restaurants

grand opening quarry bend zupas + {giveaway}

by jani on November 28, 2012

I’m a Zupas-holic. What can I say? I. Love. Zupas. So naturally, when I received an invitation to the Bloggers’ Sandy #iheartzupas VIP Party from Janet Thaeler at Newspaper Girl, how could I possibly refuse? And what a grand night it was! But better yet, there will be a Grand Opening at the  Sandy, Utah Quarry Bend  location on December 1st for the public that will be fabulous. There will be lots of prizes to be given away plus free dessert. And trust me, you do not want to miss their Pumpkin Spice Crème Brûlée…  it is heaven in a dish! To find out all about these great offers check out the Zupas Grand Opening site.

HB and I enjoyed our favorite soup, Wisconsin Cauliflower ( to die for!) and our favorite salad, the Mango Berry – so yummy!

The staff is awesome – all with ready smiles,  willing to help in any way they can!

Now for the (Giveaway}:  One Café Zupas Blogger’s Cookbook and a $25 dollar Zupas gift card.  This is such an awesome giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Thanks to Zupas for providing me with a lovely meal, a cookbook and one for this giveaway. The ideas and content are my own.

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We arrived in Santa Fe on a busy Friday evening, hungry and anticipating the New Mexican cuisine we’d heard so many of our friends rave about. All of the restaurants that were close to the famous Plaza (center of all activity in Santa Fe) were reserved for the night. And thank goodness they were, because we took our complimentary shuttle bus to La Choza, a sister restaurant to the well-known Shed. La Choza became my favorite restaurant. We enjoyed the food and ambiance so much, that we chose to return. With all the wonderful restaurants to frequent, returning to La Choza on a first visit tells you just how much we loved it!

When our attentive and likeable waiter came to our table, he said, “Do you want Christmas?” I thought to myself, Now that’s a pretty silly question! Of course I want Christmas… maybe not in June… but yeah, I want Christmas?! I simply answered, “Excuse me?” He repeated the question and then as he looked at my puzzled expression said, “Oh, do you want both red and green chile? That’s what we call it here in Santa Fe… Christmas.” Made sense and now I was equipped to jump the gun, sounding very with it from that point on… “Oh, and I’ll  have Christmas please!” What I wasn’t prepared for, as I dipped my tortilla chip into the two sauces, was smoke streaming from both ears, tongue likened to a dragon, perspiration forming on my forehead!  I quickly ordered a very sweet coke to put out some of the fire – but I was bound and determined to conquer this new hotter-than-hot-spicy adventure! I can proudly say I’m no longer a picante wuss… I think this qualifies me as pure “chile snob” aficionada.

Had I only known how to really enjoy “Christmas” – this according to Daniel Garcia, manager and chef at La Choza – “You add the chile inside the sopaipilla, then cover it with honey, oh my gosh, it’s so good!” Now at least I have something wonderful to look forward to when we return to Santa Fe, and return we will!

The patio dining is warm and inviting; it adds mucho to the wonderful atmosphere.

My favorite dish is the blue corn tortilla veggie enchiladas. It’s filled with all fresh vegetables including broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms, to name a few. I asked for extra mushrooms, or ongos. It is so goods, words can hardly do it justice!

The Hispanic heritage of Santa Fe, shows brilliantly through the vibrant colors throughout La Choza.

After dinner, and as the restaurant was nearclosing, one of the employees, Elice Chavez, sat down at our table and gave us a great tutorial on northern New Mexican cuisine and the importance of the Santa Fe chile. The first thing we learned is, Santa Feans are proud to call themselves “chile snobs”. Elice doesn’t eat the chile in Albuquerque or any other southern New Mexico area: “It’s just not the same!”.

The chiles in New Mexico all come from two areas, Hatch or Chimayo. In New Mexico you will often hear the term, “Hatch chiles”. The secret to northern New Mexican chile is all about the preparation which has been passed down through generations. It’s part of who they are; it’s tradition. Where southern cities in New Mexico have been “Americanized or influenced by Texas”, the intriguing city of Santa Fe is secluded, almost insulated from the world outside. It may be the capital of New Mexico, but if you’re not driving there, you will need to fly into Albuquerque and take the interstate an hour north to Santa Fe. Both Daniel Garcia and Elice Chavez use the same method of cooking chile recipes as their great-great, many-great grandparents. When Elice was giving us instructions, she emphasized using “real pure ground chile, not that cayenne crap!” This is just a small sample of the rows and rows of chiles in all their varieties that can be found at the local supermarket:

There are purposes other than decorative, for the brilliant red hanging ristras, that you find throughout the city of Santa Fe. The ristras are the strung red chile peppers hanging in entrances and doorways. For generations New Mexicans have hung these red chiles to dry, then strung the preserved chile pods together for use during the winter months. If you decide to take a ristra home for culinary use, make sure that it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or shellacked.

We are planning to enjoy lots of fiery recipes we’ve brought home with us, including posole. HB and I will be sharing more of these recipes in future posts.

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