Chef Johnny Vee and Dana Ortega
How lucky are we that chef extraordinaire Joseph Wrede – – who built his reputation at Joseph’s Table in Taos – – is coming to Santa Fe to relaunch the Palace Restaurant. At last night’s fabulous Sara Moulton and The Chefs of Santa Fe Wine Dinner at Luminaria, Wrede’s Crispy Crab and Fresh Spring Herbs course wasn’t the fanciest dish, but it was the most wonderful. Soft-shell crab season began May 1st on the East Coast, and Wrede had his soft-shell crabs flown in from Virginia the day they were caught. They had all the sweetness of a super-fresh ocean fish and were served with dandelion greens and a tangy aioli. Luminaria chef Matt Ostrander made an exotic mozzarella cheese of coconut milk that he served with purple and green asparagus, micro greens, and an 18-year-old balsamic reduction, making for a delectable and delicate salad. There was also a Beet Salad and a Braised Rabbit. To top it off, vivacious chef Johnny Vee whipped up a potent mocha mint tiramisu with rum and vermouth, served with a Yalumba dessert wine.
The dinner, which cost $95 for six courses paired with wines, sold out in 24 hours, said Inn at Loretto’s sociable marketing/sales director Dana Ortega. It was a night to remember, with 70 of Santa Fe’s gourmands at the gathering, including press like Zane Fischer, film folks like Steve Perry of Masque Entertainment Group, politicos, and of course Sara Moulton herself, promoting her new cookbook. Driving home afterwards, a sliver of a hangnail moon hung overhead in a jet-black night sky.