March 14, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Santa Fe’s Cuisine Scene

"For Old World flavors from faraway alpine lands, visit the new Swiss Bakery Pastries and Bistro..."

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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A Downtown Culinary Corner

Rachel's Corner is a hot spot these days, as two new food vendors have opened for business at this busy intersection of St. Francis Drive and Alameda Street.

The Nile Café serves up Mediterranean cuisine, including chicken and lamb gyros, falafel, tabbouleh, hummus and baklava, along with Southwest fare with a Mediterranean flair such as kofta burger, lamb  breakfast burritos and French fries spiced with cumin. The owners of the Nile Café, Dave and Gigi Griffo, recently purchased the Java Gypsy from its Albuquerque owners, and have opened it right next to the Nile Café. Java Gypsy offers espresso, latte, cappuccino, chai and sweet and savory pastries baked by the Tesuque Village Market.

Rachel's Corner makes a great addition to Santa Fe's mobile food scene. With food trucks serving French crepes, international soups, Mexican specialties, hot dogs, roasted corn and more, we've become quite a culinary capital on wheels, featured on national television programs and in world travel magazines, dining magazines and other publications.

For more info about the Nile or Java Gypsy, call 501-0612.

New Digs for Dish'n'Spoon

You may have noticed a recent change on Old Santa Fe Trail. No, the Dish 'n' Spoon did not run away together, but they did relocate to a charming adobe, inside Mirador Café at 616 Canyon Rd. There, the menu includes signature frittatas and breakfast burritos for breakfast and the regular menu for lunch and sweet treats. Breakfast also includes homemade pancakes, Challah French toast, protein shakes and more. Lunch features Reuben, roasted red pepper and goat cheese, roast beef and blue cheese sandwiches, salads and a kids menu. For dessert, choose from brownies, chocolate cookies, homemade seasonal pies and more. For more info, visit www.dishnspoon.com.

Swiss Delights

For Old World flavors from faraway alpine lands, visit the new Swiss Bakery Pastries and Bistro, which took over the space formerly occupied by Max's at 401 S. Guadalupe St. The specials here include timeless classics – French onion soup, croque madame, signature Swiss crepe, Assiette Valaisanne and chicken vol-au-vent. But the most enchanting part of the meals here are the desserts, which sweetly tempt from glass cases piled high with European delights – from chocolate éclairs to cream puffs and lemon tarts.

Owner and chef Phillippe Müller was trained as a pastry chef and chocolatier in Lausanne, Switzerland. In Zurich, Muller worked as pastry chef at the renowned Sprüngli Café. He's now opened a very Swiss-style restaurant, a neighborhood gathering spot that is cozy and warm in winter and inviting and relaxing on the outdoor patio in summer. For more info, go to www.swissbakerysantafe.com

Italy in Eldorado

Eldorado residents are thrilled that a new restaurant has opened in the Agora shopping center. For some years now, Piccolino has drawn a loyal following at its location in a former fast food eatery on Agua Fria Street for its family friendly dining, huge portions and affordable prices. Now, a second Piccolino restaurant has just opened in Eldorado, in a space previously occupied by Peter Zimmer's Zen, a New Mexican joint and an American diner of sorts.

With black and white tablecloths, a caseful of desserts and a lengthy menu offering chicken, seafood and vegetable pasta dishes, calzones and more, Piccolino is already a hot spot in Eldorado. On a recent visit, we began with a plate of fried mozzarella, zucchini, mushrooms and cauliflower sticks served with a tangy marinara dipping sauce, followed by chicken marsala with mushrooms and wine sauce and chicken Dorothy, served with eggplant and pasta. For dessert, a giant cannoli stuffed with mascarpone ricotta cheese. Piccolino, welcome to Eldorado! Bon Appetit!

Cuckoo for Chocolate

It's a world of chocolate glory during the 2nd Annual Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest, held March 23-25 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Chocolate fans will revel in the 60,000 square feet of delicious chocolate from the region's best chocolatiers, candy makers, bakers, cake makers, along with the finest regional roasts.

The festival includes baking contest, eating contests, cooking demos and live entertainment, including performances of songs from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" by Musical Theatre Southwest. Special events include an evening with chocolatier Mark Sciscenti of World Tree Chocolates and a cooking demo with chef Rocky Durham, who'll make empanadas with gringo mole. The whole family can compete in a chocolate eating contest or join in a Broadway Sing-a-Long. Felonious Groove Foundation takes the stage Friday night, and live music is played throughout the three-day festival.

The event also includes an awesome baking contest featuring the best chocolate dessert, open to young bakers as well as homemakers. The grand prize for the home baker is $300, coverage in Edible Santa Fe magazine and everything needed to start your own business including logo design, professional help perfecting recipes and business assistance to get you up and running. The young baker winner earns $200, a cooking class and more.

For more info, visit www.chocolateandcoffeefest.com

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