Sunday, January 27, 2019

January 26, 2019 A short trip to Santa Fe Lunch – The Plaza Café

January 26, 2019 A short trip to Santa Fe Lunch – The Plaza Café

I did not sleep well last night last night and arose at 6:30, although Suzette slept better and later, until around 8:00

I checked the the phone messages and returned a call from Joe, the plumber, who said they had not been able to gain entry into the basement on Friday and only had about 20 minutes of work left to finish the installation of our boiler and connect it to our existing system of radiators and start heating the house.  We made arrangements for the plumbers to gain access on Saturday, so we could drive to Santa Fe.  Suzette wanted to see the new Five Groups exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum.

At 8:00 I toasted 2 1/3 slices of an onion bagel and smeared them with cream cheese and lay thin slices of onion and Lax on them and studded them with a few capers and drank a cup of hot tea with them.

We left for Santa Fe at 10:00 after a Suzette drank her coffee, read the paper, showered and dressed.

Suzette checked restaurants to find a restaurant for dinner that we had not been to before and art exhibits as we drove to Santa Fe, so we had a plan when we arrived at around 11:00.  The plan was to spend the day looking at art and then eat an early dinner in Santa Fe, but when we looked at our preferred restaurant, Sazon, we were put off by the prices.  All the appetizers were $18.00 and no entrée was less than $30.00.

We drove to Stephen’s first.  I did not see anything but Suzette found a set of six or eight lovely lucite dessert plates for $48.00 that would be perfect for poolside service at her spa at the Center for a Ageless Living in Los Linas.  Here is a picture of them.

We then drove to the Railyard area.  We were hungry and so we walked to the Farmers’ Market first and decided to eat a snack since it was 11:30.  I selected a small spinach and feta quiche for $6.00 and Suzette bought us a 12 oz. bottle of fresh apple cider, which we shared as we sat at on of the tables at the end of the large indoor food hall.

We then walked across the railroad tracks to the El Museo indoor flea market and walked around it, but did not buy anything.

Then we walked back toward the car, stopping at Lewellan Modern Gallery to view its new exhibit of Picasso prints.  The exhibit was interesting but not enough to inquire about the prices.  We also saw several nice Woody Gwynn paintings and an awful Marc Chagall painting.

I remember in the 80’s when Arlene Lewellen took over Elaine Horwith’s Gallery space on Palace St. and had the best modern gallery in Santa Fe for years.  I bought a Jeanne Quick to See Smith pastel from her Petroglyphs series in the early 90’s from Arlene after I had helped Westland Development negotiate the sale of approximately 1000 acres of land to the U.S. Department of Interior and help enact legislation to create the Petroglyphs Monument on the Westside of Albuquerque.

We then drove to the Fine Arts Museum.  We first went to see the Five Groups Exhibit, which featured mainly works from the museum’s collection.  I noted that there is a recent shift of emphasis toward showing the work of female artist, perhaps because the current director is a woman.  It almost feels like the movement a couple of decades ago toward enforced diversity in colleges by creating
quotas for minority students to bring greater integration into all levels of society.  It worked.  It got us our first African American President.

The five groups were: the earliest group The Taos Society of Artists, the Transcendental Painting Group, which was mainly in Taos and Albuquerque, Los Cinco Pintores in Santa Fe, the Rio Grande Group mainly in Santa Fe, and the Stieglitz Group gathered mainly around Mabel Dodge Lujan in Taos.

                                                       An Agnes Pelton TPG Painting
                                                Nat is asking $265,000.00 for this one.

                              This is an Emil Bisstram TPG painting named “Archetype”

Here is my favorite Taos Society of Artists painter, E. Martin Hennings
Since the works were from the Museum’s collection we had seen many  of the works before, except for the Rio Grande Group, which included several nice paintings by Willard Nash.

We then viewed the large New Mexico sculpture exhibit, which exhibited many women sculptors.  We were most impressed by four lovely 12to 14 inch tall wooden sculptures of Indian dancers by Agnes Sims.

It was about 12:30 when we finished looking at the Fine Arts Museum exhibits.  I was tired and hungry again and Suzette wanted a beer.  We crossed the street and walked south on Lincoln along the west side of the Plaza toward the Ore House, but stopped at the Plaza Café and went in to get me something to eat.

We were shown to a booth above which was a photo taken of the front of the Plaza Café in 1955.  The website refers to it as the Famous Plaza Café and it seems to me to be one of the few businesses and buildings on the Plaza that remains unchanged or repurposed from the 1950’s, besides the Palace of Governors and the Fine Arts Museum.

Suzette became more enthusiastic about eating when she read the menu and saw they served her favorite beer, Negra Modelo and we both saw two items we wanted to try, Tortilla Soup and Chicken Mole Enchiladas.  The Plaza Café was full of both locals and tourists.  As Suzette observed,  “This must be on everyone’s ‘To Do’ list.”

I told her, “I know folks who eat here several times a week.”

We ordered two Negras ($5.00 each), a bowl of the Tortilla Soup ($7.50) and the Chicken Mole Enchiladas ($12.95).  These are pretty cheap prices for Santa Fe, so I could see why it is a
universally favorite place to eat.

The beers were brought first and then both the soup and enchiladas were brought together with an extra bowl and an extra platter, because we told the waitress we wished to share both dishes.  Suzette would have preferred that the soup be served first and then a little later the enchiladas, but it was not that kind of restaurant.  I was happy that the waitress brought an extra bowl and plate so we could split the two dishes.

The tortilla soup was a lovely chicken vegetable soup with carrots, onions, celery and potatoes garnished with fried tortilla strips and some melted cheese.  A delicious light caldo instead of the often heavy inedible Chile and bean based concoctions found in fancier restaurants.

The chicken mole enchiladas were also very clean and flavorful, a pile of the same shredded cooked chicken wrapped inside of a thick corn tortilla and sauced with a lovely mole sauce that was both fragrant with a slight chocolate flavor. I thought for a moment I was back in Oaxaca and the reason for that is because the restaurant may be using the mole sauce produced in Oaxaca that is imported into the U.S.

Suzette liked the Spanish rice that was tinted a reddish color by the abundance of tomato sauce it was cooked in. The beans were creamy, also, indicating a care in their preparation.

We enjoyed lunch at a new restaurant, thus satisfying Suzette’s wish to eat at a new restaurant that, ironically, was also a historic restaurant with interesting food and reasonable prices that served her favorite beer and close to the museum that did not require me to walk a long distance, especially since it was cold and windy and there was still snow on the ground in many places.   I felt that by the convergence of a series of planned and unplanned circumstances, quixotically we had checked all the boxes in our choice of the Plaza Café for our Santa Fe dining experience.

Since I was tired, we decided to drive home after lunch.  Suzette was kind enough to drive the Prius back to Albuquerque so I could sleep.

She stopped at Costco to fill up and we were in bed and napping by 3:30.

I awoke at 4:45 and Suzette awakened soon after that.  We watched the PBS news at 5:00 and then the BBC news at 5:30.  Then we watched the NHL Allstar Games until 8:00 when we watched the PBS series “Death in Paradise”.  Suzette was not hungry, so I toasted two slices of whole wheat bread, melted slices of Jarlsberg cheese on them and then laid slices of onion, some mayonnaise, lettuce leaves, slices of avocado, and finally sliced turkey breast to make two rather tall open faced sandwiches.

We went to bed at 9:00 and I slept until 2:30 a.m.when I blogged about the day’s events and then returned to bed.

Bon Appetit

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