It’s February in Colorado, which means short, sometimes bone-chilling days, wet, muddy trails and snowbanks that have turned black from car exhaust. I often get cabin fever in the winters and count down the days until I can take my jacket off and bike on dry trails again. Luckily, from my home in southwest Colorado, there are warm desert-climates within just a few hours drive. This weekend my husband and I went on an impromptu trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in search of sun, dirt and diverse dining.
A sense of warmth among the reddish-orange, earth-toned adobe homes
We found just what we were looking for and more. Each time I visit Santa Fe I discover new gems and more reasons to return. As we entered Santa Fe, I immediately felt a sense of warmth among the reddish-orange, earth-toned adobe homes. Santa Fe’s unique architecture and plethora of art galleries set it apart from many other state capitals. Without a single high-rise to obstruct the skyline, 400 year old Santa Fe feels more like a village or pueblo than a city.
Even though there are plenty of cultural and artistic incentives for visiting Santa Fe, finding dry trails to ride of was our first agenda. My husband has been using a great mountain biking app called MTB Project. It has thousands of national and international mountain bike trails with descriptions, route recommendations and GPS navigation so you can see where you are mid-ride. It’s a great tool to have when exploring new trails. I especially like that it takes the guessing out of the best trails to climb and descend for maximum enjoyment.
We decided to take advantage of the afternoon sun at La Tierra Trails, northwest of town. The flowy, groomed, single track is made specifically for mountain bikes and utilizes the contours of the land to incorporate rollers and jumps. There is also a pumptrack and jump course for free-style/BMX riders. Zipping down the “Hustle and Flow” trail had us all grinning ear to ear (especially our dog, Alpe).
That evening we had the difficult decision of picking which restaurant to dine at. There are an impressive number of dining options in Santa Fe (with equally impressive wine lists, by the way). We opted for Terracotta Wine Bistro, based on the huge wine list (65 wines by the glass!), as well as their delicious-looking menu and reasonable prices. Some of the fine dining establishments have entrees priced in the $40 range whereas, Terracotta keeps their entrees in the $20s.
We caught the iconic red-orange sunset as we walked from our hotel to the restaurant. Desert sunsets are so much different from what we’re used to in Durango. There is so much open sky without mountains or buttes to block the setting sun. The entire sky cascades bright colors, from the east to the west.
We had a lovely meal at Terracotta. We started with a bruschetta sampler, which had popping flavor combinations such as the Brie with fig and port jam and the Local goat cheese with Woodland mushrooms. It was still happy hour, so I sipped on the New Mexico Gruet Chardonnay and my husband had an interesting Garganica/ Chardonnay blend from Tenuta. Sant’Antonio (Veneto, Italy).
For dinner, I ordered the grilled flank steak, which is marinated in coffee and cola and topped with a basil and blue cheese compound butter. It was heavenly! My husband had the butternut squash truffle lasagna (yes, it was as tasty as it sounds).
With dinner, we picked out the 2010 Chateau Trillol Syrah, Grenache blend from Corbieres, France.
The bold flavors in our food wanted an equally bold wine to match them. The Chateau Trillol did a fine job. Filled with aromas of dried figs, blueberries and baking spices, it was earthy and dense, with a rustic charm that I couldn’t get enough of. It paired beautifully with our meals, especially the flank steak. We traded our plates back and forth, enjoying every bite followed by sips of the delectable wine in our glasses.
The next morning was another culinary pleasure at the Sage Bakehouse. The coffee was strong, the service friendly, and the egg, avocado and Serrano ham tartine was hearty. They have been baking bread and pastries for 20 years and they do it well. We were also very pleased with the sweet raisin pecan wreath. Before leaving, they sent us off with samples of their pecan bread, which we enjoyed toasted the next morning.
To burn off some of those calories and shake our sillies out, we zipped over to the Galisteo Basin Trails just south of Santa Fe. The terrain was equally, if not more fun than La Tierra trails, with great signage and again, trails made specifically for bikes. They were completely dry, which is a rare find for us Coloradan’s during February. We zipped and whooped for another couple of hours before calling it a ride and venturing back into town in search of Southwest-style tacos and burritos. We found our jackpot at El Chile Toreado, a food truck with locals lined up at the window to get the good stuff.
And so it went, our pattern of searching for fun trails to ride, followed (and proceeded by) our search for good food. It’s our style, I guess. Maybe next time we will pop into some galleries or visit a museum. That is, if we can squeeze it in between biking and eating.