Restaurant: Chef Fernando Olea - Santa Fe, New Mexico
By FBWorld Team
Fernando Olea chose the perfect name, Sazón, for his
gourmet restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sazón literally
translates from Spanish as seasoning but means so much more.
It incorporates family, legacy, and culture to transport a recipe
from the ordinary to the sublime. Sazón is that special
personal touch of flavors and textures that a chef brings to
a recipe to produce its magical ideal.
servers begin every diner's experience with an educational amuse
bouche tasting of six moles to be savored with mini tortillas.
They are a surprise. The complex flavors bear the touch of recipes
handed down to Chef through generations. Tasting the variety
of moles is a pleasure itself, but it also allows guests to
pair their entree choices with the house recommended mole or
to choose their own personal favorite.
one of the moles has a taste most people expect, made with poblano
pepper, dark chocolate, chili and peanuts; the moles range from
the sweetest "Blanca" a combination of apricots, pecans,
pinon nuts, white chocolate, and habanero pepper to "Coloradito,"
the most spicy which includes tomato, garlic, onion, and guajillo
and arbol chilles. Our three favorites were the "Verde,"
made from tomatillo, spinach, cilantro, and jalapeño;
the unusual "Rosa" that includes beets, chipotle,
and white chocolate; and the most special, "New Mexican,"
created by chef Fernando to commemorate Santa Fe's 400th anniversary
in 2009. The sophisticated yet earthy combination of local ingredients
are apricots, roasted piñon nuts and pecans, white chocolate,
and chimajo pepper.
menu contains a wealth of gourmet Mexican and Southwestern recipes
including several signature dishes. Perhaps the most famous
is not for the squeamish, but most diners do try it - fried
crispy baby grasshoppers paired with a spicyThai chili sauce
atop mini tortillas. This adventure of flavors and textures
is infused with avocado cream and citrus chili. Even if the
grasshoppers don't become a favorite, they do make for an engaging
memory with which to regale friends.
the many culinary spices and specialties it uses, the restaurant
offers mini tortillas with corn truffle, a fungus known as corn
smut on Wikipedia, or as huitlacoche in Mexico. Like many ingredients,
this unusual product that imparts a deep and distinctive indigenous
flavor is cured in Santa Fe.
the food is enthralling, but one dish we have already returned
for and would again and again is the delectable sopa de amore
(soup of love) that we shamelessly recommended to all diners
seated around us. Close your eyes and imagine a smooth cream
of roasted poblano, complimented by chunks of blue lump crab,
and topped with dense amaretto foam sprinkled with chocolate
we were instructed by the server, begin by tasting each of the
layers separately and savoring the distinctiveness before trying
all in combination. In addition to having enjoyed great soups
throughout the world, we also specialize in making unusual soups
at home, yet there is none we can think of that we would put
Sazon Chef Fernando
could go on and on endlessly describing dishes that have been
crafted and infused by chef Fernando's passion, but you must
taste them yourself. Oh, maybe just one more - the best chili
en nogada (chili in walnut sauce) that we've ever tasted. Envision
poblano chili stuffed with ground pork, lamb and beef, bits
of nuts and dried fruits in a creamy white walnut sauce with
jalapeño balsamic and showered with pomegranate seeds.
Our palates have been graced with some wonderful examples of
this dish. The most memorable was at Red Cabbage Restaurant
in Puerto Vallarte, Mexico, which recreates the wedding dinner
of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Further on, we will
make a connection between that restaurant and this.
you think that there are no recognizable choices on the menu,
many of the meat, fish, and seafood dishes will be familiar,
but each with a unique touch. Try the spicy, back-pepper-encrusted,
aged angus beef tenderloin or the shrimp enchilada in a creamy
sauce of zucchini blossoms and melted cheese. Each day Chef
also prepares a variety of daily specials served with one of
his signature moles.
addition to the specialties noted above, a cornucopia of other
antojitos is served, such as crudités of beef tenderloin,
muscovy duck, pork loin, salmon and tuna cooked on hot stone
and served with house-made infused oil, salsa, aioli and tortillas.
Or savor pork belly tacquitos; mouthwatering queso fundido of
melted Asadero cheese, mushrooms, poblano strips with flour
tortillas served in a piping hot cast iron skillet; or grilled
St. Louis style ribs with a chili Pasilla rub. These great dishes
are also available at the bar if you are looking for lighter
fare or something more informal.
a mescaleria/tequilaeria, Sazón curates a large and varied
menu of spirits. We enjoyed an unusual flight that included
three extremely smooth varieties: a strong and smoky mescal;
a bold tequila, and a (relatively) mild sotal. Lemon wedges
accompany along with shots of tart pineapple juice infused with
lime, jalapeño, and bright herbs and by a tomato extract
with orange, spices, and heat. They offer a full complement
of cocktails with a regional emphasis and wine and beer as well.
restaurant is a visual delight, having walls that are replete
with colorful paintings by several Mexican artists. The dominant
subject of the paintings is the aforementioned Frida Kahlo,
whom the restauranteers deeply respect. However, the largest
mural in the restaurant presented to Chef by Artist Federico
de la Vega illustrates all the ingredients of the chef's New
communities in the United States possess the concentration of
artistry as Santa Fe. In particular, it is noted as the country's
third largest retail art market, its finest summer opera company,
and as a foodie's delight. As the font of Southwestern cooking,
it is home to a number of great restaurants that bridge American
and Mexican cuisine.
AAA four-diamond rated Sazón, only three years old, reigns
in the topmost echelon of Santa Fe's fine dining experience.
Sazón resides at 221 Shelby Street, Santa Fe, NM, and
the phone number is 505-983-8604.
221 Shelby Street
Santa Fe, NM