Monthly Archives: March 2008

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe

Lest you think all we did was gorge ourselves on green chiles, Christine and I did find time one night to visit one of the coolest spots in Santa Fe…the Ten Thousand Waves spa and resort. A Japanese spa with communal, private, premium private and super premium private baths and an array of fancy, awesome-smelling spa services, this place rocked!

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

And getting there is half the fun. Driving through the winding, snow-capped mountains to the spa is an experience in itself…and then once you get there, wow…you feel like you’re in fuedal Japan or something. The entire walkway to the main spa — which is a bit steep in parts, so leave time if you need to take it slow — is lined with delicate Japanese lanterns that give the snowy path a dreamlike quality. Really beautiful.

Reaching the main spa, you check in and are each given a warm cotton kimono and some f-ing amazing cucumber water and are shown to the locker room. Showering off the impurities of the outside world with some of the best smelling hippie soap and shampoo I’ve ever encountered — seriously, it smelled so good, I kinda wanted to eat it — you dump your clothes in your locker, wrap yourself in that snuggly kimono and make your way to the baths for a soak.

The door on our Kabuta private bath! (Feb. 2008)
The view from our private bath! (Feb. 2008)

We reserved a private bath (a steal at $25 per person for an hour!) called Kabuta, which means “Piglet” in Japanese. I later learned that the reason for the name was that when the spa was built in 1981, the neighbor next door was so upset at the prospect of a spa in his midst that he built a pigpen six feet from this bath and stocked it with a dozen baby pigs. Ha!

The Kabuta name remains, but luckily for us, the piglets are long gone. All you see from the bath now is an amazing view of the snow-covered hillside and the stars above. This place was gorgeous…we could have stayed all night.

When your hour is up, a soothing gong sounds over the speaker near the tub and a dreamy, disembodied voice tells you that you have five minutes remaining. That’s right…a soothing gong! There’s no rude-ass knocking on your door to shoo you out at this joint.

Totally relaxed at Ten Thousand Waves! (Feb. 2008)

So, with a light snow beginning to fall in the distance, we reluctantly wrapped ourselves up in our kimonos and made our way back down the path to the showers. Driving home, totally relaxed and smelling of yummy mint and lavender, we hit the bed hard and slept like babies till morning…

Domo arigato, Ten Thousand Waves. Domo arigato mucho!


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The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe

OK, I know it sounds like all we did in Santa Fe was eat and that’s probably because, well, aside from drinking — gotta love that high altitude buzz! — that is all we did. Literally.

The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

At one point Christine and I were plotting out our day and realized that everything we wanted to do involved food. Of course, we eventually found plenty of other some awesome things to do and see, but, wow, with all that good food they got cooking, why not eat your way through Santa Fe?

And a great place to start your culinary day off right is at the rocking French Pastry Shop located inside the historic La Fonda Hotel downtown. Now, I should mention that my first visit here — yes, I went just about everywhere more than once…but, hey, I was in town for six weeks, what do you expect? — with Ginger was not that great.

Inside The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

I ordered a dry-ass crepe with ham and gruyere cheese that was way overpriced and, like I said, dry as, well…ass. Not my favorite breakfast. But when Christine and I went again a week later, things were much more to my liking.

To start with, they have no menus, so you have to stare at this chalk board hanging up by the register and pick out what you like then sit down and order. I didn’t do this the first time and simply ordered what the skinny waitress suggested…not a wise move at this place, as what I got was, no offense, skinny waitress food.

Another view of The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

So this time, I studied that menu board HARD and, man alive, what a difference! Christine and I shared the tasty looking quiche-type deal with ham, cheese and spinach and wow…just wow. I think the picture below says it all.

For “desert” we ordered a fresh blueberry and raspberry crepe with whipped cream and here again, we ordered correctly. I kind of wanted to marry that thing…you know, if I wasn’t already married.

But the topper was a cold coffee drink made with two shots of espresso poured over homemade vanilla ice cream and lots of ice. I am not kidding…that just might have been the best cold coffee drink I ever consumed…and this from a former Peet’s barista!

Tasty breakfast quiche @ The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

All I can say is thanks again to “Santa Fe Sarah” for insisting that Christine try The French Pastry Shop when she came out, because had she not, I would not have gone back. Muchas gracias, Sarah…you were right, I was wrong.

Oh yeah, and one last thing, The French Pastry is a strictly cash-only enterprise, so bring some green, and don’t forget to study that chalk menu board up front, HARD. You won’t regret it…


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Cafe Pasqual’s & The Shed

While we tried tons of super cool restaurants in Santa Fe, these two were, hands down, our favorites of the bunch. And, trust me, with the caliber of kick-ass food being what it is in Santa Fe, that is really saying something.

Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

Probably best known for their spectacular mole sauce, Cafe Pasqual’s has been one of the premiere destinations for gourmet Old Mexican and New Mexican dishes alike for the past 28 years. And while the prices are a bit higher than some of the other places in town and the lines are known to stretch down Don Gasper Avenue at all hours, once you’ve eaten at Cafe Pasqual’s, it all makes sense.

Ginger and I had an early lunch there one day where I sampled that legendary mole sauce on some of the finest chicken enchiladas I have ever tasted anywhere…including Mexico. The mole was dark as night, awesomely spicy and best of all, not too chocolate-y. I was in heaven…

Cafe Pasqual’s @ lunch time! (Feb. 2008)

The next time I went was with Christine for dinner and once again, the food was downright dazzling. I had some of the tastiest skewered filet mignon I’ve ever had and the bright green cilantro rice on the side was crazy good. In fact, we were so impressed with the food that we actually bought the newest of the two Cafe Pasqual Cookbooks they had for sale up front.

I should also note that I learned later from our friends James and Amy that if you ask nicely, the chef will add a fried egg on top of any of the dishes on the menu for the low, low price of $1.00. I don’t know that I necessarily needed the egg, but hey, I’ve done stranger things for a dollar…so, maybe next time!

Mole chicken enchiladas @ Cafe Pasqual’s! (Feb. 2008)

But while we both loved Cafe Pasqual’s, The Shed is the place we’ll dream about in the years to come…huge thanks to Christine’s co-worker, “Santa Fe Sarah” for recommending it to us, you rock! Located in a cool little hacienda dating to 1692, The Shed has been serving some of the finest, Spanish, Pueblo, and New Mexican food known to man since 1953.

Housed inside the thick adobe walls of the hacienda, the dining area is spread out across a series of small, brightly colored rooms linked by narrow doorways and halls adorned with some of the coolest art in town. The place actually felt more like someone’s house than a restaurant, and with little round fire places up front and an intimate, low-ceilinged feel throughout, you could have sworn you were eating in Yoda’s pad on Degobah. And yes, that is a good thing.

The Shed, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

And the food…my God. Amazing! Christine ordered the Chicken Enchilada Verde which is made with traditional New Mexican blue corn tortillas and bathed in a roasted green chile sauce that will leave you begging for more. Literally! I went back two days after she left and ordered the exact same thing…and it was even better the second time.

The other thing we really dug about The Shed was the garlic bread. Instead of chips and salsa — which you can still order separately if you like — every entree is served with this amazing, piping-hot basket of French Garlic Bread. I know it sounds kinda weird, but when you’re sopping up that spicy green chile sauce, that bread is exactly what you wanna have on hand. Whew…awesome!

And for desert, you gotta try the mocha cake. I’m not kidding, I actually woke up a couple of times craving that thing. Probably one of the best coffee-infused, chocolate mouse cakes I’ve ever had. If you like chocolate…you will die!

Anyway, like I said before, there were plenty of killer dining spots in town, but these two…wow…if you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, don’t miss them.


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Todos Santos Chocolates

OK, first off, I kinda want to sue Frommer’s for leaving this place out of their “Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque” guidebook. I lived and died by that book when I was in New Mexico — not to mention last summer when their “Nashville & Memphis” guide never left my sweaty hands — so I was stunned to find someplace as cool as Todos Santos Chocolates & Confections missing from their hallowed pages.

Todos Santos sign! (March 2008)

Ginger and I stumbled upon Todos Santos one afternoon and returned at least one more time, but Christine and I made this joint our home away from home in Santa Fe. Seriously, we made a beeline for this place every time we went downtown…and well, that was a lot.

Located just a short walk up Palace Avenue from the main plaza, Todos Santos is nestled inside the heart of the historic Sena Plaza directly across from the legendary La Casa Sena restaurant. Never got around to trying the restaurant (like many eateries in Santa Fe, they keep kind of odd hours) but the gourmet chocolates at Todos Santos are truly out of this world.

Todos Santos chocolates in all their glory! (Feb. 2008)

In fact, owner Hayward Simoneaux — who was spectacularly friendly and actually started to recognize Christine and I as “regulars” after a while — was named one of the 10 best artisan chocolatiers in the country by Chocolatier magazine in 2001. And man, does he deserve the title. Everything we tried in his shop was downright magical…

Our favorites were a dark chocolate mouse number with reddish fleur de sel on top and a dark chocolate morsel filled with homemade peanut butter that literally melted in your mouth. You never had peanut butter this velvety! Also good was a little dark chocolate horn filled with red chile cream…amazing!

And the chocolates are just the beginning, as the interior of the tiny shop itself looks like some crazy-cool fiesta scene from the Golden Age of Cine Mexicana. Beautifully decorated with colorful paper flowers, masks, Virgen de Guadalupe ornaments and tons of gold and silver (and even chocolate!) milagros, the place was breathtakingly cool.

Mas Todos Santos chocolates! (Feb. 2008)
Todos Santos interior! (Feb. 2008)

And the packaging was even cooler. Simoneaux’ bold, vivid boxes and wrapping were just as amazing as the chocolates inside…and, best of all, shockingly affordable. The funky little glass and silver box we bought below was like $10-12 and was filled with three or four of our favorite chocolates to boot. Hell, you’d pay almost twice that much for the chocolates alone in Los Angeles.

Cooler still was what happened my last day in Santa Fe. Knowing I had one more shot at securing some tasty take-home treats for Christine, I headed down to Todos Santos alone and was delighted to find the store completely changed for Easter. Everywhere you looked were bright spring colors, chocolate bunnies and a dazzling new array of handmade chocolates. Man, I wanted to buy everything…

Todos Santos packaging at its finest! (Feb. 2008)

Luggage weight restrictions being what they are, however, I narrowed down my selections to a few individual pieces in another super cool box and two small bags of Easter goodness. One was filled with dark chocolate covered almonds lightly dusted with cocoa, and the other was filled with individually-wrapped caramels infused with chipotle pepper spice, that were even better than they sound. As Ginger would say: “Yummers!”

But perhaps my favorite thing about Todos Santos was the smell. If you could bottle that shit, it would sell like, well…chocolate-scented hotcakes. The aroma in that place was positively otherworldly, and I swear, if you stayed in there long enough (as we did on several occasions) you started to smell like chocolate…which, all things considered, is a pretty tasty way to start your day.

So, gracias, Todos Santos…your chocolates will live on in our dreams!


Filed under Eat

Herb Peterson (1919-2008)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now, but for those who haven’t…earlier this week, Herb Peterson, inventor of the McDonald’s breakfast staple, the Egg McMuffin, passed into immortality at the age of 89.

John Hayes’ AP photo of Herb Peterson (circa 1997)

A former McDonald’s executive and owner of a whopping six franchises in Santa Barbara alone, Peterson said he was inspired to create the McMuffin in 1972 by his deep, abiding love for another rocking breakfast classic, Eggs Benedict.

Ironically, I had the rare treat — I say rare, because I am hardly ever awake in time to buy one — of a McMuffin for breakfast two days ago and, as always, it was f-ing amazing! Although I’m not a huge fan of the classic McMuffin (sorry, Herb) I have been a devotee of the Sausage McMuffin with Egg (not to be confused with the dry-ass Sausage Biscuit with Egg, which I seriously loathe) for years.

And knowing that my favorite fast food breakfast sandwich is a direct descendant of Herb’s original McMuffin, I gotta give the dude props for making mornings a whole lot more tolerable for me. Seriously, whenever I am called upon to get up early, I actually think to myself: “Cool, I can get a #8 (two Sausage McMuffins, hashbrowns and coffee) at McDonald’s!”

I know, the breakfast of champions, right? Well, luckily for me…I don’t get up early very often. But next time I do, I’ll salute you, Herb Peterson. Before you came along, McDonald’s was strictly a lunch and dinner business…you revolutionized the way the world eats breakfast, dude.

Que viva la McMuffin revolution!

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Romeroville, New Mexico

I have it on high authority — unofficial family historian, my Aunt Linda — that there are none of our Romero’s in Romeroville, New Mexico…but wow, who even knew we had a whole town named after us? Not I. So, needless to say, as soon as we saw that big old exit sign, Ginger and I totally had to stop (literally on the side of freeway for the pic above!) to take some pictures.


And trust me, that didn’t take nearly long as we thought it would, as there wasn’t much to see in Romeroville. I mean, unless we missed the bustling city core completely, “my town” isn’t much more than a few rustic houses nestled up alongside the interstate just outside Las Vegas, NM.

But the proud Romero name was everywhere you looked. There was Camino Romero, Romero Court, and our name was even emblazoned on the train track warning sign thing. Crazy!

Camino Romero! What a cool street name!

Crazier still was the fact that Ginger ordered me to stop in the middle of the train tracks so she could get that picture below.

I don’t think we were in danger in getting plowed in half — hell, who knows if the trains even still run through Romeroville these days — but yikes, what a headline that would have made! If, you know, they had a newspaper in town…

The wrong side of the tracks in Romeroville!

Anyway, not much else to write about Romeroville. I just thought it was cool that there was a town named after my people, even if it is little more than a grungy old frontage road alongside I25.


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Richardson endorses Obama!

Wow…all this time I figured former Presidential Candidate, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, for a Hillary Clinton fan. Who knew? All I can say is that after spending six-plus weeks in Richardson’s fair state…the man runs a pretty tight ship.

Our hero, Gov. Bill Richardson!

New Mexico is clean, loaded with cops and, my missing cell phone aside, relatively crime-free. So, if this guy can keep a state as sprawling and diverse as New Mexico in order, just imagine what he could do as Vice President! Oh…wait, he hasn’t been asked yet. Give it time, baby…give it time.

I still think my boy, John Edwards, would make a kick-ass running mate, but how can you resist the idea of a Black dude and a Latino running for the highest office in the land? Man alive, what a country! So, muchas gracias for your endorsement, Gov. Bill…let’s hope it brings mucho Latino votes our way come November.

The pic above is a detail from one I took of Gov. Bill’s official state photo — which hangs in just about every building in Santa Fe — and was used today in an article by the news site Now Public. Thanks, rebel news guys!

To see my pic in all its glory, check out their story at:


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