SANTA FE, NM – There was no fry bread at the Southwest Association of Indian Arts annual Food & Wine Dinner. If that’s your idea of Indian food, you would have been in for a big surprise.
This sophisticated event honored four top chefs of the region, who happen to be Native Americans, collaborating on a gourmet evening featuring their own culinary specialties paired with appropriate and delicious wines.
The celebration of food is a long tradition among Native Americans, who consider it sacred, beginning with bison, elk and whitetail deer, and base their side dishes on staples like corn, squash, seeds and berries. Chef Raymond Naranjo, of Santa Clara Pueblo, infused his yummy smooth pumpkin bisque with the prayers he said as he gathered the juniper berries he used in it.
Chef Jack Strong, from Oregon and the Siletz tribe, decorated his delectable halibut with iridescent red roe, chanterelles and oyster mushrooms on a butternut squash coulis.
Potawatomi chef Loretta Barrett Oden served a mixed grill with quail and elk tenderloin that was meant to contain cholla cactus buds (imagine how pretty!), but they’re crazy hard to find and hard to get delivered, by a dude, in a pickup, at some point in time – and the order did not arrive.
In a pinch, she substituted asparagus, just as tasty, surely! For dessert, Chef Ben Jacobs, an Osage, made a mocha creameaux with nuts and berries, absolutely sublime … did you actually know what a creameaux was?
Many important Indian dignitaries attended (notice, they did say “Indian” themselves, in the name), including Governor Richard Mermejo of the Picuris Pueblo, and the venerable and esteemed elder statesman and storyteller M. Scott Momaday.
He held the crowd spellbound with a story about a little boy in Greenland and an iceberg, told off the cuff right from his dinner table, relaxing comfortably with his group, big voice booming throughout the room. Somebody should have filmed it! Oh … I did! For posterity, for the memory of this living treasure.
About 100 people attended, raising about $10,000 for SWAIA’s mid-year program needs. SWAIA has been supporting programs for Indian artists for years, most notably with their major event, Indian Market. This is the icing on the cake, the creameaux.
Keep Santa Fe Beautiful
Are people always asking you, “Where do you go to hire mariachis?” and you’ve had to wager a guess … The Yellow Pages? Look around during Fiestas? Well, now you know. You get them at the auction that accompanies the “Keep Santa Fe Beautiful” Annual Wine Tasting benefit. Many thoughtful, unusual and useful auction items pop up in this quirky, fun little auction.
For example, who in life honestly can’t put to good use a year of “Mountain of Love!” car washes from Squeaky Clean at a great discount price. You need them! You’re going there, anyway! Or the landscaping services of the folks who do those exquisitely beautiful medians on Paseo by the Roundhouse. Somebody outbid me on both of those when I wasn’t looking. However, I got the mariachis. I happen to need them!
They were pouring succulent, velvety, rich red wines that felt powdery on your tongue, and the Chardonnay I liked was so buttery that even plain bread was good with it but, with the melted Brie, it was even better. There were many, many choices of wine for every palate, with lovely hors d’oeuvres and a gorgeous ambiance.
This event is always held in a very luxurious private home, this year high on a ridge off Bishops Lodge Road, where 200 people sipped the wines and watched the sunset light up the Sangres from the portal. The funds raised will go toward educational programs and events sponsored by Keep Santa Fe Beautiful, such as the Great American Clean Up.
KSFB underwrites that nice, bright T-shirt, work gloves and the big garbage bags you’re given for the annual neighborhood cleanup and beautification project, and at Zozobra they donate those cute little litter bags they pass out to the crowd. They bought and placed the recycling containers on the school campuses in town, and they try to keep our medians looking attractive, some even fabulous.
Last month, President of the Board Rick Martinez led the movement to “Save the Caboose” and KSFB helped in the effort to purchase the train car and keep it here in Santa Fe, on its corner, soon to be landscaped and lovely, a welcoming entry into town instead of the scrubby, forgotten patch of land it has been. In the end, the funds raised at this event go to improving the appearance of the city and keeping Santa Fe beautiful.
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Picuris Gov. Richard Mermejo attended the SWAIA dinner.
From left, chefs Raymond Naranjo, Jack Strong, Loretto Oden, Ben Jacobs and assistant Matt Chandler dished up the SWAIA dinner.
M. Scott Momaday told a great story during a SWAIA fundraiser.
Andrea Probst and Melina Fricek drink to a beautiful Santa Fe.
Colleen and Rich Verruni, managing director at Bishop’s Lodge, add their grins to Keep Santa Fe Beautiful.
Deanna Einsphar is vice chair and Rick “Caboose” Martinez chairs the Keep Santa Fe Beautiful board.
Helen Cerletti enjoys the beautiful Santa Fe outdoors.
Kate Kennedy does her part to Keep Santa Fe Beautiful.