Edible Santa Fe Spring 2015 - Off the Beaten Path

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On our stroll, we stopped in for a snack and to scope the scene. The tiny storefront offers four packed-to-the-ceiling aisles of an amazing selection of natural, organic, and local food. A long line of customers with full baskets waited patiently as the cashier at the store’s single register made small talk while ringing up and bagging groceries.

hour from both Grants and Gallup, El Morro and sister community Ramah are far from regular food supplies, but locals have banded together to make their community more food secure through a number of enterprises: the Ramah Farmers Market, Candy Kitchen Community Garden, Davis Ranch, and El Morro Valley Ranch, just to name a few.

Our walk took us to the other end of downtown and through a residential neighborhood to El Metate, a tamale shop that Jamie Oliver visited. He wrote about learning to make traditional tamales with proprietor Carlos Martinez in Jamie’s America. Martinez, a Mexico City native and UFC fighter, has proudly operated his restaurant and shared his love for good food with Gallup for a number of years.

A gentleman with a hint of an East Coast accent answered my call and told me that the store would close at 4pm and the owner had just left for the day. Disappointed we had missed our opportunity, I thought our trip would quickly come to an end, but before I could hang up he said, “But you should really go to the café, the food is amazing. You’ll need to call and make a reservation.” I took his advice and called immediately—and, yes, they had space for us.

Highway 53 between Gallup and Ramah.

The drive between Gallup and Ramah offers a number of breathtaking views and unusual geology. We enjoyed these vistas under a dappled sky as the sun set at our back. We continued twelve miles past Ramah, past the sandstone bluff that is Inscription Rock, to the Ancient Way Café and RV Park where our dinner awaited.

Carlos Martinez of El Metate Tamale Factory in Gallup.

Ancient Way Cafe and RV Park At 3:30pm, I realized the hour and stopped to telephone what I thought would be our last stop on our northwest New Mexico road trip—The El Morro Feed and Seed. Kate Brown, the owner and operator of the store, sells more than just chicken scratch and hay. She makes a point of purchasing local supplies whenever possible, and has started carrying people-food items, such as grassfed butter and local eggs. An 56

edible Santa Fe | SPRING 2015

We pulled into a parking area on the south side of the road under colorful, hand-decorated signs announcing the Ancient Way Café. We entered in tandem with a foursome, and knew by the six parked cars we were wise to call ahead. A handsome, jovial man with a sparkle in his eye named Maqui greeted us and showed us to a table in the notmore-than-four-hundred-square-feet dining area. After seating us, he explained that they offered a fixed menu determined by the chef—the evening’s offerings included a twelve-ounce pan-seared ribeye with a chile, espresso, cacao rub, scallion cream cheese mashed potatoes, fresh asparagus with lemon and butter, and a salad of young greens. We munched on our generous salads accented with a refreshing lime cilantro dressing and listened to a local musician expertly play a harp in the corner. As Maqui brought us our steaks, he informed us that across the street at the gallery at 7pm we could experience community open mic night, if we wanted after-dinner entertainment. We savored the