in the case of my tragic smoothie disaster.

I love cooking, eating, and dining out. And taking photos of food so I can remember it or post online or email to family to share. The (very amateur) food photography offshoot of my hobby began during my 2009 tour to Indonesia with the Swara Sonora Trio, when I couldn’t help but document every amazing meal we shared.

But back to the present. Over the past two weeks I’ve made:

my best-ever fried rice (turns out you need a lot more oil than I usually cook with);

fried rice

my favorite made-up soup, curry lentils and greens;

curry lentil soup

a pasta with meltingly roasted eggplant and sautéed squash;

eggplant-squash pasta

spice cupcakes (The Joy of Cooking’s quick spice cake recipe is a standby for me);

spice cupcakes

Cacio e Pepe, a favorite from last year’s honeymoon in Rome;

cacio e pepe

the tastiest 100% whole wheat bread recipe I’ve tried (thank you King Arthur);

bread

half-sour pickles (Parenthetical Aside 1: N and I love these so much and we get the best pickling cucumbers here in NC. Parenthetical Aside 2: This recipe is great but I recommend halving the salt unless you want to start taking blood pressure medication);

half sour pickles

And bagels! (Really Bruegger’s are better but these were fun to make and I might try again with proper bread flour instead of all-purpose).

bagels

That’s not to mention the chocolate chip cookies, peach caprese, oatmeal cookies, from-scratch microwave popcorn (did you know you can just put kernels in a glass bowl, top with a plate, and press Start?) ravioli–not from scratch–with olive oil and sage, and probably some other things I’m forgetting.

I thought cooking was okay for my back since it involves neither sitting nor standing still, but I think being on my feet that much, twisting around to stir and chop and transfer things, isn’t ideal. I decided to cool it for a while and eat my leftovers. The decision was also precipitated by a fridge that looks like this:

full fridge
Good thing my mom swept into town to help me eat them. But more on that later. Right now I need a snack.

Smoothie Tragedy at LGA

I had planned for my first blog posting to be a general account of my great weekend in New York singing for the OSNY competition semifinals. But then, on the way home, the smoothie incident happened. Its story seemed more indicative of what it’s really like to be me, and I decided that short snapshots might be a better way to capture my singing, traveling, eating life. So here I go…

In great spirits after advancing to the finals of the OSNY competition and spending a lovely night and sunny Brooklyn morning with my sibs, I was proud to be through security at LaGuardia early, and happily humming as I wandered the terminal in search of a healthy snack. To my delight I stumbled upon a food court that included a salad bar and a coffee shop that sold smoothies made of actual fruit. I thought, “a salad bar in an airport! What a nutritionally advanced and wonderful idea!” I was feeling a fruit deficiency though, so I opted for a coffee shop smoothie that featured strawberries, blueberries, apples, lime juice and ginger. It was quite tasty, and I felt virtuous as I sipped, wheeling my luggage around the food court and spontaneously taking a photo of the salad bar for my first blog posting.LGA salad bar

Now, here is one thing you must learn about me: I break things. Often. It comes from a combination of poor spatial relations abilities and a tendency to get rushed and stop paying attention to what I’m doing. Recently I’ve broken a rental car, a tea kettle and stovetop burner, and our newly painted kitchen accent wall at home. After that last incident (suitcase-related), I promised my husband I would reform. I’ve been doing a lot better. Until yesterday when I took an iPhone photo while holding a smoothie, a suitcase, and a purse.smoothie splat

 

As you might imagine, splat!!! went the smoothie just as I snapped my quite excellent salad bar photo (see above). Oh, the wasted nutrition! I try as much as possible not to buy food in plastic containers, so it’s an extra travesty when your plastic smoothie cup ends up in the landfill and you didn’t even get to enjoy more than two sips of the smoothie it contained.

Two separate travelers stopped to bring me napkins and even briefly helped me wipe up fruity goo whose trajectory was six or seven feet in diameter. They were so calm and nice about it! In an airport, in New York! I started to laugh at myself as I furiously swept at the spreading pool of pink, and by the time I’d used most of the paper napkins in the food court to control the damage, an employee came by with a Wet Floor sign and told me someone with better equipment would be along to finish. I apologized; she smiled and said, “everyone drops things.” I told her that I do it more than the average person and she laughed.

And that was the end of the LaGuardia smoothie incident. Not such a tragedy, except for the loss of a tasty, healthy beverage. The debacle certainly filled up my wait time (I also had to make a dash into the ladies room to wipe off my luggage), and kept me from getting bored. I was, of course, still hungry and woefully behind on my 5 A Day of fruits and veggies. But I decided that maybe the smoothie experience was not meant to be. I went to the salad bar instead. Yum.salad of consolation