Most non-parishioners come to Loretto Chapel to marvel at the spiral staircase. A fascinating legend surrounds its construction. Originally, when the chapel was built in 1872, there was no stairway to the choir loft. The nuns prayed to St. Joseph to intercede. At the end of nine days, a carpenter appeared at the church who volunteered to build a stairway, on the condition that he have total privacy during construction. After three months, with the chapel completely sealed off, the stairway was completed, but the stranger disappeared without having been compensated. A reward for his identity never was claimed. The mystery doesn’t end there, however. The spiral stairway is a miracle of carpentry: it has no central support to the loft and uses no nails, only wooden pegs. Legend has it that no one saw any wood being delivered to the sequestered carpenter. Who was he? We can only marvel at this handiwork.
207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
One of the cult foods in Santa Fe is the beef carnitas from Roque’s wagon, parked at the edge of Santa Fe Plaza. A whole half pound of sliced marinated beef top round is grilled with onions and green chiles (I’m presuming Hatch), picking up a smoky flavor, then piled into a large flour tortilla, topped with salsa, all rolled up in aluminum foil.
My vision of carnitas is the Mexican kind made with roasted pork and corn tortillas, so I am the first to admit that it is probably this pre-conception that dulled appreciation of Roque’s version (☆☆). First of all, it’s messy, really messy. As soon as you peel back the foil and take your first bite, pieces fall out and juices run down your hand (and, if you’re not careful, your clothes). This by itself is not enough to downgrade it. I did find though that the salsa seemed more like stewed tomatoes (again, I’m expecting pico de gallo). The carnitas itself had a bitterness likely from the smoke from the briquettes and a vinegariness that didn’t seem like limes. Tons of fans seem to love Roque’s product, so I chalk up my indifference to regional preference.
Southeast corner of Santa Fe Plaza
Santa Fe, NM 87501
We had breakfast at one of the legendary restaurants in Santa Fe, Cafe Pasqual. The portion being large, we split the highly recommended Huevos Motuleños, easy-over eggs on a bed of black beans, topped with feta cheese and served with corn tortillas and sauteed bananas. This was a major disappointment (☆☆). First, the eggs were cooked hard. The black beans lacked flavor and were a bit hard; they could at least have cooked them in salted water. The corn tortillas were dry. And the sautéed bananas really didn’t add anything at all. We always order the salsas on the side so my wife can decide if they’re too spicy or not. What this means is that the dishes we order have to stand on their own. This egg dish didn’t. The overall impression was blandness. About the only thing going for it was that the ingredients were organic (almost all Cafe Pasqual’s ingredients are). The salsas were very good, including a tomatillo salsa (☆☆☆) that had flavors of cilantro and vinegar. I hope that future visits will not disappoint as much as this one did.