July 7th , 2017Hello From The Road: Chef Larry Checks in – The Southwest Many friends and club members have asked about Chef Larry, we decided to let him tell you in his own words. Chef Larry will write an occasional blog to let us know how he is doing. His first few blogs will cover his journey across the country, surrounded in food and wine! Please enjoy his adventures. Off we go, next stop is Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s not too hot and we thought it would be a nice drive. Once we were out of Henderson and headed towards Hoover Dam, the wind kicked up and never stopped. I’m not talking just windy but 30 to 40 mph gusts and it was constant. It never did stop but eventually we did arrive in Flagstaff. It was a beautiful ride, and getting out of the desert and climbing through tree lined roads was an amazing experience. My wife Joan and I have both been to the Grand Canyon many times, so we decide to pass the turnoff and continue towards our destination. By the time we got to Flagstaff, I was exhausted from the long drive while navigating the winds! Flagstaff sits at 7300 feet elevation and is a cool mountain town, also a college town. Upon arrival, we opted for a quick lunch, then checked into our hotel to decompress. That afternoon, we ventured out to see this old town and get a little exercise. This town felt like we were brought back to the 70’s. There were lots of free spirited looking young adults, aging buildings, saloons and eateries. We didn’t see any restaurants that were too exciting so we ended up with a light-hearted soup and salad. We went back to our room, which had an incredible mountain view and sunset for us to enjoy. We paired the view with chevre, salumi, crostini and a bottle of Whitehall Lane Chardonnay. How brilliant to bring a full cooler of wine! A long windy drive and a little vino led to a good nights’ sleep. We woke up refreshed and ready to go, aided by the fresh mountain air! Next stop, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Evidently, the wind decided to join us on this next leg of our trip as well! It was a nice ride leaving the mountains and getting into the beautiful New Mexico high desert. There are not many towns between Flagstaff and Santa Fe and the geography makes it rather obvious why New Mexico is our nations’ second poorest state, albeit, very beautiful. Speaking of beautiful…the sky in New Mexico is amazing, with puffy cumulus clouds and penetrating blue skies. It is no wonder why Georgia O’Keefe left New York to paint here! We looked forward to visiting the O’Keefe Museum. Santa Fe has really grown in the 30 years since I was here last. I was mostly looking forward to the culinary treats awaiting us. The first stop on our list was La Casa Sena, a local favorite. We started with Roasted Poblano Soup, followed by a Caesar Salad with a Chimayo red chili dressing and Chicken Enchiladas with both red and green chili sauce. The use of the local grown chilies really add a unique flavor to their dishes with not too much spice, the perfect balance. We were joined by our good friends Pam and Mike as we shared the perfection of the deep spicy flavors and the light sweet tannins of our 2012 Whitehall Lane Merlot. The following day, we visited the Georgia O’Keefe museum in the gallery district. We followed up with more local food at The Shed, a James Beard award winning restaurant. The dishes included HOT chilies which required a few beers to go with the meal! It was much too spicy for Joan but I was in heaven! Although we were still at 7000 feet elevation, this area had a totally different atmosphere than any other mountain town. It was easy to see that the locals do enjoy “the art of good living”. I vowed to absorb a little of that feeling as we moved on for the next adventure.