June 27, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Santa Fe’s Cuisine Scene

"Cafe Fina opens, wine festival celebrates 19 years and statewide barbecue contest heats up..."

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.

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Welcome Café Fina

When Real Food Nation closed its doors last spring, residents of Eldorado, San Sebastian and nearby areas mourned the loss of a popular neighborhood eatery, a place to grab a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito, an organic hamburger or a healthy dinner that represented the epitome of sustainability.

Now, residents can rejoice at the news that experienced restaurateur Murphy OBrien, a co-owner of the much- missed Atalaya Bakery, and his wife, Annamarie, are opening a new café in RFN's old digs.

Café Fina is scheduled to open next week, serving modern American comfort food for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. t o3 p.m. Monday through Friday and brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Down the road, plans include adding dinner and a wine and beer license. The O'Briens will continue RFN's practice of using food grown on the farm behind the restaurant in their dishes.

The breakfast and brunch menu includes omelettes, pancakes, French toast, chocolate croissants and huevos motuleños, a Mexican dish featuring eggs on a corn tortilla with banana, black beans, and feta. The lunch menu features some New Mexican specialties such green chile cheeseburgers and enchiladas along with quiches, sandwiches, salads with homemade dressing and more.

Welcome, Café Fina, to the Santa Fe dining scene. The folks that live out in my neck of the woods are thrilled to have you here, but I'll bet, based on having been a regular at O'Brien's Atalaya Café, that city folks will happily make the drive out to the country to eat at Café Fina. Click here for more info.

Blake's Lotaburger Rules!

In other breaking culinary news, Blake's Lotaburger has been named one of the top burger joints in the country by National Geographic, ranked right up there with The Apple Pan in Los Angeles and the In-n-Out burger chain. Company officials believe it's the green chile from Hatch, N.M. that makes their burger so special. We agree! Congrats Blake's Lotaburger, a company that's been in business for 60 years and has 76 locations in New Mexico! There's a lot of competition around the state, not to mention the country, that Blake's had to beat.

Santa Fe Wine Festival

When a wine festival takes place in the country's oldest wine-producing region, you can bet it's a celebratory event, a veritable wine barrel full of fun!

The 19th Annual Santa Fe Wine Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas honors the noble grape, cultivated in New Mexico since 1629, when Franciscan friar Garcia de Zuniga and Capuchin monk Antonio de Arteaga planted the first wine grapes in the Rio Grande valley of southern New Mexico.

The festival takes place Saturday, July 7 and Sunday July 8 from noon to 6 to 8 p.m. and includes 16 wineries, as well as 50 artists from across the stat selling fine art, jewelry, wine accessories and agricultural products. The weekend also features live music by Boris McCutcheon and the Salt Licks.

Food vendors include Whole Hog Café and  Roque's Carnitas, which has been providing mouth-watering grilled beef served in a tortilla at every festival since the beginning.

Each year, 5,000 glasses, included in the admission price, are given away to the 5,000 or so people who attend the festival. Many of the guests are repeat visitors, wearing the original t-shirt that was designed for the inaugural festival in 1994.

"People really enjoy this festival because they have the opportunity to talk to the winemakers," says John Berkenfield, executive director of Rancho de las Golondrinas  "And since grape growing is historical in our state, to have it in the setting of a historical ranch like this is always something that our visitors tell us is really great."

The festival has a large following. Last year, for example, 68 percent of the attendees came from outside of Santa Fe, and 49 percent came from outside of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. A total of 25 percent of the visitors came from out of state.

Click here for more info.

The Best of New Mexico Barbecue

If you love barbecue, you won't want to miss the Pork & Brew State BBQ Championship, held Friday, July 6 through Sunday, July 8 at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. The event is sponsored by the Rio Rancho Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This competition is one of the top 10 events fully sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and features an array of categories, including Chicken, Ribs, Brisket, Beans, Side Dishes and Desserts.

One of the state's largest events, the cook-off drew more than 20,000 attendees last year. Winners of the competitions go on to participate in the Nationals, held in Kansas City, of course. The event also includes arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, a magic show and plate after plate of award-winning barbecue! Click here for more info.

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